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Eight grand challenges in socio-environmental systems modeling

Gepubliceerd op
13 februari 2020

An article of Sondoss Elsawah, Tatiana Filatova, Anthony Jakeman, Albert Kettner, Moira Zellner, Ioannis Athanasiadis, Serena Hamilton, Robert Axtell, Daniel Brown, Jonathan Gilligan, Marco Janssen, Derek Robinson, Julie Rozenberg, Isaac Ullah and Steve Lade: Eight grand challenges in socio-environmental systems modeling, has been published in Socio-Environmental Systems Modelling, 2, 16226.

doi:10.18174/sesmo.2020a16226

Abstract
Modeling is essential to characterize and explore complex societal and environmental issues in systematic and collaborative ways. Socio-environmental systems (SES) modeling integrates knowledge and perspectives into conceptual and computational tools that explicitly recognize how human decisions affect the environment. Depending on the modeling purpose, many SES modelers also realize that involvement of stakeholders and experts is fundamental to support social learning and decision-making processes for achieving improved environmental and social outcomes. The contribution of this paper lies in identifying and formulating grand challenges that need to be overcome to accelerate the development and adaptation of SES modeling. Eight challenges are delineated: bridging epistemologies across disciplines; multi-dimensional uncertainty assessment and management; scales and scaling issues; combining qualitative and quantitative methods and data; furthering the adoption and impacts of SES modeling on policy; capturing structural changes; representing human dimensions in SES; and leveraging new data types and sources. These challenges limit our ability to effectively use SES modeling to provide the knowledge and information essential for supporting decision making. Whereas some of these challenges are not unique to SES modeling and may be pervasive in other scientific fields, they still act as barriers as well as research opportunities for the SES modeling community. For each challenge, we outline basic steps that can be taken to surmount the underpinning barriers. Thus, the paper identifies priority research areas in SES modeling, chiefly related to progressing modeling products, processes and practices.

Keywords: Socio-ecological; uncertainty; actionable science; systemic change; decision support