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15 July 1991
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 (30-50 years).

"Futurizing" workshops 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:

"Continued Growth"
"Decline and Collapse"
"Conserver Society (Green Future)"
"Disciplined Society"
"High Technology Transformations"

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 us.

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.


Short Sketches 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, and services.....

2. Decline and Collapse

Global breakdown: 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...

3. Conserver Society (Green Future)

Environmentalism 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....

4. Disciplined Society

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 nation-states).....

5. High Tech Transformations

Technologies triumph: 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....


Incasting Exercise:

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 CONSERVER: 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, and foodstuffs.

In DISCIPLINED: 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.

> Tools > Incasting > Classic | EPA Incast | NELD Incast | Library Incast | Public Health Incast | Pacific Islands Incast

15 February 2003. Email IF.
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