Engaging stakeholders in environmental and sustainability decisions with participatory system dynamics modeling

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Modeling with “problem-owners” is one of the defining features of system dynamics. Participatory system dynamics modeling aims at involving stakeholders in the conceptualization, specification, and synthesis of knowledge and experience into a useful model, for the purpose of addressing dynamic complexity of socio-ecological problems. This chapter starts by introducing the system dynamics method and the fundamental concepts of feedback, nonlinearities, and time delays. Qualitative and quantitative tools for building system dynamics models are introduced, namely causal loop and stock-and-flow diagrams. The chapter proceeds by describing and illustrating participatory modeling approaches based on this method. The main stages and activities of a generic participatory modeling process are presented, followed by an illustrative case study conducted in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, in Portugal. This experience shows how participatory modeling with system dynamics provides a knowledge-sharing platform wherein the modeling steps are embedded in broader processes of stakeholder participation in environmental assessment, planning, and management. The concluding section explores the potential for combining participatory modeling with visioning and multi-criteria decision tools in integrative modeling platforms. This opens the possibilities for further exploring the role of participatory system dynamics modeling in promoting active stakeholder engagement in environmental and sustainability decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Modeling with Stakeholders
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Methods, and Applications
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)978-331925053-3
ISBN (Print)978-331925051-9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Integrative modeling
  • Modeling for learning
  • Participatory modeling
  • Stakeholders
  • System dynamics


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