Headline: Solar Radiation Management: Foresight for Governance

“Solar Radiation Management: Foresight for Governance (SRM4G)” is a 3-workshop project running over the course of 2015 that will use foresight methods to construct scenarios that investigate varying contexts and contingencies surrounding “Global Responses to Climate Change in 2030”. Against this background, it will explore the capacities of a range of proposed governance mechanisms to provide oversight over the research and development of SRM technologies under alternative environmental and sociopolitical conditions.

In a future-oriented discourse in which governance designs are often dependent on imaginaries of risk, foresight methods may inform and strengthen critical conversations on how to explore the capacities of prospective forms of SRM governance. The workshops will be carried out by a core group of 10-12 researchers from multiple disciplines and practitioners from policy and NGO backgrounds, as well as a revolving and additional set of figures external to the CE research community to add wider perspective.

The objectives of the workshops are:

  1. To construct coherent scenarios based on systemic analysis and structured group communication;  
  2. To identify what the advantages and drawbacks of different governance systems are in scenarios;
  3. To make explicit the assumptions upon which alternative expectations and preferences for specific governance systems are based;
  4. To do so in a participatory manner that challenges and integrates the assumptions and expertise of an interdisciplinary group of participants;
  5. To explore foresight and scenarios as a future-oriented methodology, with which to focus and structure priorities and worldviews on SRM risks and governance.

In the first workshop (July 13-14), participants conducted a series of methodological steps in order to prepare for the construction of detailed scenarios. They first engaged in a “horizon scanning” activity to encourage expansive thinking of a complex array of factors, conduct an analysis of relevant factors, and assess factors to expose key uncertainties and relevant trends. Then, they conducted an analysis designed to assess consistency between key uncertainties derived in the first workshop, in order to lay the cornerstones for the scenario construction.

In the second workshop (August 27-28), participants will first focus on transforming abstract scenario frameworks into more concrete pictures and histories of the future, utilising a backcasting technique to trace rough chronologies of events from 2030 back to the present day. Next, they will assess the opportunities and threats SRM governance would face in each scenario. Finally, they will create governance mechanisms and pathways tailored to each individual scenario (which may reference proposals from the academic literature and initiatives at the international level).

In the third workshop (November 12-13, 2015), participants will be presented with and discuss the developed scenarios of alternative futures as well as the governance proposals, before assessing proposals against the full set of scenarios developed using a SWOT analysis framework (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Participants will attempt to find a governance pathway that is robust and resilient against the range of scenarios. In addition, all participants will engage in a discussion on findings and implications.

For more information, please contact IASS fellow Sean Low: sean.low@iass-potsdam.de.