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Target-seeking (normative) scenarios

Target-seeking scenarios (also known as ‘normative scenarios’) constitute one subclass of the more general class of intervention scenarios (also known as ‘policy scenarios’) and can contribute significantly to policy design and implementation. They are a valuable tool for examining the viability and effectiveness of alternative pathways to the desired outcome.

They start with the definition of a clear objective or a set of objectives that can either be specified in terms of achievable targets (e.g. in terms of the extent of natural habitats remaining, or of food production self-sufficiency) or as an objective function to be optimized (e.g. minimal biodiversity loss).

Figure SMP 2

Figure 1: Target-seeking scenarios illustrated by a graph of changes in nature and nature’s benefits over time. The diamond represents an agreed-upon future target and the colored dashed lines indicate scenarios that provide alternative pathways for reaching this target.

Table 1: Combining scenario approaches and policy objectives (in the context of target-seeking scenarios).

Approaches for using scenarios

Brief summary

Relevance for policy-making processes

Role of indirect and direct drivers

INTERVENTION: Using target-seeking scenarios (normative scenarios)

Starts with a prescriptive vision of the future and then works backwards in time to visualise different pathways of achieving this future target

Policy Prescriptive: Identifies the conditions necessary to achieve the desired target

Identification of driver values consistent with the desired target


Examples of assessments which have used target-seeking scenarios: