For the past two years, researchers at the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-term Ecological Research program (CAP LTER) have engaged with municipal, county, state, federal, tribal, and community decision-makers to envision the future for Central Arizona. This work has entailed a series of workshops to first identify issues of concern, then to construct increasingly useful and specific scenario pathways and visions. Finally, we evaluated tradeoffs among the scenarios. We based these tradeoffs on sustainability and resilience assessments and modeled outputs of future regional climate, micro-climate, population, land use, spatial distributions of resources and infrastructure, and changes in water availability and demand by sector.
Exploring diverse sustainability and resilience pathways is key to guiding visions and planning in cities. However, sustainability and resilience pathways are often different and may even be incompatible. With our stakeholder partners, we developed six distinct scenarios to explore potential tradeoffs among co-identified social-ecological-technological goals and pathways (i.e., changes to urban form: fragmented, polycentric, centralized; urban density changes ranging from 5.8 to 20.4% land use; and, canopy cover changes ranging from 0.7 to 21.1%). Three sustainability scenarios focused on transformational changes across a broad range of strategies for equitable redistribution of services. Three resilience scenarios emphasized adaptive changes in land use and built and green infrastructure, specifically to address extreme heat, drought, and flood events. This study will be extended to nine cities within North and South America to compare strategies among a large suite of contextual conditions. This project demonstrates how scenario construction can enhance research and decision-making capacity.