Integrated and innovative scenario approaches for sustainable development planning in The Bahamas


Using alternative future scenarios in development planning supports the integration of diverse perspectives and the joint consideration of the needs of humans and nature. Here, we report on the use of scenarios as an integral part of a two-year sustainable development planning process for Andros Island, The Bahamas.

We combined qualitative and quantitative approaches to link stakeholder visions of the future of their island with quantitative assessments of the likely impacts of those visions on future conditions.

We highlight knowledge gains for scenarios in three key areas: (1) inclusion of participatory mapping as both a mechanism for eliciting stakeholder knowledge and aspirations, and as an input for risk assessment; (2) participation of a transdisciplinary team to guide the scenario creation process and enable better understanding of the range of stakeholder visions and values; and (3) use of cumulative risk assessment as a framework to bring together quantitative and qualitative information and provide objective comparisons between alternatives.

We convened over 560 people in 35 meetings and worked with 13 government ministries to create and compare four alternative scenarios consisting of storylines and maps of habitat risk of degradation. We found that one scenario, featuring intensive development, would pose the greatest risk to habitats and worked together to understand which activities could lead to such a future and what interventions could be taken to help avoid it.

Ultimately, our collaborative process yielded objective comparisons between alternative future scenarios, incorporated diverse visions and values of stakeholders into the island-wide master plan, and informed investments in the sustainable management of coastal ecosystems and infrastructure critical for the livelihoods of island communities. This process can serve as an example for scientists and practitioners worldwide seeking to use scenarios to inform sustainable development planning.


Link to centre authors: Kuiper, Jan
Publication info: Wyatt, K., Arkema, K., Wells-Moultrie, S., Silver, J., Lashley, B., Thomas, A., Kuiper, J., Guerry, A., Ruckelshaus, M.. 2021. Integrated and innovative scenario approaches for sustainable development planning in The Bahamas. Ecology and Society.

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