95th ESA Annual Meeting (August 1 -- 6, 2010)

OOS 8-7 - Using scenario visioning and participatory system dynamics modeling to enhance natural and human system resilience to climate change

Tuesday, August 3, 2010: 10:10 AM
301-302, David L Lawrence Convention Center
Laura Schmitt Olabisi, Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, Anne R. Kapuscinski, Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH and Kris Johnson, Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota

As local and regional communities develop low-carbon energy production, they will have to balance local land and water needs for food and energy production with the land and water requirements of natural systems. Choosing not to use all available land and groundwater for human needs will be an important part of fostering resilience of natural systems to climate change, but it is difficult for communities to plan to do this in a rapidly and dynamically changing economic and climatological environment. We partnered with regional organizations in Minnesota to design a future visioning process called ‘Minnesota 2050’ that incorporated both scenario visioning and participatory system dynamics modeling. The purpose of this exercise was to assist regional groups in making strategic decisions for their communities that would be resilient and sustainable in a variety of plausible futures. In addition, we wanted to identify research gaps that could impede the ability of regional and state groups to plan for the future.


We found that scenarios and modeling complemented one another well, and that both techniques allowed the regional groups to focus on the resiliency of fundamental support systems (energy, food, and water supply). The Minnesota 2050 project also identified some important research gaps around the land requirements of local food production. Setting aside land and groundwater for natural systems was a priority for the regional groups in any given future scenario, but the quantitative modeling helped to demonstrate that this would potentially be more difficult in a bio-energy based economic system. At the same time, the imaginative nature of the scenario process allowed the regional groups to develop creative responses to enhance human and natural system resilience in an uncertain climate future. We conclude that participatory system dynamics modeling and scenario visioning are complimentary tools and recommend their use in future planning and strategy efforts.