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Scoping river basin management issues with participatory modelling: The Baixo Guadiana experience


  • Videira, Nuno
  • Antunes, Paula
  • Santos, Rui


This paper details the design and implementation of a participatory modelling process in the Baixo Guadiana River Basin, in Portugal. A group of stakeholders was involved in a causal mapping exercise that lead to the development of a shared view of the problems, pressures and impacts characterizing the river basin. A simulation model was also developed to support experimentation with alternative management scenarios for the area. The paper looks critically at the evaluation of the participatory modelling outcomes, both at the individual and group levels, discussing the role of this approach in supporting the scoping stages of river basin planning and management processes. On the downside, the unstable group composition seems to have hindered the chances of producing a higher impact in the functioning of the group, and subsequently the capacity to sustain the level of collaboration required to achieve the strategic river basin objectives established during the participatory modelling process. The paper discusses the issue of group stability as well as some options to overcome the limitations of unstable participant groups. The strengths of participatory modelling, as underlined by the Baixo Guadiana experience, include the flexibility to adapt the method to different contexts and participatory designs and the capacity to structure the active involvement of stakeholders, providing an open and shared language for collaborative policy design, fostering learning and knowledge integration.

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  • Videira, Nuno & Antunes, Paula & Santos, Rui, 2009. "Scoping river basin management issues with participatory modelling: The Baixo Guadiana experience," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 965-978, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:4:p:965-978

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Low, Bobbi & Costanza, Robert & Ostrom, Elinor & Wilson, James & Simon, Carl P., 1999. "Human-ecosystem interactions: a dynamic integrated model," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 227-242, November.
    2. Vennix, Jac A. M. & Andersen, David F. & Richardson, George P. & Rohrbaugh, John, 1992. "Model-building for group decision support: Issues and alternatives in knowledge elicitation," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 28-41, May.
    3. Boumans, Roelof & Costanza, Robert & Farley, Joshua & Wilson, Matthew A. & Portela, Rosimeiry & Rotmans, Jan & Villa, Ferdinando & Grasso, Monica, 2002. "Modeling the dynamics of the integrated earth system and the value of global ecosystem services using the GUMBO model," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 529-560, June.
    4. Eppink, Florian V. & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M. & Rietveld, Piet, 2004. "Modelling biodiversity and land use: urban growth, agriculture and nature in a wetland area," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3-4), pages 201-216, December.
    5. van den Hove, Sybille, 2000. "Participatory approaches to environmental policy-making: the European Commission Climate Policy Process as a case study," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 457-472, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Varela-Ortega, Consuelo, 2011. "Participatory Modeling for Sustainable Development in Water and Agrarian Systems: Potential and Limits of Stakeholder Involvement," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 115546, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Eneko Garmendia & Gonzalo Gamboa, 2012. "Weighting social preferences in participatory multi-criteria evaluations: a case study on sustainable natural resource management," Working Papers 2012-06, BC3.
    3. Helena Guimarães, 2011. "Q methodology to define policy issues and promote stakeholder dialogue in Praia da Vitória Bay in Terceira, Azores," ERSA conference papers ersa11p1297, European Regional Science Association.
    4. Liang Liu & Cong Feng & Hongwei Zhang & Xuehua Zhang, 2015. "Game Analysis and Simulation of the River Basin Sustainable Development Strategy Integrating Water Emission Trading," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(5), pages 1-21, April.
    5. Garmendia, Eneko & Gamboa, Gonzalo, 2012. "Weighting social preferences in participatory multi-criteria evaluations: A case study on sustainable natural resource management," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 110-120.
    6. Gema Carmona & Consuelo Varela-Ortega & John Bromley, 2011. "The Use of Participatory Object-Oriented Bayesian Networks and Agro-Economic Models for Groundwater Management in Spain," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 25(5), pages 1509-1524, March.
    7. Allyson Beall & Fritz Fiedler & Jan Boll & Barbara Cosens, 2011. "Sustainable Water Resource Management and Participatory System Dynamics. Case Study : Developing the Palouse Basin Participatory Model," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(5), pages 1-23, April.
    8. repec:eee:ecoser:v:28:y:2017:i:pa:p:28-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Guimarães, Maria Helena & Sousa, Carlos & Dentinho, Tomaz & Boski, Tomasz, 2014. "Economic base model for the Guadiana estuary, Portugal an application for Integrated Coastal Zone Management," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 63-70.
    10. Federico Cosenz & Guido Noto, 2016. "Applying System Dynamics Modelling to Strategic Management: A Literature Review," Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(6), pages 703-741, November.
    11. repec:eee:ecoser:v:21:y:2016:i:pb:p:291-307 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Anna Straton & Sue Jackson & Oswald Marinoni & Wendy Proctor & Emma Woodward, 2011. "Exploring and Evaluating Scenarios for a River Catchment in Northern Australia Using Scenario Development, Multi-criteria Analysis and a Deliberative Process as a Tool for Water Planning," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 25(1), pages 141-164, January.


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