Using the three horizons approach to explore pathways towards positive futures for agricultural landscapes with rich biodiversity

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In light of the global challenges of the Anthropocene, including biodiversity loss, there are increasing calls for positive, inspirational futures to motivate action and help steer away from current, largely unsustainable trajectories. The three horizons framework is an approach in future studies that engages with normative futures and helps develop pathways towards them. However, this approach has not been applied to explore opportunities for biodiversity conservation with farming communities. We developed a template to apply the three horizons framework in combination with storytelling to explore positive futures for agricultural landscapes with rich biodiversity. We then applied this method over two workshops with a rural community in a farming landscape of south-eastern Australia facing typical contemporary challenges of an ageing population, climate change, biodiversity loss and global market uncertainty. In the workshops, six pathways for change were developed. We unpack these narratives of change to contrast problem framings, future aspirations and mechanisms of change and discuss implications for conservation. We discuss our approach to integrating diverse perspectives and values, creating actionable knowledge and highlight the role of governance and policy to support individual and collective agency. We conclude that the three horizons approach has the potential to create actionable knowledge through locally meaningful narratives of change, and thus influence priorities and empower local action. For lasting on-ground change, leadership and effective cross-scale governance is required.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1271-1289
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 05.2023

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