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Working paper

Russia’s Water Resources 2030: Plausible Scenarios

The research presented in this paper focuses on the sustainable use of water resources in Russia based on a Foresight study with a 20-year time horizon. The study uses a scenario-planning method to develop four trajectories: economic depression, economic stagnation, visionary future, and national priority. These four trajectories offer significantly different yet plausible alternative futures. The current paper draws upon the earlier horizon scanning activity, which identified a set of trends, weak signals and wild cards, along with their implications for water resources in Russia. Based on this work, it identifies key factors and indicators, which may characterize future developments in the following domains: (i) the sustainability of water systems; (ii) water use by households and industry; and (iii) new water products and services. The evolution of variables and indicators will then be considered under the scenarios termed ‘Nearly perfect future’ (economic growth), ‘Problem conservation’ (economic stagnation), ‘Losses and accidents’ (economic depression), and ‘National priority’ trajectories. The paper concludes with a brief description of further research directions, including a discussion on the probability of the scenarios being implemented. Russian policy makers and water companies may use the scenarios to adapt (i.e. plan for timely responses), avert certain undesirable future developments, or approximate the visionary future of the sector.