Nature Futures Framework

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= "participatory nature scenarios that can inform decision‐making and inspire action".


"Scientists have repeatedly argued that transformative, multiscale global scenarios are needed as tools in the quest to halt the decline of biodiversity and achieve sustainability goals.

As a first step towards achieving this, the researchers who participated in the scenarios and models expert group of the Intergovernmental Science‐Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) entered into an iterative, participatory process that led to the development of the Nature Futures Framework (NFF).

The NFF is a heuristic tool that captures diverse, positive relationships of humans with nature in the form of a triangle. It can be used both as a boundary object for continuously opening up more plural perspectives in the creation of desirable nature scenarios and as an actionable framework for developing consistent nature scenarios across multiple scales.

Here we describe the methods employed to develop the NFF and how it fits into a longer term process to create transformative, multiscale scenarios for nature.

We argue that the contribution of the NFF is twofold:

(a) its ability to hold a plurality of perspectives on what is desirable, which enables the development of joint goals and visions and recognizes the possible convergence and synergies of measures to achieve these visions and

(b), its multiscale functionality for elaborating scenarios and models that can inform decision‐making at relevant levels, making it applicable across specific places and perspectives on nature."



Context: Shared Socio‐Economic Pathways

"The scenarios that are currently widely used in global environmental assessments are the Shared Socio‐Economic pathways (SSPs). The SSPs were developed by the climate change community to help outline potential socio‐economic trends that would influence how climate change manifests in the future (O'Neill et al., 2014, 2017). Whilst they have been successful in both the science and policy domain and in unifying different areas of research, the SSPs have limitations in their applicability to biodiversity and nature research. Firstly, they say little about desirable outcomes for nature and its contributions to people, making it difficult to incorporate biodiversity‐specific interventions into models (IPBES, 2016; Rosa et al., 2017). This limits their ability to inspire change (Bennett et al., 2016; IPBES, 2016; Pereira, Sitas, Ravera, Jimenez‐Aceituno, & Merrie, 2019). Second, these scenarios are expert‐led and have not been legitimized through a co‐production process in which a plurality of perspectives are included (Duncan et al., 2018; Kok et al., 2016; Tengö et al., 2017). Finally, the SSPs focus on their use only as inputs to a scientific process (O'Neill et al., 2017). However, in global assessments scenarios also act as boundary objects that are used to mobilize action, and as tools for building future literacy amongst stakeholders (Kok et al., 2016; Tengö et al., 2017). These concerns highlight the need for new, participatory nature scenarios that can inform decision‐making and inspire action." (


"We employed three core principles for the approach: co‐production, interactive iteration and pluralism. Co‐production is increasingly seen as an important process in sustainability science as it enables the harnessing of multiple viewpoints and creates buy‐in to a process (Norström et al., 2020). A core aspect of the science–policy interface is the dynamic interaction between stakeholders and scientists that iterates over time, allowing for learning and readjustments (Priess & Hauck, 2014; Sarkki et al., 2015). Finally, according to the IPBES conceptual framework, a plurality of perspectives is core to the platform (Díaz et al., 2015). The subsequent approach was largely informed by the multiple evidence base approach where an enriched picture of understanding serves a starting point for further knowledge generation, triangulation and assessment (Tengö, Brondizio, Elmqvist, Malmer, & Spierenburg, 2014; Tengö et al., 2017).

Next, we outline the iterative process (in the form of phases) and outcomes that resulted at each step, and lay out what is planned to continue to build on the process in the future. This iterative approach is how we went about answering the research question of how to create a new set of scenarios that are diverse, desirable, and multiscale. It has taken time and learning along the way has been a key part of this process, which is also why we seek to document it in this paper. In the discussion section, we situate the findings from this process within the existing literature and critically examine the contribution that the NFF could make in its aim for improved nature scenarios for decision‐making in the post 2020 agenda." (