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Tuesday, September 15th
8:00 AM

Planning for a democratising river basin: methods to support analytic deliberation

Tira Foran, CSIRO, Australia

8:00 AM - 8:20 AM

We report on the innovative design, and progress to date, of a stakeholder-formulated water resources development strategy for the Kamala river basin in Nepal, the first such initiative in the country’s experience since 2015 as a federal democratic republic. In the Kamala basin (pop. 610,000), authority over water resources and watershed management is allocated among 15 municipalities, three provincial governments, and the federal government. Our design consisted of an sequence of participatory analytic techniques based on a deliberative approach to planning. To formulate strategic advice, we used: (i) multi-criteria analysis (MCA) of four major water supply options; (ii) scenario-based assessment of the viability of those options; and (iii) participatory institutional analysis of prioritized options, with (i) and (ii) supported by river system hydrological modelling. We designed and delivered each component in the sequence to elicit the development aspirations and practical knowledge of state and non-state actors at the three levels of governance, in a participatory and co-productive manner. The application of interdisciplinary and co-productive methodologies requires sensitivity to the diverse interests, capabilities, and power of stakeholder-participants. Specifically, it requires designs, methods and techniques which diversify problem and solution framing, while reducing power asymmetries. The talk reflects on the contribution our methodology (i.e. our specific techniques, and the sequence of techniques), made to formulating the Kamala basin’s first water resources development strategy.

8:20 AM

Facilitating interdisciplinary learning about interdependent resource systems using online integrated models

Stephen Knox, University of Manchester, United Kingdom

8:20 AM - 8:40 AM

Enabling a holistic view of a region’s resource (e.g. water, energy, food, environment, i.e., WEFE) systems requires representing individual system drivers, processes and interdependencies. Integrated system models incorporate multiple sectors where each sector is represented by a distinct stakeholder group with knowledge of their sub system, but not necessarily the others. This presents the challenge of 1: Enabling multiple users with different backgrounds and knowledge bases to communicate effectively and work together. 2: Integrating domain-specific sub-models into a single integrated system model. We present a web technology which 1: enables the integration of sub-models using the Pynsim simulation framework and 2: Allows users to collaborate by accessing and sharing data in a user-friendly online environment. This tool allows modellers, stakeholders, and decision makers to access a shared integrated model facilitating participatory planning and co-decision making. This talk presents a multi-resource system model of Ghana, including water and energy resources. Each sub-model is developed and verified independently, and then ‘plugged in’ to the integrated model using Pynsim, an open-source simulation framework for multi-resource networks. Hydra Platform, an open-source tool for networked resource systems, is used for data management and sharing. Through a web interface users run models (both their individual sub-model, and the integrated model) and visualise their outputs in a single collaborative environment. This has enabled users from different backgrounds to gain an understanding into how their system interacts in the wider context. While this presentation focusses on Ghana, the technology is used by researchers and practitioners collaborating on large multi-sector projects in the UK, Kenya, Myanmar, the Nile basin and the Tigris-Euphrates system. This talk will feature a short demonstration of the tools described.

8:40 AM

Framework to support public decision-making of territory management in rural areas of developing countries

Julien Burte

8:40 AM - 9:00 AM

9:00 AM

"Co-create" approach to reduce flood risk in urban areas; testing Hydrological Communities (HC) in Brussels (Belgium

Dimitri Crespin, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

9:00 AM - 9:20 AM

9:20 AM

Combining local knowledge and technical expertise in water research: Experiences from the Río Lurín catchment, Peru

Hannah Kosow, ZIRIUS, Germany

9:20 AM - 9:40 AM

10:40 AM

How wicked are wicked problems and how do we model them

Alexey Voinov, UTS-Perswade, Australia

10:40 AM - 11:00 AM

The concept of 'wicked problems' has emerged more than 50 years ago, and has been later on explored in numerous publications and applications. All the policy and planning problems in pluralistic societies have been identified as wicked, which means that they cannot be properly defined, cannot have any single solution, moreover, they cannot have any correct or false solutions at all. Systems modelling, especially participatory modeling have been proposed as useful tools to use when dealing with wicked problems. Attempts to address the 'wickedness' also gave rise to justifying further increases in complexity of models that are built. While being a stimulating philosophical concept, the idea that certain problems simply cannot have solutions creates some forms of escapism that may justify inaction. The same we see in how uncertainty is being repeatedly used to avoid making decisions. In reality most of wickedness may be a product of wrongly identified system boundaries and lack of understanding of hierarchies involved. We try not to look at the system at other scales, where the solution is more obvious, but may be contrary to the preferences and values of some stakeholders. We make problems wicked when we assume that only win-win solutions are acceptable, or when we try to make only popular decisions. The idea of unsolvable wicked problems is a natural outcome of mature democratic societies. However, majority changes from local to regional and global scales. While certain decisions may be obviously beneficial in the global scale, they will be unpopular in the local ones and vice versa.

