Identifying uncertainties in scenarios and models of socio-ecological systems in support of decision-making

Type Article
Date 2021-07
Language English
Author(s) Rounsevell Mark D.A.1, 2, Arneth Almut1, Brown Calum1, Cheung William W.L.3, Gimenez Olivier4, Holman Ian5, Leadley Paul6, Luján Criscely6, 7, Mahevas StephanieORCID8, Maréchaux Isabelle9, Pélissier Raphaël9, Verburg Peter H.10, 11, Vieilledent Ghislain9, Wintle Brendan A.12, Shin Yunne-Jai7, 13
Affiliation(s) 1 : Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research/Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU), Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and the Department of Geo-ecology (IFGG), Karlsruhe, Germany
2 : School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9XP, UK
3 : Changing Ocean Research Unit, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
4 : CEFE, CNRS, University Montpellier, EPHE, IRD, University Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, Montpellier, France
5 : Cranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University, Bedford MK43 0AL, UK
6 : Laboratoire d'Ecologie Systématique Evolution, Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 91400 Orsay, France
7 : Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, MARBEC (Univ Montpellier, IRD, Ifremer, CNRS), Montpellier, France
8 : EMH, Ifremer, Centre Atlantique, Rue de l'Ile d'Yeu, BP 21105, 44311 Nantes Cedex 03, France
9 : AMAP Lab, University of Montpellier, CIRAD, CNRS, INRAE, IRD, 34000 Montpellier, France
10 : Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University Amsterdam, de Boelelaan 1087, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands
11 : Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmensdorf, Switzerland
12 : School of Ecosystem and Forest Science, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia
13 : University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Source One Earth (2590-3330) (Elsevier BV), 2021-07 , Vol. 4 , N. 7 , P. 967-985
DOI 10.1016/j.oneear.2021.06.003
WOS© Times Cited 19

There are many sources of uncertainty in scenarios and models of socio-ecological systems, and understanding these uncertainties is critical in supporting informed decision-making about the management of natural resources. Here, we review uncertainty across the steps needed to create socio-ecological scenarios, from narrative storylines to the representation of human and biological processes in models and the estimation of scenario and model parameters. We find that socio-ecological scenarios and models would benefit from moving away from “stylized” approaches that do not consider a wide range of direct drivers and their dependency on indirect drivers. Indeed, a greater focus on the social phenomena is fundamental in understanding the functioning of nature on a human-dominated planet. There is no panacea for dealing with uncertainty, but several approaches to evaluating uncertainty are still not routinely applied in scenario modeling, and this is becoming increasingly unacceptable. However, it is important to avoid uncertainties becoming an excuse for inaction in decision-making when facing environmental challenges.

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Rounsevell Mark D.A., Arneth Almut, Brown Calum, Cheung William W.L., Gimenez Olivier, Holman Ian, Leadley Paul, Luján Criscely, Mahevas Stephanie, Maréchaux Isabelle, Pélissier Raphaël, Verburg Peter H., Vieilledent Ghislain, Wintle Brendan A., Shin Yunne-Jai (2021). Identifying uncertainties in scenarios and models of socio-ecological systems in support of decision-making. One Earth, 4(7), 967-985. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :