Quantitative Storytelling: Science, Narratives, and Uncertainty in Nexus Innovations

08 November 2021
Quantitative Storytelling
WEF Nexus

In a freshly released article, MAGIC researchers from the UAB report on their experiences in applying Quantitative Storytelling (QST) to assess innovations with a strong nexus component. Innovations are central instruments of EU sustainability policies. They project future visions onto technological solutions and enable win-win framings of complex sustainability issues. Yet, they also create new problems by interconnecting different resources such as water, food, and energy.  The purpose of the study was to investigate how innovations are framed, what evidence is used to support them, and how evidence and narratives link to multiple (and often contradictory) legitimate perspectives under different conditions of uncertainty. Based on an exploration of the commonalities and differences of four MAGIC case studies—biofuels, shale gas, electric vehicles, and alternative water resources—the authors point at two rationales for implementing QST. First, QST is useful to question dominant narratives that promote certain innovations despite evidence against their effectiveness. Second, QST can offer avenues for pluralistic processes of co-creation of alternative narratives and imaginaries. The authors conclude that while the role of nexus assessments using both numbers and narratives may not be instrumental in directly inducing policy change, they are valuable means to open discussions on innovations outside of dominant nexus imaginaries.

The full article is available on the publisher's website, https://doi.org/10.1177/01622439211053819, and on Zenodo: https://zenodo.org/record/5670658.