Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 1771–1799 | Cite as

Community-based scenario planning: a process for vulnerability analysis and adaptation planning to social–ecological change in coastal communities

  • Nathan James BennettEmail author
  • Alin Kadfak
  • Philip Dearden
Case Study


The current and projected impacts of climate change make understanding the environmental and social vulnerability of coastal communities and the planning of adaptations important international goals and national policy initiatives. Yet, coastal communities are concurrently experiencing numerous other social, political, economic, demographic and environmental changes or stressors that also need to be considered and planned for simultaneously to maintain social and environmental sustainability. There are a number of methods and processes that have been used to study vulnerability and identify adaptive response strategies. This paper describes the stages, methods and results of a modified community-based scenario planning process that was used for vulnerability analysis and adaptation planning within the context of multiple interacting stressors in two coastal fishing communities in Thailand. The four stages of community-based scenario planning included: (1) identifying the problem and purpose of scenario planning; (2) exploring the system and types of change; (3) generating possible future scenarios; and (4) proposing and prioritizing adaptations. Results revealed local perspectives on social and environmental change, participant visions for their local community and the environment, and potential actions that will help communities to adapt to the changes that are occurring. Community-based scenario planning proved to have significant potential as an anticipatory action research process for incorporating multiple stressors into vulnerability analysis and adaptation planning. This paper reflects on the process and outcomes to provide insights and suggest changes for future applications of community-based scenario planning that will lead to more effective learning, innovation and action in communities and related social–ecological systems.


Scenario planning Community-based research Coastal communities Vulnerability Adaptation Climate change Social–ecological systems Thailand 



The results presented in this article are one aspect of the work of Project IMPAACT (—a project of the Marine Protected Areas Research Group, Department of Geography, University of Victoria, Canada. Financial support for this project came from the Social Science and Human Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada and the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem Project. NJB was supported by a Trudeau Scholarship during research and a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship during writing. We would like to recognize our Thai partners—Andaman Discoveries, the Northern Andaman Community Tourism Network and Mangrove Action Project—and the invaluable contribution of thee research assistants—Alin Kadfak (Alin), Piyawich Budhagesorn (Mai) and Panjai Sparks (Pom). A special thank you goes to the many participants from Baan Tapae Yoi and Baan Talae Nok. The map was created by Ole Heggen at the University of Victoria.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan James Bennett
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Alin Kadfak
    • 3
  • Philip Dearden
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for Resources, Environment and SustainabilityUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, College of the EnvironmentUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.School of Global StudiesUniversity of GothenburgGötenburgSweden
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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