Whole Decision Network Analysis for Coastal Ecosystems (WD-NACE)
This project looked at the relationship between governance, power and knowledge structures and how these influenced behaviour, actions and decision taking for sustainable ecosystems.
It linked several social science techniques (e.g. social network analysis and agent-based modelling) to comprehensively map all relevant social and ecological knowledge flows regarding ecosystems in two substantive areas where there was pressure on ecosystem services.
With our local partners, we looked at two cases in the western Indian Ocean (Kenya) and the Bay of Bengal (Bangladesh) regarding coastal zone resource uses and management. The purpose was to generate more generic data across comparative studies about how decisions for policy and for action were taken at local levels.
We looked at the networks that individuals used to help them make decisions regarding their livelihoods. These were understood within the context of the global economy and other decision networks impacting upon the social-ecological interrelationships at the local level. Our own understanding was framed within the literature around social-ecological complexity and complex adaptive management.
The project substantively focused on strengthening the sustainable management of coastal ecosystems with a process focus on the political economy for poverty reduction and to understand better how livelihoods could be maintained and ecosystem services valued and preserved.
The project had two UK partners working with six partners in Bangladesh and in Kenya, in close collaboration with policy makers and practitioners there in order to develop an understanding of sustainable norms for decision making in the use of coastal ecosystem services for poverty reduction.
Put most simply, we spoke to relevant people in Kenya and Bangladesh to see where and from whom they got information, about what, and we presented this as a knowledge network map. We then worked with those stakeholders to see if it was the right information for their needs (i.e. to make the decisions that they need to make).
We deepened our and their understanding of what needed to happen by the use of agent based models of the systems. This brought together the social understanding of the milieu within which information was passed around and used with a more technical analysis of that information itself and its utility.
Our work tasks were mapped to the knowledge gaps identified in the ESPA call. However, we proposed that degradation and sustainability drivers would be considered as a part of the same complex system. Little was known about the way in which multiple drivers interact, feedback upon, or balance each other so it was very difficult to attribute individual drivers to patterns of degradation or sustainability.
To capture this complexity we proposed 4 tasks:
- Investigate multiple drivers across a range of disciplines (biophysical, social, political and economic).
- Map the horizontal and vertical networks and knowledge diffusion patterns.
- Use socio-ecological models to analyse and model interactions among drivers.
- Reflectively link the impact of the Whole decision network analysis for coastal ecosystems (WD-NACE) project (see also Impact Plan).
Our chosen criteria of success was by means of an assessment of post-workshop feedback, but we also agreed a criterion of success with each research collaborator and with our partner organisation. These criteria were then used as the touchstone of impact.
The project developed and improved the conceptual framework linking ecosystem and livelihoods domains, knowledge networks and decision-making structures.
In developing such a model, we expected that it would be applied to a range of settings such as by policy-making institutions and international development organizations as well as by more local users.
- Technical Report: Modelling in Natural Resource Management
- Blog: Agent-based Modelling and Field Research
- Conference Paper: A transdisciplinary approach to modelling complex social-ecological problems in coastal ecosystems
- Presentation: Modelling shrimp and paddy farming in coastal zones
- Blog: Shrimp aquaculture in Bangladesh