Inspiration 2024

Hang Xiong

Policy evaluation with the simulation of micro-macro link: rationale and practices

Simulation is a powerful tool for policy evaluation. The simulation of micro-macro links, in particular, can provide realistic representations of macro-level consequences by modelling the reactions of numerous heterogeneous agents at the micro level. It allows for the consideration of distributional consequences and improves the accuracy of policy evaluation. However, a key challenge of simulating micro-macro links is increasing the extent of the simulation to the scale that covers the target region, i.e., the upscaling issue. In this talk, I will present three practices of dealing with upscaling in the valuation of policies for carbon mitigation, technology diffusion and water saving in China. The simulation runs with “all agents” within the target regions in these cases. By comparing the three practices, we can gain insight into the strategies for dealing with the upscaling issue in the simulation of the micro-macro link for policy evaluation.


Moira Zellner

Participatory complex systems modeling for collaborative and equitable planning

Participatory modeling (PM) is a collaborative approach to formalize shared representations of a problem and, through the joint modeling process, design, and test solutions. This approach is particularly well-suited to address complex socio-environmental problems like climate change and its implications on equitable and sustainable resource management and landscape planning. While most of the PM research and development has focused on modeling tools and engagement techniques, multiple other dimensions must be recognized and articulated for impactful planning support. I present a PM platform,, that is supportive of the iterative steps in PM: problem definition and goal setting, preference elicitation, collaborative scenario-building, simulation, tradeoff deliberation, and solution-building. I demonstrate the platform’s effectiveness when embedded in a stakeholder-led process that integrates diverse knowledge, parsimonious models, and values in pursuit of equitable green infrastructure (GI) planning to address flooding. The immediate visualization of simulated impacts, followed by reflection on causal and spatial relationships and tradeoffs across diverse priorities, enhanced participants’ collective understanding of how GI interacts with the built environment and physical conditions to inform their intervention scenarios. Participants shifted from untested beliefs to designs that were specifically tailored to the problem in the study area and the diversity of values represented, attending to both localized flooding and neighborhood-level impacts. They also derived generalizable design principles that could be applied elsewhere. I show how the combination of specific facilitation practices and platform features leveraged the power of computational modeling and social complexity to contribute to collaborative learning and creative and equitable solution-building for urban sustainability and climate resilience. Grounded on a more fully integrated picture of PM, I propose an interdisciplinary research agenda to further evolve and scale up this practice for collaborative and just planning and policy.