Scenarios for climate change adaptation

VEIL has been working as part of a collaborative team for VCCCAR looking at the role and value of scenario planning in climate change adaptation decision-making.

Climate change has been described as a challenge characterised by ‘diabolical uncertainty’. With many of today’s decision-making tools, techniques and approaches dependent on extrapolating from historical trends to identify ‘likely futures’ climate change presents an almost existential problem – in the future little is certain. Not only are the implications of climate change so varied, interconnected and complex, records are showing that in some areas we cannot even rely on historical trends for guidance. Some of the very environmental patterns on which our decision-makers have relied-on to base design and planning decisions are beginning to change.

Scenario planning is a process designed specifically to assist decision-makers navigate extreme uncertainty and help them identify what is and what is not possible in a set future time frame. It is often cited as a method able to assist with climate change adaptation decision-making.

The Scenarios for Climate Adaptation project aimed to strengthen knowledge about the most effective ways to develop and use scenario based strategies to improve climate change adaptation decision making, drawing on the experience of Victorian climate adaptation policy makers and practitioners.

Scenario based strategies can provide policy makers and practitioners with valuable tools to consider and analyse a diverse range of future trends, contexts, risks and opportunities. Informed by quantitative and/or qualitative evidence, scenarios also have the capacity to illuminate potentially critical ‘unknowns’, to encourage organisations to think ‘outside the square’ and to challenge taken for granted assumptions about the future.


Research team

Scenarios for Climate Adaptation was funded by the Victorian Government through VCCCAR. It was undertaken by an interdisciplinary and multi-institutional team led by Professor John Wiseman at the University of Melbourne.

  • Project Leader: Prof. John Wiseman, University of Melbourne
  • Project Coordinator: Taegen Edwards, University of Melbourne
  • Che Biggs, VEIL, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Lauren Rickards, University of Melbourne