Sustainable Development Scenarios in the Danube Delta—A Pilot Methodology for Decision Makers
2. Materials and Methods
- Statistical data from the Romanian National Institute of Statistics:
- Aquaculture, accese: fish consumption;
- Tourism: duration of_tourist staying, the initial duration of stay, initial number of tourists, revenues per tourist day, tourism carrying capacity;
- Agriculture: annual precipitation, crop consumption factor, crop price, ecofarm_fertilizer_use, ecofarm production costs, minimal ecofarm yield, minimal_traditional_farm_yield, traditional crop price.
- Literature overview:
- Aquaculture: aquaculture intensification rate, fish farming labor intensity, fish price, initial area in use for intensive aquaculture, initial area in use for normal aquaculture, intensive aquaculture development rate, intensive aquaculture N load, intensive aquaculture productivity, labor costs per employee, maximum area available for aquaculture, subsidies per unit area;
- Tourism: emergency_level, fraction_of_revenues_used_for_marketing, load_N_per_day, initial marketing budget;
- Agriculture: evaporation, FarmToFork_Target, maximum_area_ecofarms, maximum_N_acceptable_concentration, N_crop_uptake, initial area ecofarms, initial area traditional farms, maximum area ecofarms, maximum fertilizer use, maximum_irrigation, maximum N acceptable concentration, specific crop consumption rate, traditional fertilizer use, traditional farm production costs, traditional intensity.
- Stakeholder expertise:
- Aquaculture: production cost rate for intensive aquaculture, production cost rate for normal aquaculture;
- Tourism: decline rate without development, employment factor, time until emergency level is reached;
- Agriculture: agriculture water demand for 1 hectare, eco-crop price, eco-labor_intensity, specific_crop_consumption_rate, water supply per hectare.
- Aquaculture: aquaculture intensification, Danube N load, effects of pollution on fish farming, fish production ratio, impact of N load aquaculture on water quality, intensive aquaculture development, intensive aquaculture production, intensive fish farm employment, intensive fish farm revenues, intensive fish farm area, normal fish farm employment, normal fish farm revenues, normal fish farm area, spatial pressure from aquaculture development, total aquaculture N load, total aquaculture production, total area in use for aquaculture, total fish farming employment, total fish farming revenues;
- Tourism: impact of marketing on development, impact on N from tourism on water quality, impact pollution on tourism, impact tourism attractiveness on decline, initial tourist days, marketing, number of tourists, tourism attractiveness, tourism decline, tourism development, tourism employment, tourism N load, tourism pressure, tourism revenues;
- Agriculture: eco farm_employment, ecofarm_conversion, ecofarm income, ecofarm productivity, ecofarm transition rate, ecofarms area(t), forest belts installation year, fraction ecofarms, impact of ecofarm fertilizer use on_yield, impact of N from agriculture on water quality, impact of traditional farm fertilizer use on yield, impact of water supply on yield, irrigation, N runoff, number of years forests belts are present, Runoff rate, total agriculture area, total agriculture employment, total agriculture income, total ecofarm productivity, total traditional farm productivity, total fertilizer use, total production, total traditional farm production, traditional farm employment, traditional farm productivity, traditional farms area.
- Stakeholders mapping—The snowball method, which comprises people from initial, smaller, stakeholder groups finding additional contacts and stakeholders, was used for the stakeholders’ identification .
- Stakeholders’ meetings—The participatory approach encouraged stakeholder engagement, allowing them to explore their insights and exchange experiences to better understand the behaviour of the ecosystem . Overall, during the meetings, 97 people with expertise in different fields (agriculture, cross-compliance and ecosystem services, coastal and rural tourism, fisheries and aquaculture, blue growth industry, transport, administration, and rural development of the Danube Delta) participated in six sectoral meetings . The participants were locals (village mayors, NGOs, and business owners) but also representatives of the national authorities in the field. We organized six sectoral workshops with the purpose of bringing together domain experts, policymakers, and business entrepreneurs to explore the land–sea interactions from a coastal or rural perspective. They were urged to think about the drivers and impediments to cross-regional and cross-sectoral collaboration. Additionally, both positive and negative externalities were requested of them. We had a candid chat with them while applying systems-thinking conceptualization techniques. During this process, we discovered the key problems, chances, and barriers to sustainable growth as well as cross-sectoral synergies. To accomplish this, methodological coherence was required. To define the initial drivers of the mental modelling exercise flexibly and objectively, a workshop with facilitators from all project study cases was organized. The following is the final list of drivers selected by the experts and used in each workshop: water, human consumption pattern, regulation/policy, temperature, human migration, pollution, and infrastructure .
- Causal Loop Diagrams—The main result of the meetings consists of sector-specific shared mental maps of the land–sea system in the Danube Delta  collecting all the relevant aspects of the land–sea interactions identified during the discussion by the participants. The results from the individual sectors were afterwards condensed into causal loop diagrams (CLD) both at a sectoral level and as an overall CLD integrating the individual sectors and answering relevant questions such as “which problems and priorities can be defined?”, “who is affected by the problem, and who may be involved in causing it?”, and “is the problem dynamic in nature?” [18,20].
- Business Road Map—The roadmap’s objective is to put out a collection of commercial and policy options that can assist the region in making the transition to a sustainable future cocreated by local stakeholders from a variety of sectors throughout the entire region. The identification of critical locations for intervention within the coastal–rural system and the simulation of various scenarios to arrive at the desired state are both made possible by the coastal–rural system dynamic model. While identifying and proposing solutions involving fishery and aquaculture, agriculture, and tourism, based on local expertise and national to international best practices, scientists and local stakeholders identify the problem .
