Biodiversity/ecosystem services scenario exercises from the Asia–Pacific: typology, archetypes and implications for sustainable development goals (SDGs)

In Sustainability Science
Peer-reviewed Article
cover image

This paper presents a systematic review of biodiversity/ecosystem services scenario exercises from the Asia–Pacific region. From the limited scholarly literature available, 61 scenario exercises were examined to explore their typology and multiple scenario attributes, including geographic distribution, consideration for influential drivers, choices of ecosystem services, number of alternative futures and temporal horizons for scenario deployment. To analyze the nature and tendency of 204 regional scenario narratives, collated from the 61 regional/sub-regional scenario studies, we used the Global Scenario Group (GSG) archetypes to synthesize diverse, contrasting scenario assumptions. A further attempt was made to identify regional focuses in relation to the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) through rigorous, qualitative screening of scenario narratives. Our observation suggests that, so far, spatially explicit, exploratory scenarios dominate regional ecosystem services/biodiversity scenario research, with emphasis on the assessment of likely trades-offs in food-provisioning ecosystem services. The archetype analysis further indicated that the regional/sub-regional scenarios mostly correspond to the market force, policy reform and eco-communalism pathways of the GSG archetypes, while population growth, climate change, agricultural expansion and urbanization remain the dominant regional drivers of change. With respect to integration of SDGs, environmental targets listed under SDGs 11 to 15, in addition to the first three SDGs (i.e. SDGs 1, 2 and 3), remain well-integrated within the regional/sub-regional scenario narratives, albeit with variations across the sub-regions. The review concludes with a number of recommendations for future biodiversity/scenario research in the Asia–Pacific, which should aim to put emphasis on development of short-term, normative, participatory scenarios and incorporation for cultural services, especially those with non-material benefits.