How to Use Models to Improve Analysis and Governance of Social-Ecological Systems - The Reference Frame MORE
32 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2012 Last revised: 5 Apr 2013
Date Written: April 5, 2013
Dynamic modeling has long been a valuable tool to support the analysis of ecological and economic systems, particularly their equilibrium properties and responses to internal or external forcing. Few studies so far, however, use modeling to address processes of change over time in coupled social-ecological systems. In this contribution we explore the potential of dynamic modeling to support research and governance for adaptation and transformation in social-ecological systems (SES). We focus our assessment on resilience thinking (RT) and ecosystem stewardship (ES) as two perspectives that emphasize the need to understand and manage change in social-ecological systems. Modeling in resilience research has so far mainly been used to analyze resilience properties and regime shifts in ecological systems using generic models. Experiences from other fields such as ecology, social simulation and participatory research, however, indicate a much larger potential of modeling to support problem solving in real world contexts. We review model types and applications from these fields and align them with different tasks of RT and ES aimed at (1) enhancing understanding of SES dynamics, (2) fostering inter- and transdisciplinary knowledge integration and (3) supporting processes of societal transformation. We organize the different roles of modeling in the reference scheme MORE along the two main dimensions of developing a conceptually sound understanding of SES based in real-world contexts and facilitating processes of social learning. MORE provides guidance for the use of multiple methods to enhance our understanding of the dynamics of social-ecological systems. We argue that modeling can enhance policy making and governance in complex SES by providing approaches that are conceptually sound, based in real-world problem contexts and take multiple values and knowledge systems into account.
Keywords: change in social-ecological systems, resilience, stewardship strategies, structurally realistic modelling, participatory modelling, toy models
JEL Classification: C60, C80, C90, D80
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