Tag Archives: SimPachamama

Can games contribute to academic research on land use and forestry?

Diana WeinholdBy Diana Weinhold

Academic research on land use and deforestation generally tries to uncover the underlying reasons for people’s and companies’ actions on the environment. For example, academics may investigate the impact of road building on agricultural expansion, how property rights change land clearing, or how agricultural labor supply affects cropping patterns.

Simulation exercises like SimPachamama (whether or not in a ‘game’ form), however, essentially work like thought experiments – if the world worked like this, what would happen if we did that.  As such, a simulation cannot answer fundamental questions of causality: what caused what. But what they can do is allow us to consider some possible outcomes of complex interactions between all the factors considered important (see Ben Groom’s piece for more information). In other words, given that academic research has found these causal relationships to be important, how would we expect the economy and environment to evolve over time under different policy choices? The outcomes from such an exercise should thus not be considered a scientific forecast, and presenting the simulation as a game is thus useful for framing the results as what they are – a hypothetical outcome from a hypothetical economy, albeit one based on current academic scholarship. Read More »

The challenges of reducing deforestation and how scientific simulations can help

Ben GroomBy Ben Groom

To try to begin to save what’s left of the world’s forests it is important to first ask: Who deforests and why? While this varies considerably in different contexts, some broad patterns exist. Loggers and farmers or cattle ranchers are the ‘actors’ that typically clear forests, but what they do to their land is determined by the political and economic systems that they find themselves in: the prevailing institutions, markets and policies. Chief among the institutional determinants are property rights: that is who owns the rights to the land and timber and how this ownership is regulated and enforced. Of the many economic determinants, the nature of land markets, local labor markets, and migration in and out of the locale are key. Where institutions are weak and markets fail to reflect the full economic value of standing forest cause for concern is warranted. Read More »

News: SimPachamama Launch, New Infographic, Media Buzz

SimPachamamaCoverPageSmallSeptember 2013 is official launch month of SimPachamama, the simulation tool that models the behavior of an Amazonian community. In it, the player becomes the mayor of such a town and has to balance policy priorities in order to maximize community wellbeing, while reducing deforestation. The game, and two other didactic scientific tools developed by the team of researchers, called OSIRIS and CISS, predict that a modest deforestation tax of around US$450/ha and a matching system of  payments for deforestation reduction from rich countries to poor ones, could raise US$1 billion every two years and help reduce deforestation by 29% annually, while increasing the income of the participating poor by the same amount. Read the official Press Release HERE.

How to Live Well in Bolivia InfographicTo help make the policy recommendations easier to digest, INESAD has developed an infographic to accompany SimPachamama’s launch. You can download and share How to Live Well in Bolivia graphic HERE or click on the image to right to view.

Throughout September, the SimPachamama team that includes researchers from INESAD, Conservation International Bolivia,  the London School of Economic and Political Sciences (LSE), and others, is publishing numerous articles that explain different aspects of the game and the debates that surround deforestation, climate change, and communities. Here is a sample of what has been published so far:

Communities need more than money to stop clearing their forests, new research shows.

What is Agent Based Modeling?

SimPachamama and the Happy Planet Index

Finally, to mark the launch, INESAD and its partners have had a two-pronged strategy. A Press Conference was held in La Paz, Bolivia on August 19, which attracted 31 media representatives from 20 different organizations. The coverage that followed went far and wide including more than a dozen articles in all the main Bolivian newspapers, such as La Prensa, La Razón, and Noticias Fides. You can download the impact note HERE.

English language media was targeted on SimPachamama’s official launch date: September 01, also generating a buzz. Here are one or two article example:

Americas Quarterly: Can games influence development policy?

Mogabay News: $450/ha tax on deforestation could help curb forest loss in Bolivia, suggests new simulation Read More »

Can Games Influence Development Policy? SimPachamama in the news

SimPachamamaCoverPageSmallOn September 01, 2013, Americas Quarterly magazine published an article by INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton on whether or not games can influence development policy. Read the original article here.

Can Games Influence Development Policy?

By Ioulia Fenton

Often referred to as “games for good” or “games for change,” a new generation of socially- and environmentally-oriented online simulation games aims to go beyond entertainment by raising awareness of global issues and securing funds for projects—making a real-word difference.

Over 10 million people worldwide have played World Food Programme’s (WFP) “Food Force,” for example, spending money that goes to fund WFP-sponsored school meals projects. However, few simulations have been useful at the policy-making level—until now. Today marks the release of “SimPachamama,” a new game from Bolivia that could influence international, national and local-level policy decisions that affect forest communities. Read More »

Infographic: How to Live Well in Bolivia

LivingWell-nologos-mediumVivir Bien – living well – is a concept that has been prominent in Bolivian politics over the last few years. It sets out the ideological position of living well in harmony with nature and rejects a mass consumption and fossil fuel based economy.

Although Vivir Bien has even been written into the Bolivian constitution with the 2012 Law of the Rights of Mother Earth the country is at a crossroads: what it says and what it does is at an odds. While Bolivia’s leaders propose a harmonious existence, majority of policies are aimed at expanding people’s ability to farm, which leads to the deforestation of around 300,000 hectares of rainforest every single year.

Today, the Institute for Advanced Development Studies (INESAD) came out with an infographic that proposes a two-policy solution that could help Bolivia reconcile its rhetoric with its actions by reducing deforestation while tackling poverty in an equitable way.  Read More »

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