SAF Glossary

To see the sources of these definitions, please refer to the fully referenced version of the glossary by clicking here.



accuracyCloseness of computations, estimates or measurements to the exact or true values.
actorPerson who carries out one or more of the activities in the system.
algorithmA precise rule (or set of rules) for solving a problem.
altruistic valueA non-use value element of total economic value. The value that individuals derive from knowing that a resource will be available for others (of the current generation).
appraisal stepThe step in the SAF that implements system appraisal
assumptionA statement that is used as the premise of a particular argument but may not be otherwise accepted
averting behaviourBehaviour in which individuals and households insulate themselves from a non-market bad (for instance to avoid or mitigate the impacts of pollution) by selecting more costly types of behaviour. These behaviours might be more costly in terms of the time requirements they imply, of the restrictions they impose on what the individual would otherwise wish to do, or because of the purchase of a market good.


BAUShort for 'Business as Usual'. The future states of society and the environment for which no new policies are projected. Hence the future condition of a system if its management, use, regulation, trends, etc remain the same as present.
benefitsIn its broadest sense benefits are defined as increases in human well-being (utility). The benefit of a project, programme or policy is the positive, expected aspect of an outcome, including the improvement in environmental protection or environmental quality, which will flow from it, but also including other improvements – for example, in cost savings, social benefits, such as health, convenience, or general welfare.
benefits transferA method for transferring the value of a non-market good estimated in an original or primary study to a different study site, as a proxy for values of the (same) good in another site.
bequest valueA non-use value element of total economic value. The value that individuals derive from knowing that a resource will be passed on to future generations (similar to altruistic value but differing in that concern is for future generations, not the current generation).
blockEXTEND object used to preform routine model functions, mathematical, statistical, data inputs, conversions, import, export or store data, etc. These come with the software or can be created by the operator.
boundaryIn the formal system model, the area within which the decision-taking process of the system has power to make things happen, or prevent them from happening
boundary conditionsRefers to the information needed from systems external/adjacent to the one being considered. Usually concerning mass, energy, or information conditions that affect the function of the considered system.


capitalWithin classical and neoclassical traditions of economics capital is one of the three factors of production that are used to produce other goods and services (the other factors of production are labour and land – which includes natural resources). There are three major categories of capital: natural capital, such as land or natural resources; human capital, which includes knowledge and entrepreneurship, and; physical capital, which includes all physical, man-made goods used to produce other goods and services – machinery, tools, buildings etc. The latter is quite often more simply called “capital” while the others are always preceded natural or human.
CATWOEA mnemonic describing problem situations and the human activity associated with them. It can be used when identifying the problem, to prompt thinking about what might be achieved, as well as when seeking to implement the solution, to help consider the impact on the people involved.
choice modellingStated preference methods used to determine willingness to pay (or, willingness to accept compensation) for a specified ecosystem good or service or a change in that good or service. A family of survey based methodologies that ecompasses choice experiments, contingent ranking, contingent rating and paired comparisons. Differs from contingent valuation methods in that they elicit values by presenting respondents with a series of alternatives (each of which has a value associated with it) and then asking which is most preferred.
coastal zoneThe interface between land and sea, delineated as the part of the land affected by its proximity to the sea, and the part of the sea affected by its proximity to the land.
commodity chain analysisThe overall group of economic agents (or the relevant activities of those agents) that contribute directly to the determination of a final product. Thus the chain encompasses the complete sequence of operations which, starting from the raw material, or an intermediate product, finishes downstream, after several stages of transformation or increases in value, at one or several final products at the level of the consumer.
computable general equilibriumFramework for evaluating the economic implications of policy intervention on resource allocation and incomes of agents. The model consists of equations describing the variables and a database consistent with the model equations.
conceptual model"1) A description of reality in terms of words, equations, governing relationships or natural laws that encompasses the user's perception of the key processes in the study area, and that corresponds to acceptable simplifications and numerical accuracy limits for the purpose of the modelling. 2) A systematic account of a human activity system, built on the basis of that system's root definition, usually in the form of a structured set of verbs in the imperative mode."
constantA number, often dimensionless, that remains unchanged during a simulation, although it may be changed for different runs of a simulation, i.e. as a part of a scenario or sensitivity run.
constraintLegislation, regulation, or rules that may help to define acceptable scenarios.
consultationA one-way flow of information feedback from stakeholders
consumer surplusDifference between what a consumer is willing to pay for a good or service and the amount actually paid.
consumptionGoods and services purchased by consumers.
contingent valuationA stated preference method used to determine willingness to pay (or, willingness to accept compensation) for a change in a specified ecosystem good or service. Structured questionnaires are used in which respondents are given detailed information on the issue to be valued and are then asked to answer yes/no to suggested values (dichotomous choice or payment ladder) or provide a willingness to pay (or, accept compensation) value themselves (open ended).
convenorIndividual or representative of the organisation or group that has initiated and led the SAF process ?
cost benefit analysisA framework for analysis that quantifies, in money terms, as many of the costs and benefits of a policy or project as possible, including those for which the market does not provide a measure of economic value. It differs from commercial investment appraisal techniques since its primary aim is to assess social worth and to this end uses criteria based upon welfare economics. Cost benefit analysis is based on the principle that benefits are defined as increases in human well-being (utility) and costs are defined as reductions in human well-being. For a project or policy to qualify on cost-benefit grounds, its social benefits must exceed its social costs.
cost effectiveness analysisForm of analysis which enables the identification of the least expensive way of achieving a given environmental quality target, or the way of achieving the greatest improvement in some environmental target for a given expenditure of resources.
costsIn microeconomics, costs refer to the value in alternative uses of the factors of production used by a firm (labour costs, materials costs, capital costs). Costs may be fixed or variable. In its broadest sense costs are defined as decreases in human well-being (utility).
couplingThe process of linking two or more variable or models together through functions to create a systems model from smaller components
critical natural capitalEcosystem goods and/or services which provide important environmental functions and for which there are essentially no substitutes.
cultural servicesA category of ecosystem services.


