Call for abstracts: Modelling change in social-ecological systems – from conceptual reflections to promising case-based examples

Related GLP Member: Birgit Müller, Maja Schlüter, Calum Brown

30. Modelling change in social-ecological systems – from conceptual reflections to promising case-based examples

Birgit Müller, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ Leipzig, Germany

Maja Schlüter, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden

Calum Brown, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Transforming our use of natural resources and ecosystems services towards more sustainable practices requires understanding the interplay of ecological and social processes and how they shape outcomes. Social-ecological modelling has great potential to enhance understanding of and support action for transformation. However, building and analysing models that incorporate interactions between people’s individual and collective behaviours, societies and their natural environments, still pose major challenges. These challenges can be conceptual (e.g. identification of key social-ecological feedbacks, representing human behaviour and institutions, working across the social and natural sciences), can relate to the complex nature of social-ecological systems (e.g. understanding of causal relationships), or can involve data or technical limitations.

This session aims to discuss and reflect on learnings and modelling strategies to address these challenges across different contexts, such as conservation, sustainable use of natural resources (land, water, marine resources, including for food and energy security), and more broadly the provision of ecosystem services in rural and urban areas. We welcome experiences from the use of different modelling approaches with different conceptual bases (e.g. agent-based models, network models, mathematical models, including participatory approaches).

We suggest that all contributions consider the following three guiding questions to provide the basis for a final overarching discussion:

  1. How did you conceptualise and model social-ecological interactions or feedbacks? What were the challenges? How did you address them?
  2.  What are strategies to overcome lack of data or knowledge of complex social-ecological systems, e.g. innovative data collection methods, use of theories?
  3. How can your model (or modelling in general) contribute to knowledge and/or direct support for sustainability transformations?