Develop conceptual model

The first action of the System Design is to develop a first generation conceptual model. The model should show the environmental and socio-economic elements.

The conceptual model helps to identify the key states and processes which best describe the virtual system of the chosen Issue(s). This knowledge helps to identify the data needed, such as time-series data for natural, social or economic elements, process information and data from public questionnaires and knowledge and experience from managers and stakeholders.

The first draft of the conceptual model can be very rudimentary, and further refined during the Design step as you discover what data is available and which management scenarios are desired. Sometimes this process continues with adjustments well into the Formulation Step.

Key actions

  • Draw up the conceptual model for the Issue(s). It should represent the cause & effect chain (DPSIR) from the human activities to impact on ecosystem goods and services. 
  • Choose different symbols for state variables and show processes with arrows or lines that link the different state variables.
  • Identify the model variables that can be used for model testing. Typically, these are time series data or rates that can be compared with observations.  

Learn more

See the e-learning material, tools and examples in the Learn more box in this page. 



Learn more

E-learning material
Additional literature

  • Find additional examples in Schernewski G, Friedland R, Buer A-L et al. (2018a). Ecological-social-economic assessment of Zebra-mussel cultivation scenarios for the Oder (Szczecin) Lagoon. J Coast Conserv. In review.
24 JANUARY 2022