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Using group model building to support strategic sustainable development
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0813-3193
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5116-5524
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7382-1825
2020 (English)In: 38th International Conference of the System Dynamics Society 2020, System Dynamics Society , 2020, , p. 577Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper discusses how group model building can be used to support strategic sustainable development. Four cases in which causal loop diagrams and, or, system dynamics have been used are described. In addition, some recent and adjacent research studies are discussed to expand the ideas for future applications. The paper suggests how different means of visualization, that is, qualitative or quantitative modelling can support different levels of strategic sustainability thinking and planning.

Abstract [en]

Many initiatives to sustainable development have emerged over the years in different domains ofplanning. At global scale, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are well-established and used asguidance for both public and business policy development and strategy planning. The GlobalReporting Initiative is also increasingly being used which, gathered under a common framework,enhances transparency, understanding and communication of sustainability-related impacts oforganizations. At regional scale, (manufacturing-) corporations can take support in their sustainabilityefforts by a combination of different initiatives, such as life cycle assessment, eco-design, cleanerproduction and corporate social responsibility (Lozano, 2012), to mention a few. Many of theseinitiatives have emerged in collaboration with academia, but many of them have seemed to lack astructured approach to planning that acknowledges the complexity and interdependencies of the socioecological systems which human society rely upon. Now, several authors have therefore highlightedthe need for a strategic perspective on how a sustainability transition can be achieved (see e.g.,Nikulina et al., 2019). This is a core purpose of the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development(FSSD) (Broman and Robért, 2017), which aims to guide how planning can be structured strategicallytowards system scale sustainability with minimized risks for sub-optimized solutions.

The opportunity to support strategic sustainable development through GMB applications have beeninvestigated in this paper, guided by the research question ‘In which way does the steps of the groupmodel building process support a strategic sustainability perspective in planning and decisionmaking?’ Four examples, i.e., sustainable product development workshop method, sustainabilitydriven design optimization, transport strategy and planning, and sustainability and complexitymodelling in higher education, provided together illustrate that the design of a group model buildingactivity can foster strategic sustainable development to different degrees, and in different decisionmaking context. Co-visualization of socio-ecological system behaviour in form of causal loopdiagrams can help foster and leverage sustainability systems thinking that provide a basis for ideationto system intervention. Hence, the educative first steps of GMB can aid the first steps of the process ofstrategic planning toward sustainability. More detailed visualization in form of e.g. system dynamicmodels, may allow consequences of decisions to be visualized at a more advanced level of detail.Hence, the latter steps of a strategic planning towards sustainability process when sustainabilityimprovement actions are to be selected prioritized, may be supported by the last steps of the GMB byproviding more robust decision support. Altogether, the results show that GMB helped many studyparticipants improve their ability to contextualize a complex socio-ecological issues, regardlessbackground.

Future work will further elaborate on how group model building guided by a strategic sustainabilityperspective can be used to simulate scenarios in different degree of detail, at different decision-makinglevels in industry and society in planning and decision-making.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
System Dynamics Society , 2020. , p. 577
Keywords [en]
sustainable development, strategic sustainable development, group model building, causal loop diagram, system dynamics, planning, decision-making, learning
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Strategic Sustainable Development
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-22476ISBN: 9781713820215 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-22476DiVA, id: diva2:1619157
Conference
38th International Conference of the System Dynamics Society 2020, held online, 19-24 July 2020, Bergen, Norway.
Part of project
Model Driven Development and Decision Support – MD3S, Knowledge Foundation
Funder
Knowledge Foundation, 20180159Available from: 2021-12-13 Created: 2021-12-13 Last updated: 2021-12-14Bibliographically approved

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Watz, MatildaNy, HenrikHallstedt, Sophie

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