Combining conceptual models, sectoral futures and global and national scenarios

Conceptual models, sectoral futures and global and national scenarios – an Australian Blue Economy examples

Citation for this work

Boschetti, F., C. M. Bulman, A. J. Hobday, E. A. Fulton, S. Contardo, H. Lozano-Montes, L. M. Robinson, A. D. M. Smith, J. Strzelecki and E. I. v. Putten (2020). Sectoral futures are conditional on choices of global and national scenarios – Australian marine examples. Frontiers in Marine Science 7: 563205, doi: 563210.563389/fmars.562020.563205.


Planning and management require expectations of future system behavior. These expectations can come in the form of predictions, projections, scenarios, narratives, visions and intuitions, at different spatial and temporal scales. While each can provide different insights into a system future, it is not clear how they can be effectively combined into a unified analysis. Here, we propose a general framework to combine conceptual models, numerical projections and scenario narratives, leading to a system view of the functioning of the future Blue Economy sectors as applied to Australian oceans. We start by developing a conceptual model of the sectors directly or indirectly interacting with the Australian oceans and their national and global drivers. We then identify scenarios and projections for each global driver as well as projections of future development for the national drivers and for the Blue Economy sectors. Comparisons of the global scenarios, national projections and sectoral projections suggest that the Australian marine sectors expect to follow a path of growth mostly driven by market forces enabled by government regulations. The analysis of each sector provides information on the extent to which the initial conceptual model can be improved as part of more detailed analysis at a sectoral level. This approach supports sector-based marine planning with a consistent and repeatable framing and can help researchers, managers and stakeholders reach a shared understanding of system interactions and the potential impact of future shocks to national and international drivers.

Supplementary information to the article

This page includes the projections for each of the National processes and Blue Economy sectors in the conceptual model of the functioning of the Australia Oceans in the main document. We see both the conceptual model and the sector projections as living documents, which we intend to update at regular intervals following feedback and information provided by sector representatives with the aim of achieving a shared understanding of the functioning and possible futures of the Australian Oceans. Projections can be downloaded by clicking on the sectors in the table below.

Global Climate Change* Global Trade Global Population* Global GDP* Global Food Requirements*
National Extractive Oil & GasMinerals & Coal Renewables Energy Productions Australian population growth Australian GDP
Blue Economy Sea Bed mining Defence Shipping Tourism
Desalination Carbon Capture Bioprospecting Fishing Aquaculture

*Projections from the Great Transition Initiative global scenarios, modelled via the PoleStar model, are available in Figure 2 in Boschetti et al 2020 cited at top of page