Core research agendas for sustainability science include the following: (1) co-designing future scenarios and visions with a participatory approach, (2) integrating indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) systems into both scientific knowledge and future scenarios, and (3) the formulation of actions to transform society toward a more sustainable future (Miller et al. 2014; Schneider and Rist 2014; Kishita et al. 2016).
In 2016, The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) approved a methodological assessment report on scenarios and models of biodiversity and ecosystem services. This report guides experts regarding the use of scenarios and models to perform assessments within IPBES. Moreover, it guides scientists, stakeholders, and decision makers. In this assessment report, “Scenarios” are defined as representations of possible futures for one or more components of a system. In this case, this is achieved with particular emphasis on drivers of change in nature and natural resources, including alternative policy or management options. Furthermore, “models” are defined as qualitative or quantitative descriptions of key components of a system and of the relationships that exist between those components.
While IPBES has identified the development of scenarios as a key to aid decision makers in identifying potential impacts of different policy options, it currently lacks studies on substantial long-term-scenario approaches (Kok et al. 2017). IPBES emphasizes the importance of ILK together with the social–ecological dynamics of biodiversity and ecosystem services; therefore, engaging with the substantial diversity of local contexts through participatory processes is essential.
To meet this challenge, the authors launched a new project in 2016 named “Predicting and Assessing Natural Capital and Ecosystem Service (PANCES)”. The aim of this project is to develop an integrated assessment model of social–ecological systems to predict and assess natural and socio-economic values of natural capital and ecosystem services in Japan under various future scenarios (including differing socio-economic conditions and policy options) (PANCES website: http://pances.net/top/). PANCES also promotes multilevel governance of natural capital to maintain and improve “inclusive wellbeing” and to demonstrate the integrated assessment model at both national and local scales in Japan and beyond.