1996, Saint Lucia, West Indies

SimLucia has been developed for UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) as part of the Memorandum of Understanding between UNEP and CIMAS (Co-operative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies), Miami, Florida, US. as part of the project "Vulnerability assessment of low-lying coastal areas and small islands to climate change and sea level rise".

The long term objectives of this project are to develop a methodology and operational procedure applicable on the level of the individual coastal country or island (1) to describe and analyse the impacts of climate change on their territory, their ecosystems, their social systems and their economic activities, and (2) to provide instruments or tools to design, explore and evaluate policy measures and policy interventions to prevent or alleviate undesirable impacts.

In Phase 1, the modelling framework has been applied to and tested on a theoretical, prototypical island (named ISLAND) with characteristics typical of existing small Caribbean islands.

The specific objectives of Phase 2 are to apply the modelling methodology and decision support system to St. Lucia, West Indies and to adapt them to the extent required. The resulting model and software system has been named SimLucia.

At SimLucia’s macro level essentially three coupled subsystems are modelled: the natural, social and economic subsystems, each represented by sets of linked variables. The natural subsystem consists of a set of linked relations expressing the change in time of temperature and sea level, and the effects of these on precipitation, storm frequency and external demands for services and products from St. Lucia. The social subsystem describes the demography and the social well being of its population. The economy of St. Lucia is modelled by means of a highly aggregated input-output model, which is coupled to the demographic and natural sub-model.

More than in the macro scale representation, the principle mechanism underlying the micro scale dynamics is the fact that socio-economic activities will interact with one another in geographical space. The strong concentration of activities in a narrow coastal zone results in conflicts of interest and competition for space and causes irrecoverable stress on the unique but fragile terrestrial and marine ecosystems of the coastal zone. It is essential to know where the coastal zone will be affected as socio-economic pressure is variable in time and in space. The knowledge as to whether changes will concentrate in one location or another, or will spread out over large parts of the coastal zone is of great importance in estimating the real effects of the development.