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A Coupled Human-Natural Systems Analysis of Water Security and Sustainability: From Transboundary Competition to Climate Change in Jordan

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Plenary Lecture -  3rd International Forum on Water Security and Sustainability and Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute

April 22, 2021, Nanjing China (presentation via Zoom)

Steven Gorelick, Stanford University, Stanford, California

In arid regions throughout the world, freshwater system are at the confluence of drivers that include severely limited water supplies, rapid population growth and demographic shifts, transboundary competition for shared freshwater resources, climate change and variability, and institutional dysfunction. We present our results for Jordan, which is one of the water-poorest countries in the world. We adopt a multi-agent modeling framework to allow for the incorporation of institutional complexity in evaluation of policy instruments aimed at improving Jordan’s freshwater situation. The model employs a modular approach, integrating biophysical modules that simulate natural and engineered phenomena with human modules that represent behavior at multiple scales of decision making. The human modules in turn adopt a multi-agent simulation approach, defining agents as autonomous decision makers at the government, administrative, organizational, and user levels. Our approach evaluates policy interventions under a suite of scenarios that enable comparison of future freshwater options.

Keywords: Freshwater vulnerability, Jordan, multi-agent model, transboundary waters