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TIAS Quarterly

No. 01/2021 (June)
The Newsletter of
The Integrated Assessment Society (TIAS)

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In this Issue

Feature:  Ecological crises such as climate change require more than technical measures
IA News

Photo: J. Newig

The Society

The Integrated Assessment Society is a not-for-profit entity created to promote the community of inter-disciplinary and disciplinary scientists, analysts and practitioners who develop and use Integrated Assessment (IA). The goals of the society are to nurture this community, to promote the development of IA and to encourage its wise application.

Integrated Assessment can be defined as the interdisciplinary process of integrating knowledge from various disciplines and stakeholder groups in order to evaluate a problem situation from a variety of perspectives and provide support for its solution. IA supports learning and decision processes and helps to identify desirable and possible options for addressing the problem. It therefore builds on two major methodological pillars: approaches to integrating knowledge about a problem domain, and understanding policy and decision making processes. IA has been developed to address issues of acid rain, climate change, land degradation, water and air quality management, forest and fisheries management and public health.



Ecological crises such as climate change require more than technical measures

By Lieneke Stam* and Rafael Wittek, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, University of Groningen; Margarita Amador and Alfons Uijtewaal, Stichting Huize Aarde, Enschede, Netherlands
It is widely agreeed that intersectoral, transdisciplinary approaches are needed for climate action and for addressing other ecological crises. In many cases this involves cooperation and co-production of knowledge between bordering countries and between larger international regions. The importance of laying the groundwork for this cooperation cannot be underestimated and it begins with an understanding of the interests, mandates and responsibilities of the various groups involved in the decision-making processes. Reflecting on the process of involving stakeholders in the cross-border MEDUWA-Vecht(e) project in which TIAS was involved as a partner, the authors argue for the importance of recognizing the role played by imbalances or mismatches between sectors, disciplines and countries involved in cooperative efforts for the development of joint measures and policies, and the role of co-production in overcoming these asymmetries.

Climate change is having not only environmental impacts but also a wide range of social impacts. Several governmental reports indicate that society as a whole will increasingly have to deal with extreme weather events, depletion of water resources and fertile land, and mass displacement of people due to the degradation of local ecosystems and failing economies (UN, 1992; IPCC, 2014). On a global scale, these and similar events will continue to have unprecedented health, ethical, economic, political and governance implications. Individual responsibility, inclusion of social groups in the search for solutions, coherence across sectors of society and cross-border cooperation are crucial to finding and implementing measures that, in addition to protecting the environment, also limit the social impacts of ecological crises like climate change and do not generate new problems (UNCED, 1992). Therefore, the development of policies and agendas, aimed at collective well-being and security, both now and in the future, must be based on alliances and social agreements between sectors, disciplines and countries.

Dealing with organisational asymmetries
A study of transdisciplinary, -sectoral and -national cooperation between water managers and other organisations in the German-Dutch Vecht(e) river basin found that these alliances and agreements can be restricted by the asymmetries in the mandates, priorities and responsibilities of the different organizations involved (Stam, 2020) (see box). Asymmetries between social sectors can have many sources. One asymmetry is due to the level of specialization of an organization, with some relying mainly on specialized expertise, whereas others mainly depend more on the contribution of generalists. Another kind of asymmetry relates to differences in the degree of organizational flexibility: whereas some organizations have cultivated a culture of pragmatic problem solving, others rely more heavily on complying to regulations and following procedures. Yet another asymmetry is linked to the degree of decision-making autonomy, with some organizations having little effective discretion to implement solutions. Also differences in organizational “philosophies” can cause asymmetries, with some focusing on technical solutions and others on influencing human behaviour.

Alignment between goal frames is a challenge
These organizational asymmetries can cause tensions when it comes to aligning transdisciplinary, cross-sectoral and cross-border policies, priorities and agendas. Reducing these tensions is sometimes challenging because it requires actors to adapt their way of working and often to change their professional mindset to achieve effective cooperation. According to Lindenbeg and Foss' research, individuals move consciously or unconsciously between three goal frames: hedonic, gain and normative. These three goal frames influence personal choices, collective behaviour and decision-making in any situation (Lindenberg & Steg 2007; Steg et al. 2014; Lindenberg & Foss 2011).

The goal frames are not only intended to satisfy material needs, but also to give meaning and direction to the personal and social lives of individuals. The hedonic goal frame is about “feeling better right now”; it is directed towards satisfying immediate short-term needs. The gain goal frame is about improving one’s resources. It is less short-term oriented than the hedonic goal frame. Nevertheless, no society or market can function properly if it is dominated by hedonic and gain goals. These goals produce short-term benefits, but in the long term and on a different scale, they will cause profound damage to an organisation, community or society. When the normative goal frame dominates, the main driver of one’s decisions and actions is the intention to act appropriately in accordance with the collective needs and priorities at that moment and in the future.

Acting in accordance with a professional normative mindset is an integral part of working in modern socially-responsible organisations. This mindset seeks to align the three goal frames for a well-functioning organisation. Indeed, situations in which hedonic and gain goal frames are aligned with a normative goal frame provide the best basis for maintaining collaboration among stakeholders for the benefit of the collective. However, keeping this alignment between the goal frames is a challenge because the normative goal constantly has to compete with the other two goal frames, which if not kept in check within organisational arrangements, will tend to override the normative goal frame (Lindenbeg & Foss, 2011). However, hedonic and gain goal frames never disappear completely, but fade into the background, where they still influence perceptions and behaviour, either tempering or amplifying the normative goal frame. For example, if a gain goal frame dominates, as in a negotiation between two stakeholders, and the normative background goals are still dominant, they may temper the more powerful parties’ intention to fully exploit its stronger position at the expense of the other party, and instead work towards a mutually-beneficial outcome. In fa
ct, situations in which hedonic and gain goal frames are aligned with a dominant normative goal frame provide the best foundation for sustaining collaboration between stakeholders for the benefit of the collective.
Many grassroot or government initiatives to combat the COVID-19 pandemic illustrate such an alignment: driven by a normative motivation to save lives, the short and long-term benefits for everyone were evident, and participants also reported strong feelings of solidarity and bonding when contributing to the group effort. Lindenbeg and Foss’ (2011) goal framing theory captures the complexity of human nature, which comprises the impulsiveness, rationality and morality of decision-making.
Decision-making arises from the irrational, the rational
and the ethical (Alfons Uijtewaal, 2021)

Strong institutional arrangements and citizen support
Societal alliances and agreements between different sectors, disciplines and countries to mitigate the downsides of human activity, such as the effects of climate change, are not free from dysfunctional asymmetries in mandates, priorities and responsibilities in all spheres of society. These alliances and agreements are also influenced by hedonic, gain and normative goal frames. For example, exploiting opportunities for growth without restrictions and higher profits at the expense of natural capital by not including of the social and environmental costs in the price of a product or service and the intrinsic value of resources like clean water and fertile land, only reinforces a self-destructive vicious cycle.

Breaking this cycle requires not only strong institutional arrangements, but also the endorsement of citizens and the fostering of co-production based on principles and objectives that focus first on the collective well-being and security of all species, both now and in the future. It also requires strong formal regulations that support and safeguard the prominence of a normative mindset, highlighting supportive, just and inclusive cultural ideals and values. Such arrangements need to foster a permanent normative goal frame that is supported by gain and hedonic background goals. An example is tax incentives for companies that reduce the size of their ecological footprint, including carbon emissions, by changing their production processes. In this way, natural capital,  the basis for the present and future well-being of human society and other species, is protected.

Joint production to achieve collective goals
The key to achieving a dynamic balance between different mandates, priorities and responsibilities, and being guided by a normative goal frame, is to encourage co-production. The theory of Joint Production Motivation (JPM) can be useful in this process. According to this theory under highly motivational conditions individuals see themselves as part of a joint effort, choose their own behaviour according to a set of joint goals and deliberately coordinate cooperation (Lindenberg and Foss, 2011). A high degree of mutual dependency in terms of objectives, tasks and results, stimulates sustained cooperation between stakeholders and innovation (Lindenberg & Steg 2007; Steg et al. 2014).

JPM not only stimulates cross-sectoral cooperation, it can also be used to achieve greater citizen participation (Lindenberg & Foss, 2011), because it supports decentralisation of functions to local authorities and the involvement of local stakeholders in regional government decisions. It facilitates the establishment of new partnerships, but also fosters personal bonding, thus stimulating the joint creation of scenarios that guide collective actions. In short, this type of co-production can help governments to work successfully with non-governmental actors from different social, cultural, political and economic backgrounds. An example is the German-Dutch cross-border project MEDUWA-Vecht(e). Here, stakeholders from various sectors and disciplines jointly contributed to tempering the detrimental ecological, social and economic impacts caused by human and veterinary medicines and multi-resistant bacteria (
The most important aspect of cross-sectoral and transdisciplinary co-production is that knowledge can be innovated in a holistic way and translated into techniques, methods and services that help us to meet our basic needs without harming the environment or creating new problems that will manifest themselves and affect society in different ways. In other words, goals and objectives for development, progress and welfare can be developed in a socially-responsible way.


Asymmetries in cooperation between Dutch and German organisations

Compared to Germany, Dutch organisations have a much flatter structure with less strict hierarchical layers. This not only means that many members of Dutch organizations may have more influence on decision making, but also that the process of decision making aims at the achievement of consensus. In contrast, German organisations tend to have a stronger hierarchy in decision-making processes, with the result that experts lower in the hierarchy often have less discretion than their Dutch colleagues in similar functions. Instead, decision making power in German organizations is usually concentrated at the managerial level. But unlike in the Netherlands, managerial positions in Germany often are filled with knowledgeable experts who have worked themselves up through the organization. In contrast, Dutch managers often have a background in business administration and project management, lacking substantive knowledge that may be needed. German managers are therefore usually experts in their field and can make well-informed decisions. One of the consequences of these differences between Dutch and German management structure and approach is that not every German representative involved in negotiations in the context of cross-border cooperation has a mandate to make decisions, whereas Dutch representatives who have such a mandate often lack the specific knowledge that is required to make more informed decisions. Both ways of working and decision making are effective in their own respective contexts, but they can cause disappointment and delay in the context of cross-border cooperation (Stam, 2020).

This publication was made possible by financial support from the INTERREG-VA Nederland-Deutschland MEDUWA-Vecht(e) project (
* Contact: Lieneke Stam,

IPCC (2014): AR5 Climate Change 2014,
Lindenberg, Siegwart; Steg, Linda (2007); Normative, gain and hedonic goal frames guiding environmental behaviour In: Journal of Social Issues, 63(1), 117-137,;
Lindenberg, Siegwart; Foss, Nicolai J. (2011): Managing joint production motivation: The role of goal framing and governance mechanisms. In: The Academy of Management Review, 36(3), 500-525,
Stam, Lieneke (2020) Interorganizational collaboration in Dutch water management, Master Thesis Social Networks in a Sustainable Society, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, University of Groningen.
Steg, Linda; Bolderdijk, Jan Willem; Keizer, Kees; Perlaviciute, Goda (2014): An Integrated Framework for Encouraging Pro-Environmental Behaviour: The Role of Values, Situational Factors and Goals. In: Journal of Environmental Psychology, 38, pp. 104–115.
UN (1992): United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,
UNCED (1992): Agenda 21,



Professor Emeritus Anne van der Veen (21 March 1951 – 24 April 2021)

It is with sadness that TIAS learned of the passing of long-time member, Anne van der Veen, this spring. Professor van der Veen, retired from the University of Twente in the Netherlands, was instrumental in the early 2000’s in establishing the joint Masters programme in Integrated Assessment between the UT and Osnabrueck University.  We remember Anne for his professional expertise in environmental and spatial economics, his thoughtful and gentle nature, and his authenticity. Our thoughts are with his family.

Webcast Series: Grand Challenges of SES Modelling

Expanding the development and use of socio-environmental system (SES) models is critical to solving urgent problems situated at the human-nature interface. Substantial progress is being made, but modeling challenges associated with a range of diverse issues remain. For example, these include how to best represent the human dimension in SES models, account for temporal and spatial scale mismatches, and cope with deep uncertainty. 

Based on the 2020 article presenting the challenges of socio-environmental systems (SES) modelling by TIAS member, Sondoss El Sawah and colleagues, TIAS is collaboration with the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and the journal, Socio-Environmental Systems Modeling to run a series of SES webcasts devoted to the use of the use modeling to investigate complex problems at the human-nature interface. The first webcast was opened on April 14th by Dr. El Sawah with an overview of the current challenges and the future of SES modeling, Three panellists subsequently took up the challenges and potential solutions in exchange with Dr. El Sawah. They included: John Robinson, Professor in the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto; Jill Jäger an Independent scholar based Vienna; and Detlef van Vuuren of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Professor of Integrated Assessment of Global Environmental Change at the Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University. The webcast recording is available here.

The second webcast on April 28th addressed the important and often under-acknowledged issues of uncertainty in applying SES models including those associated with integrated assessments as well as related issues of transparency (including trust, bias and world views), and robustness of the conclusions. In this context, SES models are quite relevant. After providing an overview  of these themes, Jan Bakkes (VP TIAS) opened the discussion with a panel reflecting a diverse and rich experience on these topics: Andrea Saltelli of  Open Evidence Research, Open University of Catalonia; Veronica Gaffey, Chair of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board, European Commission; and Arthur Petersen, Professor of Science, Technology and Public Policy in the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP), University College London. The recording will be available in late June or early July.
The upcoming webcast on June 28 (29 in eastern Asia, AU, NZ) will explore issues of scale in SES Modeling, specifically the types of scale issues that are likely to arise in each modeling phase, while highlighting how to deal with them. It is based on the 2021 article “Socio-technical scales in socio-environmental modeling: Managing a system-of-systems modeling approach.” Co-author,  Hsiao-Hsuan Wang, will begin by describing the scale issues and ways forward and this will be followed by comments from each of three panelists and an open discussion. The panelists are:
  • Val Snow, Agroecosystem Modeler and Senior Scientist, AgResearch Ltd., New Zealand
  • Derek T. Robinson, Associate Professor of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Volker Grimm, Researcher, Department of Ecological Modelling, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig and Professor at the University of Potsdam, Germany
Registration and more information here.

Further webcasts are planned and will be announced later this summer.

IA News


New Climate Pledge tool launched

The Paris Agreement aims to limit global mean temperature increase to well below 2 °C and pursue efforts to limit it to below 1.5 °C. To achieve this, 189 Parties have submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, so-called INDCs, outlining their post-2020 climate action. These INDCs became “Nationally Determined Contributions” (NDCs) following the ratification of the agreement. The  Climate Pledge NDC tool of PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency shows the targets in these NDCs / INDCs and the pledges made earlier for 2020. For 25 major emitting Parties, the tool compares these targets with greenhouse gas emission projections with and without current domestic climate policies up to 2030. Read more here.

Responsible Modeling: A Manfesto
An international team of 22 authors has published a comment in a recent issue of Nature, about responsible modeling in the face of uncertainty: "Five ways to ensure that models serve society: a manifesto" Pandemic politics highlight how predictions need to be transparent and humble to invite insight, not blame. A press release can be found here. The supplement (a 46-page document with 264 references) contains excellent examples of good and bad modeling practices, that can be used in teaching.

Adapted from photo by Aleksi Tappura on Unsplash


Recent Publications of TIAS members

Bellaubi, F. (2021). Spiritual Dimensions in Exploring the Human-Geosphere Relationship under a Values-Based Approach in Lake Turgoyak, Southern Urals, Russia, Sibirica, 20(1), 58-94.

Bremer, S., Wardekker, A., Jensen, E.S., van der Sluijs, J.P. (2021). Quality assessment in co-developing climate services in Norway and the Netherlands. Frontiers in Climate, 3, 627665.

Hutchins MG., Fletcher D., Hagen-Zanker A., Jia H.F., Jones L., Li H., Loiselle S., Miller J., Reis S., Seifert-Dahnn I., Wilde V., Xu C.-Y., Yang D.W., Yu J., Yu S. (2021). Why scale is vital to plan optimal nature-based solutions for resilient cities. Environmental Research Letters 16(044008).

Koessler, A.K. and Engel, S. (2021), Policies as Information Carriers: How Environmental Policies May Change Beliefs and Consequent Behavior, International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics: Vol. 15: No. 1.


Recent Publications
Blair G., Bassett R., Bastin L., Beevers L., Borrajo Garcia M., Brown M., Dance S., Dionescu A., Edwards L., Ferrario M.A., Fraser R., Fraser H., Gardner S., Henrys P.A., Hey T., Homann S., Huijbers C., Hutchison J., Jonathan P., Lamb R., Laurie S., Leeson A., Leslie D., McMillan M., Nundloll V., Oyebamiji O., Phillipson J., Pope V., Prudden R., Reis S., Salama M., Samreen F., Sejdinovic D., Simm W., Street R., Thornton L., Towe R.,  Vande Hey J.D., Vieno M., Waller J., Watkins J. (2021) The Role of Digital Technologies in Responding to the Grand Challenges of the Natural Environment: The Windermere Accord. Patterns 2(1), 100156.

Saltelli, A., Bammer, G., Bruno, I., Charters, E., Di Fiore, M., Didier, E., Espeland, W.N., Kay, J., Piano, S.L., Mayo, D. and Pielke Jr, R., 2020. "Five ways to ensure that models serve society: a manifesto"

Tilley, E. and Kalina, M. (2021) “My Flight Arrives at 5 am, Can You Pick Me Up?”: The Gatekeeping Burden of the African Academic, Journal of African Cultural Studies.

Zaniolo, M., Giuliani, M., Sinclair, S. et al. (2021) When timing matters: Misdesigned dam filling impacts hydropower sustainability. Nature Communications 12, 3056.


28 June 2021. Live Webcast: Confronting Issues of Scale in Socio-Environmental Systems Modelling, hosted by The Integrated Assessment Society, The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and the journal, Socio-Environmental Systems Modelling.
Purpose: To explore the types of scale issues likely to arise in each modelling phase, while highlighting how to deal with them. It is intended for practitioners and scholars who commission, sponsor, or use socio-economic system models.
17-19 September 2021. XXII Annual Bioecon Conference: Integrating natural and social science for conserving biodiversity and protecting human health, hosted by University of Wyoming College of Business, Department of Economics in Jackson, Wyoming, USA.
15-18 August 2021. 728th WE-Heraeus seminar, Interacting Tipping Elements in the Natural and Social Components of the Earth System in Bad Belzig, Germany. Hybrid-event: In-site offer if possible due to pandemic. Online-offer anyway. Application necessary.
Purpose: To discuss and synthesize physics-based efforts in modelling natural and socio-economic tipping elements and their complex interaction dynamics using methods from relevant subfields such as statistical physics, nonlinear dynamics and complex network theory. A particular focus will be placed on educating early career researchers in physics.
3-9 October 2021. The Quadrennial Ozone Symposium (QOS 2021).
Purpose: The ozone layer in the stratosphere protects life on Earth by filtering out damaging ultraviolet radiation from the sun. In the troposphere, ozone is an important greenhouse gas and a strong pollutant at ground level. Since the last QOS that took place in Edinburgh in 2016, a variety of new developments have taken place on all facets of atmospheric ozone, including its observation and impact on human health and ecosystems. The Symposium’s program addresses all these aspects. Of particular interest may be the session on Environmental and human health effects of atmospheric ozone and UV.
22-26 November 2021. 2021 EU Conference on modelling for policy support: collaborating across disciplines to tackle key policy challenges by European Commission Competence Centre on Modelling. Online Event.
Purpose: to bring together researchers and policymakers from European and international institutions, Member States, universities, research institutes and consultancies to identify common challenges and solutions when using models to support policymaking across all policy domains.
Reminder: Call for abstracts, open until June 30th!
5-9 December 2021. 24th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2021), held at The University of Sydney and International Convention Centre Sydney, Darling Harbour. Hybrid event, with attendance in person at the University of Sydney and International Convention Centre and also virtual participation through an online platform. Workshop day on Friday 10 December. Submissions of abstracts will open in June 2021 with a deadline for full papers and extended abstracts to be received by 23 August 2021.

PhD Position: Environmental Sciences "Social learning and climate crisis", Open University, Heerlen, Netherlands. Deadline for Applications: 31 July 2021.

Policy Analyst, EDF - Environmental Defense Fund, Belgium (No deadline posted)


TIAS Quarterly Newsletter

TIAS Quarterly is the newsletter of The Integrated Assessment Society.
ISSN: 2077-2130
Editor: Caroline van Bers
Associate editors: Caroline Lumosi
Photos: Ulli Meissner 
© ( (unless otherwise indicated)
Layout: Worldshaper design - Fabian Heitmann, Caroline van Bers
TIAS President: Klaus Jacob
TIAS Vice-presidents: Jan Bakkes, Marcela Brugnach

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