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Developing Detailed Foresight Narratives: a Participatory Technique from the Mekong Region

Tira Foran, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
John Ward, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
Eric J. Kemp-Benedict, Stockholm Environment Institute
Alex Smajgl, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences


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Narratives that explore uncertain events are central to a variety of future-oriented approaches ranging from planning to community visioning. Techniques to create interesting narratives, however, have been overlooked in the peer-reviewed environmental foresight literature. We describe a participatory, multidimensional, pragmatic technique to generate qualitative foresight (“scenario”) narratives. We applied this technique in the Mekong region of Southeast Asia during 11 workshops conducted in 5 countries and 1 regional setting. To improve consideration of systemic connections, narratives were shared between the six settings, allowing participants to understanding cross-scale enablers and inhibitors of desired development outcomes. A second innovative feature is elaboration of character-oriented narratives. We discuss how the technique responds to ongoing methodological challenges of critical inquiry, policy salience, and agency.

Key words

Asia; Mekong; methodology; narrative; participation; scenario

Copyright © 2013 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087