Delivering sustainable river basin management: plausible future scenarios for the water environment to 2030 & 2050. Report B: Full Scenarios

Kenisha Garnett, Catarina Henriques, Joao Correa Delgado, Fiona lickorish, Hayley Shaw, George Prpich, Anna Rathe, Jason Weeks, Simon Pollard, David Forrow

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


This project developed a long-term, strategic approach to assess plausible changes to the management of water and the water environment over a 35-year period. Futures research, specifically scenario analysis, was adopted to investigate possible developments within water and the water environment, thus providing the government, its arm’s length bodies and stakeholders with additional information to support decisions on management strategies, skills, resources, institutions, positions and policies required to deal with the range of plausible outcomes.
‘Futures thinking’ has been applied to revise and elaborate the Environment Agency’s existing 4 socioeconomic scenarios (uncontrolled demand, innovation, sustainable behaviour and local resilience), as well as to introduce a new reference scenario that examines the impact of developing trends in future intervention. This revision has been shaped by experts from a wide range of disciplines (including social science, water sciences, river basin management and risk management) from the Environment Agency and project partners to establish the implications for managing water and the water environment.
The report outlines the process used to develop the scenarios and explains the framework used to analyse the complex issues associated with the future of water and the water environment and for supporting thinking and discussion around long-term strategic options and objectives. This analytical framework takes a broad view of the catchments in England and Wales, and the wide context in which management operates. The analysis considered the most important aspects of river catchments, ranging from upland to urban catchments.
This report described the scenarios in detail. It is one of 3 reports produced by the project. The other 2 present an overview of the scenarios and discuss the implications of each scenario for the water environment and water users, respectively.
Note that the scenarios and the environmental consequences described in these reports reflect the collective views of a set of stakeholders at the time the work was undertaken (2012 to 2014). The work was completed before a number of significant political changes occurred, not least the outcome of the referendum on the UK exit from the EU. Although this affects some of the specifics in the scenarios (notably the reference scenario), the generalities of the scenarios are still valid.
The project was led by the Environment Agency and delivered through joint working with Defra and its arm’s length bodies (Environment Agency, Natural England, Forestry Commission England) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Natural Resources Wales through the Defra Futures Partnership initiative, led by Cranfield University.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEnvironment Agency
Number of pages75
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2017

Structured keywords

  • Cabot Institute Water Research


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