DPSIR"The chain of links between the driving forces within society (D), the pressure on the environment (P), the state of the environment itself (S), the impact on people and nature (I) and the desirable response (R)"
decision-makerIndividual, group or organisation that has the power/authority to decide on a course of action for a specific site or set of circumstances from amongst a range of policy options available
defensive expendituresExpenditures undertaken to avoid exposure to non-market bads via the purchase of a market good (for instance to avoid or mitigate the impacts of pollution). The value of each of these purchases represents an implicit price for the non-market good or bad in question.
deliberationAn open process of discussion and exchange of knowledge and ideas between individuals, groups and organisations to identify, appraise and, perhaps even, choose amongst various options or courses of action.
deliberative democracyA system of political decision-making that relies on popular consultation to make policy. In contrast to the traditional theory of democracy, where voting is central, deliberative democracy theorists argue that legitimate lawmaking can arise only through public deliberation. May also be called discursive democracy.
demandThe desire, ability and willingness of an individual to purchase a good or service. The consumer must have the funds or the ability to obtain funds in order to convert the desire into demand. The demand of a buyer for a certain good is a schedule of the quantities of that good which the individual would buy at possible alternative prices at a given moment in time.
depreciationThe reduction in the capital stock that occurs over time because of ageeing and use. Alternatively the value of the amount that must be spent on new capital goods to maintain the existing capital stock.
dialogueConversation between two or more parties involving an exchange of information , ideas and views.
direct effectChanges in economic activity during the first round of spending. For tourism for instance this involves the impacts on the tourism industries (businesses selling directly to tourists) themselves.
direct use valueA component of total economic value that relates to physical interaction with the ecosystem and could include, for example, the value of the benefits derived from fishing.
discount factorThe multiplication factor that converts a projected cost or benefit in a future year into its present value. Discount factors are computed based on the selected discount rate. Mathematically, a discount factor is equal to 1/(1 + r)n, where r is the discount rate and n is the number of years since the base year.
discount rateThe annual percentage rate at which the present value of a unit of account (e.g. €, £ or $) is assumed to decline through time. This rate can be constant through time or can decline as the time periods considered extend further into the future.
discountingA method by which costs or benefits that occur in the future are converted to present values using a discount rate (assigning a lower weight to a unit of benefit or cost in the future than to that unit now).
discrete choice modelEconometric model in which the dependent variable is an indicator of a discrete choice, such as a"yes or no"decision.
domain of applicabilityPrescribed conditions in space, time and types of applications, for which the model has been tested.
driver/driving forceSocial, demographic and economic developments in societies and the corresponding changes in lifestyles, overall levels of consumption and production patterns.
DSTShort for 'Deliberation Support Tool'. Communication tool(s) for facilitating a science-policy interface.
dynamic equilibrium"(1) A system in dynamic equilibrium is a particular example of a system in a steady state. (2) A state of balance with respect to environmental factors and populations of organisms. (3) A system that fluctuates, but overall is in balance. (4) A system in flux, but with influxes equal to outfluxes."


ecological qualityThe quality of the composition, structure, and function of an ecosystem.
ecological quality elementA discrete part of ecological quality, such as phytoplankton abundance or the faunistic composition of the benthos, as exemplified in Annex V of the Water Framework Directive.
EcoQOShort for 'ecological quality objective'. The desired level of an ecological quality element.
economic efficiencySee Pareto efficiency.
economic impact assessmentAn economic impact assessment traces the flows of spending associated with an activity in a region to identify changes in sales, tax revenues, income, and jobs due to the activity.
economic instrumentsFinancial rewards, incentives and punishments that operate automatically via market forces, to encourage beneficial behaviour. Examples include: taxes on environmentally damaging consumption or production activities; tradable pollution permits; subsides to encourage environmentally benign (or less environmentally damaging) activities.
ecosystemAny area of nature that includes living organisms and nonliving substances interacting to produce an exchange of materials between the living and nonliving parts.
ecosystem servicesEcosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food, water, timber, and fiber; regulating services that affect climate, floods, disease, wastes, and water quality; cultural services that provide recreational, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits; and supporting services such as soil formation, photosynthesis, and nutrient cycling.
effectivenessEffectiveness means the extent to which the activity's stated objectives have been met.
efficiencyEfficiency means achieving maximum output from a given level of resources used to carry out an activity.
elasticityPercentage change in one variable resulting from a 1 percent increase in another.
emergent propertiesProperties of a system which derive from its component activities and their structure, but cannot be reduced to them
empowermentA process whereby individuals, groups, organisations and communities develop a sense of control over their lives in order to act efficiently in the public sphere, to have access to resources and promote change in their common circumstances.
environmentThe non-living part of a system is its environment; the living part is its (biological) community.
environmental accountingAdjusted System of National Accounts with physical and monetary accounts of environmental assets and/or the costs of their depletion and degradation.
environmental managementManagement of human activities that affect the environment in such a way so as to ensure their sustainability in the long-term
environmental managerAn individual, such as a public official, who carries out environmental management. At the operational level of governance, managers plan or give consent to individual human activities (HAs) taking account their likely environmental impact; at the collective or constitutional levels of governance, they make environmental plans, oversee the implementation of environmental policy, decide policy, or support legislators who make environmental law.
environmental qualityConditions in environmental media, measured directly or expressed in terms of indicators or indices related to environmental quality standards.
ESE analysisShort for 'ecological, social and economic analysis'; the process in which the integration of different components of sustainability takes place.
ESEsystemShort for 'ecological, social and economic system': a Virtual System or model including these components
existence valueA non-use value element of total economic value. Existence value is the value that individuals derive from simply knowing that an ecosystem (or species, or some other environmental attribute) continues to exist -with no actual or planned use for his/herself or for anyone else.
exogenous variableExogenous variables influence other variables in the model but are not calculated by the model.
expert groupA group of multidisciplinary experts of varying experience (including not only ecologists and modelers, but also sociologists, economists etc.) participating in quantitative and qualitative assessments.
externalityExternalities refer to situations when the effect of production or consumption of goods and services imposes costs or benefits on others which are not reflected in the prices charged for the goods and services being provided.