11:00 AM

Linking qualitative scenarios with quantitative energy system models. Knowledge integration in different methodological designs

Sigrid Prehofer, ZIRIUS, ZIRIUS, Germany

11:00 AM - 11:20 AM

Linking qualitative scenarios with quantitative energy system models serves to integrate assumptions on possible alternative future societal contexts into energy systems analysis. This endeavor requires integrating knowledge from different disciplines like social and political sciences, the humanities, economics, engineering and natural sciences. In this presentation, we report on our experiences with a new approach linking qualitative scenarios with quantitative energy system modelling and on our analysis of its effects on interdisciplinary knowledge integration. This new approach namely is the context scenario approach and is based on Cross-Impact Balance analysis (CIB). We carried out a cross-case analysis comparing three projects applying this approach to construct qualitative scenarios and link them with different quantitative energy system models. Differentiating between three forms of knowledge integration (compiling, combining and synthesizing) is the basic conceptual contribution of the analysis. We identify differences in the linking design (CIB as a provider and as equal partner for the energy system model) and in the form of linking (on the scenario level or on the model level). Important results of our work are that i) CIB itself, ii) forms of researcher interaction and iii) the linking design and interplay of different methods seem to have justifiable effects on the form of knowledge integration.

11:20 AM

Citizen Engagement and Behaviour Modelling for Clean Air and Net Zero Carbon

Laura Fogg Rogers, Uni of the West of England, UK, Science Communication Unit

11:20 AM - 11:40 AM

11:40 AM

Climate forecasts enabled knowledge services, the CLARA project

Jaroslav Mysiak, CMCC, Italy

11:40 AM - 12:00 PM

Climate innovation and piloted climate services produce action-oriented knowledge that galvanise adaptation and transformational change, while unlocking Europe’s competitiveness and economic growth. Climate services help individuals and organizations make risk -informed decisions. Climate services are knowledge-intensive business services that employ advanced technological and professional knowledge. What characterises climate services is that both users and purveyors play a vital role in co-designing and co-producing the service solutions, ideally in a genuine and mutually beneficial partnership inspiring trust and users’ satisfaction. Climate services generate private and collective benefits. Historic climate records, catalogues of extreme events, reanalyses, forecasts, projections and indices used in outlooks, early warnings, vulnerability and risk assessments enable higher agricultural productivity, more efficient use and allocation of water, greater financial security and returns on investments, more reliable access to and production of renewable energy, and more effective protection of vulnerable communities and ecosystems. Over the past decades, the climate services have grown in numbers, quality and sophistication, stimulated by efforts under the World Meteorological Organisation’s Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), and the Climate Services Partnership (CSP). The European Union (EU) made large investments in frontline systems enabling modern meteorological services under the Copernicus Earth observation programme (previously Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, GMES). In this paper we summarise the lessons learned from the H2020 CLARA project (Climate forecast enabled knowledge services), including the 14 climate services developed, the co-development process and the sustainable business models employed to ensure measurable and lasting impact.

12:00 PM

Comparison of mental models of agricultural ecosystem services using cultural consensus analysis

Hadi Veisi, Shahid Beheshti University, Ohio State University

12:00 PM - 12:20 PM

Understanding how practitioners conceptualize agricultural ecosystem services (ESs) and translate these into farm management decisions helps to achieve sustainable agro-ecosystem management. The present study explored mental models of farmers and experts for agricultural ESs using cultural consensus analysis. The study analyzed qualitative data from semi-structured interviews, pile sorting and questionnaires to determine the similarity and differences between mental models within and across groups of farmers and experts in Dezful County, Iran. The results showed that soil fertility and food production services were scored as the most important ESs, followed by job creation and biodiversity. The cluster derived from priorities at the pile sorting stage revealed that the ontology of the two groups was similar; however, they differed in terms of epistemology. Farmers understood an agricultural ecosystem as being a system that has both production (services) and potentials (carrying capacity, risks, resilience). Experts ignored some of the agricultural potentials and considered an agricultural system to be a set of structural factors under distinctive management. To reach consensus between the two groups, the co-creation of knowledge approach is recommended to create balance among ESs through the implementation of sustainable agricultural procedures.

12:20 PM

A decision support system to evaluate water resource during low water period in South-Western Europe catchments: the AGUAMOD platform

Sabine Sauvage, CNRS, FRANCE

12:20 PM - 12:40 PM

The objective of Aguamod is to work with all stakeholders in water management (managers, economic actors, users and civil society) in South-West Europe (SUDOE) to build a platform for the integrated management of water resources during low water periods. The Aguamod platform combines a calculation of the water needed from the watershed (drinking water, agriculture, industry, environmental flows ...), with numerical models simulating the stocks and fluxes of water in all compartments of the watershed using SWAT model. An economic and social evaluation of water resources and an analysis of water governance was conducted for the SUDOE territory as a whole. Different scenarios of climate change coupled with simulations aimed to anticipate future water needs from a social and environmental point of view. The Aguamod platform ( aims to promote a global and shared vision of this resource when water levels are low in the SUDOE territory. It provides managers and users with tools to support decision-making using complex scenarios, and by 2050 offer robust and spatial information on the dynamics of climate, hydrology, land use, water and modes of governance.

1:00 PM

Towards transdisciplinarity: integration in R4D on social inclusion and agricultural intensification

Wendy Merritt, Australian National University

1:00 PM - 1:20 PM

Agricultural intensification is often seen as a pathway to alleviating poverty within communities, and achieving the development and agricultural production goals of governments or agricultural aide donors. Tempering the achievements that have been made over recent decades is the growing recognition that many people often struggle to engage beneficially, if at all, in intensification. In this context, the SIAGI research project (, set out to identify how Research for Development (R4D) investments could be designed to facilitate socially inclusive agricultural intensification. Social inclusion was both a core value of the SIAGI project and an outcome against which the impact of the project would be measured. The integrated assessment (IA) program of research in SIAGI was designed to provide a space for the SIAGI team to (a) capture, integrate and reflect on knowledge generated from the partners’ disciplinary research and engagement with community and other stakeholders, and (b) test ideas and assumptions around opportunities for often-marginalised members of community to engage in agricultural intensification, and the risks they may face. In this paper, we reflect on how our integration research helped the team bridge conceptual differences, synthesise and structure our knowledge as well as better incorporate informal knowledge held by collaborating farmers in our work. We developed three inter-related frameworks considering local water management, inclusive value chain assessment, and the process of empowering change in individuals and community. We contend that the frameworks have an audience beyond the SIAGI project team, namely donors, researchers or other stakeholders who are proposing interventions in community, as a tool for project design and Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) and to think through design of interventions (outcomes, risks, and supporting mechanisms).

1:20 PM

Agent Modeling, Behavioral Complexity, and Wicked Problems: Lessons Learned from a Multi-Disciplinary Collaborative Agent-Based Simulation of Water Management in a Transboundary Region

Jack Friedman, University of Oklahoma, United States of America

1:20 PM - 1:40 PM

How much behavioral complexity can be integrated into real-world agent-based modeling, and does it matter whether we capture this complexity when considering wicked environmental problems? Early social science advocates of agent-based modeling insisted that understanding the interactions between actors through networks would shed light on the emergent qualities of behavior that could, in turn, provide the richest understanding of human complexity. We describe the collaboration that developed between a team of cultural, psychological, and environmental anthropologists and a team of socio-environmental modelers in order to show how we were able to balance human behavioral complexity with the quantitative and computational constraints of creating an agent-based simulation of water management. At the same time, we describe how a traditional reliance on network-based approaches failed to meet the needs of our team. Our collaboration focused on the U.S./Mexico Rio Grande/Rio Bravo and was complicated by the issue of wicked problems that challenged traditional system dynamics models: multiple political and legal boundaries, cultural difference, different approaches toward land and resource management and conservation, and different historical traditions. We summarize our new simulation model for the region (implemented in ENVISION) and focus our discussion on the value of — and pitfalls associated with — creating working water manager typologies out of significant socio-cultural and individual diversity and complexity.

1:40 PM

Systemic challenges associated with complex socio-environmental problems

John Little, Virginia Tech, United States, USA

1:40 PM - 2:00 PM

Unfortunately, most studies of complex socio-environmental problems tend to focus on a few small subsystems, and simply ignore the dynamics of the larger systems. Consider, for example, food/energy/water, which may include interactions among watershed, land-use, agriculture, climate, energy, transportation, ecosystems, communication, as well as economic, legal and other social systems. A recent systematic review of 245 publications on food/energy/water revealed that most do not even capture interactions among water, energy and food, let alone the complex dynamics among many systems. In addition, most disciplines (e.g., hydrology, energy, transportation, ecosystems, and agriculture) tend to begin with their own system and then connect to a few components of other systems across a wide range of scales (e.g., local, urban, regional) meaning that there is no systematic basis to compare results to what has been done before in the individual disciplines or knowledge domains. To make matters worse, most socio-environmental problems (e.g., climate change, food/energy/water, coastal flooding, disaster management, and urban planning) are generally treated as entirely separate problems, but are in fact intimately related and cannot be managed independently. To more effectively deal with these systemic challenges, we propose to divide the natural and anthropogenic world into socioeconomic, technical and environmental systems (e.g., as listed previously for food/energy/water); study and characterize them separately over a range of scales; and then systematically re-combine the systems in a generic system-of-systems framework to simultaneously address a wide range of socio-environmental problems. Although we do not expect to be able to predict the future, we should be able to manage complex socio-environmental problems more systematically and more comprehensively than is currently achieved. We further acknowledge that the approach will be subject to large uncertainties, but this does not preclude investigating opportunities and risks in a way that fosters integration of knowledge, understanding and trust.