A Systems Approach to Analyse the Impacts of Water Policy Reform in the Murray-Darling Basin: a Conceptual and an Analytical Framework
The water policy reform under the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) Plan will have a range of implications for the ecology, the economy and the community of the Basin – given the interdependent nature of the three systems. In this paper, an integrative or a systems approach is proposed to analyse the impacts of water policy reform in the MDB. The first part of the paper focuses on developing a conceptual framework, which identifies the main interdependencies and interactions among the three systems in the MDB. The second part of the paper attempts to operationalize the conceptual framework by identifying the suitable analytical tools or models that link the three systems. The ecology is linked to the economy via the water policy reform, that is, the change in the quantity of water that flows from the ecology to the economy (ecology-economic nexus). The economy is linked to the social system via computable general equilibrium (CGE) and microsimulation models (economy-social/community nexus). Finally, social/community is linked to the ecological system via agent-based models to investigate emergent socio-ecological phenomena. The third part of the paper shows how all the models can be linked in a top down fashion to develop a operational analytical framework, as a starting to point to analyse the macro, sectoral and distributional impacts of the water policy reform in the MDB.