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Working Groups | TWI2050

Working Groups

TWI2050 is operating through different working groups. Working Groups can focus on individual themes or methodological challenges. Working Groups are formed bottom-up or top-down and operate until they have answered their research question.


WG on Narratives

TWI2050 seeks to frame the solution space for sustainable development pathways, based on comprehensively achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and sustaining progress to 2050 and beyond within planetary boundaries. The current TWI2050 narrative, and to a lesser extent the SDG’s, are derived from a very ‘western’, globalizing perspective on the future of our planet. If the project is to be successful and its results are to be widely adopted globally, it needs to develop narratives that mobilize those parts of the world’s population that have different perspectives on the future of the planet, or different approaches to defining or achieving sustainability. As part of this effort, pathways and narratives need to be defined that can integrate unforeseen societal dynamics into the TWI2050 goals.


  • Develop a wider band of potential futures for the project by taking into account unanticipated dynamics that might occur
  • Increase global interest in the project through contributions to it from different cultures and different perspectives


  • Publication of a selected range of narratives from different cultures
  • Publication of a ‘futuring’ paper on societal changes that might affect the SDG goals


WG on Target Spaces

TWI2050 seeks to provide scientific guidance to help policy makers implement the SDGs successfully. To this end, the SDGs provide the basis. However, the majority of the SDGs have 2030 as their running period, some even 2025 or 2020. The SDGs, their targets and suggested indicators and values are not always suitable for modeling purposes and need to be interpreted in many cases to make them operational for research. Furthermore, the SDGs are very comprehensive. Research groups need to arrive at a concise set of indicators for the target spaces representing sustainable development in 2030 and 2050 and beyond in their work. This will require reducing the complexity of the full set of SDG targets, while minimizing information loss so that the assessment can be considered representative of all SDGs. This will facilitate intercomparison of results and communication thereof with policymakers. The identification of suitable indicators should follow an internally consistent framework. TWI2050 is involving domain experts and stakeholders of the relevant fields to identify crucial indicators that can reflect as much information as possible, ideally across several SDGs. The target spaces should reflect what models need and can do. To make them usable for a wide array of models, different sets of indicators are likely needed.


  • To frame the target space for TWI2050, which fulfils the criteria of (i) meeting the SDGs by 2030, (ii) sustaining progress towards 2050 and (iii) respecting global environmental constraints
  • To propose representative indicators and associated target values which will inform the modelling protocol and guide the integrated assessment of TWI2050


  • Indicator list: Data base with explanatory note
  • Working paper or scientific publication presenting the TWI2050 indicators for the target space and the rationale for their selection


WG on Modelling Protocol


  • To provide guidance to modelling teams for the implementation of TWI2050 pathways, describe main pathways set-up and assumptions (flexibility vs consistency)
  • To assure minimum degree of consistency (and thus integration)
  • To provide basic definitions for regions, sectors, reporting standards and data templates


  • Database on SSPs including terms of reference
  • First modelling protocol prototype by Spring 2018, full modelling protocol in the years ahead under continued refinement
  • Definition on branching points and integration of the transformation process

WG on Governance

Social and political change is a necessary precondition for the transformation to TWI2050. SDGs 16 and 17 address these conditions. In other words, peace, inclusive governance and institutions for cooperation are not only an objective but shall also enable the achievement of other SDGs (see figure 1). Although all SDGs reinforce or counteract each other in one or the other way (LeBlanc 2016; ICSU 2017), SDGs 16 and 17 differ from other goals: SDG 16 and 17 address structural change which usually takes a long time, up to decades. In addition, SDG 16 refers to a type of change that can be abrupt and disruptive. For instance, societal conflict can easily and abruptly turn into war in societies under stress. The nature of SDG 16 and 17 thus comprises two challenges for scenario-building. First, building representative indicators is a challenge due to the complex nature of social and political phenomena. Second, it will be challenging to avoid problems of endogeneity.

The Governance Working Group will thus focus its work on three main questions:

  1. What are theories of social and political change that can inform scenario-building for TWI2050? What explanatory factors for societal change do different disciplines offer?
  2. What are representative indicators for SDGs 16 and 17 to model the TWI2050?
  3. What kind of accompanying research is necessary to complement the model and inform theory-building and policy (e.g. qualitative comparative research; case studies in specific areas to improve pathways; polycentric governance & spatial fit etc.)? Given the integrated nature of the SDGs we will pay special attention to the possibilities and limits of nexus governance for the implementation of SDGs.
  4. A certain level of social cohesion seems to be a precondition for any kind of inclusive or transformative governance. The other way around, social centrifugal forces undermine governance capacities. We are aiming at understanding more systematically the main elements, mechanisms, and drivers of social cohesion: can we describe (based on research of different disciplines) a “safe space for societies”? This strand of work might a) help us to understand better dynamics of social change, and b) lead us to sustainability goals beyond 2030.


  • Narrative: To contribute to narrative-building
  • Modelling: To integrate theories of social and political change in modelling scenarios and integrated assessment of TWI2050
  • Target space: To propose representative indicators and associated target values with regard to peace, governance and social change, social cohesion (“safe space for societies”)


  • Two workshops on Governance, theories of social change and modelling
  • Contribution to indicator list for target space
  • Working paper or scientific publication on theoretical and methodological challenges of integrating social and political factors in modelling