top of page

Future scenarios

Developments in social and economic factors can be just as important as climate to the future of marine biodiversity and ecosystem services. The FutureMARES project will develop policy-relevant scenarios with international stakeholders.

Additional stakeholder engagement will regionalise these scenarios by providing details relevant to the project’s two Nature-based Solutions and one Nature-inclusive Harvesting (Effective Conservation, Effective Restoration, and Nature-inclusive Harvesting) in specific marine and transitional waters (for more info, see our NBS/NIH map). FutureMARES scenarios are based on commonly used Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) frameworks including Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) and Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs).

The following narratives describe three future scenarios used by FutureMARES. The extent to which society addresses the challenges of climate adaptation and mitigation differs among these three, plausible scenarios. Contrasts in the implementation of NBS/NIH are also expected. Perceptions of these scenario-specific differences and contrasts will be collected at the kick-off meeting including various PESTEL (Political, Environmental, Societal, Technological, Economic and Legal) categories.

Global sustainability (RCP2.6, SSP1)


Low challenges to mitigation and adaptation

The world shifts gradually, but pervasively, to a more sustainable path, emphasising more inclusive development that respects perceived environmental boundaries. Management of the global commons slowly improves, educational and health investments accelerate the demographic transition, and the emphasis on economic growth shifts toward a broader emphasis on human well-being.


Societies increasingly commit to achieving development goals, thus reducing inequality across and within countries. Consumption is oriented toward low material growth and lower resource and energy intensity.

National enterprise (RCP8.5, SSP3)


High challenges to mitigation and adaptation

A resurgent nationalism, concerns about competitiveness and security, and regional conflicts push countries to focus more on domestic or, at most, regional issues. Policies shift over time to become oriented more on national and regional security issues.


Countries focus on achieving energy and food security goals within their own regions at the expense of broader-based development. Investments in education and technological development decline. Economic development is slow, consumption is material-intensive, and inequalities persist or worsen over time.


Population growth is low in industrialised and high in developing countries. A low international priority for addressing environmental concerns leads to strong environmental degradation in some regions.

Global markets (RCP8.5, SSP5)


High challenges to mitigation, low challenges to adaptation

The world places increasing faith in competitive markets, innovation and participatory societies to produce rapid technological progress and train & educate people for sustainable development. Global markets become more integrated and strong investments in health, education, and institutions are made to enhance human and social capital.


The push for economic and social development is coupled with exploiting abundant fossil fuel resources and adopting resource and energy intensive lifestyles around the world. All these factors lead to rapid growth of the global economy, while global population peaks and declines in the 21st century. Local environmental problems like air pollution are successfully managed. There is faith in the ability to effectively manage social and ecological systems, including by geo-engineering if necessary.

These three scenarios were previously applied to Nature-Inclusive (sustainable) Harvesting (NIH) across various European regions in the EU CERES project.

Similar scenarios were used to create contrasting plans of development for the Dutch Exclusive Economic Zone in the North Sea.

New release:
FutureMARES Scenarios - Brochure & Workbook for Engagement

What are Nature-based Solutions (NBS)?

What are the FutureMARES Scenarios?

And how can we develop future scenarios together with stakeholders?

In this new brochure, we go into detail about NBS, how to project different climate change futures, and the FutureMARES Scenarios we work with. Read the brochure to learn more!

bottom of page