The role of values in future scenarios: What types of values underpin (un)sustainable and (un)just futures?

Zuzana v. Harmáčková*, Yuki Yoshida, Nadia Sitas, Lelani Manetti, Adrian Martin, Ritesh Kumar, Marta Berbés-Blázquez, Rebecca Collins, Klaus Eisenack, Ellen Guimaraes, Maria Heras, Valerie Nelson, Aidin Niamir, Federica Ravera, Isabel Ruiz-Mallén, Patrick O’Farrell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Values have been recognized as critical leverage points for sustainability transformations. However, there is limited evidence unpacking which types of values are associated with specific types of future scenarios. This paper builds on a review of 460 scenarios in the IPBES Values Assessment, synthesising evidence from academia, private sector, (non)governmental strategies, science-policy reports and archetypes of the future. The results demonstrate that futures related to dystopian scenario archetypes are mostly underpinned by deeply individualistic and materialistic values. In contrast, futures with more sustainable and just outcomes tend to be underpinned by a more balanced combination of plural values of nature, with a dominant societal focus. Consequently, the paper identifies research gaps and illustrates the key importance of acknowledging not only people’s values directly related to nature, but also broader core values that affect the interactions between nature and society.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101343
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Early online date19 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • future scenarios and visions
  • Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
  • sustainability and transformation pathways
  • multiple and plural values of nature
  • human-nature relationships
  • equity


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