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Dynamics of the use of natural space in Thamesmead

Team:  Irene Pluchinotta, Giuseppe Salvia, Ke Zhou, Nici Zimmermann

Partners: Marsh Dykes and Thamesmead catchment partnership, Thames 21, London Wild Trust, Environmental Agency, GLA, Peabody, Thames Water, The Young Foundation, Clever Cities project in the GLA, and CUSSH project

Objectives: A Participatory System Dynamics approach to identify and bring together stakeholders, to map their perception of the blue/green/built infrastructure, and to model and analyse systemic interventions which would address those problems leading to effective sustainable decisions.


Qualitative modelling phase:

  1. Nov/Dec 2019 - Problem Scoping Interviews;

  2. Jan 2020 -1st stakeholders workshop on problem scoping aimed at defining the shared concern “to sustain and increase the quality of Built, Blue and Green environment to ensure long term stewardship in Thamesmead”;

  3. Mar/June 2020 - (set of) Sub-group modelling workshops to build different causal maps (Causal Loop Diagrams, CLDs) around the shared concern;

  4. July 2020 - 3rd stakeholders workshop aimed at presenting the results of the qualitative modelling phase, recognizing the differences and similarities in the perceptions of system boundaries, developing a joint understanding between different stakeholder groups and agreeing on the focus of the System Dynamics model;

  5. From Autumn 2020, the System Dynamics quantitative modelling phase will be carried out via workshops and interviews.

  6. From May 2020 we also addressed Thamesmead residents directly to bring their vision into the System Dynamics modelling process. The multichannel strategy exploring life in Thamesmead consisted of one-to-one interviews, social media recruitment, a short online survey and a literature analysis around the shared concern theme.

  7. Between November 2021 and January 2022, the SD team presented the model to the Thamesmead institutional stakeholders though a set of three participatory workshops. During the workshops, the stakeholders were able to explore and unpack the complexity of the use-of-natural-space-system and interact with the model via a user-friendly interface, allowing to investigate future scenarios and to reflect on the key elements to consider for improving the current condition. The workshops represented an opportunity to jointly discuss the elements influencing the use of natural space and to analyse possible systemic interventions that could lead to effective sustainable decisions.


Causal models representing diverse and shared stakeholder perceptions of the complex system in Thamesmead as well as a targeted and integrated System Dynamics model, able to provide an analysis of systemic interventions. A user-friendly interface to investigate future scenarios and support decision-making for planning new green and blue areas.

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