MACSUR science pick of the month: Deliberative processes for comprehensive evaluation of agroecological models. A review.
The credibility of model results depends not only on state-of-the art numerical analysis but also on less tangible factors like expectations, preferences and perceptions of the users (stakeholders) of the model results. The authors designed a comprehensive approach to integrate users in the evaluation of simulation models (for instance, of impact models used in climate change studies) beyond conventional numerical analyses. The approach focused on two themes: (1) the importance of collaborating with stakeholders (co-construction) for model evaluation, and (2) the role played by information technology in these processes.
The authors conclude that
- models and their results are more likely to be accepted later on in practice when their generation has been monitored by stakeholders,
- the credibility of models hinges not only on the results of a numerical evaluation but also on less tangible factors that can be considered using a co-construction process,
- simulation models can evaluated more fully by taking into account the expectations, preferences and perceptions of stakeholders,
- questionnaire surveys may help understanding the challenges posed by the co-construction process, and
- model evaluation is improved further when the process is designed with a decision-making perspective in mind and each step in model improvement is reviewed by stakeholder feedback.
Joining researchers and stakeholders across different areas (trans-disciplinarity) is essential for advancing good modeling practices. This activity is often dropped in the limited time of framework research programs. Stakeholders of modelling studies can express their expectations and, to some extent, influence and take some responsibility for the content of models. Therefore, moving from purely academic model evaluation towards a participatory process helps increasing the credibility of simulation models and thus legitimising their use in decision-making. Good decision-making based on simulation models requires looking at model evaluation from a new angle and stronger implementation of co-construction modelling.
[Edited by M. Köchy]
The Knowledge Hub FACCE MACSUR brings together the excellence of research in modelling grasslands, livestock, crops, farms, and agricultural trade in order to illustrate to political decision makers how climate will affect regional farming systems and food production in Europe. To achieve this goal, MACSUR engages in a range of activities, including methodological comparisons of models and use of their outputs (scaling, uncertainty), linking of complementary models from different sectors, involvement of stakeholders, training of young scientists, and establishing a community of practice across a broad range of scientific disciplines. The three-year project started in June 2012.
FACCE MACSUR is organized as a Knowledge Hub, a new financial and organizational instrument. The novelty of MACSUR lies in the in-kind contributions of 7 million euros which, in addition to the 7 million euros of new money, contribute to facilitating the convergence of already funded and ongoing research, as well as funding new research. The project includes currently 70 institutions from 18 countries. Activities are funded by national agencies, with the amount of funds and the regulation of their use governed at the national level.
|Collaboration across countries and disciplines||Advancing modelling for risk assessment of climate change impacts||Outlook and remaining challenges||Interaction with stakeholders: bridging the gap|
|Video summary of the Bilbao Colloquium|
- Creating a forum for knowledge exchange across science disciplines.
- Adoption of good-practice examples from other scientific communities.
- Structured description of models and comparisons of model performance.
- Selection of regional case studies as showcases of integrated and inter-disciplinary modelling work.
- Training of young scientists.
- Development of European Representative Agricultural Pathways as input to global scenario exercises.
- Development of a data classification and rating tool for exploration of existing data sets.
- Advancement of knowledge in modelling of crop production, grassland production, price development.
- Collaboration on new funded projects.
- About a dozen manuscripts on methodological aspects of modelling food security published or submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
- Overview papers in high-profile journals.
- Major international scientific conferences and workshops.
Regional case studies
The purpose of regional case studies is a simultaneous and interlinked development of a common conceptual framework and actual models and model links to assist policy makers and actors in the agri-food chain in identifying effective and efficient adaptation and mitigation measures and potential consequence scenarios, e.g. impact on food yield, quality, nutritive value, disease load etc. in perceived hotspots of climate impacts. The studies are geared to ansower the question "what would be the different contributions of different European adaptation strategies to global food security until 2050 at different scales (farm to EU) while keeping the GHG targets?"
Three case studies in Northern Savo (Finland), Mostviertel (Austria), and Oristano (Sardinia, Italy) have been selected as showcase pilot studies to represent the farming systems in northern, central and southern Europe. The case studies expand existing case studies. For compatibility with international research networks AgMIP and ISIMIP the Regional Pilot Studies will apply the new Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (especially SSP2 "continuation" but also SSP3 "fragmentation") in conjunction with the Representative CO2 Concentration Pathway of 8.5 W/m2 (most similar to the SRES A2 emission scenario of the IPCC reports).
FACCE MACSUR integrated Regional Pilot Studies, Workshop results