Publication Details

Dray, A., Perez, P., Le Page, C., D'Aquino, P. & White, I. (2006). AtollGame: A companion modelling experience in the Pacific. In P. Perez & D. Batten (Eds.), Complex Science for a Complex World: Exploring Human Ecosystems with Agents (pp. 255-280). Canberra, Australia: ANU E Press.


Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) have been developed to study the interaction between societies and the environment. Here we use MAS in conjunction with a Companion Modelling (ComMod) approach to develop a Negotiation Support System for groundwater management in Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati. In agreement with the complex and dynamic nature of the processes under study, the ComMod approach requires a permanent and iterative confrontation between theories and field circumstances. Therefore, it is based on repetitive back and forth steps between the model and the field situation. The methodology applied in Tarawa relies on 3 successive stages. First, a Global Targeted Appraisal focus on social group leaders in order to collect different standpoints and their articulated mental models. These collective models are partly validated through Individual Activities Surveys focusing behavioural patterns of individual islanders. Then, these models are merged into a single conceptual model that is further simplified in order to create a role-playing game. This game is played during iterative sessions, generating innovative rules and scenarios. Finally, when the rules become too complex, a computer based version of the game replaces the board version. Stakeholders can explore the possible futures of freshwater management in Tarawa and eventually agree on an equitable collective solution.