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Why and how to use foresight tools to manage climate security risks

448px-Risk_LegacyBy Shiloh Fetzek, Senior Fellow for International Affairs

The Planetary Security Initiative and the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) have recently co-published a policy brief titled “Why and how to use foresight tools to manage climate security risks.” The brief relates to the Working Group on foresight tools CCS organized at the 2016 Planetary Security Conference.

Assessing climate security risks can be challenging, as there are significant and multi-faceted uncertainties involved. For practitioners looking for conceptual approaches to understanding and evaluating such risks, foresight tools offer a practical toolset for formulating robust responses, even in the context of significant uncertainty.

This briefing note discusses three related foresight tools: scenario building, gaming and anticipatory governance. These tools are useful for risk management in the climate security space, because they supplant analysis approaches that look for the most likely outcome in favour of devising strategies that are robust across a range of plausible outcomes.

Foresight tools employ skills that we all use intuitively – thinking through how situations might evolve or turn out, working with limited information, feeling for the limits of our knowledge and formulating approaches that seem optimal given what we know and can reasonably or plausibly speculate. By providing structures that support these kinds of approaches, foresight tools offer a methodical way of asking, “What if?”, and can support strategies to manage systemic risk.

The brief was authored by Shiloh Fetzek, Bessma Mourad, Chad Briggs and Kristy Lewis.

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