The goal of the Scenarios Forum is to bring together a diverse set of communities who are using or developing scenarios for use in climate change and sustainability analysis to:

  • exchange experiences, ideas, and lessons learned

  • identify opportunities for synergies and collaboration

  • identify knowledge gaps for future research.

By taking stock of progress and facilitating further scenario-related research, this meeting will inform the use of scenarios in the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It will also help ensure a research base sufficient to inform future national and international assessments as well as policy initiatives, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

An important, but not exclusive, focus of the meeting is the ongoing process of developing and using the so-called “scenarios framework” for fostering integrated climate change and sustainability research. As part of that framework, climate models have simulated alternative climate outcomes driven by the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), and a new set of societal futures, the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), has been developed and used by integrated assessment models to produce a first set of global energy, land use, and emissions scenarios based on them.

The community has begun working on the integration of these climate and societal futures to investigate climate change impacts as well as mitigation and adaptation response options. The rapidly expanding set of activities drawing on the SSP-RCP framework includes large-scale impact assessments of health, agriculture, water, and ecosystems, as well as region-specific assessments. A new round of scenario-based climate model simulations is planned, and the use of the SSPs is expanding beyond the climate change community to facilitate work on other aspects of global change.

The Forum on Scenarios for Climate and Societal Futures fills the critical need for researchers from various communities to come together to share their experiences, progress, and plans. The Forum provides a key means of promoting integration across the climate modeling, integrated assessment, and impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability communities, as well as with additional research communities in the social, natural, and sustainability sciences. The Forum also aims to improve linkages among the research, assessment, and policy communities.


Topics to be addressed at the meeting were solicited in a call for session proposals, and later in a call for abstracts of presentations or posters. The meeting will reflect a balance of contributions from both developers and users of scenarios, from those working with the SSP-RCP framework as well as other scenarios or methods of characterizing the future, from disciplines related to all three IPCC Working Groups (climate science, impacts/adaptation/vulnerability, emissions/mitigation), and from the climate change topic as well as the broader field of sustainability. There will be 36 parallel sessions of presentations and panel discussions, as well as several plenary sessions. General categories of topics include:


Applications of the SSP-RCP or other scenario frameworks to climate change or sustainability issues. Includes individual studies or coordinated projects; applications for various scales, sectors, and research or policy questions; and use in IPCC or other assessment processes.


New developments in narratives, quantitative drivers, IAM simulations, or climate model simulations based on SSP-RCP or other scenario frameworks. Includes extensions of larger-scale scenarios to the regional, sectoral, or spatial scale.


Regional downscaling of global climate model simulations for use in impact assessment, the role of short-lived climate forcers in impacts and mitigation, and the potential role of geoengineering in responses to the climate issue.


Evaluation or critiques of the SSP-RCP or other scenario frameworks, including the use of the framework to date, internal consistency and plausibility of scenarios, gaps in scenario needs, and alternative approaches to characterizing uncertainty in the future.