Connecting micro and macro: bringing case-studies and model-based approaches together in analysing patterns of vulnerability to global environmental change

This project aims to bring macro/top down, model-based and micro/bottom-up, case study based analysis together by studying patterns of vulnerability in drylands and coastal areas. It will result in: (1) a methodology for analysing patterns of vulnerability; (2) better understanding of vulnerable coastal areas and drylands to support policy making; and (3) provide a consolidated knowledge base for new case-studies.


The objective of this project is to build bridges between quantitative system dynamic simulation models that are developed at PBL (IMAGE/GISMO) and qualitative case-studies by attempting to upscale lessons learned from local case-studies through Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and by down-scaling Integrated Assessment Models (IAMS) through cluster analysis of model outcomes. In this way a contribution can be made to the refinement of the IAMs and the better targeting of adaptation policies to global change.

Research questions

The project tries to answer the following questions:

1)Which causal mechanisms underlie patterns of vulnerability in drylands and coastal zones following a systematic analysis of local level case-studies of human-environment interactions?

2)Which patterns of vulnerability emerge out of a cluster analysis of model outcomes such as GISMO/IMAGE?

3)How can the outcomes of these analyses be synthesised and translated in possible coping and adaptation strategies and policies at intermediate level?


This project aims at connecting the information and studies at various geographical scales, from local to global. In order to do so, it has to integrate different approaches, each applied to its associated level.

The project consists of four components:

A. (Further) development of methodology for analysing patterns of vulnerability

B. Improving GISMO model and indicator-based cluster-analysis, using model outcomes from PBL modelling framework GISMO/IMAGE

C. Meta-analysis case-studies vulnerability in drylands and coastal areas, using Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA).

D. Integrated assessment of vulnerability and possible coping and adaptation strategies drylands and coastal areas.

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