facilitatorIndependent individual, usually professionally trained in this context, who enables groups and organizations to work more effectively; to collaborate and achieve synergy.
factor of productionAn input used to produce goods and services; for example, capital and labour.
feedback loopClosed loop structure that brings results from past action of a system back to control future action thanks to positive or negative feedback actions which tend to increase or decrease system rate processes.
financial analysisDetermines whether a business will generate sufficient revenues to cover its costs and make a reasonable profit. It generally includes a short-term analysis of the availability and costs of start-up capital as well as a longer-range analysis of debt service, operating costs and revenues.
finite difference methodIn mathematics, finite-difference methods are numerical methods for approximating the solutions to differential equations using finite difference equations to approximate derivatives. Finite-difference methods approximate the solutions to differential equations by replacing derivative expressions with approximately equivalent difference quotients.
forcingWhat a human activity or natural variability does to a system. 'Pressure' in DPSIR terms.
forcing functionsFunctions or variables of an external nature that influence the state of the ecosystem. In a management context the problem to be solved can often be reformulated as follows: if certain forcing functions are varied, how will this influence the state of the ecosystem? Also termed external variables.
forecastAttempt to produce a most likely description or estimate of the actual evolution of a variable or system in the future.
formulation stepThe step in the SAF in which models are constructed and data gathered.
functional componentsA set of linked processes and state variables that perform an important function in the system.


GDPShort for 'Gross Domestic Product'. The maket value of an economy's domestically produced goods and services over a specified period of time. It is gross since no allowance is made for the replacement of capital goods.
GNPShort for 'Gross National Product'. The total market value of the goods and services produced by the residents of a country over a specified period of time; GNP equals GDP plus the net factor income from abroad (income earned by domestic residents from foreign investments -income earned by foreign investors in that region’s domestic market).
governanceThe exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management of a country’s affairs at all levels. Governance comprises the complex mechanisms, processes, and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, mediate their differences, and exercise their legal rights and obligations
governance scaleThe most common way to define the relations between social actors and biophysical resources is by the use of rights and rules (e.g. property rights) that connects actors to these resources. Such rules make up the ‘Governance Structure’ that operates at three scales or levels: operational, collective, and constitutional.
governance scale: operational levelThe level at which rules for the direct interaction between the human activity and natural (biophysical) resources are enacted - or modified, e.g. in the form of harvesting.
governance scale: collective levelThe level at which rules for activities on the operational level are made, e.g. for the access to, for exploitation of and for maintenance of the natural resources .
governance scale: constitutional levelThe deeper level at which the rules for how to make decisions at the collective choice level are made, e.g. who is in position to make decisions, who can block decisions, how decisions are made (unanimous or simple majority), the amount of information required to make decisions etc.
green accountingSee Environmental accounting.
GSTshort for ‘General Systems Theory’, which sees the physical and social world as containing systems with a set of formal properties; cf. SSM, (‘Soft Systems Methodology’) in which systems are conceptual devices


hedonic pricing methodA revealed preference approach to environmental valuation. Estimates the value of a non-market good by observing behaviour in the market for a related good. The method uses a market good via which the non-market good is implicitly traded (for instance property markets or labour markets).
hindcastUsing a model to simulate past conditions.
HAShort for 'human activity'. A deliberate or unintentional human intervention in the function and structure of natural systems.
human activity systemA notional system which expresses some purposeful human activity which could, in principle, be found in the real world


