socio-ecological systems natural resource management
sustainability research developmental impact studies

indicators of coevolutionary dynamics – water management systems and sustainability

This research project aims to develop new knowledge to foster an improved understanding of water management systems (WMS) through coevolutionary modelling. For this purpose we select, critically assess and apply a dynamic set of indicators, model the behavioural and institutional interlinkages underlying them and visualise the outcomes for decision makers. With this coevolutionary approach we intend to shed light on the interrelations between social, temporal and spatial scales of water management systems. This improved knowledge should contribute to the current efforts to include and implement the sustainability goal into water management.

Carrying out the project involves:

To develop a coevolutionary model of WMS based on complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory which serves as a heuristic tool to map the dynamic interactions settled in the networks between the resource base, the institutional level and the behaviour of individual actors.

To explore and to assess environmental, institutional and behavioural indicators of WMS. In particular, the focus is both on the elaboration of a significant set of indicators and the coevolving interdependencies between them (presenting the connectivity between interacting sub-systems). The dynamic set of indicators will be translated into Causal Loop Diagrams (CLD) for visualisation and to analyse the internal dynamics of the WMS. Agent Based Modelling (ABM) will shed light on the behaviour of individual actors; the social networks in which they operate and in what ways social institutions influence their behaviour.

To visualise this developed knowledge in order to aid decision makers for sustainable water management a computer model coupled with Geographic Information System (GIS) will be developed. The visualised mapping of the complex water management system will facilitate the information flow and therefore enhance the liberation in the stakeholder workshops.

To use and evaluate the coevolutionary model through carrying out a case study in Austria. The case study region Baden is particularly suitable for a coevolutionary analysis due to its variety of different water uses and numerous formal and informal institutions dealing with water management and its history of water conflicts.

back to

natural resource management


Institute for Anthropology

Last modified 8 October, 2004 -