- Model—The CLDs were quantified in a ‘stock-flow’ model, which allows for the examining of the combined impact of reinforcing and balancing feedback mechanisms on the dynamics of the system. The complexity of stock-flow models is in the feedback structure and interactions between variables, which determines the dynamics of the model and hence the way the model responds to policy and business decisions. Thus, the dynamics of conflicts between stakeholders can be analysed to make the best decision appropriate to the proposed goal, the sustainable development of the Danube Delta . The model is organized from a threefold perspective, that integrates three submodels generated by the main problems identified for the economic activities in the region, namely aquaculture, tourism, and agriculture, resulting in time graphs and data showing the dynamics of the problem over time (2050). Each of these three submodels feeds into a master file addressing the socioeconomic development of the area expressed as the rural income and rural workforce. The goal of the model is to explore alternative scenarios of human activity development with the improvement of the quality of life and sustainability within the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve and its marine waters (Black Sea), as one of the most impacted areas along the Romanian littoral. Therefore, the aquaculture submodel may serve the area’s sustainable development in the future by predicting the beneficial effects of the onset of such economic activity, while also pointing out the possible side effects that should be considered, with the final goal to help the decision-making actors properly design a development strategy for the sector. The rural tourism submodel intends to answer the question of what level of tourism can be developed in the interested area without harming the environment. Finally, the agriculture model’s central point is the potential reduction of the environmental impact of the increasing conversion rate of conventional agriculture to organic farming.
- N crop uptake (tN/tcrop) = (specific crop consumption rate × total agriculture area)/total production
- N runoff (t/y) = Runoff rate*(total fertilizer use-total production*N crop uptake)
- The annual precipitation data (mm/y) were expressed as average precipitation reported for Tulcea region, with a random function between minimum and maximum reported (400,500 mm/year).
- Tourism N load = load N per day*Annual Tourist Days
- Scenarios—From the first project’s meetings on, we wanted to get as close as possible to the stakeholder’s vision on the area of interest, the Danube Delta. Therefore, we asked them what should change over time for improving their activity and everyday life. With their beliefs, we started to draw scenarios, and we used system dynamics modelling to find out the evolution of the variables connected to these scenarios.
- Decisions—The developed model and scenarios represent a dynamic environment for exploring management measures to support the sustainable development of the Danube Delta. This step will be deepened in the Results and Discussions chapters.
3.1. Model and Scenarios
3.2. System’s Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|No.||Model Input Variable||System-External Uncertainties Affecting This Model Input Variable|
|1||Eco crop costs||Population growth; urbanization level; urbanization type; land use|
|2||Farm to Fork target||Urbanization level; policy orientation; environment; land use; agriculture|
|3||Crop farm costs||Population growth; urbanization type; consumption; environmental policy; technology transfer|
|4||Maximum fertilizer use (K)||Policy orientation; agriculture productivity|
|4||Danube’s flow||Climate change RCP 1.5|
|5||Annual precipitation||Climate change RCP 1.5|
|6||Evaporation||Climate change RCP 1.5|
|7||Fish consumption||Population growth; governance|
|8||Fish price||Development of the area; governance|
|9||Labour costs per employee||Development of the area; governance|
|10||Aquaculture intensification rate||Development of the area; technology; land use|
|11||Duration of tourist day||Economic growth; tourism; development of the area|
|12||Revenues per tourist day||Economic growth; tourism; development of the area|
|Variable||Scenario 1||Scenario 2||Scenario 3||Scenario 4||KPI|
(Results of the Model)
|Fish consumption factor||+10%||+300%||+100%||+400%||1. Intensive fish farming area|
2. Total aquaculture production
3. Fish consumption
4. Impact of nitrogen load from aquaculture
|Aquaculture intensification rate||0.01||0.04||0.08||1|
|Duration of tourist stay||+36%||+30%||−30%||−22%||5. Annual tourist days|
6. Tourism revenues
7. Tourism pressure
8. Impact of nitrogen load from tourism
|Revenues per tourist||+17%||−13%||+60%||+10%|
|Ecocrop cost||−10%||0%||+10%||+20%||9. Ecofarm production|
10. Traditional farm production
11. Total agriculture income
12. Fraction ecofarms
13. Impact of nitrogen load from agriculture
|Crop farm cost||+10%||0%||−10%||−20%|
|Farm to Fork||+30%||0%||+15%||−8%|
|Max fertilizer use||−5%||0%||+10%||+20%|
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Lazar, L.; Rodino, S.; Pop, R.; Tiller, R.; D’Haese, N.; Viaene, P.; De Kok, J.-L. Sustainable Development Scenarios in the Danube Delta—A Pilot Methodology for Decision Makers. Water 2022, 14, 3484. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14213484
Lazar L, Rodino S, Pop R, Tiller R, D’Haese N, Viaene P, De Kok J-L. Sustainable Development Scenarios in the Danube Delta—A Pilot Methodology for Decision Makers. Water. 2022; 14(21):3484. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14213484Chicago/Turabian Style
Lazar, Luminita, Steliana Rodino, Ruxandra Pop, Rachel Tiller, Nele D’Haese, Peter Viaene, and Jean-Luc De Kok. 2022. "Sustainable Development Scenarios in the Danube Delta—A Pilot Methodology for Decision Makers" Water 14, no. 21: 3484. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14213484