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Participatory Scenario building

Participants are led through a brainstorming exercise to develop road maps/ adaptation alternatives towards a desired future state
Multiple Authors

The following description of this tool and details on how and why it is was applied exists as part of the ‘Adaptation Toolkit’ that was created collaboratively by SEI and ENDA.

Brief Description

This tool allows participants to make adaptation plans based on their current capacities and assets (tool 2), the climate disturbances they are facing (tool 3), their current vulnerability (tool 4) and perceptions of climate change (tool 5). Participants are led through a brainstorming exercise to develop road maps/ adaptation alternatives towards the desired state of the community in the future. Participants may need an hour and a half to complete this activity.

Specific Objectives

To enable community members to develop adaptation action plans for future (climatic) events building on their current capacities.

Expected Outcomes

  • Build a shared understanding of the community and its capacities in relation to climate hazards and other stresses.
  • Build a common vision of a desired future and a shared plan to achieve this future based on current capacities and possible future changes in climate.


  1. Allow participants to discuss and agree among themselves how far they would like to plan into the future (year 2020, 2030, other).
  2. Draw two diagonal lines to cross each other on a large sheet of paper dividing it to four parts.
  3. Ask participants to represent the current capacities and assets on one part using the results from tool 2 as a basis.
  4. Allow participants to sketch impacts of present climate hazards and other stresses on their lives on the second part (use results from tools 3 and 5 as a reference).
  5. Ask participants to sketch how they perceive climate change in the future and ask them to represent this in the third part (tool 4). This step could also be informed by additional climate data and information if available (see for example what observed data and downscaled climate projections are available from the Climate Information Portal for your area:
  6. Considering these challenges, ask participants to envision positive things they can do in their community in the future based on their capacities as indicated in step 3 above and considering possible future changes in climate. Represent this in fourth part of the diagonal line. This can, but does not need to, build on the existing capacities.
  7. Discuss what is needed to build adaptive capacity[1] and achieve this fourth scenario. This brainstorm can result in the design of an action plan that includes all the alternatives or actions suggested to achieve this future scenario. For each alternative prepare a short description that includes: purpose, scope, time frame, and measures of success. Remember some activities (e.g. upgrading a road, establishing a co-operative) might require registration with, assistance or permission from government agencies, so make sure to identify what other role-players need to be contacted in order to implement parts of the plan..

Resources/ Facilities

  • Flipcharts
  • Pens and makers
  • Straight edge / ruler

Expected Outputs

  • A pictorial presentation of the current state of the community, which can easily be communicated to government authorities, donor agencies and non-governmental organizations for actions.
  • A shared future scenario constructed collectively.
  • Documented action plans with several adaptation options to achieve a desirable future. Example of output shown in figure 5.

Figure 15: Example of output on participatory scenario building and back casting (Lamin Community- Gambia)


[1] Attention is needed to ensure that, responses are actions which lead to building adaptive capacity and not just needed social amenities in the community

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