Building trust in SWAT model scenarios through a multi-institutional approach in Uruguay
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Integrated Water Resource Management
hydrological modelling
stakeholder modelling
capacity building

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Mer, F., Baethgen, W., & Vervoort, R. W. (2020). Building trust in SWAT model scenarios through a multi-institutional approach in Uruguay. Socio-Environmental Systems Modelling, 2, 17892.


The inherent complexity of numerical models and the diversity of stakeholders in integrated water resources management (IWRM) create challenges in achieving credibility, salience and legitimacy to develop trust in model-based scenarios. In Uruguay, there has been significant debate on increasing agricultural production while managing agriculture’s environmental impacts (e.g., on water quality and environmental flows). This paper reports on the evolution of a stakeholder process in a case study with a multi-institutional participatory modelling group, supported by researchers.  This specific participatory modelling (PM) project is unique in that the active stakeholders are the actual hydrological modellers, and the role of “experts” is mainly in facilitation and capacity building. The results highlight the different bottlenecks and the factors that enabled effective collaboration in this PM project. The main bottlenecks were related to: different views on representation of the watershed, the quality and usability of different input data, the public information for the technical implementation of the model, and the priority of output scenarios. The factors that enhanced collaboration were: a focus on a single basin problem, strong support from upper management, and support from experts in coordination and capacity building. The detailed documentation provided with this project can inspire similar approaches in the future.
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