Scenarios for land use, socio‐economic and climate change – A call for integration

Kasper Kok, Simona Pedde

Soil Geography and Landscape Group, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands

Scenarios have been recognised as a useful tool for planning in the face of irreducible complexity and uncertainty. This particularly holds for climate change related research, where changes in socio‐economic behaviour and related greenhouse gas emissions are highly uncertain and take decades to translate into temperature and precipitation change. As a result, the number of scenarios in climate change research and beyond has increased strongly. Often, scenarios are divided into parts of the system to improve the unravelling the complexity. This had led to a plethora of different types of scenarios, including qualitative stories and quantitative models; exploratory and normative scenarios; participatory and desk‐top scenarios; and socio‐economic and climate change futures. An important recent example are new global climate scenarios. For a number of practical reasons, climate change (RCPs – Representative Concentration Pathways), socio‐economic change (SSPs – Shared Socioeconomic Pathways), and actions/ policies/strategies (SPAs ‐ Shared Policy Assumptions) have been developed separately, leading to three largely disconnected sets of scenarios that are now being used around the globe. This method of developing partial scenarios has spawned methodological innovation on these parts, but has left the question of how to integrate across scale, sector/topic, and methodological differences. This presentation will showcase some of the state‐of‐the‐art of partial scenario development, but will focus on specific integrative tools that have been developed to bridge the scale gap, as well as the gap between socio‐economic narratives and climate model output. It focuses on land use scenarios as a type of scenarios that call for integration of drivers from different subdomains. It discusses current weak points and possible ways forward to improve our integrated understanding of future changes.