Table 3. Comparison of the Systems Approach Framework (SAF) and adaptive management: application of SAF to Barcelona.

Systems Approach Framework†
Adaptive management‡ Barcelona case study
(How the SAF was applied)
(Deviation from recommended steps and difficulties encountered)
The aim is to improve ecological sustainability, economic efficiency, and social equity – similar to “passive” adaptive management Can be either “active” or “passive” adaptive management
Steps Tasks Procedural components
System design Identify stakeholders; identify issues; define “virtual” system, structure, and functions; set boundaries; conceptual modeling Inclusion of all relevant stakeholders; creation and maintenance of political openness; social and scientific process Following stakeholder mapping (Table 1), invitations were sent to the administrative bodies from the three main scales of responsibility over the Barcelona beaches (local, regional, and national).The first meeting was held on 11 October 2007. An issue was agreed upon between the five stakeholders and the ICM-CSIC§ research team involved in SPICOSA|: “the effects of changes in water quality on the aesthetic and recreational services of the Barcelona beaches”, and a first draft of the conceptual model was constructed. Following an agreement between the research team, the stakeholders were selected to maximize representativeness and minimize the likelihood of conflicts. The SAF recommends including a greater representation of stakeholders.
System formulation and system appraisal Construct mathematical model, scenarios; parameterize; validate; choose indicators; assess relevance for stakeholders; interpret results Consideration of appropriate temporal and spatial scales; use of computer models to build synthesis and an embodied ecological consensus A hierarchical model which included ecological, social, and economic variables was constructed, and the key indicators were water clarity, bacteria concentration, beach user frequentation, and market and non-market valuation of aesthetic and recreational services. A second stakeholder meeting was held on 26 February 2009. The primary scenarios identified as relevant for stakeholders were related to changes in stormwater collector capacity and functioning. Additional scenarios included changes in wastewater treatment plant operational states, river flows and concentrations of bacteria and suspended matter, precipitation, and flushing rates of the beaches. We were unable to obtain key data and information necessary to construct and validate the mathematical model to a rigorous standard. Future iterations of the SAF might yield the time, resources, and cooperation necessary to address these deficiencies.
System output Present results to stakeholders; organize information; deliberate Use of embodied ecological consensus to evaluate strategic alternatives; use of computer models to build synthesis and an embodied ecological consensus; communication of alternatives to political arena for negotiation; inclusion of all relevant stakeholders; creation and maintenance of political openness; social and scientific process Results were presented twice, first in a private meeting held on 10 March 2010 with the Catalan Water Agency. Shortly afterwards on 23 March 2010, the results and conclusions were presented to the Commission of Coastal Affairs (a pre-existing forum where coastal issues are discussed at the regional level). There was no time for deliberation, but a few stakeholders approached us afterwards regarding the conclusion of the model.

Additionally, the key stakeholder who had declined to attend our previous meetings (but was present here) was now keen to share their time, data, and expertise with us, given that the model produced results that were contrary to their economics interests.

The forum of the Commission of Coastal Affairs was discovered late in the application of the SAF, and the fact that it was not identified earlier should be considered a failure of the scientific team. Given the social capital already invested in this commission, it would have been preferable to apply the SAF here rather than creating ad hoc meetings as we did.
Encourage the formation of new institutions and strategies; enhancement of institutional flexibility The SAF can provide policy strategies as options but does not explicitly recommend these components of adaptive management.
† SPICOSA (2011c)
‡ Resilience Alliance (2002)
§ ICM: Institut de Ciènces del Mar; CSIC: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
| Science and Policy Integration for Coastal System Assessment