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Groundwater depletion is one of humanity’s greatest sustainability challenges of the 21st century. Unsustainable rates of groundwater abstraction in the world’s major food bowls threatens water and food security not only locally, but also globally via international trade links. With Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) deadlines only a decade away, water authorities are in urgent need of targeted measures to ensure that communities rapidly and effectively adhere to groundwater conservation programmes.
To this end, so-called computational social science models may provide a new basis to improve groundwater conservation schemes. The Groundwater Commons Game simulates “artificial societies” of farmers (agents) competing for limited groundwater resources in a drying climate. These societies evolve based on well-known principles of human cooperation, cultural values, social norms, and regulatory compliance. Agents are endowed with cultural traits derived from the largest international investigation of human values and beliefs in existence (The World Values Survey), and used to simulate future pathways in three culturally-diverse regions currently experiencing long-term groundwater depletion, where significant irrigation water curtailments are needed to stabilise groundwater levels: the Murray-Darling Basin (Australia), the California Central Valley (USA), and the Punjab (India and Pakistan).
About the presenter
Dr. Juan Castilla-Rho is a transdisciplinary systems modeller working at the interface of natural resource management and computational social science. He combines numerical modelling, systems thinking and complexity science to better understand the dynamic interactions between people, water, and the environment. Juan is currently pioneering the use of interactive agent-based policy simulators to engage non-technical audiences in scientific modelling and improve policy decisions in groundwater- and other environmental-related dilemmas.
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