SIG-ABMS: ABM and Sustainability

Announcement of a special issue on large scale behavioral models of land use change in the Journal of Socio-Environmental Systems Modelling (SESMO). Official announcement with more information coming soon!

The SIG on Agent-Based Modelling and Sustainability: Socio-Ecological Issues and Sustainable Development aims to bring together researchers using agent-based modelling (ABM) to explore spatial, environmental and ecological-economic issues. This is pursued by stimulating knowledge exchange and personal collaboration, organising thematic and panel issues at the annual Social Simulation conferences and initiating special issues in journals and project proposals.

Scope of SIG-ABMS

Coupled socio-economic and environmental systems are complex. Understanding environmental impacts of human behaviour in a system with nonlinear interactions, feedbacks and path-dependence is not trivial. Yet, these dynamics need to be studied to investigate, inform and enrich decision making that support a sustainable development path. In fact many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals deal with interactions between socio-economic and environmental systems evolving over time and space. The agent-based community is active in the modelling of farmers’ behaviour (regarding land-use decisions, economic interactions on land and resources markets), behaviour of markets regarding trading quotas, regulation of sustainable harvest, externalities, and management of common-pool resources. ABM scholars focus on both the sustainable management of resources and on exploring the impacts of climate change with computational social models, with growing attention on (re)distribution of impacts, climate resilience, behavioural adaptation to hazards and behavioural climate mitigation.

Aims and activities of SIG-ABMS

The overarching goal of sustainable development and resilience of coupled social-ecological systems connects the above-mentioned questions. Methodologically, we identify the common need to combine spatial heterogeneity and processes in natural systems, which are typical to ecological, geographical and spatial econometric models, with heterogeneity of social behaviour grounded in economics (experimental, environmental or ecological, and spatial), sociology and theories of decisions under uncertainty. Drawing upon conventional approaches, ABM makes advancements by providing rich opportunities to explore emergent behaviours in spatial and ecological-economic systems. ABM can accommodate spatial and behavioural heterogeneity, and model various interactions as well as processes happening at different scales within the same methodological platform. The objective of this SIG is to explore these issues. The SIG may also serve for informed discourse about the normativity of the sustainability concept and the tension between global and local/regional notions of it.

Types of actions aimed at and expected results

SIG-ABMS aims to bring together researches using ABM to explore spatial, environmental and ecological-economic issues. This special interest group will promote exchange of experiences and ideas with respect to modelling coupled human-natural system and spatial or ecological agent-based applications, organize thematic session at regular ESSA meetings, the annual Social Simulation Conferences and World congresses, initiate special issues in journals, as well as work on joint project proposals. We expect to increase awareness of ESSA and its annual Social Simulation conference among the ABM/LUCC community and to bring ESSA expertise into solving problems arising in coupled human-environment systems.

The SIG-ABMS leaders are: Roman Seidl (Leibniz University Hannover Institute for Radioecology and Radiation Protection, Germany), Tatiana Filatova (University of Twente, Netherlands), Gary Polhill (The James Hutton Institute, UK).


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