TO: Pacific Coastal Zone Management '91 panelists and participants
FROM: Wendy Schultz, Chris Jones, Mike Hamnett
RE: Futures Research Theme and Futures Workshop
Greetings! In preparation
for the workshops and overall theme of the upcoming Pacific CZM
'91 conference, to be held in American Samoa, we would like to give
you some background reading to get you thinking about the futures
of coastal zone management. Yes, we said futures, because
there is not a single future which faces us in the next millennium
but a range of alternative futures. Our work with leaders and planners
all over the world has shown us that these sorts of alternative
futures exercises are of critical value in preparing our thinking
for the possible changes and forces of social, environmental, and
technological change which await us "right around the corner" in
the near-term future (5-10 years) as well as the more distant future
to be held in conjunction with the panel/paper presentation sessions
include an "incasting" (not to be confused with forecasting)
exercise which will be featured at the end of this document. Other
workshops will look at "planning for climate change" from a CZM
perspective, "goal setting for the future," and will culminate in
a workshop focused on "choosing a preferred [management] future."
The first morning panel and following workshop will illustrate the
methodology of "incasting" or adding details to the sketches of
five alternative images of the future provided below. The five possible
futures to be used in this workshop are called:
Below we describe these
five possible futures. All of them may not seem plausible to
you, but each one is based on combinations of social, environmental,
political, and technological trends identifiable in the world around
"Decline and Collapse"
"Conserver Society (Green Future)"
"High Technology Transformations"
We will be asking you
to think about how your role and responsibilities might change--indeed,
how the very definition of coastal zone management might change--were
you to find yourself in one of these futures. This exercise aids
management in two ways. One, it expands our notions of possible
change, which strengthens our capacity for contingency planning.
Two, it demonstrates which of our potential coastal zone management
strategies remain effective, applicable, and appropriate across
a broad range of conditions.
of Alternative Possibe Futures:
1. Continued Growth
The "more is more"
future: The world economy grows ever stronger, the rich and the
poor get richer, technology solves lingering problems. International
corporations are much more economically and politically powerful
-- almost "corporate nations." The speed of technological innovation
is matched only by the speed at which those technologies are marketed
as consumer goods: tool as toy. Many of these new technologies are
primarily playthings of the rich: if you have the $$$ or the corporate
connections, you can have a longer and healthier life through advanced
biogenetic bodywork. Those developing nations which are lucky enough
to possess some kind of valuable resource have been absorbed into
corporate spheres of influence, and their further development is
part of the multinationals' long-range planning...
The Pacific islands, being land resource poor, go knocking at corporate
doors, bartering bits of their EEZs for access to goods, energy,
Worldwide depression causes collapse of the international economic
system, made worse by war and environmental problems. Technological
systems and communications links break down; international production
and distribution of goods collapses, as does internal distribution
of goods in many countries. Social structures fragment; not just
countries, but communities become more isolated -- the return of
city-states, clans, nomads on both land and sea.....
The Pacific islands are cut off from imports of western goods and
energy supplies; residents must relearn traditional agriculture
and fishing practices to avoid widespread famine...
Society (Green Future)
reigns: undeniable global environmental changes force value shifts
all over the planet away from materialism, consumerism, and towards
an intense respect for the environment. The use of appropriate technologies
becomes the order of the day, as does resurrecting traditional cultural
modes of relating respectfully to nature. More and more human communities
are scaled down from metropolises to towns, and societies stress
self-sufficiency, re-use of material goods, nurturing the biosphere,
and increase the emphasis on learning and the arts.
The Pacific islands are seen as a source of traditional expertise
on, and models for, managing coastal and marine resources; regional
chants and stories gain an international audience....
Conservative nationalists seize power: worldwide trends in political
extremism, nationalism, and religious fundamentalism escalate. Societies
are more conservative and traditional, yet still use high technology.
Social roles, however, are much more constrained, with only a very
narrow range of behaviors, beliefs, and political ideologies considered
acceptable. Art and expressive communication are cramped and censored
to support political and philosophical regimes. The control of production
is in the hands of a few charismatic leaders who hobble economic
action with political rules. While not as materially productive
as the "Continued Growth" future, neither is this as poor as the
"Collapse" future -- but nor is it as respectful of the environment
as the "Conserver" future....
In the Pacific region, ethnic and cultural tensions increase with
splinter groups demanding sovereignty on an island-by-island basis
(for example, the Federated States of Micronesia fragment into separate
5. High Tech
advances in energy production, such as cheap fusion power, give
us clean, abundant supplies of energy. Advances in microprocessing
such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology give
us very precise, adaptable control over our environments, while
advances in genetic engineering and the biological sciences give
us very precise control over our bodies and our definitions of who
and what we are. Advances in telecommunications, such as
high-definition, multi-sense holography and virtual reality, let
us create versions of our inner visions and fantasies so real we
may choose not to interact with "real" social reality. International
data and telecommunications networks let everyone share information
and opinions: regional and global direct democracies. Respect for
the environment is just part of rational environmental management
-- which the artificial intelligences mostly handle anyway...
The Pacific islands expand their land area via artificial reefs;
OTEC-powered floating cities. They engage in high-biotech mariculture
for the production of fish, shellfish, and seaweed. Polynesian and
Micronesian navigators crew the first deep-space starships....
We will take aspects of society and management and ask small groups
to "incast" them into these futures. In other words, you will be
required to brainstorm and imagine what a particular aspect of society
(e.g., education, energy) will be like in each future. EXAMPLE
-- COCONUTS. WHAT ARE POSSIBLE FUTURES FOR COCONUTS?
In CONTINUED GROWTH:
copra production increases, with more plantation projects and entire
islands geared only to coconut production, of a limited number of
genetically engineered fast-growth species; production is high,
but shortages increase domestically as increased yields go to export.
In DECLINE & COLLAPSE:
coconut yields drop, as many coconut species die off entirely when
rising sea levels cut off groundwater, and airborne pollutants mutate
and degrade species viability.
in a return to nearly total subsistence economies, residents would
reintroduce traditional and indigenous species of coconut, and coconut
production would be high with diversified use of coconut products
including substitution of coconut oil for imported oils, soaps,
nationalization of the copra industry; large plantations would be
established by the central government, traditional smallholder plantations
would be condemned, and the government would force consumer substitutions
of imported oils, foods, and building materials.
In HIGH TECH TRANSFORMATIONS:
conditions initially prove disastrous for coconut growers as scientific
evidence is used to ban use of coconut oils in foods, and in suntan
lotions; however, genetic engineers discover that coconuts redesigned
for polyunsaturated fats and high yields are also excellent CO2
sinks, and the market booms.
Remember to bring your
brainstorming hats, sense of humor, and imaginations to this workshop.