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23.1 Introduction 23


The rapid pace and scale of societal and environmental changes in the Anthropocene, where human activity dominates most of the Earth’s processes (Crutzen 2006; Leach et al. 2013; Steffen et al. 2015) are changing how assessments are carried out. Global environmental assessments (including GEO-6) are moving the focus from current trends (e.g. what is the current state of biodiversity?) towards the required transformations for a more sustainable future, and the means to get there (e.g. what interventions are needed to keep global warming below 1.5°C?) (Kowarsch et al. 2017; Minx et al. 2017). Decision- makers, scholars and practitioners are demanding a deeper and more explicit focus on response options and policy analysis (Jabbour and Flachsland 2017). This shift in intention and direction is especially relevant in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where nations have set the ambition to achieve a broad range of globally accepted and integrated social, economic and environmental targets for 2030. However, medium- to long-term decision-making is complicated by the fact that the future is uncertain, and it is often not obvious how existing policies and practices can be transformed to achieve desired future outcomes (Miller 2013; Miller, Poli and Rossel 2013; Bennett et al. 2016).


Global environmental assessments distil, synthesize and interpret existing information in ways that are relevant to decision makers and can help governments to achieve consensus when negotiating complex international accords and agreements (e.g. the Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) (Jabbour and Flachsland 2017). However, while global environmental assessments often rely on global-scale quantitative scenarios to assess potential futures and to navigate uncertainty (van Vuuren et al. 2012), they struggle to integrate dynamics that can bridge local, regional and global scales (Bennett et al. 2003). Furthermore, integrated assessment models like those employed in Chapter 22 to develop quantitative global scenarios, struggle to simulate decisions that engage multiple jurisdictional levels, as well as diverse actors, and therefore cannot capture the impact of trends emerging from subglobal scales. As a result, while such scenarios present archetypal, globally unified futures, it is not always clear to decision makers how national policies can use these in ways that are geared for local decisions and action (Biggs et al. 2015; Pereira et al. 2018a).


The successful implementation of transformative pathways requires an understanding of:


i. how transformational changes occur at local, national, regional and global levels;


ii. which actors and what disruptive technologies (i.e. those that replace incumbent technologies creating new markets) drive such changes; and


iii. what the consequences of transformative action might be in terms of cross-scale connections (Cash et al. 2006; Feola 2015; Patterson et al. 2017).


This is where the combination of top-down scenarios and bottom-up analyses is crucial.


This chapter assesses participatory processes and local practices seeking transformed futures and grounds the interventions proposed in Chapter 22 with existing examples. The following sections provide background information on cross-level interactions in sub-global assessments and existing research on aggregating local practices towards effective implementation of the SDGs. The later sections describe the methodology used for the GEO-6 bottom-up analysis, followed by the assessment findings and insights gained from the analysis.


23.2 Integrating global assessments and bottom-up analyses


The assessment of transformation pathways can be conducted from global to local, or from local to global levels. For example, Chapters 21 and 22 present global scenario and pathway analyses, but such analyses can also be conducted at local and regional levels. Additionally, pathways can be formulated from the bottom-up by using existing, potentially transformative initiatives as a starting point (Pereira et al. 2018b). As described in Chapter 22, global scenarios integrate models and data at the global scale to project plausible future pathways and outcomes. These methods are used to explore a wide range of possible futures (explorative scenarios), and the impacts of recommended solutions or policy options (target-seeking scenarios) (van Vuuren et al. 2012; Intergovernmental Science- Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services [IPBES] 2016). Most global approaches and integrated assessment models cannot, however, engage effectively with: (1) the roles and behaviour of specific actors and the multilevel political mechanisms that support transformation, (2) disruptive technologies and, (3) geographic disaggregation.


Participatory, local scenario approaches can, in contrast, use existing narratives and initiatives to imagine and observe actor behaviour, consider disruptive change and develop future pathways that are locally contextualized and practical (Merrie et al. 2018). However, these local scenarios face the challenge of scaling up and transferring the accumulated knowledge and results from individual cases, from local to regional and global levels. Further, local approaches lack the specificity of model- based approaches since they are often only partially quantified or aggregated, limiting their applicability at higher levels.


From these alternative starting points, multilevel scenarios can be developed in two directions. Global scenarios can be downscaled in a top-down manner for use at regional and local levels; and local scenarios can be aggregated through bottom-up approaches to complement global scenarios by inserting local contexts to address biases and assumptions. The downscaling of global scenarios has been investigated and published widely (Zurek and Henrichs 2007; Mason-D’Croz et al. 2016; Palazzo et al. 2017). The creation of global scenarios through the aggregation of bottom-up approaches or through other innovative scaling up of local scenarios has, by contrast, received little research attention. This area offers many potential benefits for integrating more imaginative futures across scales in global environmental assessments to provide more useful information for informing policies and decisions (Bennett et al. 2016).


548 Outlooks and Pathways to a Healthy Planet with Healthy People


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