What Are The Bandung Scenarios

Introduction

Scenarios are stories about what could happen in the future—not what will happen (predictions) or what should happen (proposals)—but what could happen over the coming years in the Indonesian energy sector , based on the latest political, economic, social, cultural, ecological, and international data and dynamics.

These four scenarios were developed by a team of 28 of Indonesia’s brightest minds from state-owned and private enterprises, political parties, government departments, non-governmental organizations, and academia.

These very different stories of the possible future for the Indonesian energy sector are intended to be relevant, challenging, plausible and clear in order to facilitate strategic conversations with energy leaders and stakeholders about the best way to address Indonesia’s energy challenges. The purpose of the stories is to provide a common framework and language to support dialogue, debate, and decision-making among actors within and outside the energy sector. They are intended to support an open and constructive search for answers to core questions on energy policy and strategy: What opportunities and challenges are we and could we be facing? What are our best options? What is the best way forward and what actions should we take?

Scenarios play a very important role in strategic planning because they are stories – that is, fictions – and because they come in sets of two or more different plausible stories, they offer the political advantage of supporting informed debate without committing anyone to any particular policy position – they provide a more open space for dialogue, as those posing answers and solutions are not burdened by the political constraints of the present. Scenarios enable us to deal with situations as they may arise, for although we cannot predict or control the future, we can work to plan for and influence it.

The energy expert scenario team met in August 2014 for two intense weekend workshops in Bandung. They started by examining a series of in-depth interviews of fifteen of the team members which had been conducted before the workshop. Examinations and discussions of the interview summaries revealed that there were three big shared issues that received repeated mentions and attention: the governance of the sector; energy pricing, supply and demand; and the drivers of energy policy. The examination also revealed that three big issues received less attention: people empowerment; sustainability; and the global context.

Starting from these sets of issues, the team identified a number of driving forces, i.e. social, technological, economic, environmental, cultural and political forces in the world, in which a small change could have a big impact on the sector. They then identified three key structural certainties about the future: the influence of politics on the sector; the imperative of balancing supply and demand; and the importance of human capital. They also identified three key structural uncertainties: the nature of governance; the impact of global developments; and which new technologies will be employed.

Based on these insights, the team started to construct scenarios by collecting ideas, headlines, and stories that were then organised into four outlines, which were discussed by the scenario team and then developed further by working groups. Based on the reports of these working groups and further comments and suggestions by the whole team, the writing team then drafted a first version of the scenario texts.

At the beginning of the second workshop, this draft was reviewed by the scenario team and then revised in the working groups. An additional working group worked on a table that summarised and compared the scenarios. These new texts were again presented to the plenary, and more comments, suggestions and amendments were made by the scenario team. Finally, the scenario team agreed on names and images to represent the four scenarios. After the second workshop, the writing team refined and finalised the scenarios, which were sent to the whole team for final feedback, and then put in the form of this final report.

The Bandung Scenarios can be used to support the formation of energy policy and strategy through different types of stakeholder dialogues. The purpose of such dialogues are not to reconstruct and reimagine new scenarios, but rather to employ the scenarios as they are written to discover what can and must be done in each instance. These scenarios can help focus attention, bring out new ideas and spur debate on the best way forward to address the future challenges they pose. The most fruitful dialogues involve a diverse group of interested and influential actors—not just friends and colleagues, but also strangers and opponents, creating a true open space for ideas and rejecting a ‘group-think mentality’.

There are four key steps to initiate the scenario-based dialogues successfully. First, the scenarios are presented through text, slides, and video. Second, for each scenario, the group addresses the question “If this scenario occurred, what would it mean for us?”.  The group should then work to evaluate the opportunities and challenges the scenario poses. Third, the group deals with the question “If this scenario occurred, what would we do? What options do we have?”. Actions and solutions should then be put forward. Finally, the group steps back to the present and considers the question, “Given these possible futures, what shall we do next?”.   This is perhaps the most important, as it brings these scenarios from the future into the today, and will help us formulate strategies and recommendations today that will affect the future, helping us collectively create more informed policy options.