Towards Sustainable Land-Water Interactions in the Anthropocene: The Role of Stakeholder Engagement and Participatory Modelling

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 January 2022) | Viewed by 22290

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
1. School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
2. Director of Participatory Modeling and Data Science, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
Interests: environmental planning and policy; participatory modelling; complex systems modelling; coupled human–natural systems

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Guest Editor
Centre for Environmental Governance, University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT 2617, Australia
Interests: socio-hydrology; participatory modelling; complex systems; computational social science; agent-based modelling
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Land, water, and society are intrinsically interconnected through the metabolism of human activity, influenced by demographic shifts and economic development, urbanization and agricultural expansion, the extraction of natural resources and the production of waste. Human activities are capable of altering how water flows through the landscape, affecting its quantity and quality at an unprecedented scale. To understand the full dimension of land-water interactions in the Anthropocene, and to use this understanding to inform management, it is therefore, necessary to integrate knowledge from fields as diverse as hydrology, soil science, human geography, economics, anthropology, law, and human behavior. There is also an increasing awareness that early and meaningful engagement of stakeholders in decision-making is essential to find successful and implementable pathways supportive of sustainable and resilient futures. Our ability to tackle this multifaceted theme in a comprehensive, robust, and systematic manner is still limited. To move forward, the following questions need to be answered:

  • (Understanding the system) How can we integrate and/or extend frameworks such as socio-hydrology, telecoupling, collaborative rationality, and adaptive management to support fair, responsible, and sustainable relationships among people, land, and water?
  • (The role of biases, beliefs, values, heuristics) Who are the key actors and governing institutions? What services do these actors extract from land and water systems? What are the actors’ goals, objectives, and strategies, and what resources do they have to pursue them? How can we elicit and identify the biases, beliefs, values, and heuristics (BBVH) that either hinder or enable transitions towards sustainable land–water interactions? How can we steer BBHV to achieve better outcomes? How do stakeholders quantify and decide among trade-offs attached to various land and water management strategies? Who are the winners and losers, and how are any imbalances addressed?
  • (Modelling the system) What theories, tools, and techniques are needed to conceptualize land–water–human interactions? What are their key strengths and weaknesses, particularly when brought into a stakeholder engagement or participatory modelling process?
  • (The role of modelling) What is the role of modelling in developing a collaborative land–water science program? How does early engagement of stakeholders with scientific models of land–water interactions improve decision-making? What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of gamification?
  • (The role of model-enhanced stakeholder engagement) How should we design and facilitate participatory processes to improve sustainability outcomes in land-water-human systems? Which participatory modelling methods are more or less amenable to different types of stakeholders involved in land–water interactions? What are the best tools for the job in different geographical and cultural contexts? How should we follow-through on action plans?

We highly encourage submission of integrative studies that combine insights from environmental modelling and behavioral science. In doing so, this Special Issue aims to shed light on how stakeholder engagement and collaborative approaches can help disentangle the complexity of land–water–human interactions at local, national, and global levels.

Prof. Dr. Moira Zellner
Dr. Juan Carlos Castilla-Rho
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Anthropocene
  • LULCC
  • socio-hydrology
  • telecoupling
  • nexus
  • human behaviour
  • collaborative governance
  • participatory modelling
  • coupling human-natural systems

