IEHIAS tools for scenario construction
- The text on this page is taken from an equivalent page of the IEHIAS-project.
Despite the widespread use of scenarios in assessment and strategic planning, remarkably few tools have been developed to support scenario-building. As a result, most scenarios are developed in a somewhat ad hoc, and often poorly documented, manner. This inevitably creates inconsistencies between scenarios (so that results from different assessments cannot easily be compared) and impedes learning from past attempts at scenario development.
Useful tools for scenario development nevertheless exist. These fall into two main groups:
- Generic tools or methods, applicable to almost any assessment problem
- Specific tools, designed to help users create scenarios on defined issues
The summaries below outline some of the available tools, and give links to useful sources.
A wide range of generic methods have been developed for problem-analysis and scenario development. Many of these are described, and their complementary roles explained, on the FOR-LEARN website of the Joint Research Centre of the EU.
Amongst others, three techniques have attracted particular attention:
- morphological analysis
- structural analysis
- multi-criteria analysis
Each attempts to provide a structured (and largely non-quantitative) method for collectively framing and analysing complex problems. The techniques work most effectively with relatively small groups of experts or stakeholders (typically <10), representing the different areas of interest or expertise. Morphological and structural analysis have many commonalities: the former is based on defining the problem space - i..e. the 'dimensions' of the issue that need to be addressed; the latter focuses on the variables and their relationships, and thus leads towards a system model of the issue and a description of how this is likely to change in the future. Multi-criteria analysis endeavours to set priorities or probabilities on different aspects of the issue, or different visions of the future, in order to select a set of preferred (or most likely) combinations.
In principle, all three of these approaches can be applied without sophisticated software or tools: a whiteboard and marker pen will suffice. With complex problems, however, it is important to enable thinking about, and visualisation of, the problem to expand according to need - yet also to ensure that the analysis is transparent and fully documented. Tools that help both to structure the analyis and maintain an audit trail are therefore useful.
A suite of tools has been developed by LIPSOR (Laboritoire d'Innovation, de Prospective Stratigique et d'Organisation). These include:
- MORPHOL - a morphological analysis tool
- MICMAC - a structural analysis tool
- MULTIPOL - a tool for multi-criteria assessment
Specific scenario generation tools have been developed for a number of policy issues, including climate change, land use change, water resource management and transport. For the most part, these provide a set of underlying scenarios that can be adapted by selecting or weighting specific elements. Output from the tools is quantitative, and results are often provided in map and/or tabular form; output, however, is often relatively aggregated, so may need to be down-scaled for more detailed analysis. In other cases, the tools have been developed only for sample or test areas, so results would need to be generalised for wider (e.g. national or EU-level) application.
Examples of specific scenario tools developed for the European region include:
- MOLUSC - a land use change scenario modeller for the EU, running in the SIMILE software
- MAGICC/SCENGEN - a global and regional scale, interactive developor for climate change scenarios
- WEAP - a modelling system for freshwater resources management, which includes options to develop and run different policy scenarios
- TREMOVE - a transport (road, rail, water, air) and emissions simulator for the EU, available with a graphical user interface for scenario development
- REGIS - a scenario development and analysis tool for climate and land use change (East Anglia and North-west England)