Stream: Socio-Environmental Systems


H4. Opportunities and challenges of modelling for resilience thinking and ecosystem stewardship
Maja Schlueter, Karin Frank, Birgit Mueller

Resilience thinking is a perspective for the analysis of the dynamics of coupled social-ecological systems (SES) in a changing world. It emphasizes the role of feedbacks between social and ecological systems across temporal and spatial scales in determining SES resilience, adaptability and transformability. Ecosystem stewardship is an approach for the application of resilience thinking to practical problems in natural resource management. Its focus on coping with uncertainty and surprise constitutes a paradigm shift in ecosystem management with consequences for evaluation and design of management strategies and institutions - as well as the analytical frameworks they are based on.
Models have so far mainly been used to enhance ecological resilience by optimizing the management of multi-stable ecosystems subject to anthropogenic disturbance. Only few studies genuinely take feedbacks between social and ecological dynamics into account to address the two other aspects of resilience thinking, namely adaptability and transformability. Yet, we argue that there is a large potential of models to address those issues that have not been fully exploited yet. In this workshop we want to discuss this potential, including the opportunity to make use of a diversity of model types, to improve the link to case study research, and to use models in a larger context of theoretical and empirical research. We also want to critically reflect on the challenges associated with SES Modelling.
We will provide a position paper on models for resilience thinking and ecosystem stewardship reviewing the state of the art of resilience modelling and discussing opportunities and challenges to enhance the use of models for resilience as an input to the discussion. We invite comments addressing this potential and associated challenges. We are particularly interested in contributions that use models at the science-policy interface in e.g. participatory processes to support societal processes of adaptation and transformation as well as theoretical work that enhances the scientific foundation of social-ecological resilience.

Working Paper as basis for discussion.


H5. On processes, patterns and interactions of urban shrinkage - how do we approach a challenging spatial development using models?
Dagmar Haase, Annegret Haase, Sigrun Kabisch, Dieter Rink, Nina Schwarz

Both modellers and social scientists attempt to find better understandings of complex urban systems. Such understandings include explanations of development paths, underlying driving forces and the expected impacts of such systems. So far, research on cities or urban regions has predominantly focused on urban growth. However, new challenges have arisen since urban shrinkage entered the research agenda of the social sciences. Urban research has rarely addressed shrinkage in the form of population decline and its spatio-temporal effects, but that phenomenon has become increasingly widespread in Europe, the US and Japan. Despite enormous progress in the modelling of urban systems, a gap between social science knowledge and urban modelling still exists.
Therefore, we intend to set urban shrinkage into the focus of this session and follow-up workshop. We want to discuss the challenges that urban shrinkage brings about for modelling with particular respect to the cooperation between modellers and social scientists. While the session will set the theoretical scene and gather expertise from different origins, the workshop intends to discuss key questions and to elaborate the gathered expertise further to come to a positioning paper.
The workshop is linked with session (H2) and will be organised in breakout groups discussing different topics/questions:

  1. What is the best modelling approach - SD, CA, Network, Econometrics or ABM?
  2. What are challenges/specifics of urban shrinkage as a subject for modelling?
  3. Governance issues: multi-ABM figuring coalition building, cooperation, exclusions, inclusions, lack of capacities etc.
  4. Summary in the "plenary" and
  5. Preparation of a positioning paper for ENVSOFT.

For further information, please, contact annegret.haase (at)


H6. Human decisions in agent-based models (ABM) for natural resource use - need for protocols
Birgit Mueller, Juergen Groeneveld, Nina Schwarz

The workshop will draw upon the presentations given in the corresponding session (H2), which aims at getting a state-of-the art overview on: How are decisions modelled in ABM's for natural resource use? Which factors, interactions, and feedbacks are included? Which decision rules are used with which reasoning (theoretical justification, empirical observations)? We intend to discuss in the workshop how to overcome obvious weaknesses of a large part of models (such as the lack of a protocol for documentation of the decision making processes, missing reasoning on why which decision model is used and a missing link to theory, weak empirical support for the decision model used and incomplete list of model assumptions). To close this gap, it is aimed to develop a comprehensive protocol for describing decisions in ABM's for natural resource use and summarize open challenges for the future.
The discussion will be launched by a position paper available in January 2012. It aims at summarizing in a structured way the necessary information that should be provided in the model description of decision making processes in ABM's for natural resource use (including aspects as uncertainty, dependence of behaviour of other agents, learning). It is inspired by the ODD-protocol for describing individual-based and agent-based models (Grimm et al. 2006), but will focus here on the decision making aspect.

The workshop will be organized in two parts, consisting of a series of standpoint presentations (each five-minute long) followed by a round table discussion and aimed at modifying, integrating and improving the position paper (protocol), which will result in a collaborative paper. Potential contributors are invited to submit an extended abstract (max. 2 pages) of their planned communication ( Selected participants will be invited to contribute as co-authors to the synthesis paper to be published in an appropriate journal.

Working Paper as basis for discussion.