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Members of the IAM and IAV research communities have formed an International Committee On New Integrated Climate change assessment Scenarios ( (ICONICS ) to coordinate a range of activities contributing to the Parallel Phase of the New Scenarios Process. The JIIC is organized into Working Groups dealing with specific topics focused on the development of “Shared Socio-Economic Pathways” (SSPs) that can be used in conjunction with the RCPs to develop scenarios for use by the research community. The SSPs will include qualitative narratives and quantitative elements.

Narratives (also referred to in the literature as storylines) are qualitative descriptions of the relationships among different trends and socio-economic developments assumed in a scenario. Narratives can be used with quantitative information to infer more detailed representation of local and regional conditions while maintaining consistency with trends at the scale of the globe or large regions. Development of narratives for the SSPs is underway by an ICONICs working group. More information can be found here:

The scenarios developed from the SSPs and RCPs will aim to identify a range of different technological, socioeconomic, and policy futures that could lead to a particular concentration pathway and magnitude of climate change. In addition, integrated assessment modelers will develop entirely new scenarios with different radiative forcing pathways to explore additional issues and uncertainties. More information can be found at IAMC and from the ICONICs working group:

Available Data
A database of quantitative socioeconomic information related to the SSPs is available at:


A special issue of Climatic Change contains a series of paper discussing different aspects of the SSPs. A list of papers and links to Open Access articles is available at:

van Vuuren, D, K Riahi, R Moss, J Edmonds, AM Thomson, N Nakicenovic, T Kram, F Berkhout, R Swart, A Janetos, S Rose, N Arnell. 2011. Developing new scenarios as a common thread for future climate research. Global Environmental Change. DOI:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.08.002

Arnell, N, T Kram, T Carter, K Ebi, J Edmonds, S Hallegatte, E Kriegler, R Mathur, B O’Neill, K Riahi, H Winkler, D Van Vuuren, T Zwickel. 2011. A framework for a new generation of socioeconomic scenarios for climate change impact, adaptation, vulnerability and mitigation research. Working Paper (

The scientific community has been actively engaged in the development of new socioeconomic scenarios, referred to as “Shared Socioeconomic Pathways” that can be used in conjunction with the RCPs and CMIP5 results. A number of workshops and meetings have been convened on this topic by the IPCC and by independent scientific organizations including the US National Academy of Sciences, the IAMC and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the US. This is an active, ongoing process and additional information can be obtained by visiting the JIIC web site. Below are links to earlier community workshops that catalyzed the development of SSPs..

  • A February 2010 workshop of the US National Academy of Sciences addressed the topic of describing socioeconomic futures for climate change research and assessment, and issued a report, which can be found here:
  • The IPCC Working Groups II and III convened a workshop on socioeconomic scenarios for climate change impact and response assessments in November 2010. Additional information about the workshop is available here:
  • IAM and IAV community members gathered for a “Workshop to explore the new SMA/SSP Approach” in South Korea, 16-17 July 2011. The goal of the workshop was to share what the communities learn as they experiment with the new Scenario Matrix Architecture (SMA) and the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs). More information can be found here:
  • The IPCC Working Group III started a workshop series “Scenarios as an Integrative Element of the Working Group III Contribution of the AR5”. The workshops serve to coordinate scenario work across chapters of the Working Group III contribution to the AR5. They are held back-to-back with the Working Group III lead author meetings (The first meeting took place in Changwon City, Republic of Korea, 10-11 July 2011, the second one in Wellington, New Zealand, 17-18 March 2012).
  • The IAMC Annual Meeting, held in Vienna in October 2011, included a separate meeting of the IAMC Working Group on Scenarios (
  • The Integrated Science Program at NCAR held a meeting “The Nature and Use of New Socioeconomic Pathways for Climate Change Research” in November 2011 at Boulder, CO. Additional information and a workshop report can be found here:
  • On January 25 and 26, 2012 a technical workshop was held in Utrecht, the Netherlands, organized by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. Purpose was to present and discuss proposals for numerical scenario data on core parameters (Population, GDP and Urbanization), consistent with the draft narratives emerging from the Boulder meeting. The meeting was attended by researchers from the global IAM teams, and experts on the various topics discussed. After the meeting, the SSP projections were developed further and placed in a database hosted by IIASA:
  • An IPCC Working Group II and III co-sponsored meeting on “New Socio-Economic Pathways for Climate Change Research” was held in The Hague, Netherlands, 14-16 May 2012. The meeting aimed to report progress and gather feedback on the development of Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), linking SSPs as closely as possible with needs of the IAM and IAV research communities and stimulate broader participation in further development and use of the SSPs.

Content last modified: 4 November 2019