Decision-making for climate change adaptation: A systems thinking approach
Author: Kambiz Maani
This report examines 5 broad groups of Systems Thinking Tools in terms of their application in climate change adaptation decision making: Problem Framing and Scoping Tools, Qualitative/Conceptual Tools, Quantitative Tools Scenario thinking/planning tools, Organisational Learning. Guides for Systems Thinking Tool Selection and Tool Application are provided to assist end users in selecting the appropriate tools for particulary contexts. The Report also provides 3 case studies where Systems Thinking tools were used: 1) Cotton Farming System in Australia, Climate Change, 2) Land Use and Water Quality, 3) Learning Lab for Sustainability (UNESCO Biosphere Reserves). All three case studies have involved multiple and diverse decision makers and stakeholder. Hence, a combination of Affinity Method for brainstorming and Causal Loop Modelling has been employed. In addition, Case Study 2 illustrates use of the Four-Level Thinking Model as a precursor to causal modelling to facilitate deep collective thinking into key issues selected by the participants. Decision making is often perceived and practiced as a linear activity, from identification of a problem to search for alternative solutions, followed by decision making and implementation. Systems Thinking and Adaptive Management, in contrast, tend to use these steps in a cyclical fashion (i.e. a feedback system). Systems Thinking, in addition, views a problem not in isolation but as part of a larger system or context. Feedback is a key concept in Systems Thinking which is formally recognised and scientifically modelled.