Territorial approaches & “Imagine” method
Plan Bleu does not only work at regional and national scales: this UNEP/MAP Regional Activity Centre develops also “territorial approaches” and systemic analysis at local scale in different kinds of area such as ICZM sites, urban agglomerations, watersheds, tourist destinations, forest areas, marine protected areas, etc.
With environmental concerns coming increasingly to the fore in a context of more decentralized decisions, social and political demands are being made in favour of public involvement in the design and implementation of long term territorial strategies. In this context Plan Bleu has developed, tested and consolidated, in close collaboration with Dr Simon Bell (Open University, UK), the “Imagine” method for Systemic Analysis and Prospective of Sustainability, involving local stakeholders and using participatory approaches in the framework of several UNEP/MAP Coastal Area Management Programmes(CAMPs): Malta (2000-2002), Lebanon (2002-2003), Algiers (2003-2005), Slovenia (2005-2006), and Cyprus (2006). The Plan Bleu’s role consisted mainly of supporting the implementation of “Imagine” by the local teams of those CAMPs.
“Imagine”provides tools to describe, assess and examine the level of sustainability of an eco-socio-system in the past, present and future by means of indicators and based on a participatory approach considering local stakeholders as experts within their own area. This method has proven its strengths in producing shared insight into a given coastal area (diagnosis, scenarios, action plans…) and fostering stakeholder participation, thus leading to the identification of more desirable futures and the drafting of action plans collegially defined and approved.“Imagine” is a suitable tool for providing support to ‘territorial projects’ and the preservation of environmental resources.
Systemic analysis, prospective studies, and participatory approaches at the local scale
The Plan Bleu’s systemic and prospective approaches at the local scale consist of studying the past, present and future impact of development on the environment and natural resources. Those approaches aims at supporting ‘territorial managers’ and local decision-makers in using systemic and prospective analysis tools which allow to shape possible futures and, subsequently, to define action plans to move towards more desirable and sustainable futures. Intended to address and anticipate the territory in the light of past and present actions and trends, foresight analysis and scenario building methods are suitable tools to support decision-making: imagining possible (sustainable or unsustainable) futures leads to the identification of the route towards more desirable ones.
To explore the interaction between development and the environment, the Plan Bleu’s prospective approach draws on (i) system analysis and (ii) the scenario method:
Revisiting “Imagine“: participation and stakeholder dialogue
“Imagine” is a participation-based tool to support decision-making, engaging the expertise of stakeholders to define management projects and actions towards more sustainable spatial planning. The “Imagine” local participatory workshops provide unique opportunities to discuss and debate common issues. The “Imagine” method proved its ability to decompartmentalise the work of local stakeholders in a given area, to make them work together towards defining a sustainable common future, and to provide information about complex situations. “Imagine” represents also a mediation tool: stakeholder participation, facilitation of discussion and exchange of opinions, search for a common language and compromise, and multi-disciplinary thinking are complementary components of what can be called”participative prospective“.
Given his role of interface between scientists and decision-makers, Plan Bleu is currently involved in several regional collaborative projects, particularly in research projects funded by the EU (Seventh Framework Programme – FP7). Plan Bleu is currently involved in two FP7 projects focusing especially on marine and coastal ecosystems:
“Imagine” is based on four key-principles:
“Imagine” is based on four stages: