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Sustainability Explained

Agent-Based Scenario Analysis


The performance of organizations, markets, sectors, national economies and global trends are all emergent properties of interactions between individuals. Simultaneously, the interactions between those individuals are a function of the systems in which they operate. Agent-based modeling (ABM) is a quantitative tool that simulates how individual agents interact within a dynamic environment. Individual agents can be customers, employees, organizations or nations, while the environment can be local ecosystems to global markets. ABM has been used to great success in a variety of scientific disciplines, but its ability for assisting decision makers has so far been limited. The main reason is the inability to verify its results.

Agent-Based Scenario Analysis is a new and exciting method that combines traditional scenario planning with agent-based modeling. It overcomes previous limitations of ABM by explicitly exploring how future uncertainty affects the behavior of agents and how their responses drive the performance and evolution of systems. ABSA has been used to assist decision makers on issues ranging from rural sustainable development to personal carbon trading to the development of bioenergy networks.

User examples

1. Development of policies to stimulate bioenergy networks in South Africa.

2. Evaluating the impacts of agricultural policies on rural sustainable development in eleven different European regions.

3. Modelling the consequences of personal carbon trading on UK households.