Creating Futures

2006-2010, Waikato Region, New Zealand

The project comprises of two interlinked objectives. Objective 1 relates to the development of qualitative scenarios and deliberation tools that include input from key community groups about their views on policy options and alternative futures. Objective 2 aims to develop an integrated spatial decision support system (ISDSS) that models cultural, economic, environmental, and social processes in an integrated environment. These quantitative models forecast plausible future scenarios of regional development up to 2050. In combination, these tools can be used as part of long-term integrated planning and help monitor progress towards achieving long-term sustainable community goals and outcomes.

Within the project RIKS is mainly involved in the development of the SDSS, called Waikato Integrated Scenario Explorer or WISE. WISE has been built with Geonamica and combines climate scenarios, hydrological, social and economic models as well as the Metronamica land use model. An important step for RIKS has been the integration of the economic and land use models. The economic model reacts to land scarcity detected in the land use model. Therefore, we can investigate the effect of a shortage of land on the dairying industry and related sectors – this is a major topic in New Zealand!

The policy interface includes scenario drivers for:

  • Exogenous economic growth

  • Change in land productivity and labour force productivity

  • Changes in fertility and mortality rates

  • Inter-regional migration

  • Spatial planning and

  • Infrastructural developments

Policy-relevant indicators include:

  • Population graphs and figures, including a population pyramid

  • Graphs and figures of economic indicators, such as final demand, output, household consumption and employment

  • Graphs and figures of economic-environmental indicators, such as fossil fuel use, CO2 emission levels and annual amounts of solid waste

  • Maps and figures of hydrology and water quality, such as run-off, summer flow yield, and phospherous and nitrogen loads and

  • A “threatened environments” indicator developed by Landcare Research that displays a map weighing the protection against and risk of loosing indigenous vegetation

WISE is in use for strategic planning at the Environment Waikato council. Council staff have been trained in the use and calibration of the system and have provided valuable feedback for further improvements and extensions.

The project leader of the Creating Futures project is Environment Waikato, Landcare Research is science leader and Objective 2 leader, while AgResearch is leading Objective 1. Other project partners are Scion, the Universite de Versailles, the New Zealand Centre for Ecological Economics, NIWA, and the University of Waikato.