GSD kick-off symposium and first partner meeting

Date: July 1-2 2008
Venue: London, UK
Organiser: Steven Bishop

This Mini-Symposium highlighted some of the best ways in which global system dynamics can assist policy makers in industry and government through powerful applications combining many disciplines taken from physical, natural and social sciences.

Speakers included:

Ralph Dum, EU Scientific Officer

He explained that there was a considerable interest in seeing how a complex systems approach could be used to improve our understanding when it comes to setting policy. –

Jacquie McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, EEA

Visualising Europe’s Future: an overview of the EEA’s findings over recent years.

Science needs to provide clear evidence-based hypotheses on how we can tackle some of the local, and increasingly global, challenges. To monitor effectiveness improved data collection methods are required, which will also help to account for the respective costs of any such actions. Improved methods also mean that decision makers have more information to inform policy. Therefore visualisation must be used to aid our understanding of the spatial planning throughout Europe.

Prof. Lord Julian Hunt

Talked on how a systems approach is extremely useful when modelling problems that involve networks of groups which may be operating at different scales but interact at certain points. Policy makers need to have models, and indeed simulations of results of such models, at their fingertips in order to be able to make crucial decisions often in a very short time frame –  Systems Approaches for Critical Decisions

Prof. Klaus Hasselmann

Talked specifically about policy for climate change, taking into account the key socio-economic aspects – Application of System Dynamics to Climate Policy Assessment

Prof. Bert de Vries

Scenarios are a useful way of exploring our increasing complex world, particulaly the climate-energy issue. Science should offer novel, integrated ways to deal with the sustainable management in social-ecological systems or human-environment systems. Simulation and visualisation methods, such as gaming experiments, must be used to explore situations which in turn will improve the interface between scientific insights and uncertainties, on the one hand, and the policy makers and public on the other. –
 Scenarios: Guidance for an Uncertain and Complex World?

Prof. Henri Berestycki

Berestycki explained that his modelling team’s goals are two-fold. Firstly they try to find models that exhibit generic properties, but then also model specific problems, and confirm results by comparison with empirical data. In the past efforts have been directed at biodiversity and sustainable development. Recently the focus has also included considering how people make a choice under social influence. Here models consider a large number of agents which have to make a binary choice (to buy or not buy) and link/compare this to the usual Nash equilibria when individual choice depends on other’s choice. However, as is typical of nonlinear systems we now have multiple equilibria. One particular problem discussed was the modelling of crime patterns. This work considers the diffusion of illegal behaviour, the analysis of crime time series (e.g. burglaries) and attempts to separate the global trend from local fluctuations.

Prof. Carlo Jaeger

His approach is to try and promote the development of a model that prevents confusion between the various existing techniques, which range from traditional economic equlibrium models to those which consider complex adaptive systems. Any models, no matter which you choose, can be used to model rapid changes in our society or economic growth: we should also try and use these models to discover why our system remained stable for apparently large portions of time. Only when we can understand this will be be able to consider the catelogue of inter-linked actions that lead to major shifts in human ecological systems.

July 2nd 2009 : GSD London Conference ‘Dynamics For Policy Making’ – for more information please email elizabeth.hancock(at)