World Water Scenarios - Phase 1: Driver selection, review and analysis

The Report The Dynamics of Global Water Futures: Driving Forces 2011-2050 (William Cosgrove and Catherine Cosgrove - 2011) presents a summary of the findings of the first phase of the Scenarios process: an analysis of the evolution of 10 major external forces (drivers) that have direct and indirect consequences on water resources. A framework for the causal linkages between these driving forces and their impact on human well-being, equity and degree of poverty is presented. These findings show the possible range of future outcomes and the magnitude of the challenges we are facing in each driver’s domain.
Global Water Futures 2050. Five Stylized Scenarios (Gilberto Gallopin - 2011) provides an initial exploration of long-range global water scenarios as a contribution to the Fourth World Water Development Report (WWDR-4). It is an original work based on research and surveys conducted among dozens of experts in water-related fields in 2010-2011. Rather than detailed descriptions, it offers qualitative summaries of possible futures as input to the deliberations of the Scenario Focus Group (SFG), the WWDR-4’s collective of decision-makers, modelers, and scenario and sectoral experts.

A significant number of scenarios related to water at the global and other geographic scales were examined, along with other global scenarios, to ascertain which drivers should be reviewed to understand how they might evolve to 2050. Ten drivers were identified for research of the literature describing the possible future of each domain. A list of possible future developments in each of the domains was extracted from this research, taking into account interlinkages with some of the other selected drivers.

The ten drivers identified for an in-dept research, review and analysis are:

The list of possible future developments for each driver was submitted for discussion and review through expert consultations. The objective of the expert consultations was to validate the degree of importance of the developments with regards to scenarios on water use and availability to 2050 and to gain an informed opinion on the likelihood of such developments occurring by then.

For the six more ‘controversial’ drivers, where the project team thought more divergent opinions could arise, the Real Time Delphi (RTD) consultation approach was adopted since it is particularly useful not only in producing consensus where possible but also in crystallizing reasons for disagreement. The experts participating in the RTD consultations identified through discussion the most important events or developments and the probability of their occurrence by 2020 and 2030.

For the four other driver domains, a selected number of experts were invited individually to:
•review the list of developments;
•add missing possible developments of importance;
•rank the importance of the listed developments;
•and set time horizons for each development with regards to the earliest decade it might occur and the most likely decade in which it might occur.

What the Report provides:

A summary of the key findings of these consultations.

Part Two presents some of the highlights of the current situation in each of the drivers’ domains.

Part Three describes the most important and most likely developments occurring within these forces of global change, based on the analysis of responses to the RTD consultations and expert surveys.

It is important to keep in mind that these developments and their assessments cannot be considered as the final independent compendium from which scenarios can be developed. The scenarios will draw upon qualitative and quantitative analyses of the possible interactions between all these driving forces and developments. The iterative and cross-sectoral nature of the scenarios process will lead to the identification of other developments in addition to these, and both probable and less probable developments will ultimately be incorporated into the storylines.

The suggested timelines provided by the experts duringthe RTD consultations and expert surveys provide possible reference points for chains of events – in reality some may happen sooner, some later, and some not at all.

The objective of presenting these findings is to understand the possible range of future outcomes and the magnitude of the challenges the world is facing across all drivers in order to build more robustness in decision-making. In conclusion, and in an introduction to the second phase of the project (the development of global water scenarios to 2050), part four presents a framework that illustrates the causal linkages between these driving forces and their impact on human well-being, equity and degree of poverty.

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