14 July 2018

Why and how to use foresight tools to manage climate security risks

Foresight tools employ skills that we all use intuitively – thinking through how situations might evolve or turn out, working with limited information, feeling for the limits of our knowledge and formulating approaches that seem optimal given what we know and can reasonably or plausibly speculate. By providing structures that support these kinds of approaches, foresight tools offer a structured way of asking, “What if?”, and can support strategies to manage systemic risk.

Assessing climate security risks can be challenging, as there are significant and multi-faceted uncertainties involved. For practitioners who are looking for conceptual approaches to understanding and evaluating such risks, foresight tools offer a practical toolset for formulating robust responses, even in the context of significant uncertainty. This briefing note will discuss three related foresight tools: scenario building, gaming and anticipatory governance. These tools are useful, because they supplant analysis approaches that look for the most likely outcome in favour of devising strategies that are robust across a range of plausible outcomes.