IMAGE framework/Development for the 2015-2020 period

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Main focus of IMAGE over the 2015–2020 period

The IMAGE modelling framework forms an integrated assessment model (IAM) of global environmental change in interaction with human development. In history, the IMAGE model has undergone various development periods – as indicated by different model versions. These periods often used the advice of the IMAGE Advisory Board to guide the direction of further development. The 'International review of IMAGE 3.0, Report of the 2014 IMAGE Advisory Board' (Hordijk et al., 2014) contains the latest evaluation. The IMAGE development strategy for the 2015-2020 period based on this report is described in the 'IMAGE strategy document' (Van Vuuren et al., 2015).

Both documents are available as pdf:

Basically, in the coming period we would like to extend the current position of the IMAGE framework providing an integrated view on trends that determine global environmental change (the drivers), the state of the global environment itself and the impact of future changes for the earth and human systems. In this context, the objectives for the modelling framework can be described, in generic terms, as:

  1. to assess the main interactions between the human system and the earth system on a global level and overlarge timescales;
  2. to indicate the importance of various processes of change by showing the consequences;
  3. to explore various response strategies for global environmental problems and their implications;
  4. to support policy-making processes and international assessments by providing relevant scenarios, with explicit attention for the extent and relevance of uncertainties along the chain.

The main clients of IMAGE include the Dutch Government, the European Commission, international organisations, such as IPCC, UNEP and OECD, and the research communities.

In the future, efforts will be made to expand this client base to sector and business associations. The 3 leading questions for the IMAGE framework over the following years remain similar to those of the past period:

  • What are effective response strategies for climate change, going beyond global costefficiency?
  • What response strategies would be able to provide sufficient food for 9 billion people around 2050, while conserving biodiversity and the provisioning of goods and services by ecosystems?
  • What levels of effort are associated with implementing currently formulated sustainable development objectives (SDGs/Planetary Boundaries)? Can multiple targets be achieved at the same time?


In addressing these questions, work on and with the IMAGE Framework will focus more on the following directions:

  • Response strategies and concrete interventions
  • Feedbacks and linkages between model components
  • Linkages between global environmental problems and human development
  • Guide policymakers and researchers on the role of uncertainty in complex environmental problems

The prioritisation is based on the observation that, over the past few years, there have been important changes to the context of IAM work:

  1. a shift from problem identification to interest in the efforts and benefits of response strategies;
  2. increasing interest in the governance aspects and the role of various actors;
  3. increasing attention for the relationship between various problems, calling for more integration;
  4. renewed attention forthe relationship between human development and global environmental change;
  5. increasing interest in the IAM work, in general.

IMAGE Advisory Board

The findings of the IMAGE Advisory Board are described in the 'International review of IMAGE 3.0, Report of the 2014 IMAGE Advisory Board' (Hordijk et al., 2014) and can be downloaded from the PBL site.

IMAGE strategy document

The IMAGE strategy has been elaborated in a PBL report (Van Vuuren et al., 2015) and can be downloaded from the PBL site.