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A meta-model for understanding ‘green-red loop’ social-water interactions at a global scale

Liu, Leyang; Chun, Kwok; Mijic, Ana

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Leyang Liu

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Dr Kwok Chun
Lecturer in Environmental Managment

Ana Mijic


Within the coupled human and natural systems (CHANS), social-water interactions exhibit the ‘green-loop’ and ‘red-loop’ patterns, where social development is dependent on the local and external environment for resource provision, respectively. Sustainable management requires coordinating the interactions between water and the other socio-environmental systems, which we term ‘systems water management (SYWM)’. To understand the generic social-water interactions and obtain management implications for green-red loop systems, we develop a SYWM meta-model that conceptualises high-level social-environmental components and formulates their interactions into casual loops. This meta-model is evaluated via structural equation modelling using global datasets. Red- and green- loop scenarios are constructed to investigate the SYWM differences, and mediation analysis is conducted to quantify the reciprocal effects through the loops. Results show a critically weak causal link (0.22) from environmental state to quality of life, implying that the current water management performances have not been successfully incorporated for guiding further social development. Green- and red- loop systems have different direct causal effects in each link, which drives the corresponding behaviour. Red-loop systems have stronger total effects in causal links within the human system, depicting their strengths in socio-economic and water management decision-making. In contrast, green-loop systems have stronger total effects within the natural system, which symbolises receiving more environmental feedback. A sustainable SYWM that enhances both decision-making and feedback is recommended for green-red loop systems. The meta-model provides a platform for interdisciplinary collaborations and practical tools development that implements systems thinking in water management for sustainable development.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 29, 2024
Online Publication Date Jul 1, 2024
Publication Date Aug 25, 2024
Deposit Date Jul 1, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jul 2, 2024
Journal Journal of Cleaner Production
Print ISSN 0959-6526
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 468
Article Number 143064
Keywords Systems water management; Coupled human and natural systems; Social-water interactions; Green-red loop; Global sustainable development; Structural equation modelling
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