Participatory System Mapping (PSM) involves stakeholders in group model building activities, engaging them in the construction of qualitative system maps to deliver insights on the impacts regarding the system considered and fostering knowledge exchange. Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs) are used to map the cause-and-effect variables throughout the entire system, so causal mechanisms are properly considered. System structure and feedback processes are made explicit, and the system’s dynamics can be portrayed.
System dynamic models can be used to explore the main variables, their interlinkages and the related system behaviour as well as resulting synergies and trade-offs in achieving different goals. Based on this system map, it is possible to integrate other knowledge sources and data, to develop a quantitative model.
Application in TANDEM
TANDEM will invite impacted inhabitants to depict the system wide impacts of policies and interventions. Through this method, the project will also account for the context specific characteristics of each case study and ensure that relevant criteria for stakeholders are considered and not only those for which data is easily available.
TANDEM will develop a systemic ex-ante quantitative impact assessment by complementing the qualitative system map with quantitative data and simulation (where possible) through the following steps:
- Development of an initial qualitative system map based on the interviews, using CLDs. This is amended with insights from citizens in the next step.
- Facilitation of participatory system mapping (PSM) with citizens to deliver insights regarding specific issues and foster knowledge exchange, create a common understanding of the challenges, the underlying system structure and the related dynamics in place and how policies affect the system. This will result in qualitative impact mapping of policies and interventions, to understand related systemic structures and impacts arising from those.
- Identification of system archetypes and integration of other knowledge sources and data, to develop a quantitative model (where possible). The resulting systemic impact assessment will be presented to stakeholders, who can then provide feedback on the anticipated system dynamics, making sure they are captured correctly and resulting impacts of interventions are reasonable. Leverage point analysis according to Meadows and Abson et al. will be carried out to assess what is the strength of the lever addressed by the policies and identified interventions.
In TANDEM’s methodology the PSM will be part of the tools used in the first panel aiming to improve the understanding of the context of each case study by the stakeholders. One of TANDEM’s outputs will integrate the main takeaways from the combination of its participatory methods (including PSM).
 Abson, D. J., Fischer, J., Leventon, J., Newig, J., Schomerus, T., Vilsmaier, U., von Wehrden, H., Abernethy, P., Ives, C. D., Jager, N. W., & Lang, D. J. (2017). Leverage points for sustainability transformation. Ambio, 46(1), 30–39. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-016-0800-y
Abson, D. J., Fischer, J., Leventon, J., Newig, J., Schomerus, T., Vilsmaier, U., von Wehrden, H., Abernethy, P., Ives, C. D., Jager, N. W., & Lang, D. J. (2017). Leverage points for sustainability transformation. Ambio, 46(1), 30–39. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-016-0800-y
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