Advancing participatory backcasting for climate change adaptation planning using 10 cases from 3 continents

Tom van der Voorn*, Jaco Quist, Åsa Svenfelt, Kasper Kok, Robin Hickman, Stephen Sheppard, Annika Carlsson Kanyama, David Banister

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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In the face of climate change, a major challenge is to inform and guide long-term climate change adaptation planning under deep uncertainty, while aiming at transformative change. Normative futures studies approaches, such as participatory backcasting, visioning and transition management, are increasingly applied, but their potential for climate change adaptation research and practice remains undervalued. This paper aims to advance the potential of backcasting in climate adaptation, by comparing various climate change adaptation studies that have used backcasting or visioning approaches. A framework has been further developed and applied to evaluate 10 cases in Africa, Europe and North America, using four dimensions: (i) inputs and settings; (ii) process and methods (iii) results, and (iv), impact. Our evaluation provides key insights into the use and further development of backcasting for climate adaptation. Key elements to add are advanced system modeling, robust elements, pathway switching and hybrid pathways, enhancing participation of marginal groups, and contributing to impact by facilitating the utilization of results and knowledge in practice and decision making.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100559
JournalClimate Risk Management
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Backcasting
  • Climate adaptation
  • Pathways
  • Scenarios
  • Visions

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