Socio-economic futures and governance scenarios


Organizers: Julia Leininger (German Development Institute), Detlef van Vuuren (Utrecht University)

RESEARCH + WORKSHOP SESSION

The effectiveness and direction of future governance is a major factor determining scenarios about the future. This is a key factor for explorative scenarios looking into possible development pathways as well as for target-seeking (or normative scenarios) answering the questions how certain goals can be reached (like the Paris agreement or the Sustainable Development Goals). In comparison to other drivers, such as technology development, it is more challenging to translate governance trends into quantitative factors. In fact, social sciences have been reluctant in the past to undertake quantitative scenario-building. Storylines and narratives have been the main tools to capture possible futures of governance and politics. In fact, qualitative analyses to scenario-building have been increasingly used recently, for instance to assess the future of migration or socio-economic development in Africa. Only a limited number of scenarios have been developed to address the future of societal transformation, wich is based on economic, political, social and ecological factors. 

The aim of this session is to showcase and discuss the role of governance in future scenarios, how governance scenarios are used in Social Sciences and how they can be integrated into explorative and target-seeking scenarios. Questions of interest include: 1) can we further elaborate the storyline of the socio-economic pathways (SSPs) with respect to governance (and is there a need for this?), 2) can we better develop guidance for governance assumptions in target-seeking scenarios (e.g. in relation to social or political feasibility) and 3) can we develop quantitative indicators that can make the governance aspects of the SDGs operational for scenario development. In the session, we will have two invited speakers introducing the main topics. The session is open for additional presentations on the basis of submissions. We will also schedule a panel discussion to allow for direct interaction with the audience. We invite abstracts for studies that present either quantitative work on political equality, conflcit or regime change, or qualitative work more broadly. We encourage analyses based on social science theories (e.g. governance, conflict, social change) and that use SSPs. Qualitative analyses can include narratives that describe potential futures of humankind or comparative analyses on governance of societal change and policy implementation. This session is convened by members of the World in 2050 (TWI2050), which aims to provide fact-based knowledge to support the policy process and implementation of the SDGs.