Scenario planning based on narrative or storytelling is one way of considering how various dimensions of wellbeing intersect within communities.
The UN supported 200 people in a series of 11 scenario-building workshops organized in six settings in the Mekong region (North-East Thailand; Tonle Sap, Cambodia; Mekong Delta, Viet Nam; Xishuangbanna, China; Nam Ngum Basin, Lao People’s Democratic Republic; and a regional gathering).
This process produced 21 final narratives about existing and potential wellbeing in communities. These narratives demonstrated how uncertain drivers manifested themselves over time and the effect they had on the lives of the ‘protagonists’ and their families in rural areas.
Analysis of the storylines created by participants revealed that protagonists in the stories, 50% of whom were women, frequently took risks voluntarily as well as experiencing it involuntarily, in changing locality to ensure their livelihoods. A common theme was that wellbeing in the region could be improved if people were able to stay in rural areas and avoid the instability of work, especially low-skilled wage labour, in cities.
Several participants expressed a vision in which people do well working in family or community enterprises involved in organic farming, aquaculture, carbon forestry, and ecotourism in rural areas.
Some stories imagined that if environmental governance improved, such enterprises could coexist near heavier industry, providing rural non-farm employment for farmers displaced because of inability to compete with large-scale farms.
This process shows the potential of scenario-building and narrative workshops to generate wellbeing visions that are informed by the reality of communities.
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