After two years since its birth, the Scenario Exploration System is expanding its range of uses and is showing its adaptability.

The Circular Ocean project

On March 29, the Circular Ocean project invited us to a project consortium meeting held under the auspices of Macroom E, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Cork County Council, Ireland. This EU funded project is pursuing innovative and sustainable solutions for marine plastic waste, seeking to inspire enterprises and entrepreneurs to realise the hidden opportunities of discarded fishing nets and ropes in the Northern Periphery & Arctic region.

A crucial issue for the project is stakeholder engagement, and one of the main challenges in this respect is to engage constructively with the fishing community and other stakeholders. This is essential to secure the collection of waste fishing nets and to design sustainable solutions for the use and recycling of fishing nets and ropes.

Credits: Circular Ocean project

New roles developed

After having seen and experienced the Scenario Exploration System, the project partners decided it would be a good tool to use for stakeholder engagement. The Cork meeting brought together about 20 participants, 17 or which took part in the scenario exploration: 6 from project partners and 11 from local stakeholders from the Cork area in Ireland. For this, 3 new roles/card decks (fisherman, port authority, fisheries development agency) were developed in addition to the usual “business” role. New resources distributions were also prepared for use in the sustainable transitions scenarios. Only 2 people among the participants were aware of what the SES is.

Two SES tables were run in parallel: one with all project partners playing individually and one with the local stakeholders playing in teams. At the start, people did not know what to expect and the early phases of the session made people wonder. However, all quickly got into their roles and a very constructive atmosphere emerged. The teams worked efficiently together, leading to very believable outcomes. Participants who some thought a priori would be introvert also engaged very constructively.

The session ended with a discussion in which participants gave very positive feedback on the experience. Besides enjoying the overall experience they:

  • expressed their appreciation of the richness of the conversation generated by the interaction between the various roles,
  • realised the importance of the public voice and of collaboration,
  • liked the realism of what was happening on the board,
  • agreed that the exercise helped them develop a strategic perspective,
  • described a range of lessons learned through the exercise, especially through the contrasting journeys in the two scenarios,
  • appreciated the reflective thinking generated by the exercise and the fact that it helped them realise the link between the issue of waste fishing nets and broader issues.

The fishermen revealed themselves as keen participants and expressed their gratitude for having had a chance to take part in the exercise. This is very important for the project. In view of the success of this session, the partners would like to optimise a few additional elements of the SES and use it for a large scale stakeholder engagement exercise in Iceland next July.


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