Event: System Dynamics in Climate Change Mitigation

Event: System Dynamics in Climate Change Mitigation

The UK Chapter of the System Dynamics Society invites you to a network meeting on the theme of system dynamics in climate change mitigation Climate change mitigation and sustainability in general are systemic, multi-layered and wicked problems. Progress towards reducing global environmental impacts is far too slow and world greenhouse gas emissions rose unexpectedly last year. System dynamics has played a role in sustainability for decades, starting with the Limits to Growth study in the 1970s and more recently with the Climate Interactive project. While the characteristics of the mitigation problem in terms of physical stocks and flows are critical, this meeting will approach the subject from a more theoretical and higher level, exploring examples of real and perceived tensions that exist between human well-being and the health of natural systems. We will bring in concepts from critical systems thinking and social science to ask wider questions about causation.

The meeting will begin with four speakers: Prof Frank Boons will be talking on the relationship of circular economy and climate change, Dr John Broderick will be talking about his experiences in running the C-ROADS climate model, Dr Martin Reynolds from the OU will be talking about critical systems thinking and sustainability, and Dr Danial Schien will be presenting work on modelling of the carbon footprint of digital media.

There will be a plenary session in which examples of mitigation (both successful and otherwise) that are of interest to participants are identified. Groups will then explore their chosen example through causal loop diagramming and other SD related methods.

The meeting will be held on December 5th, from 1pm to 5pm, at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, Pariser Building, Room H18.

Attendance is free but advance booking is requested: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/system-dynamics-in-climate-change-mitigation-tickets-39880114496.

We hope to see you there.

Chapter Event: System Dynamics Brexit Challenge & Economics Presentation

The next event in our regular series of presentations and networking opportunities is to be held at:

Kingston University, Penrhyn Road Campus, John Galsworthy, Room PRJG2011

on September 7th at 15:30 – 18:00.

  • Welcome.  Jonathan Moizer
  • Optimising investment for a low-carbon future. Simon Roberts & Colin Axon
  • Secondary money systems for sustainable development. Neil Smith
  • Emergent properties in a simple monetary model, and including energy in production. Steve Keen
  • The Economic Effects of Brexit: A Challenge for the System Dynamics Community. Brian Dangerfield.

To attend the event, please register using the link below.  Attendance is limited to 25 places so please book early.


Further information:

System Dynamics Brexit Challenge Event


A Robust Data-driven Macro-socioeconomic-energy Model

System Dynamics can be applied to national accounts along with energy flows, employment and transportation. This is demonstrated in a recent paper “A Robust Data-driven Macro-socioeconomic-energy Model” available for free until 6 May 2016 at http://authors.elsevier.com/a/1Sjco_rVQOAfg4. The paper introduces what’s called the 7see model showing how it is configured using historical data (from 1990 for the UK economy) and how its performance is assessed in reproducing the historical period. Publications to follow will show how the 7see approach enables historical data to underpin business-as-usual (BAU) scenario to 2035, then how to introduce policies that give rise to different outcomes. This work will be presented at the our annual conference on 14th April. COP21 in Paris introduced yet another acronym, INDCs for Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. Since this 7see modelling works at national level, it is well placed to help policy makers address the challenges of evaluating and comparing paths that will take them to their new national carbon-reduction targets.

Report from the 2012 Annual Gathering

Annual Gathering 2012

THEME : Exploring Alternative Futures.
VENUE: London South Bank University
DATE: 9th/10th February 2012

The 14th Annual Gathering of the UK Chapter of the System Dynamics Chapter was held on February 9th and 10th at London South Bank University on the broad theme of ‘Exploring Alternative Futures’.  With an increased attendance from the previous year, there were three main speakers on the afternoon of Thursday 9 February 2012, followed by the Steer Davies Gleave prize presentation.  After an evening meal enjoyed at a nearby Italian restaurant, the Friday sessions included an interactive seminar and a series of short presentations by software vendors, followed by a student colloquium and the AGM.

Modelling a sustainable economy.
Emanuele Campiglio of the New Economics Foundation described work in progress to build a macroeconomic model of the UK economy in order to explore alternatives to existing economic paradigms.  The aim of the project is to explore how a modern developed economy might produce high employment without compromising environmental sustainability.  The concept has been based on Peter Victor’s low-growth system dynamics model of the Canadian economy.  The system dynamics model has been built around a core using conventional economic theory (standard production functions and aggregate demand relationships). Currently the model covers only the UK economy. Future work could include 1) application to other countries 2) explicit inclusion of the banking sector and international trade 3) more detailed modelling of relationships with stock-flow structures to avoid over-use of auxiliary variables.
Modeling a Sustainable Economy

Connecting SD with Strategy and Finance
Richard Stevenson of Cognitus gave his views on why he thought attempts to popularise system dynamics with mainstream management using ‘systems thinking’ and ‘strategy dynamics’ have fallen short.  He believes system dynamics has remained relatively obscure because it has not connected with the hard business realities of value creation and standard financial measurement.  Addressing this gap, the Business Value Cycle is proposed as a universal business model.  Strategy is then viewed as a balanced management of resources to create financial value.  The concept of the Business Value Cycle draws together insights from strategy dynamics, valuation and balanced management. One key idea Richard advocated was to generate outputs from SD models that are directly compatible with reports that finance people are used to seeing.  Richard  illustrated the application of the Business Value Cycle with a case study from the pharmaceutical industries where his approach had helped to make a major disinvestment decision.
Modeling Strategy and Business Value

Place your bets: what’s happening to gold?
Maurice Glucksman and Bianca Granara of Hamilton Ventures conducted real-time research with the audience based on their experience of advising a client on the gold investment market.

The price of gold has been increasing markedly over recent years. Investors often express widely divergent views on how the price might change in future based on speculative and intangible factors but rarely recognise  the long term drivers of supply and demand.

The presentation invited the audience to make predictions to mirror those made on “prediction markets” and then to bet on the future price of gold, using real money. This yielded a distribution of the predicted future price in 2014 that was approximately Normal.  An assessment based on some system dynamics modelling of the industry was then presented and the same question was posed to the audience, who were again invited to bet with real money.   With new information available, the result was a downward skew in the audience’s range of price predictions.  Winners were decided and their winnings collected, but it remains to be seen if their cash will be invested in gold.
What’s happening to gold? Place your bets

Steer Davies Gleave prize presentation:

Symmetric Partnership / Department of Health
The Steer Davies Gleave system dynamics prize is awarded annually for the best application of system dynamics modelling to a topic of wide public interest.  The winning entry this year was from the Symmetric Partnership, for their work on the “Alcohol Systems Model”, carried out for the Department of Health.  The prize was accepted by Douglas McKelvie on behalf of Symmetric Partnership, after which he gave a presentation describing the work.  At its heart was a four stock model that simulated how people move between different states of alcohol dependency, with various costed interventions available to slow down or reverse their transition to increased alcohol use. Douglas showed how the model can be used to assess intervention strategies, comparing outcomes against costs.  Although a spreadsheet model had been available previously, the new model included explicit dynamic relationships, and was capable of showing how there can be delays between initial investment and the resulting benefits, such as savings from fewer hospital admissions.  The model is now available for use by Primary Care Trusts.

Managing strategy in the asset-intensive utilities industry.
On  Friday morning, Bob Thurlby presented work on a four stock model of aging assets based on his extensive experience in the utilities industries.  Managing assets is a matter of balancing the allocation of resources between maintenance, refurbishment and replacement policies while also complying with external regulatory targets for performance.  The audience was invited to experiment with a microworld simulation to attempt to achieve a maximum net cash flow within regulatory constraints.  The session ended with a discussion on emerging threats and the tasks of managing risks and achieving resilience in the face of climate change, cyber-attacks and terrorism.
Risk and Resilience of the Critical National Infrastructure

Presentations by software vendors
Next came a series of presentations from SD software vendors to show how their products are evolving.   The vendors included Insight Maker, Sysdea by Strategy Dynamics Ltd, Goldsim, AnyLogic and Powersim. A paper flyer was distributed describing the new features available in isee Systems’software: ithink and Stella version 10.  An interesting theme was the growing availability of web-based modelling systems requiring no software installation.

Student colloquium
Along with poster presentations by other students, Matt Montgomery of Halcrow presented his work as part of his Engineering Doctorate at the Bristol University Systems Centre on systems-based sustainable design, construction and maintenance in the engineering and infrastructure industries. The “HalSTAR Systems” process enables users to efficiently and effectively identify context specific sustainability related issues and identify their indirect, secondary and cumulative effects. It allows causal loop diagrams to be produced, highlighting systemic behaviour and allowing negative effects to be mitigated and synergies to be enhanced. HalSTAR Systems is being designed into a piece of software which allows inter-project learning and the sharing of knowledge and risks between project teams
UKSD event – A system dynamics approach for sustainability

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14th Annual Gathering of the Chapter

Annual Gathering 2012

THEME : Exploring Alternative Futures.
VENUE: London South Bank University
DATE: Thursday 9th February commencing 12.00 – 10th February

Topics and Speakers:

‘Modeling a Sustainable Economy’
Emanuele Campiglio, New Economics Foundation

‘Modeling Strategy and Business Value’
Richard Stevenson

‘Risk and Resilience of the Critical National Infrastructure’
Bob Thurlby

‘Modeling Business Prospects for Investors’
Maurice Glucksman


Attendee registration includes all presentations and workshops but not accommodation or the Thursday evening meal. Please select your tickets as appropriate (link includes full price details and early-bird offers).


We have not reserved rooms this year as we believe better deals are available online. E.g. a room at Days Inn Hotel Waterloo is available for around £60 on www.otel.com

Notes: Early bird rates are valid to Friday 6th January 2012. Increased rates after January 31 are due to the need to give notice of numbers for venue. Refund policy: cancellations prior to 31 January, full refund, from 1st February 50% refund.

PayPal payments are processed by Strategy Dynamics Ltd on behalf of the Chapter.

Previous Conferences

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13th Annual Gathering of the Chapter

Annual Gathering 2011

THEME : How System Dynamics Can Help Get (Much) More From Less.

VENUE: London South Bank University

DATE: Thursday 10th Friday – 11th February 2011

Topics and Speakers:

Modeling for Cost Reduction in Pharmaceuticals.
Lee Jones, Ventana Systems UK

Lee discusses recent work in support of cost reduction in the pharmaceutical industry,citing a number of examples from high-level strategy to drug product manufacturing. A Product Life Cycle model is discussed in detail, and lessons learned from interacting with senior management at a large multi-national pharmaceutical company are presented.


Managing the Bathtub of Tax Debt.
Nick Whitehouse, HM Revenue and Customs

The good, honest, hard-working people of the UK owe HMRC about £20bn (yes, billion) in tax debts at any given time. Ministers have become more and more interested in getting hold of some of that cash. However, the level of understanding of how the debt balance actually works – and therefore what we can and cannot do to reduce it – was limited. To improve that, we started with some analytical basics (considering marginal impacts, not including debts that don’t actually exist), then moved on to creating an all-singing, all-dancing system dynamics model of debt. The model covers inflows, outflows, feedback, and the impacts of debt age, value & type, staff changes, process changes, and the advantages of using hired goons wielding baseball bats.

This talk explained the basics of the model, and show how to stretch an analogy to bursting point (and way beyond).


Increasing Software Development Productivity in a Major IT Corporation.
Sîon Cave Mirek Gliniecki, Qinetiq PLC

The development of software is a dynamic and complex problem. Elements of the key software development tasks can be automated to improve end quality and free up resource capacity. For example, performing software tests can be a laborious activity which if automated can be carried out quickly and without tester errors. However, developing automation takes time and is more cost effective for applications with a long shelf life. This presentation describes an innovative System Dynamics based strategy tool produced for a multinational IT corporation in order to assess the optimum level of automation to be used in the development of a software application.


Agent-based Modeling of the Economic Crisis.
Paul Ormerod, Volterra Consulting.

The main difference between agent-based and system dynamics models is that in ABMs, individuals in a popular are heterogeneous, whereas SD stocks assign equal characteristics to all members. Much work on ABMs in economics attempts to ‘fit’ the models to historic patterns, leading to very large models, whereas a more appropriate aim would be to mimic key features of events. A key feature of boom and bust cycles that an ABM can capture well is the spread or containment of optimism and pessimism among a network of connected agents.


The Steer Davies Gleave Prize:

Implementing the Comprehensive Spending Review in home care for older people
Peter Lacey, Whole System Partnership


The UK Chapter Student Prize

Understanding empty property management in a local government housing department
Rhys Lewis, Caerphilly County Borough Council


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