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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27 pages, 12366 KiB  
Article
Exploring the Barriers to and Potential for Sustainable Transitions in Urban–Rural Systems through Participatory Causal Loop Diagramming of the Food–Energy–Water Nexus
by Moira Zellner, Dean Massey, Anton Rozhkov and John T. Murphy
Land 2023, 12(3), 551; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12030551 - 24 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2479
Abstract
Understanding Food–Energy–Water (FEW) systems is crucial in order to plan for a resilient and sustainable future of interdependent urban–rural regions. While research tends to focus on urban transitions, the topic remains understudied relative to urban-rural regions. The often conflicting pressures in these regions [...] Read more.
Understanding Food–Energy–Water (FEW) systems is crucial in order to plan for a resilient and sustainable future of interdependent urban–rural regions. While research tends to focus on urban transitions, the topic remains understudied relative to urban-rural regions. The often conflicting pressures in these regions (e.g., urbanization and growing crop production) may pose distinctive challenges where large urbanizations are adjacent to sparsely populated rural areas. These systems may further shift in response to local and global economic and demographic trends, as well as climate change. Identifying these complex system trajectories is critical for sustainability and resilience planning and policy, which requires the pooling of both urban and rural expertise across multiple disciplines and domains. We convened panels of subject matter experts within a participatory causal loop diagramming (CLD) approach. Our workshops were facilitated by our research team to collaboratively construct the web of connections among the elements in the urban–rural FEW system. The CLDs and the discussions around them allowed the group to identify potentially significant lever points in the system (e.g., support for minority farmers to enhance food security while reducing waste), barriers to sustainability (e.g., laws restricting the sale of water treatment biosolids), and potential synergies across sectors (e.g., food and green energy advocacy jointly pressing for policy changes). Despite the greater understanding of urban–rural interdependence afforded by participatory CLD, urban factors were consistently prioritized in the representation of the integrated system, highlighting the need for new paradigms to support sustainable urban–rural transitions. Full article
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13 pages, 1392 KiB  
Communication
Methodological Challenges in Studying Trust in Natural Resources Management
by Antonia Sohns, Gordon M. Hickey, Jasper R. de Vries and Owen Temby
Land 2021, 10(12), 1303; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10121303 - 26 Nov 2021
Viewed by 2512
Abstract
Trust has been identified as a central characteristic of successful natural resource management (NRM), particularly in the context of implementing participatory approaches to stakeholder engagement. Trust is, however, a multi-dimensional and multi-level concept that is known to evolve recursively through time, challenging efforts [...] Read more.
Trust has been identified as a central characteristic of successful natural resource management (NRM), particularly in the context of implementing participatory approaches to stakeholder engagement. Trust is, however, a multi-dimensional and multi-level concept that is known to evolve recursively through time, challenging efforts to empirically measure its impact on collaboration in different NRM settings. In this communication we identify some of the challenges associated with conceptualizing and operationalizing trust in NRM field research, and pay particular attention to the inter-relationships between the concepts of trust, perceived risk and control due to their multi-dimensional and interacting roles in inter-organizational collaboration. The challenge of studying trust begins with its conceptualization, which impacts the terminology being used, thereby affecting the subsequent operationalization of trust in survey and interview measures, and the interpretation of these measures by engaged stakeholders. Building from this understanding, we highlight some of the key methodological considerations, including how trust is being conceptualized and how the associated measures are being developed, deployed, and validated in order to facilitate cross-context and cross-level comparisons. Until these key methodological issues are overcome, the nuanced roles of trust in NRM will remain unclear. Full article
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16 pages, 679 KiB  
Article
Beliefs about Human-Nature Relationships and Implications for Investment and Stewardship Surrounding Land-Water System Conservation
by John D. Coley, Nicole Betz, Brian Helmuth, Keith Ellenbogen, Steven B. Scyphers and Daniel Adams
Land 2021, 10(12), 1293; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10121293 - 25 Nov 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4003
Abstract
When engaging stakeholders in environmental conservation, it is critical to understand not only their group-level needs, but also the individually held beliefs that contribute to each person’s decisions to endorse or reject policies. To this end, we examined the extent to which people [...] Read more.
When engaging stakeholders in environmental conservation, it is critical to understand not only their group-level needs, but also the individually held beliefs that contribute to each person’s decisions to endorse or reject policies. To this end, we examined the extent to which people conceptualize the interconnected relationship between humans and nature in the context of a hypothetical urban waterway, and the implications thereof for environmental investment and stewardship. We also explored how these beliefs varied based on describing the waterway as having either local or global impacts, and as originating either naturally or through artificial processes. Three hundred and seventy-nine adults from the United States read vignettes about a polluted urban waterway and thereafter reported their investment in river clean-up, their stewardship of the river, and their beliefs surrounding human-nature relationships. Results revealed a common belief pattern whereby humans were believed to impact the urban river disproportionately more than the river impacts humans, suggesting that lay adults often weigh the impacts of humans on the natural world disproportionally. Critically, this disproportionate pattern of thinking inversely predicted investment of time and money in river clean-up. Results also revealed a potential solution to this psychological bias: highlighting local benefits of the waterway decreased the asymmetry of the human-nature relationship. We discuss the psychological factors contributing to this cognitive bias, and the implications of these findings on stakeholder engagement. Full article
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29 pages, 20551 KiB  
Article
Spatially Explicit Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping for Participatory Modeling of Stormwater Management
by Corey T. White, Helena Mitasova, Todd K. BenDor, Kevin Foy, Okan Pala, Jelena Vukomanovic and Ross K. Meentemeyer
Land 2021, 10(11), 1114; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10111114 - 20 Oct 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2374
Abstract
