Collaborative, Stakeholder-Driven, Water-Energy-Agriculture-Ecosystems Modeling and Planning for Long-Term Resource Sustainability
Sandia National Laboratories
Water, energy and food systems, and the ecosystems in which they all occur, make the foundation for human social, economic and political systems. The decline of these systems represents a threat to human security, stability, and to the overall sustainability of the human enterprise in general at all scales. Since all these systems are interwoven, attempts to understand and manage any of them individually must occur in the context of them all. This is a complex task, hindered by historic academic and professional specialization, and by the inability of the human mind to accurately evaluate the consequences of complex and dynamic resource management activities as they ripple across systems over time. We use a collaborative, stakeholder-driven approach to bring together experts from across disciplines, elicit information and develop conceptual models of interacting systems, gather data from across sectors and disciplines, build computer simulation models, and then use the models to evaluate the possible consequences of competing resource management strategies as they are projected into the future. The collaborative, stakeholder-driven process assures that all important disciplines and sectors are represented, that the model is the most accurate possible representation of the system, and that the model is owned and trusted by the stakeholders. The collaborative process results not only in a technical tool but in a stakeholder team much more well informed about system dynamics and the feedbacks, time lags, and consequences of actions, both intended and unintended. This approach has been applied in numerous projects in the U.S. and around the world. The presentation will include a brief demonstration of a model.