Using social–ecological inventory and group model building for resilience assessment to climate change in a network governance setting: a case study from Ikel watershed in Moldova


Climate change risks threaten social–ecological systems (SESs) across the globe. Efforts are increasingly focusing on reducing vulnerabilities of SES to climate change. Scientists and practitioners of resilience assessment have been developing frameworks to conduct integrated analyses of social–ecological systems. Such frameworks would ideally lead to a stronger commitment of various groups of stakeholders to act toward building the resilience of the system in focus. In this context, we explore and present in this paper how two sequential processes: social–ecological inventory (SEI) and group model building (GMB) have been employed to assess the resilience to climate change of Ikel watershed in the Republic of Moldova. The two processes come from two related fields: resilience and system dynamics. They have many things in common, but have not been combined much in the literature thus far. The methodology is being applied in two stages: for identifying vulnerabilities and for building the conceptual model. We find that SEI and GMB can be used together smoothly, adding value to both system dynamicists and resilience practitioners. We conclude that SEI is a valuable addition to GMB by enhancing stakeholder engagement for resilience building in a network governance setting. Similarly, employment of the GMB practice and vocabulary added value to resilience assessment by providing a conceptual dynamic feedback model. This conceptual model can be further built upon to develop a computer simulation model for testing of various policy options. The paper offers resilience practitioners an approach for participatory resilience assessment and the system dynamicists an approach for GMB practice in network governance settings.

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  1. 1.

    A more detailed description of climate change projections for the central region of R. Moldova is available in Ciobanu 2016.

  2. 2.

    Protocols of workshops are available from the authors upon request.

  3. 3.

    Emerged policy options are available from the authors upon request.


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We gratefully acknowledge the Boğaziçi University Research Fund Project No: 11925, and the Climate Forum East II program for funding parts of this work. We are especially thankful to the many SEI and GMB participants, local organizations, institutions, and individuals from the Republic of Moldova for their pioneering spirit, tireless support, and dedication to help advance this research. Thanks also to the anonymous reviewers for valuable comments.

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Correspondence to Natalia Ciobanu.

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Ciobanu, N., Saysel, A.K. Using social–ecological inventory and group model building for resilience assessment to climate change in a network governance setting: a case study from Ikel watershed in Moldova. Environ Dev Sustain (2020).

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  • Social–ecological inventory
  • Resilience assessment
  • System dynamics
  • Group model building
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Network governance