Participatory multi-stakeholder assessment of alternative development scenarios in contested landscapes

Milena Kiatkoski Kim, Jorge G. Álvarez-Romero, Ken Wallace, David Pannell, Rosemary Hill, Vanessa M. Adams, Michael Douglas, Robert L. Pressey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Web of Science)


Participatory scenario planning (PSP) has mainly concerned scenario development and outreach, with less emphasis on scenario assessment. However, eliciting stakeholder responses to scenarios, focusing on subjective wellbeing, can increase the legitimacy, relevance, and applicability of PSP. We developed a PSP exercise with a multi-stakeholder, cross-cultural group in the Fitzroy River (Martuwarra) basin in Western Australia. Four scenarios were developed collaboratively, each describing alternative development pathways in the basin by 2050. We held two scenario assessment workshops: a multi-stakeholder workshop and a workshop with Traditional Owners (Aboriginal Australians) only. We first asked participants to consider and discuss the current situation in the basin regarding how well nine categories of wellbeing were satisfied. Then, for each scenario, participants assessed and scored the change in each wellbeing category relative to the current situation. Participants' ratings followed a similar pattern in both workshops, except for the scenario with strong policy and increased large-scale irrigation, which was scored mostly positively by the multi-stakeholder group, and mostly negatively by Traditional Owners. We identified different discourses that help to explain these results: (a) scenarios with large-scale agriculture, or with poorly regulated development, would increase the money circulating in the region, and benefits would trickle down to local communities through employment, enhancing most wellbeing categories; and (b) such modes of development might create jobs but could negatively impact other areas of wellbeing, potentially affecting culturally or environmentally significant places and increasing social inequities. We discuss how these results can support planning in the region, and how trade-offs were approached.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-241
Number of pages21
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number1
Early online date13 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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