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Challenges and opportunities when implementing strategic foresight: lessons learned when engaging stakeholders in climate-ecological research

S. Hamel*, R. A. Ims, N. G. Yoccoz

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: 1. Ecosystems are currently experiencing rapid changes. Decision-makers need to anticipate future changes or challenges that will emerge in order to implement both short-term actions and long-term strategies for reducing undesirable impacts. Strategic foresight has been proposed to help resolve these challenges for better planning and decision-making in an uncertain future. This structured process scrutinizes the options in an uncertain future. By exploring multiple possible futures, this process can offer insights into the nature of potential changes, and thereby to better anticipate future changes and their impacts. This process is performed in close partnership with multiple actors in order to collect broader perspectives about potential futures. Through a large research initiative, we applied the strategic foresight protocol to a set of different case studies, allowing us as academic ecologists to reflect on the circumstances that may be influential for the success of this approach. Here, we present what worked and what did not, along with our perception of the underlying reasons. We highlight that the success of such an endeavour depends on people’s willingness, and that building social capital among all participants involved directly from the start is essential for building the trust needed to ensure an effective functioning among social groups with different interests and values.