The Role of Integrated Modelling and Assessment for Decision-Making: Lessons from Water Allocation Issues in Australia
Thursday, 18 December 2014: 1:55 PM
Integrated modelling and assessment (IMA) is best regarded as a process that can support environmental decision-making when issues are strongly contested and uncertainties pervasive. To be most useful, the process must be multi-dimensional and phased. Principally, it must be tailored to the problem context to encompass diverse issues of concern, management settings and stakeholders. This in turn requires the integration of multiple processes and components of natural and human systems and their corresponding spatial and temporal scales. Modellers therefore need to be able to integrate multiple disciplines, methods, models, tools and data, and many sources and types of uncertainty. These dimensions are incorporated into iteration between the various phases of the IMA process, including scoping, problem framing and formulation, assessing options and communicating findings. Two case studies in Australia are employed to share the lessons of how integration can be achieved in these IMA phases using a mix of stakeholder participation processes and modelling tools. One case study aims to improve the relevance of modelling by incorporating stakeholder’s views of irrigated viticulture and water management decision making. It used a novel methodology with the acronym ICTAM, consisting of Interviews to elicit mental models, Cognitive maps to represent and analyse individual and group mental models, Time-sequence diagrams to chronologically structure the decision making process, an All-encompassing conceptual model, and computational Models of stakeholder decision making. The second case uses a hydro-economic river network model to examine basin-wide impacts of water allocation cuts and adoption of farm innovations. The knowledge exchange approach used in each case was designed to integrate data and knowledge bearing in mind the contextual dimensions of the problem at hand, and the specific contributions that environmental modelling was thought to be able to make.