Addressing “wicked” problems like urban stormwater management necessitates building shared understanding among diverse stakeholders with the influence to enact solutions cooperatively. Fuzzy cognitive maps (FCMs) are participatory modeling tools that enable diverse stakeholders to articulate the components of a socio-environmental system (SES) and [...] Read more.
Addressing “wicked” problems like urban stormwater management necessitates building shared understanding among diverse stakeholders with the influence to enact solutions cooperatively. Fuzzy cognitive maps (FCMs) are participatory modeling tools that enable diverse stakeholders to articulate the components of a socio-environmental system (SES) and describe their interactions. However, the spatial scale of an FCM is rarely explicitly considered, despite the influence of spatial scale on SES. We developed a technique to couple FCMs with spatially explicit survey data to connect stakeholder conceptualization of urban stormwater management at a regional scale with specific stormwater problems they identified. We used geospatial data and flooding simulation models to quantitatively evaluate stakeholders’ descriptions of location-specific problems. We found that stakeholders used a wide variety of language to describe variables in their FCMs and that government and academic stakeholders used significantly different suites of variables. We also found that regional FCM did not downscale well to concerns at finer spatial scales; variables and causal relationships important at location-specific scales were often different or missing from the regional FCM. This study demonstrates the spatial framing of stormwater problems influences the perceived range of possible problems, barriers, and solutions through spatial cognitive filtering of the system’s boundaries. Full article
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12 pages, 1780 KiB  
Article
Analysis of the Discriminatory Perceptions of Victims on Damage from Environmental Pollution: A Case Study of the Hebei Spirit Oil Spill in South Korea
by Jae-Hyuck Lee and Do-Kyun Kim
Land 2021, 10(10), 1089; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10101089 - 15 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2371
Abstract
Environmental pollution causes severe damage to local communities, which is perceived differently by different victims, that is, the damage is discriminatory. However, previous studies have not focused on this aspect. Here, we explored the perceptions of different victims of the Hebei Spirit oil [...] Read more.
Environmental pollution causes severe damage to local communities, which is perceived differently by different victims, that is, the damage is discriminatory. However, previous studies have not focused on this aspect. Here, we explored the perceptions of different victims of the Hebei Spirit oil spill incident of Korea. Additionally, we explored the importance of considering discriminatory aspects of damage when planning recovery governance. The damages from the oil spill were analyzed using a text mining technique for each subject based on factor analyses. Women and residents older than 60 years were interested in the social relations of the village community; residents in their 40s, who were raising children and teenagers, were interested in the economic aspects; boat fishermen, who had discontinued fishing to participate in the pollution response activity in the early stages of the incident, were interested in disaster prevention; and women divers were interested in health issues. Hence, restoring the economy and environment and reversing indirect social damages are essential for recovery from pollution damage. Furthermore, governance for recovery must not exclude specific victims based on the discriminatory aspects of damages. A political process is necessary to secure the validity of governance and alternatives by involving different victim groups. Full article
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21 pages, 1678 KiB  
Article
A Comprehensive Process for Stakeholder Identification and Engagement in Addressing Wicked Water Resources Problems
by William L. Hargrove and Josiah M. Heyman
Land 2020, 9(4), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9040119 - 14 Apr 2020
Cited by 29 | Viewed by 4682
Abstract
Various sectors of stakeholders (urban, agricultural, policymakers, etc.) are frequently engaged in participatory research projects aimed at improving water resources’ sustainability. However, a process for comprehensive and integrative identification, classification, and engagement of all types of water stakeholders for a region or river [...] Read more.
Various sectors of stakeholders (urban, agricultural, policymakers, etc.) are frequently engaged in participatory research projects aimed at improving water resources’ sustainability. However, a process for comprehensive and integrative identification, classification, and engagement of all types of water stakeholders for a region or river basin, especially in a transboundary context, is missing for water resources research projects. Our objective was to develop a systematic approach to identifying and classifying water stakeholders, and engage them in a discussion of water futures, as a foundation for a participatory modeling research project to address the wicked water resource problems of the Middle Rio Grande basin on the U.S./Mexico border. This part of the Rio Grande basin can be characterized as having limited and dwindling supplies of water, increasing demands for water from multiple sectors, and a segmented governance system spanning two U.S. states and two countries. These challenges are being exacerbated by climate change; a transitioning agriculture to more water demanding, high value crops; urbanization; and growing demand for environmental services. Moving forward, a core question for this region is how can water be managed so that the three competing sectors—agricultural, urban, and environmental—can realize a sustainable future in this challenged water system? We identified the major water-using sectors who represent competing demands as including agricultural, municipal, self-supplied industrial users, environmental, and a sector we labeled “social justice”, comprised of individuals who lack access to potable water, or who represent groups who advocate for access to water. We included stakeholders from both the U.S. and Mexico, which is seldom done, who share transboundary water resources in the region. We hosted a series of stakeholder dialogues and obtained results that identified and described their vision for the future of water; challenges to be overcome; and important research questions that could be addressed using participatory modeling approaches. Four broad themes common to multiple sectors emerged: (1) quantity, drought, and scarcity; (2) quality/salinization; (3) urbanization; and (4) conservation and sustainability. Each sector expressed distinctive views regarding the future of water. Agricultural stakeholders, in particular, had strong feelings of ownership of water rights as part of land ownership and a concomitant sense of threat to those water rights emanating from dwindling supplies and competing demands. The contribution of this work is a methodology for identifying, classifying, and engaging all types of stakeholders in the context of a research project, enabling us to compare and contrast views of different types of stakeholders. Heretofore, this has been accomplished in “bits and pieces”, but never comprehensively and holistically. Full article
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Review

