What is it about?

Achieving sustainability requires the use of computational models that include many features of granular natural and engineered systems features, but rarely cover the sets of social institutions that shape key decision-making. This paper illustrates the role of formal and informal institutions in three sustainability modeling approaches and compares their relative merits and limitations.

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Why is it important?

Our findings reveal that incorporating institutions in computational models delivers measurable effects on sustainability, such as emission reductions (8-11%) and costs (nearly 6% higher nationwide cost). Ignoring these effects could lead to even larger distributional impacts. To bridge the gap between modeling, theories, and empirical evidence on institutions, we describe an agenda for fruitful joint efforts between sustainability modelers and social scientists studying the socio-political and economic foundations for sustainability transitions.


I was very excited to work with experts thinking about incorporating human behavior in a wide range of sustainability modeling traditions.

Michael Davidson
University of California San Diego

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Simulating institutional heterogeneity in sustainability science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 2024, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2215674121.
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