One way to gain insights into the uncertain future is to construct what are known as scenarios. This article explores a wide range of long-term scenarios that could unfold from the forces that will drive the world system in the twenty-first century by considering six contrasting possibilities. The scenarios were developed by an international and interdisciplinary group of 15 development professionals called the Global Scenario Group. This scan of the future illuminates the perils and possibilities before us and, more importantly, helps to clarify the changes in policies and values that will be required for a transition to sustainability during coming decades.
Originally published in Environment 40, no. 3 (April 1998): 6-11, 26-31.