Scenarios can be used for many purposes. Businesses and governments
use them regularly as a tool for developing strategies and policies, and the
resources on this site can be used for these purposes. However, the
focus of this site is on a particular cluster of issues that falls
under the heading of sustainable development.
The notion of sustainable development gained popularity with
the release of the 1987 report Our Common Future by the World Commission on Environment and
Development (WCED). Also known as the Brundtland Commission,
the WCED defined sustainable development as development that
meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of
future generations to meet their own needs. It paid particular attention
to the different impacts that poverty and affluence have on
While the idea of sustainable development has been compelling for many,
and has found advocates on both the political left and the right,
it has also generated controversy. Some have objected that the term
is too vague to be useful, allowing groups, companies and institutions to
claim they are fostering sustainable development when they are
doing nothing of the kind. Others object to the word development appearing
in the name, because for them, development is not a neutral
term - it has already been defined by Western countries with their
own interests in mind. More broadly, there is considerable
disagreement over what to sustain, for whom and
for how long.
While the disagreements over what sustainable development entails may be unsettling,
it can also be seen as an opportunity. The notion of sustainability is capturing
the interest of governments, businesses, scientists, community and environmental activists, and
others. The debate is exposing profoundly different visions of the
future. This is - or can be - an exciting time.
Nevertheless, the debate over sustainable development will only be helpful in the long run if a
broad range of opinions is brought to the table. One key way to articulate a vision of the future
is through a set of scenarios. This web site was created in the interest of bringing this technique
to the attention of a wider audience.
More information is available at the following sites: