Subscribe to RSS Feed

Thursday, September 17th
8:40 AM

Eliciting, Formalising, And Debiasing Mental Models Through An Online Tool For Serious Discussions

Madiha Anjum, UTS

8:40 AM - 9:00 AM

A mental model is simplified representation of an individual’s thought process about how something works. Mental models can play an important role in understanding thinking patterns of an individual or a group. Practitioners from fields as diverse as behavioural science, psychology, economics, education and sustainability could gain much insight from tools that enable them to understand mental models expressed by a group within a given problem. There are many online and offline forums/tools available for involving users in discussions but none of them are using/considering mental models and most of them do not extract insights from ongoing discussions, do not learn from them and do not enrich the discussions by such findings. The goal of this research is to develop a moderated tool that captures group’s mental models from an online web forum and translates these into semi-quantitative computer models in order to make discussions more efficient and meaningful. This tool is capable of capturing opinions of users, in form of concepts, topics, and sentiments attached to those opinions, including the relationships between them by using various natural language processing techniques. These elements are used as building blocks to construct dynamic semi-quantitative models such as word clouds, cognitive maps, causal loop diagrams, etc. The framework allows the moderator (researcher, government agency, or non-profit organization) to extract and analyse cognitive maps that provide relevant and actionable insights about a group’s mental model. These can be then fed back into the discussion, informing participants and helping to produce new and creative solutions to complex and controversial societal issues. This tool is particularly useful in Participatory Modelling providing a unified platform for engaging researchers, stakeholders and decision-makers in participatory process for better decision-making, with no restrictions neither for size of the group nor for the timing and location of their meetings.

9:00 AM

Participatory Modelling for Flood Resilience

Sara Mehryar, London School of Economics, UK

9:00 AM - 9:20 AM

Building flood resilience in times of a changing climate requires holistic and multidimensional approaches that recognize various aspects of risks including the social and human aspects. Decision-making for flood resilience, similarly, needs to go beyond focusing on conventional engineering and physical solutions and instead, consider broader aspects of flood resilience. Participation, engagement and knowledge exchange between different members of the community are crucial for such decision-makings as they provide context-specific and consensual knowledge. This calls for participatory knowledge production and aggregation methods to support flood resilience building. In this paper, we present a novel participatory modelling approach that we used to support decision-making for community flood resilience in Lowestoft, UK. To that end, we integrated a participatory measurement tool (i.e., Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities—FRMC) and a mind mapping method (i.e., Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping—FCM). First, FRMC (developed by Zurich flood resilience alliance) was used to measure 44 (financial, social, human, physical and natural indicators) indicators of community flood resilience in Lowestoft using the gathered data from a household survey (n=200), two participatory workshops, and 20 key-informant interviews. Second, FCM methodology was used to model the causal relationships among 44 indicators of resilience by eliciting data from 30 additional key-informant interviews. In the end, using FCM, we simulated the possible impacts of policyholders’ interventions on various aspects of flood resilience. The practical outcome of this study (already provided to the local authority of Lowestoft) is advocacy on the strengths/weaknesses of community flood resilience in this area and opportunities/challenges for future decision-makings and investment on flood risks. As a scientific contribution, we argue for relevance and usefulness of participatory measurement and modelling approaches for flood resilience highlighting the challenges and opportunities, and elaborate on the use of participatory approaches to improve our understanding of social and human dimension of flood resilience.

9:20 AM

Informed citizen panels on Swiss electricity portfolio 2035 and longer-term usability evaluation of informational materials

Evelina Trutnevyte, University of Geneva, Switzerland

9:20 AM - 9:40 AM

Low-carbon transition is gaining momentum, but relatively little is known about the public preferences for low- and zero-carbon electricity portfolios given their environmental, health, and economic impacts. Decision science literature argues that conventional opinion surveys are limited for making strategic decisions because the elicited opinions may be distorted by misconceptions and awareness gaps that prevail in the public. We created an informed citizen panel (N=46) in Switzerland using technology factsheets, an interactive web-tool Riskmeter, and group discussions. We measured the evolution of the panel’s knowledge and preferences from initial (uninformed) to informed and longer-term views four weeks after. In terms of energy transition, our elicited technology and portfolio preferences show strong support for the low-carbon electricity sector transition, especially relying on hydropower, solar power, electricity savings and efficiency, and other renewable sources. As these informed preferences are structurally different from the futures considered by many energy experts, we argue that these preferences should also inform the Swiss Energy Strategy 2050’s implementation. In terms of methodologies in decision science, our factsheets, Riskmeter, and group discussions all proved effective in forming the preferences and improving knowledge. But we also intriguingly found that in a longer run the participants tended to revert back to their initial opinions. The latter finding opens up multiple new research questions on the longer-term effectiveness of informational tools and stability of informed preferences.

10:00 AM

A Blue or a Black Slope? Non-Expert Perceptions of the Graphs that Visualize Ensembles of Climate Change Mitigation Scenarios

Georgios Xexakis, University of Geneva, University of Geneva, Renewable Energy Systems group, Switzerland

10:00 AM - 10:20 AM

Environmental decision-making often relies on using graphs that depict large ensembles of scenarios from modeling. Deep uncertainties in such scenarios are challenging to visualize, whereas little is known on the effects of user characteristics such as demographics or the country context of the user on the interpretation of scenario visualizations. We conducted a cross-country evaluation of scenario visualizations for climate change mitigation using online surveys with non-experts in Germany (N=379), Poland (N=223), and France (N=225). Each participant received visualizations on the required changes in CO2 emissions and key electricity supply sources for scenarios limiting global warming to 1.5°C. We also included an experimental design on the visualization format, where four groups received the information in different graph formats while a control group received the information in a table format. We measured the participants’ perception of the information in the graph or table, their affective responses, and changes in beliefs about the required level of mitigation. Results showed that higher education level, numeracy, graph literacy, belief in global warming, and knowledge of the visualization’s content statistically significantly increased reading accuracy across all countries, while age reduced it. Furthermore, participants were less accurate in reading maxima and minima values from the graphs than from the tables, due to the increased interpretation effort required in the graphs. Our results emphasize the importance of designing visualizations taking into account different user characteristics and supporting inference-making and could be used to inform the visuals of upcoming reports of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change and of other environmental assessments.

10:20 AM

Models on the Wrong Track: Model-Based Electricity Supply Scenarios in Switzerland are not Aligned with the Perspectives of Energy Experts and the Public

Georgios Xexakis, University of Geneva, University of Geneva, Renewable Energy Systems group, Switzerland

10:20 AM - 10:40 AM

Model-based scenarios have become the key method to explore uncertainties and alternatives in environmental decision-making. While retrospective scenario studies show that multi-organization, multi-model scenario ensembles increase the diversity of considered uncertainties, it remains unclear whether such ensembles also align with the stakeholder perspectives, including the wider public. This study compares a multi-organization, multi-model ensemble of 82 Swiss electricity supply scenarios for 2035 from a review of 19 studies between 2011-2018 with preferred scenarios from three samples of stakeholders: citizens from an online survey (N=61), informed citizens from participatory workshops (N=46), and energy experts from another online survey (N=60). For all samples of participants, preferred scenarios were elicited using an interactive web-tool Riskmeter. The results show that most informed citizens and experts preferred an almost 100% domestic renewable electricity supply in Switzerland in 2035. On the contrary, most model-based scenarios relied significantly on fossil fuel-based generation and net electricity imports. Possible reasons for this misalignment include the lack of broad stakeholder participation in the development of such scenarios and the modeling choices such as cost-optimization models that are known to underrepresent renewable electricity. For the Swiss electricity supply transition, the results indicate that a large-scale deployment of renewable electricity before 2035 is preferred by the expert and citizen samples and, therefore, such scenarios should be modeled more in the future. For both scenario developers and users, this study offers a word of caution that even a rich scenario ensemble could focus on alternatives that are not preferred by stakeholders. Additionally, this study demonstrates that diverse stakeholder and public perspectives can enrich scenario ensembles and that interactive web-tools could be a powerful solution for eliciting these perspectives.

10:40 AM

A web tool to support River Basin Management planning towards achieving European environmental targets

Olga Vigiak, European Commission, Italy, Ispra

10:40 AM - 11:00 AM

Aquatic ecosystems are exposed to multiple pressures due to increasing water demands and pollution. The European Union legislation demands achieving environmental targets (good ecological and chemical status) in all fresh and marine water bodies by deploying adequate River Basin Management plans that tackle the main pressures acting on aquatic habitats. Decision-makers are confronted with conflicting trade-offs between legislative environmental targets and economic activities, while maintaining a basis of transparency and accountability. Strategies for achieving freshwater environmental targets, like reduction of nutrient pollution, may differ in terms of type, location, costs and benefits of planned actions. ESPRES is a web-based Decision Support Tool (DST) designed to explore efficient management strategies and highlight trade-offs between environmental targets and socio-economic difficulties. The DST, which is currently available for four European River Basins, provides several options to set environmental targets in fresh water bodies. Specifically, environmental targets refer to either water quantity (reduction of water abstractions) or quality (currently limited to nitrogen pollution). Identification of efficient strategies depends on several decision-maker choices and perceptions. For example, defining the specific environmental outcome, e.g. reducing mean or maximum nitrogen concentrations, or differences in tackling sectoral issues, will stir efficient strategies towards specific sets of actions. ESPRES makes these choices transparent through several functionalities. We present comparative examples of ESPRES analysis using alternative nitrogen concentration outcome objectives for the Ebro River Basin case study, meanwhile providing an overview of the DST functionalities. Ideally, ESPRES is meant for decision-makers to explore and compare the range of options that could achieve environmental outcomes efficiently. The tool can also be used for negotiation among stakeholder groups, making rationales behind different positions more transparent, but also for educational purposes, to showcase the steps in decision-making and their consequences on environmental planning. We envisage to expand ESPRES to all European Basins. Further, strategies set for compliance with freshwater environmental requirements may not automatically fulfil targets set for marine water bodies at the river outlet. Foreseen developments of the tool will include new functionalities for considering impacts to marine water bodies and therefore expand impact analysis to the full aquatic system continuum.

11:00 AM

Eliciting Citizens’ Preferences to Support Decision-Making about Wastewater Management: Evaluation of a Gamified Online Survey

Alice H. Aubert, Eawag, Switzerland

11:00 AM - 11:20 AM

Most environmental decisions directly and/or indirectly affect citizens. In some cases, the decision-makers wish to know what these citizens prefer before making the decision. However, eliciting individual preferences from a large number of citizens is a challenge for decision support methods, such as Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA). Usually, only around five to fifteen stakeholders are invited to face-to-face interviews or group workshops. Online technologies could allow including and engaging a larger number of citizens. Still, online elicitation of preferences requires research and development, especially with regard to (1) following state-of-the-art standards for MCDA, and in particular Multi-Attribute Value/Utility theory, and (2) involving citizens who are generally unfamiliar with the complexity of the decision topic and the elicitation methods. To tackle these challenges, we developed a prototype of a novel survey procedure using gamification for eliciting weight parameters online, which was applied to a simplified decision about wastewater management. We will introduce the concept of the gamification based on consistency checks, and a narrative including non-player characters. To evaluate the interactive tool, we carried out an experiment. We measured the performance and experience of a 100 participants on three dimensions: (1) learning facts about wastewater management, (2) constructing preferences regarding objectives and alternatives, and (3) having a positive user experience. Though the effect of gamification was smaller than anticipated, the results were encouraging: participants learnt some facts about wastewater management and constructed their preferences regarding the objectives. In addition, we collected in-depth qualitative feedback from participants, which provided us with clues on how to improve the user experience. We will share those valuable insights and introduce our follow-up research agenda.

11:20 AM

Using stakeholder preferences to identify optimal land use configurations

Andrea Kaim, University of Bayreuth, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

11:20 AM - 11:40 AM

One way to solve multi-objective spatial land use allocation problems is to calculate the set of Pareto-optimal solutions and include stakeholder preferences after the optimization process. There are various land use allocation studies that identify the Pareto frontier (i.e. trade-off curve) but, to our knowledge, for all of them it remains open which solutions should be implemented or are preferred by stakeholders. One reason could be that Pareto-optimal solutions, due to their multi-dimensionality, are difficult to communicate. To fill this gap, we give an example using the results of a multi-objective agricultural land use allocation problem that maximizes four biophysical objectives: agricultural production, water quality, water quantity and biodiversity in the Lossa River Basin in Central Germany. We conducted expert interviews with eleven local stakeholders from different backgrounds, e.g. water experts, nature conservationists, farmers, etc. In addition to information about the case study area, we visualized the trade-offs between the different objectives using parallel coordinates plots that allowed the stakeholders to browse through the optimal solutions. Based on this information, the stakeholders set weights for each of the objectives by applying the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP). With these weights, we selected the preferred solutions from the Pareto-optimal set. The results show that overall, stakeholders clearly ranked water quality first, then biodiversity, water quantity and agricultural production. The corresponding land use maps show a huge difference in land management (e.g. less application of fertilizer, more linear elements, no tillage) for the preferred solutions compared to the current status. The method presented in this study can help decision makers finding land use and land management strategies based on both, biophysical modelling results and stakeholder expertise and shows a way how multi-objective optimization results can be communicated and used for an information-based decision-making process.

12:40 PM

Reflecting on our experiences with preparing visual storylines for practice

VJ Arevalo, University of Twente

12:40 PM - 1:00 PM

Visual storytelling is regarded as a powerful method to communicate with multiple audiences. As part of the RiverCare communication project, we explored the perceived usefulness of – and engagement with - for water professionals. To ease understanding, attract and trigger online interaction we prepared these storylines mostly using the ESRI StoryMaps, but also with open source tools. We started from the results of usability research with 44 focus group participants from research and practice, about the content and design of these storylines. Here, we reflect on our experiences as members of the editorial team and draw five conclusions, also useful for similar communication efforts. First, the focus on a project manager audience requires giving concrete examples of the management application. This is better done by preparing the content both with the researchers, whose results are communicated, as well as a project manager representative. Second, the storyline parts should combine an engaging sequence that highlights the research benefits and the remaining challenges with typical story elements such as a protagonist, a problem statement and a take-home message. To this end, including personal elements/experiences behind the research in the form of a picture, video or characters was useful. Third, drafting the text and visuals is often a challenging task for researchers when defining what to include or not. Inspirational examples with do’s and don’ts can be useful for reviewing and iterating the content. Four, the latter is the most time-consuming step. Therefore, a multi-disciplinary team was valuable to the design process so that the content is easier to follow for professionals that are not familiar with the specific details. Evaluating and sharing is often a forgotten but necessary step that can be done by for example using the storylines before a meeting to discuss the research application

1:00 PM

LaMaGO©: A spatial role-play game for environmental management and land use planning

Melvin Lippe, Thuenen Institute, Germany

1:00 PM - 1:20 PM

Landscape management involves a multitude of different stakeholders and their aspirations, such as farmers, governmental and none-governmental organisations, or enterprises to name only a few. These actors often pursue different and sometimes contradicting aims that for example focus on subsistence or commercial crop production viewing landscapes as production means while other actors focus on long-term sustainability goals such as maintaining biodiversity or soil fertility. The presented study introduces the spatial role-play game LaMaGO (Landscape Management as Goal-Oriented communication process) that uses a game board approach to highlight these challenges in a spatially-explicit fashion by mimicking the social-ecological system (SES) of a case study landscape. LaMaGO was originally developed as communication and learning tool for under-/postgraduate class-room environments and is currently undergoing revisions for future applications as participatory scenario development tool. The presented study will firstly describe the class room LaMaGO game board approach that builds on a case study watershed in north-western Vietnam using the scenario of increasing bioenergy production needs for supporting a fast-growing development country as example. Here LaMaGO players represent different actors (conservative and progressive farmers, extension service, seed and fertilizer traders, a bio energy plant enterprise) who have to fulfil certain goals or targets in the case study environment of north-western Vietnam. LaMaGO were employed in this format during several semesters encompassing until to date about 120 students. The LaMaGO game board represents landscape features such as topography, soil types, road networks, settlements and water bodies, while “LaMaGO” players can further use an Excel© sheet to calculate crop yields and related soil erosion potentials based on agreed crop pattern arrangements. The spatial information of LaMaGO can be visualized using Google Earth©. The presented study will conclude with an outlook how LaMaGO will be redesigned as participatory scenario development tool for landscape modelling purposes.

1:20 PM

Collaborative Gaming to Explore the Water-Land-Carbon-Food-Energy Nexus Challenges in the EU

Joep Schyns, University of Twente, Netherlands

1:20 PM - 1:40 PM

Reconciling the EU policy targets on food and energy security, sustainable and efficient resource use, and climate adaptation is a major challenge due to the many feedbacks in the water-land-carbon-food-energy nexus. In the context of the H2020 MAGIC-NEXUS project, we have developed a collaborative educational nexus game for people with an interest or stake in policy development in the nexus domain, without in-depth prior knowledge to the interactions in the nexus (e.g., EU and national policy makers, MSc and BSc level students). The purpose of the game is to experience the challenges and solutions for member states – as part of a larger economic block – to achieve food & energy security within safe environmental boundaries. Tackling this challenge requires changes in food & energy consumption, production, and trade patterns. Natural resource endownments, consumption habits, and production practices vary widely among the member states. As a consequence they need to focus on taking different measures, and cooperation between the member states is essential to achieve the goals of the economic block. Each player (or team) takes the role of one out of four typical member states distinguished in the game. Players have access to an interactive dashboard to explore the effects their choices have on food & energy dependency and carbon, land and water footprints. Meeting the EU-level targets for food & energy security and reduced carbon emissions is a pre-condition to complete the game, which forces player to cooperate and close agreements. To win, a player needs to reduce the land and water footprints in their member state below sustainable limits. This creates a tension field in the negotiations among players, because it is attractive to externalize footprints to other member states. We will discuss game development and first experiences from playing the game, including a brief demo of the interactive dashboard.

2:00 PM

Call For Water: A serious game on the role of forecast performance in decision-making

Louise Crochemore, SMHI

2:00 PM - 2:20 PM

In a context that fosters hydroclimate services development, it is crucial to support users in making the best use of the communicated forecasts and of the quality information provided alongside these services. In hydrological forecasting, serious games can be efficient ways to allow participants to gain hands-on experience in forecast-based decision-making. Here, we present the Call For Water game which allows participants to manage a water supply reservoir throughout dry seasons, based on reservoir level forecasts. The aim of the game is twofold: (1) train participants to the concepts of confidence and reliability in forecasting, and (2) gather game answers to investigate the levels of forecast confidence and reliability needed to inform risky decisions. In a first round, participants are provided with forecasts of varying reliability and confidence. In a second round, they have the additional possibility to pay for improved forecasts. Results based on a set of more than 175 game answers showed that most participants improved their decision-making between the two rounds, by moving from a passive/safe decision-making to a safe/perfect decision-making. When asked for the minimum uncertainty and reliability levels they needed to make informed decisions, most participants asked for an equivalent level of reliability and confidence. Lastly, during the second round, most participants judged that improved forecasts were worth paying for.

2:20 PM

User-Defined Performance Metrics in Collaborative Environment and Infrastructure System Planning

Stephen Knox, University of Manchester, United Kingdom

2:20 PM - 2:40 PM

Options assessment and decision-making in environment and infrastructure system planning is becoming increasingly collaborative and multi-disciplinary. Stakeholders and analysts have different priorities and interests and it is beneficial to enable experimenting and learning about the implications of using different measures of system performance. These quantitative measure of system performance are referred to as ‘metrics’. Typical examples of metrics can include frequency or length of failure, cumulative deficits, etc. As a model and a stakeholder’s understanding of it evolves, it is useful to iteratively refine how metrics are defined, for example testing the implications of different forms of spatial, temporal or statistical aggregation. This talk presents a web interface for Hydra Platform, an open-source tool for sharing data on resource system networks and connecting it to models. Hydra Platform can be used to facilitate multi-resource system modelling such as integrated water and energy systems. Hydra Platform allows for secure and efficient data management, and centralisation of data and models. These features allow multiple analysts to work within the same environment, lowering the likelihood of data errors and miscommunication. A recent feature addition to the online interface is the ability to create user-defined metrics within a particular model. This feature allows analysts or stakeholders to define aggregations of model input or output values to quantify and summarise characteristics of interest. Each metric can be viewed in the interface either in isolation or compared to other metrics in tables or plots. User-defined metrics within a modelling user interface allows diverse users to experiment with and improve the formulation of criteria that evaluate interventions in environment-human resource systems. We present several examples of different metrics defined within water, energy, environment models and integrated models applied in Europe, Africa and Asia.

2:40 PM

Automated Watershed Characterization and Prioritization for Protection and Restoration

Tyler Wible, Colorado State University, United States

2:40 PM - 3:00 PM

Watershed prioritization is necessary to target restoration efforts, protection status, and other priorities. The EPA Healthy Watersheds Assessment provides a framework for outlining and quantifying numerous indicators of watershed health and vulnerability across landscape condition, habitat, hydrology, geomorphology, water quality, land use change, water use, and wildfire risk categories, among others. However, these assessments require extensive effort to consolidate datasets from multiple sources across spatial and temporal scales. Combining the EPA Healthy Watersheds Assessment framework with an automated data extraction and summary tool can streamline this process and quickly quantify watershed characteristics for evaluation. Further, the volume of data compiled impedes efficient prioritization and decision-making, motivating the need for a process to rank watersheds based on their properties, flexible enough to weight the importance of categories of data and individual indicators. A Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) can provide composite watershed scores based on criteria and sub-criteria, ideal for identifying watershed rankings. The Watershed Prioritization Dashboard (WPD) contains these features and fills a need for public access and transparency to state and federal watershed prioritization efforts. The WPD contains a summary of over 200 automatically calculated watershed properties, health and vulnerability indicators. It also includes multiple visualization methods of the data from tables to charts, to maps. Additionally, the WPD includes a flexible multi-criteria decision analysis framework on top of the watershed characteristics to provide defensible watershed priorities based on protection or restoration as well as custom rankings based on user interests. Funding was provided through the Nonpoint Source Program in the WQCD at CDPHE in partnership with the U.S. EPA.

3:00 PM

Interactive Landscape Simulation Tool and Participatory Process for Sustainable Land Management Assessment and Planning in Tunisia

Quang Bao Le, ICARDA, Egypt, Egypt

3:00 PM - 3:20 PM

Sustainable land management (SLM) at scale is essential for achieving land degradation neutrality and improving community livelihoods. In practice, promoting SLM at watershed scale faces many decision-making problems that are mainly caused by diversities of the environment and stakeholder needs/preferences. An Integrated LAnd Management Planning Tool (iLAMPT) has been developed to facilitate stakeholders’ land management assessment at watershed scale. The tool is spatially explicit, and with a menu-oriented interactive graphical user interface that can aid stakeholders to define systematically planning criteria, plan SLM options for concrete land use types and site conditions, and visualize potential impacts over the watershed. The tool interfaces are designed to guide users through menus that: (1) allow technical users to adjust model coefficients, visualizing input parameters; (2) enable end-users to define input scenarios of land use and management practices versus site conditions and evaluate potential consequences; (3) allow viewing results in tabular, graphical or map form side-by-side; and (4) (re)-evaluate the respective impacts of planning scenarios considering trade-offs. The tool was empirically calibrated and adaptively designed in the Rmel watershed in the Zaghouan governorate of Tunisia. The core sub-model on distributed soil erosion was evaluated using sedimentation data measured on field. Using the specified iLAMPT tool in a participatory process, stakeholders in the study watershed are being supported for exploring (1) scenarios of landscape planning for land use and management practices, (2) examining the efficiency of the planning scenarios on soil erosion amounts, and thereby (3) informed about best management practices targeted at locations where the practices are needed most. Since the tool allows end-users define planning scenarios/options and provide outputs in a spatially explicit and timely responsive way, it can assist in effective discussions over landscape planning where land degradation neutrality is the ultimate goal.