AMP Toolbox

"Imagine" systemic and prospective sustainability analysis
Step 1: Supporting policy makers to define objective using a participatory approach
Step 3: Participative approach increasing robustness of policies
Step 5: Supporting policy makers to make policy adjustments using a participatory approach


Combining several basic tools in matters of stakeholder participation, scenarios construction and development planning, “Imagine” aims at:
  • Building a sustainable development vision and an area project by mobilising actors within a participatory process
  • Describing, assessing and examining as completely as possible the level of sustainability of a local (eco-socio)system in the past, present and future
  • Setting goals to be achieved and following progress of the system towards sustainable development.


Plan Bleu and Dr Simon Bell (Open Systems Research Group, Open University, UK) have developed, tested and consolidated the "Imagine" method which aims at facilitating the shaping of a sustainable development vision in a project area by committing stakeholders within a participatory process.


The "Imagine" Method is well adapted to cases where a prospective and systemic approach is required. When fully applied, it is rather time consuming for leaders and participating stakeholders but generally provides solid and shared consensus.


The "Imagine" method was used in several Coastal Area Management Programmes (CAMPs) implemented by the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP); “"Imagine"” has been successfully used in Malta (2000-02), Lebanon (2002-03), Algeria (2003-04), Slovenia (2005) and Cyprus (2006-07).


The "Imagine" method mobilises several other tools to facilitate stakeholder participation presented in the AMP TB. It follows the policy steps aiming to design policy measures.


The "Imagine" method includes 4 stages implemented in 4 or 5 workshops. It is a dynamic process and a lively approach in constant development according to the different frameworks in which it is used. The 4 stages are the followings:
  • 1st stage: studying and understanding the system, with a holistic vision of the territories, of the pressures and state. Identification of the main issues and the relevant indicators.
  • 2nd stage: connecting and studying. A minimal and maximum value is given to each indicator, between which the criteria for adhering to sustainable development are assessed; this is what is called the "band of equilibrium".
  • 3rd stage: modelling and exploring through a scenario method the trends and the alternatives regarding the future of the area. Diagrammatic representation of indicators compared to the band/belt of equilibrium provides a visual image of the “sustainability” of the area and of its possible futures.
  • 4th stage: suggesting and acting: definition of an action or policy plan.


The method is free.
The costs bear on the resources required to organise and lead the stakeholders groups.


Work group facilitation skills of the leader are instrumental.

Background requirements

Basic knowledge of the environmental issues to be solved.


Participation is the core of the method. Well adapted to issues where relevant stakeholders accept to work in groups of 10 to 20 persons.

Time range

Several months for the full application of the method.

Source of information