The P-FUTURES project aims to bring phosphorus sustainability into focus along with other important Phoenix priorities including water management, the urban heat island effect, and employment opportunities. Linking and coordinating with the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research project enabled synergies to be identified.


Local research partner: Julie Anne Wrigley Global Institute for Sustainability, Arizona State University

Key contact: Dr David Iwaniec


Transformation spotlight: unlikely drivers for phosphorus stewardship

The greater Phoenix area currently recycles significant amounts of phosphorus through the reuse of wastewater, manure, and biosolids. However, this is not because the city is currently emphasizing phosphorus recycling. Indirect market forces and concerns about water scarcity have allowed for high phosphorus recycling in local agriculture. Drops in cotton prices and increases in milk prices, created a situation where it was easy to reuse phosphorus from dairy cattle on to alfalfa crops (planned instead of cotton to support milk production). In addition, Phoenix relies on water resources from outside the state so it is concerned with water availability and thus reuse. Having crops, animals, and people in close proximity allows crops to be watered and fertilized through recycling. If market forces or water accessibility conditions were to change, phosphorus recycling could disappear as quickly as it appeared. Current serendipitous recycling does however give a positive glimpse into what could be done if municipalities decide to purposefully manage phosphorus (see here for more information).


Phoenix Workshop agenda
Phoenix Workshop presentation

On March 20th, 2015 the 4th P-FUTURES Phase 1 workshop was held at Arizona State University with 36 participants (see PARTNERS). This workshop leveraged regularly scheduled participatory working group meetings with the Sustainable Futures Scenarios (SFS) initiative of the Central-Arizona Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research program. The SFS working group collaborates to co-develop sustainable future scenarios and explore the unique challenges and opportunities we face in our urban desert environment.


Building from a large number of rapid prototyped scenarios, developed during a previous working group meeting, a core set of nine scenarios were refined and explored. There was a strong emphasis on detailing what these scenarios look like, how we might get there, and contrasting among different alternative futures:

  • strategic scenarios based on existing goals and priorities
  • adaptive scenarios in response to extreme events, and
  • transformative scenarios based on radical visions of desirable futures.

For each of these, we elicited priorities, challenges, and goals, developed systems maps of relationships, conducted sustainability and resilience appraisals, and crafted narrative representations in small group activities. Plenary discussions focused on synergies and linkages between the SFS and P-FUTURES project, participants reporting back to the larger group on their key priorities, challenges, and goals, and distinctions among the scenarios.

Phoenix workshop 2 shots

Field Visits

Local research partners:

Dr. David Iwaniec, Assistant Research Professor, Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University,,

Dr. Dan Childers, Professor, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University,,

Dr. Nancy Grimm, Professor, School of Life Sciences and the Global Institute for Sustainability, Arizona State University,

Dr. Genevieve Metson, Visiting Research Fellow, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney,

Participating stakeholder institutions:

  • Arizona Forward
  • Arizona Interfaith Power & Light
  • Arizona State Climate Office
  • ASU representatives (Central-Arizona Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research, Decision Center for Desert City, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability)
  • Departments of Planning, Public Works, Environment and Sustainability, and Water Resources from the cities of Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, and Goodyear
  • Keep Phoenix Beautiful
  • Maricopa Association of Governments (Department of Public Health, Department of Transportation)
  • Maricopa Flood Control District
  • Sonoran Institute
  • Luke’s Health Initiative
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • University of Arizona Cooperative Extension
  • Valley Permaculture Alliance
  • Watershed Management Group
News & Initiatives

Central-Arizona Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research meeting

Sustainable Futures Scenarios Working Group meeting (ASU) will be held on 31st July 2015. Contact for information.

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