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SusPlain

Sustainability Explained

Evolutionary Pathways Analysis


Introduction

There is nothing permanent except change’. (Heraclitus 540-480 BC)

Heraclitus’ notion of the world has important implications for decision makers, because it means that performance indicators need to be dynamic and consider both the present and future state of our environment. In other words, our performance is not only a function of the value we provide, but also depends on the larger system in which we operate and how well we are able to cope with future changes.

Evolutionary pathway analysis is an analytical framework that places dynamics and uncertainty as its central elements. Instead of evaluating performance at one particular point in time, it uses evolutionary pathways as its unit of analysis. Subsequently, it allows for exploring how efficient and effective these pathways are in providing a particular value. Furthermore, it explores how resilient and adaptive these pathways are to future shocks and shifts. These performance indicators are subsequently incorporated into a decision analysis method, which allows decision makers to explore the robustness of their policies and strategies. The framework has been used in a variety of applications such as agriculture as well as energy systems and has been very successful in assisting decision makers in devising new and exciting strategies.

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.