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Co-design of national-scale future scenarios in Japan to predict and assess natural capital and ecosystem services

Abstract

Although the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has revealed that the development of scenarios is crucial for helping decision makers identify the potential impact of different policy options, there is a lack of reported scenario approach studies in Asia. A new 5-year research project (PANCES) has been developed for predicting and assessing the natural capital and ecosystem services in Japan using an integrated social–ecological system approach via the participation of 15 research institutions and more than 100 researchers. PANCES conducts the development of national-scale future scenarios for exploring potential changes in natural capital and ecosystem services, as well as human well-being, up to 2050 using key direct and indirect drivers including climate change, depopulation, and super-aging, as well as globalization and technological innovation. The Delphi method is employed to generate key drivers that determine different future pathways. Based on the two drivers for scenario axes identified by the Delphi survey and extensive discussion with project members and policy makers, four future scenarios are created, “Natural capital-based compact society”, “Natural capital-based dispersed society”, “Produced capital-based compact society”, and “Produced capital-based dispersed society”, respectively, in addition to the business-as-usual scenario. This study describes a novel approach for collectively designing national-scale future scenarios with qualitative storylines and a visual illustration of the developed scenarios in Japan.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Japan has experienced pronounced population aging, and has the highest proportion of elderly adults in the world (Chen et al. 2016). According to projections, Japan’s population will shrink to 87 million by 2060, with nearly 40% over the age of 65 years (Chen et al. 2016).

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Acknowledgement

This research was funded by the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (S-15 ‘‘Predicting and Assessing Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services’’ (PANCES), Ministry of the Environment, Japan). I specially appreciate the project members and respondents who contributed to this survey design and implementation.

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Correspondence to Osamu Saito.

Additional information

Handled by Shunsuke Managi, Kyushu University, Fukuoka.

Appendix

Appendix

See Figs. 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Fig. 4
figure4

Natural capital-based compact society

Fig. 5
figure5

Natural capital-based dispersed society

Fig. 6
figure6

Produced capital-based compact society

Fig. 7
figure7

Produced capital-based dispersed society

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Saito, O., Kamiyama, C., Hashimoto, S. et al. Co-design of national-scale future scenarios in Japan to predict and assess natural capital and ecosystem services. Sustain Sci 14, 5–21 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-018-0587-9

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Keywords

  • Scenarios
  • Social–ecological systems
  • Natural capital
  • Ecosystem services
  • Human well-being