TUE 2:00 PM Parallel - Public Policy and the Environment

Full Report:


Presentation No.1 Mental Models in Urban Storm water Management by Ines Winz (and Gary Brierley)

The ongoing deterioration of biophysical conditions is testimony to the limited effectiveness of transitional processes that promote sustainable practices. Water is high on the sustainability agenda particularly in urban areas where huge investments are required to maintain increasing populations. Balancing the provision of these services, which import clean water, and export waste and excess rain water, relative to environmental, social and economic concerns is the primary objective on the journey towards sustainable urban water systems.
This paper as a case study, presented the use of system dynamics modelling of the storm water management of 31 diverse stakeholders of the Twin-Streams catchment at Auckland, New Zealand. There was clear emphasis on the behavioural changes and a move towards more sustainable approaches in storm water management. The authors through cognitive mapping have captured the perceptions on storm water problems and provided solution strategies in storm water management techniques. As the first step, they have been able to identify three perspectives - conventional fixes, low impact solutions and community development. Each perception is diverse and potentially conflicting and has shortcomings in providing solutions that can address effectively the challenges posed by storm water. Through the cause and effect linkage, integration of the perspectives in a wider move of all stakeholders towards a culture of transition was proposed.  

It was also made clear through the model synthesis results that the implementation of low impact solutions is essential in addressing existing environmental degradation and achieving restoration efforts in the short term. In order to realise sustainable storm water management, stakeholders must focus on social learning, behaviour change, the creation of effective partnerships with local authorities and community ownership. 

Presentation No.2 The Change in Residents Participative Behaviour in Polluted Areas: a System Dynamics Perspective, by Tsuey-Ping Lee (and Chin-Hsueh Wang)

Environmental problems and solutions are often conceptualised in many different ways by different stakeholders. In the area of environmental governance and sustainable development, environmental pollution and protection have been key issues for decades; it is only recent that public participation started to attract global attention in the field of environmental governance. Agenda 21/UN emphasizes the importance of public decision making in the process of social and economic change. It encourages public participation and involvement in environmental decision-making processes, including policy formulation, legalization, and implementation, so that sustainable development can be possible.

This presentation explored the many reasons for the declining public participation of residents in a severely polluted community from a system dynamics perspective by examining a set of communities polluted with dioxin in southern Taiwan. Three aspects affecting participative behaviour intention: resident’s perception of the pollution, peer impact, and how residents perceive the impact of participation on government response were examined. The analysis of the face-to-face interviews revealed that the unintended side effect of the government indemnity policy has created a balancing feedback loop that offsets the reinforcing feedback system suggested by the normative theory of participation. Also, the unique nature of pollution victims mitigates the influence of an existing reinforcing feedback system. As a result, a number of policy to increase public participation in a highly polluted community are suggested.

Presentation No.3 Sustainability and System dynamics: some case studies, by Mats Svensson (and Hitesh Soneji)

While ‘Being Green’ may be in fashion, sustainability has yet not gained a strong footing. Sustainability challenges are prevailing in many sectors and across wide ranging disciplines. As one of the components of this challenge is the climate change threat, the other is sustaining global health and development without jeopardising intergenerational equity.

This lively presentation scrutinized the concept of sustainability and focused on the understanding of the system boundary conditions. A few case studies were presented to illustrate the value of a system dynamics view in formulating sustainability strategies.

Each of the cases presented like the one on ‘metals to fertilizers’ and ‘ICT to forestry’ offer unique challenges, yet share common threads: finite non-renewable resources, losses in renewable resource loops, and an economic system incapable of managing them sustainably.

The presentation concluded with the need for better understanding of integrated systems for adaptive management, societal learning, and policies to manage transitions towards a more sustainable society.

Saroj Koul