Qualitative storylines play an essential role in building consensus, communicating information, and illustrating pathways to the future. A credible and relevant story narrative is key to creating an impactful scenario. 

The qualitative storyline usually covers the context, driving forces, critical interventions, cause-effect linkages, and anticipated outcomes. You may collect relevant information from literature, planning and policy documents, experts, and stakeholders.

To develop the storyline, you can either start from current condition, or from the visioned outcomes. The forecasting approach first makes assumptions about changes the drivers and their effects, then estimate the associated future outcomes. Back-casting involves identifying desired outcomes first, and then exploring what actions and policies can result in the desired future. When scoping the relevant drivers, consider the two criteria:

1. Influence - Does the driver have a significant impact on scenario outcomes (e.g. land cover, or marine habitat extent)? 

2. Uncertainty - Will there be plausible and distinguishable future states of the driver? 

 

Related approaches and tools:

To obtain stakeholder views and expert opinions: survey, interview, workshop, and focus group

To elicit the mental model of cause-effect linkages and possible results of change of driving force: fuzzy cognitive map

 

Readings:

Review: Rounsevell, Mark DA, and Marc J. Metzger. "Developing qualitative scenario storylines for environmental change assessment." Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 1.4 (2010): 606-619.

Case Study: Foran, T., J. Ward, E. J. Kemp-Benedict, and A. Smajgl. 2013. Developing detailed foresight narratives: a participatory technique from the Mekong region. Ecology and Society 18(4): 6. http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-05796-180406