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The ever greater role given to public participation by laws and regulations, in particular in the field of environmental management calls for new operational methods and tools for managers and practitioners. This paper analyses the potentials and the critical limitations of current approaches in the fields of simulation modelling (SM), public participation (PP) and decision analysis (DA), for natural resources management within the context of climate change research. The potential synergies of combining SM, PP and DA into an integrated methodological framework are identified and a methodological proposal is presented, called NetSyMoD (Network Analysis – Creative System Modelling – Decision Support), which aims at facilitating the involvement of stakeholders or experts in policy - or decision-making processes (P/DMP). A generic P/DMP is formalised in NetSyMoD as a sequence of six main phases: (i) Actors analysis; (ii) Problem analysis; (iii) Creative System Modelling; (iv) DSS design; (v) Analysis of Options; and (vi) Action taking and monitoring. Several variants of the NetSyMoD approach have been adapted to different contexts such as integrated water resources management and coastal management, and, recently it has been applied in climate change research projects. Experience has shown that NetSyMoD may be a useful framework for skilled professionals, for guiding the P/DMP, and providing practical solutions to problems encountered in the different phases of the decision/policy making process, in particular when future scenarios or projections have to be considered, such as in the case of developing and selecting adaptation policies. The various applications of NetSyMoD share the same approach for problem analysis and communication within the group of selected actors, based upon the use of creative thinking techniques, the formalisation of human-environment relationships through the DPSIR framework, and the use of multi-criteria analysis through a Decision Support System (DSS) software.


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