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26 pages, 1402 KiB  
Review
No Stakeholder Is an Island: Human Barriers and Enablers in Participatory Environmental Modelling
by Daniel C. Kenny and Juan Castilla-Rho
Land 2022, 11(3), 340; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11030340 - 25 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2278
Abstract
Sustainability science strives to hone our ability to tackle problems that involve interconnected economic, social, and environmental systems. Addressing the root causes of these problems requires a more nuanced understanding of how human behaviour can undermine stakeholder engagement efforts towards effective conflict management [...] Read more.
Sustainability science strives to hone our ability to tackle problems that involve interconnected economic, social, and environmental systems. Addressing the root causes of these problems requires a more nuanced understanding of how human behaviour can undermine stakeholder engagement efforts towards effective conflict management and resolution. Participatory modelling—the co-production of knowledge via facilitated modelling workshops—plays a critical role in this endeavour by enabling participants to co-formulate problems and use modelling practices that aid in the description, solution, and decision-making actions of the group. While the difficulties of modelling with stakeholders are widely acknowledged, there is still a need to more concretely identify and categorize the barriers and opportunities that human behaviour presents to this type of engagement process. This review fills an important gap in participatory modelling practice by presenting five broad categories of barriers, along with strategies that can assist in overcoming them. We conclude with a series of actions and future research directions that the participatory modelling community as a whole can take to create more meaningful and behaviourally-attuned engagements that help stakeholders take concrete steps towards sustainability in natural resource management. Full article
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