impactA deterioration of the goods or services from an ecosystem. An impact is usually expressed in the form a change in a variable or in a characteristic of the system.
indicatorA quantitative output of the Simulation Model which has some standard properties with respect to the system: to simplify, to quantify and to communicate.
indirect effectChanges in sales, income or employment within the region in backward-linked industries supplying goods and services to businesses impacted by a change in spending. For example, in the tourism industry, the increased sales in linen supply firms resulting from more motel sales is an indirect effect of visitor spending.
indirect use valueThe value of benefits derived from services provided by ecosystems which do not involve actual physical interaction; e.g. carbon sequestration by some coastal wetland ecosystems provide.
induced effectIncreased sales within the region from household spending of the income earned in in industries impacted by a change in spending (and supporting industries). For instance, employees in tourism and supporting industries spend the income they earn from tourism on housing, utilities, groceries, and other consumer goods and services. This generates sales, income and employment throughout the region’s economy.
inputComponent of production; that goes into the production of output
input-output multipliersCapture the size of the secondary effects in a given region, generally as a ratio of the total change in economic activity in the region relative to the direct change. Multipliers may be expressed as ratios of sales, income or employment, or as ratios of total income or employment changes relative to direct sales. Multipliers express the degree of interdependency between sectors in a region’s economy and therefore vary considerably across regions and sectors.
input-output tableA means of presenting a detailed analysis of the process of production and the use of goods and services (products) and the income generated in that production. Information can be presented either in the form of supply and use tables or symmetric input-output tables.
institutionSystems of rules and procedures, both formal and informal, that structure social interaction by constraining and enabling actors’ behaviour. Institutionalized ways of doing certain practices give rise to organisations, such as schools and churches, that seek to maintain the rules that are favourable for them.
institutional arrangements"Define the authorities and offices responsible for decisions related to public resources and the implementation of instruments."
institutional mappingA procedure for indentifying socio-economic relationships amongst institutions, organizations and groups
integrated modelA model that includes several domains. Domains may be: 1) coupled, so that feedback between domains is accounted for within each time step, typically in an iterative scheme; or 2) uncoupled or forward coupled, so that output from one domain is used as input to another domain without feedback.
interestA moral claim or legal share; something in which such a right, claim, or share is held; a person or group of persons holding such a right, claim, or share
interest groupA group that exists because its members have a shared interest in an activity, objective and/or a location
interest rateAn interest rate is the cost or price of borrowing, or the gain from lending, normally expressed as an annual percentage amount.
intrinsic valueValues which are usually defined as residing in the asset and unrelated to human preferences or even human observation.
inverse modellingA versatile statistical technique, based on estimation theory, that can be used to estimate quantities that are directly or indirectly related to the measured quantity. For instance, absorption features in Earth's electromagnetic spectrum can be used to estimate concentrations of atmospheric trace gases that can subsequently be used to estimate surface flux estimates.
investmentGoods purchased by individuals and firms to add to their stock of capital.




leverage pointThose influences within a system where small changes can effect a substantial change in the system itself.
linking variablesAn intermediary variable placed between two or more sub models which is relevant to each and therefore allows connection between those sub models.


macroeconomicsBranch of economics that deals with aggregate economic variables, such as the level and growth rate of national output, interest rates, (un)employement and inflation.
management choiceA tactical choice (presented by environment managers to stakeholders) amongst specific actions
marketCollection of buyers and sellers that, through their actual or potential interactions, determine the price of a product or set of products.
market failure"Situation in which an unregulated competitive market is inefficient because prices fail to provide proper signals to consumers and producers. Market failures provide a rationale for government intervention."
microbial loopA trophic pathway in aquatic environments where dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is reintroduced to the food web through the incorporation into bacteria. Bacteria are consumed mostly by protists such as flagellates and ciliates
microeconomicsThe study of individual markets and decision makers.
modelA simplified representation of the essential or dominant features of relationships amongst components of real systems, used to (i) increase and promote understanding of the real system, and (ii) simulate the behaviour of the real system under particular scenarios.
model calibrationThe procedure of adjustment of model parameter values to reproduce the response of reality within the range of accuracy specified in the performance criteria.
model codeA mathematical formulation in the form of a computer program that is so generic that it, without program changes, can be used to establish a model with the same basic type of equations (but allowing different input variables and parameter values) for different study areas. Many authors and many guidelines use the term model both in the meaning of a model code and as a site-specific model.
model confirmationDetermination of adequacy of the conceptual model to provide an acceptable level of agreement for the domain of intended application. This is in other words the scientific confirmation of the theories/hypotheses included in the conceptual model.
model error"1) Difference between observed and simulated variables; can be cumulative, absolute, quadratic, etc. 2) A recognizable deficiency in any phase or activity of modeling and simulation that is not due to lack of knowledge."
model validationSubstantiation that a model within its domain of applicability possesses a satisfactory range of accuracy consistent with the intended application of the model.
model verificationThe process of determining that a model implementation accurately represents the developer’s conceptual description of the model and the solution to the model.
multi-criteria analysisFramework that allows decision makers to evaluate and rank different management options according to a set of well defined evaluation criteria.
multiplier effectThe second round effects on the level of economic activity (output, income or employment) associated with a policy intervention (e.g. where the employees of a new project spend their earnings and so increase consumer demand).


natural capitalThe stock of natural resources and environmental assets (e.g. a forest) which produces the flow of ecosystem goods (e.g. new trees) and services (e.g. carbon sequestration, erosion control, habitat).
NNPShort for 'Net National Product'. Gross national product less depreciation.
NPVShort for 'Net Present Value '. The result of subtracting the total present value of costs from the total present value of benefits (in a cost benefit analysis framework).
non-use valueNon-use values for ecosystem goods and services are those values that individuals derive without any physical interaction with them. They are further classified into: existence, bequest and altruistic values.


