Colorado mountains
From Long-Term Data to Understanding: Toward a Predictive Ecology
2015 LTER ASM Estes Park, CO - August 30 - September 2, 2015

Central Arizona–Phoenix LTER and society: co-development of sustainable future scenarios

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David Iwaniec
Melissa J. Davidson
Elizabeth M. Cook
Nancy B. Grimm

Urban sustainability and resilience are increasingly important guiding visions for cities. Urban ecology can bring useful knowledge and perspectives on the future development of cities, but requires collaborative approaches to address city planning and management needs. We present our framework for co-developing scenarios to explore alternative social-ecological-technological futures. We use three scenario approaches (adaptive, strategic, and transformative futures). Adaptive futures were developed in response to extreme events. Strategic futures were projected forward using existing municipal goals and targets. Transformative futures were backcasted from radically transformed visions of sustainability. The framework highlights methods to integrate plausibility-based futures (what is most likely to happen) and desirability-based futures (what we would like to happen). Through collaborative workshops with community, municipal, and academic stakeholders, we co-identified key priorities and strategies that decision makers are using to frame urban development and address climatic extreme events (i.e., flood, drought, and heat). We also identified systems and normative conflicts and trade-offs within the distinct future pathways. This project demonstrates how scenario construction can enhance LTER research and decision-making capacity for long-range sustainability planning.