Abstract for: A system dynamics framework to promote sustainability in the Lake Tana Basin, Ethiopia social-ecological system

This presentation describes a system dynamics approach to understanding the complex interconnections between human activity and ecological change in the Lake Tana Basin, the headwater catchment for the Blue Nile River. Lake Tana Basin outflows of water, sediments, nutrients, and contaminants affect water that flows downstream in the Blue Nile across international boundaries into the Nile River. The basin is also economically and environmentally important to the three million people who live there, and has been designated as a key national economic growth corridor in the Ethiopian Growth and Transformation Plan. In spite of the Lake Tana Basinís regional, national and transnational importance, there is no comprehensive, integrated, system-wide description of its characteristics and dynamics that can serve as a basis for its sustainable development. Here we first examine the theoretical appropriateness of system dynamics as an approach to promoting sustainability in this tightly coupled social-ecological system, then describe a mapping workshop held with researchers and decision-makers as a first step, present insights from the workshop, and discuss further steps toward a system dynamics framework for sustainability in this region.