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Division Of Early Warning And Assessment MODULE 11: ASSESSING THE FUTURE.

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Presentation on theme: "Division Of Early Warning And Assessment MODULE 11: ASSESSING THE FUTURE."— Presentation transcript:

1 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment MODULE 11: ASSESSING THE FUTURE

2 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment Introduction This module is designed to address future environmental assessment. It helps readers to develop: A good understanding of how present environmental policy can be linked to the future Information on why futuristic environmental policy studies are conducted Knowledge on the importance of emerging issues in understanding future environmental assessment studies Some skills in scenario development for environmental assessment

3 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment Paths to the future Current policies have an important influence on how the future environment will turn out to be. Analyses of present actions and policies may be linked to potential environmental paths We can compare the various paths and, within our limitations, consciously select one with informed consent about the risks being taken, and the opportunities it will present for the future of our environment Our real chosen path may be different from our most preferred path due to various limitations, e.g. finance, available technology and skills, the necessity to create jobs, etc.

4 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment The context of the future in IEA Within the context of IEA, we assess the future when: We understand the state of the current environment, the pressures on it and the effectiveness of the existing policies We know its history and why it has taken the current trend We understand the current dangers it is facing now and have a vague idea that it might deteriorate further Within this context, we ask questions 4 and 5 on the next slide.

5 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment The context of the future… (contd)

6 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment In trying to answer this question: Other implied questions must also be answered about what we know and what we want to do Where are our current policies taking us? Is this where we want to go? What other policies could be more useful? What consequences might various policy alternatives have on the environment in future? These questions alert the decision making process to the advantages and dangers of selecting certain paths in future policy formulation.

7 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment Reasons for conducting futuristic environmental policy studies To be aware of the consequences of present actions and policies on the environment in future To detect and avoid the dangers that could happen in future To develop proactive strategies that can be used to avoid future catastrophes To develop a yardstick for a desired future environment against which we can measure our performance in advancing preferred alternatives

8 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment Emerging issues Issues whose future potential impact may not currently be realized by the public or decision makers but may be vaguely speculated upon by a few scientists, e.g. the socioeconomic impact of HIV/AIDS Speculation is beyond current policy actions. It is uncertain and labour- intensive.

9 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment Some recent emerging issues with impact on the environment Global warming – not clearly comprehended in 1990s but its impact widely accepted now. Long range transport of atmospheric pollutants – hotly debated by a few scientists in the 1960s. Its extent and impact have been studied successfully using remotely sensed information. New technologies in agricultural production which culminated in the Green Revolution (1970s).

10 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment Building scenarios Developing possible future environmental trajectories on issues of interest is very uncertain Can limit alternative paths to a few but this may have tragic consequences if the analysis is inaccurate May include all possible occurrences and hope to adjust as environmental issues develop (i.e. the scenario approach) Conceptually, we may develop a funnel increasing in diameter with time and with less likely extreme scenarios on the edge of the funnel.

11 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment Centre gives most likely scenarios but disruptive events may have influence on the range of possible scenarios

12 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment Emerging issues must be included in the development of scenarios as they : raise issues of concern for the general public and increase participation in formulating policy on the issues, encourage preliminary discussion for formulating policy on issues before they become crises, and guide environmental research and data collection on the issues at an early stage.

13 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment Some significant forces driving scenarios in Africa Rapidly increasing population Desire for economic diversification from dependence on natural resources Improving social levels of human development with good stable family incomes Effective integration of Africas diverse cultures Effective integration of appropriate technology in the development process Sustainable management practices to mitigate environmental degradation Increased local participation, improved governance, and cooperation beyond national borders

14 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment Scenarios? Why not use trend analysis or mathematical modelling ? Trend analysis and mathematical modelling are not sufficient for analyzing long range (e.g. decades, generations) future environmental events because: There is always insufficient information to adjust policies for forces that govern environmental system dynamics over long periods The environmental system, when linked to socioeconomic systems, becomes extremely complex with potentials for turbulent behavioural changes The future depends on human choices that are unknowable. Future human choices may be made completely outside what may be considered currently feasible or acceptable

15 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment General scenario dynamics of an environmental system

16 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment The current state of the environment results from a history of previous states which have experienced different pressures Looking at the history gives us some idea of how difficult to develop future trajectories with any certainty: important forces may have changed the system dramatically from what might have been expected Current driving forces and pressures condition the path of the future but that future state is unpredictable. Surprising and extreme occurrences may change the path of development General scenario dynamics… (contd)

17 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment Important steps in developing a scenario Specify the boundary of the analysis (spatially, thematically and temporally) Describe the current conditions Estimate the consequences of the current situation on the issue of interest Provide a narrative of the development of the selected paths of the scenarios Estimate the change for each option Give an image of the future with conclusions about the range of possible outcomes at point(s) in time

18 Division Of Early Warning And Assessment Assessing policy options and scenarios There are always many possible alternative frameworks but each must reduce possible options to a manageable number: Qualitative narratives have the advantage of expressing many unquantifiable variables of scenarios in qualitative terms (e.g. culture, values, behaviour). Disadvantage: lack of scientific rigour Quantitative models provide rigour but may be misinterpreted to mean scientific precision Most useful scenarios combine qualitative narrative and quantitative modelling.

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