Bohunovsky, L., Jäger, J. & Omann, I. Reg Environ Change (2011) 11: 271. doi:10.1007/s10113-010-0143-3
The paper discusses the role of visions within sustainability assessment and governance for sustainable development in Europe. Currently, our societies (still) develop along an unsustainable path, which results in a number of persistent problems (climate change, loss of biodiversity, poverty, etc.). Integrated sustainability assessment (ISA) is one approach designed to initiate transitions towards sustainability. Visions of a sustainable future form an important part of ISA. These visions support the process of discussing how the transition from today’s societies/systems to a sustainable future can be achieved. According to the principles of ISA, visions should be developed in a participatory way, thus including the ideas and perceptions of stakeholders, decision-makers, experts and/or citizens. The paper starts with an introduction of the concepts of visions and scenarios and describes exemplary methods for their participatory development. Then, the main concepts for integrated sustainability assessment in comparison with other impact assessments are discussed. The main body of the paper presents experiences in three projects (ARTEMIS, ALARM, ECOCHANGE) in which visions and scenarios of sustainable futures were developed with stakeholders. The paper concludes with lessons learned and suggestions for future applications for participatory scenario development.