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Do scenarios offer certainty in an uncertain future?

Book Contribution - Chapter

Subtitle:How the Environment Department has experimented with scenario thinking in Flanders in recent years.
Within the environmental domain, thinking about the long term is of great importance. In terms of content, we are thinking about the transition to a climate-proof and climate-neutral society, the greening and circularization of the economy, making the use of space more sustainable, the transition of the
ergy system, improve the quality of the living environment and stop the loss of biodiversity. New challenges, such as technological developments, a changing society or a changing attitude between government and society are explored. These challenges increase the complexity of policy, planning and design processes and bring uncertainty into play. Scenarios are developed to provide handles in dealing with complexity and uncertainty. This focus fits within the intention of the Flemish government to focus more on future studies (Flemish Government, 2017). In order to be able to better support government policy and advise on strategic challenges, there is a need for a more structural approach to future research. The vision paper on future foresight to the Flemish
Government (Flemish Government, 2019) states that the Flemish government should invest in knowledge and capacity building for exploring the future, including trend analysis, scenario techniques for plausible but contrasting futures, horizon scanning, vision and retrospective techniques for normative futures. Scenario exercises have been experimented with for several years within the environment department. In this paper, the scenario experiments in the study on urban sprawl, the study on the future social costs and benefits of spatial policy, the study on smart cities and big data and the scenario exercise within the framework of the Spatial Planning and Housing Policy Research Centre (Steunpunt Ruimte en Wonen) explained. These exercises are situated in relation to a more theoretical scenario typology, developed by Börjeson. Finally, the current challenges for dealing with outlined with the (multitude of) scenario exercises

Book: Plandag 2020
Number of pages: 11
Publication year:2020