University of Oulu

Annika E. Nilsson, Marcus Carson, Douglas S. Cost, Bruce C. Forbes, Riina Haavisto, Anna Karlsdottir, Joan Nymand Larsen, Øyvind Paasche, Simo Sarkki, Sanne Vammen Larsen & Alexander Pelyasov (2021) Towards improved participatory scenario methodologies in the Arctic, Polar Geography, 44:2, 75-89, DOI: 10.1080/1088937X.2019.1648583

Towards improved participatory scenario methodologies in the Arctic

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Author: Nilsson, Annika E.1,2; Carson, Marcus1; Cost, Douglas S.3;
Organizations: 1Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
2Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
3International Arctic Research Center and School of Education, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, USA
4Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland
5Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
6Nordregio, Stockholm, Sweden
7Stefansson Arctic Institute and University of Akureyri, Borgir, Nordurslod, Akureyri, Iceland
8Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research and Uni Research Climate, Bergen, Norway
9Cultural Anthropology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
10Department of Planning, Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Denmark
11Center for the Arctic and Northern Economies, Moscow, Russia
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-12-12


Participatory scenario methodologies are increasingly used for studying possible future developments in the Arctic. They have the potential to contribute to several high-priority tasks for Arctic research, such as integration of indigenous and local knowledge in futures studies, providing a platform for activating Arctic youth in shaping their futures, identifying Arctic-relevant indicators for sustainable development, and supporting decision-making towards sustainable futures. Yet, to achieve this potential, several methodological challenges need to be addressed. These include attention to whose voices are amplified or silenced in participatory research practices, with special attention to diversification and the engagement of youth. Given the historic and potential future role of disruptive events for Arctic development trajectories, methods are needed in participatory scenario exercises to include attention to the dynamics and consequences of such events and regime shifts. Participatory scenarios can also be further improved through approaches that effectively combine qualitative and quantitative information. Finally, there is a need for systematic studies of how the results of scenario exercises influence decision-making processes. This article elaborates on ways in which attention to these aspects can help make scenarios more robust for assessing a diversity of potential Arctic futures in times of rapid environmental and social change.

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Series: Polar geography
ISSN: 1088-937X
ISSN-E: 1939-0513
ISSN-L: 1088-937X
Volume: 44
Issue: 2
Pages: 75 - 89
DOI: 10.1080/1088937X.2019.1648583
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 616 Other humanities
Funding: This paper was conceived at a workshop in Stockholm, Sweden, 7–8 September 2017, organized by the Nordic Centre of Excellence Resource Extraction and Sustainable Arctic Communities (, funded by Nordforsk, with financial support also from the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra-Arctic programme) and the Swedish Research Council Formas. Riina Haavisto acknowledges support by the Academy of Finland through funding of the TWASE-project (funding decision 283101). Bruce Forbes has been supported by the Academy of Finland Decision no. 256991 and JPI Climate no. 291581.
Copyright information: © 2019 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.