Participatory Modelling

The FWE Nexus comprises environmental, technical as well as social and political aspects (Albrecht, Arica et al. 2018), thus requiring an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach. In the participatory process, models can be of assistance. The mode in which they are constructed (= modelling exercise) can be part of the participative process itself playing either a central or a minor role. When facilitating a modeling exercise during a participative process, one needs to consider that not in all cases it is recommended to do so, since it might impose modes of thinking not naturally employed by the stakeholders involved (Bots,van Daalen 2008). The facilitators should be open to adapt the language and process if need be.

Participatory Modelling (PM) is defined “as a purposeful learning process for action that engages the implicit and explicit knowledge of stakeholders to create formalized and shared representations of reality” (Voinov, Jenni et al. 2018).

PM has been successfully used in transdisciplinary studies to better understand, communicate and improve natural resource management, notably in the field of water management. Through a series of workshops designed as means to engage stakeholders and to create co-knowledge of this complex systems we think that PM can be purposefully used to investigate and increase the knowledge on the FWE Nexus.

Including PM into community and multi-stakeholder workshops allows us to create understanding of the FWE Nexus, to grasps needs, wishes, concerns as well as the interdependencies designing a cognitive map of the FWE NEXUS (e.g. Hare 2011). Following the link below you will be able to dive into the findings from the collaborative modelling (CM) exercise of the Urban Living Labs (ULL) on Wilmington, DE (USA).

We emphasize that the modelling exercise should not only be a mean of participation but as well ensure a long-term use of the results. A critical factor might be the sense of ownership by the users of the model/system (Basco-Carrera et al. 2017). From previous project experiences, we can derive that ownership is created as well by the possibilities for the project members to change and adjust the resulting model over the curse or after of the project according to new findings or data. Therefore, we aim to further increase the understanding and with it the depth of the model through further ULL workshops in Wilmington, DE, USA and expand the model with the experiences derived from the ULL workshops in Rumania and Poland.

The conceptional modeled developed in the participatory modelling approach was visualized using Savvy. Savvy is a graph visualization tool developed by the Smart City Lab at the European Institute for Energy Resarch (EIFER) in Karlsruhe, Germany. You can access the tool HERE