Assisting stakeholder decision making using system dynamics group model-building

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

den Exter, KA & Specht A 2003, 'Assisting stakeholder decision making using system dynamics group model-building', Proceedings of the Australian Pacific Extension Network (APEN) National Forum, Hobart, Tasmania, 26-28 November, The Regional Institute Ltd., Gosford, NSW.

Paper available online at http://www.regional.org.au/au/apen/2003/non_refereed/


Stakeholder involvement in environmental management in Australia is increasingly participatory. A community-government partnership has been the central focus of the NSW program of water reforms since the inception of the Water Act 2000. Under the Act, it is the joint responsibility of the New South Wales Government and stakeholder-based Water Management Committees to develop Water Sharing Plans. Water Management Committees typically comprise government, environmental and agricultural representatives. This paper describes a System Dynamics group model-building workshop conducted with the Northern Rivers Water Management Committee. A role of the Committee was to determine the allocation of water between the water users and the environment. In order to achieve this goal, the Committee was provided with hydrological model outputs and other data by the NSW Government, however the decision support framework did not allow the incorporation of existing stakeholder knowledge and understanding. A group model-building workshop was convened to redress this problem. Participants found that the group model-building process was inclusive, enabled the exploration of different understanding, and incorporation of different knowledge-bases. Participants also found the approach allowed a holistic view of the water management system to be developed and assisted participants to understand the inherent complexities. Participants also commented that the group model-building experience assisted in a better understanding of the model development process. The models generated from the workshop and the response from participants suggest that there is potential for wider application and evaluation of System Dynamics group model-building as an extension tool.