opportunity costCosts associated with opportunities that are forgone when a firm's/project's/policy measure's ressources are not put to their best alternative use.
option valueAn individual’s willingness to pay to guarantee that an ecosystem good or service is available for their future use. An element of total economic value that arises due to uncertainty about future conditions. gained by delaying any decision.
organisation‘Teams’ of actors or players, that is, groups of individuals which are bound by a common purpose to achieve objectives. These players can be political bodies, economic bodies, social bodies or educational bodies.
outputOutput consists of those goods or services that are produced within an firm that become available for use outside that firm, plus any goods and services produced for own final use.
output stepThe final step in the SAF that returns the results of the analysis to the stakeholders deliberates on these .


paradigmA philosophical or theoretical framework for interpreting situations or conditions
parameterCoefficients in the mathematical representation of processes.
parameterA quantity that is assumed constant in time. A parameter is most often a representation of a physical, chemical or ecological characteristic of reality.
parameter uncertaintyUncertainty that is caused by measurement errors, analytical imprecision and limited sample sizes during collection and treatment of data.
parameterisationActivities to transform system characteristics into model parameters.
Pareto efficiencySituation where resources are so allocated that it is not possible to make anyone better off without making someone else worse off.
parsimony principleImplies that a conceptual model has been simplified as much as possible, yet it retains enough complexity so that it adequately represents the physical system and its behaviour.
performance criteriaLevel of acceptable agreement between model and reality. The performance criteria apply both for model calibration and model validation. The performance criteria are usually formulated so that a number of objective functions have to be better than specified numerical values.
phaseThe fraction of the whole period that has elapsed, measured from a fixed time instant. Periodic waves having the same frequency and waveform, are said to be in phase if they reach corresponding amplitudes simultaneously.
phase shiftAny change that occurs in the phase of one quantity.
policyA deliberate plan of action to guide decisions and achieve rational outcome(s).
policy evaluationAssessment of relationship between a policy and its outcomes. Has a policy has achieved its objectives? What were the effects? Are further policy changes needed?
policy issueA coastal zone problem or dysfuntion that that needs policy attention. In the SAF the problem (impact) is first indentified and the Policy Issue then becomes the options, conflicts, and controversy surrounding a policy action to miigate or resolve the conseqeunces of the Impact.
policy optionsThe set of alternatives considered by interested parties in order to make a strategic choice
policy-makerIndividual, group or organisation that has the power/authority to decide on the range of policy options that may be implemented in certain circumstances or conditions
post-normal scienceA methodology of inquiry (operating under different standards than conventional scientific methodology) that is appropriate for cases where facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent
preferenceConcept that assumes for individuals a real or imagined"choice"between alternatives and the possibility of rank ordering of these alternatives, based on the utility they provide.
present valueThe value of a stream of future costs or benefits expressed in present terms, i.e. the discounted value of future costs or benefits.
priceThe amount of money paid per unit for a good or service.
pricing approachTechnique to estimate the price of ecosystem goods and services.
process"Natural sciences: a method or event that results in a transformation in a physical or biological object, a substance or an organism. Processes are always properties of dynamic systems; they are characterized by such system attributes as variables and parameters. Economics: processes affect the production, development and management of material wealth. Social sciences: the means by which culture and social organisations change or are preserved."
process blockA block representing a process, incorporating the variables and parameters that determine the process and the functional relationships between them.
process functionA mathematical equation representing a process development in time.
producer surplusDifference between what a producer receives for the goods it produces and the cost of producing them.
production functionThe mathematical relationship showing how the quatities of the factors of production determine the quantity of goods and services produced; for example Y = F(K,L) with Y as output; K and L as inputs: capital and labour.
profitDifference between total revenue and total cost for a firm.
provisioning servicesA category of ecosystem services.
public participationA framework of policies, principles and techniques which ensure that citizens and communities, individuals and organisations have the opportunity to be involved in a meaningful way in decisions that will affect them, or in which they have a stake.


quasi-option valueAn individual's willingness to pay to avoid taking irreversible decisions in the present given an expectation that our knowledge of the implications of those decisions will increase in future. An element of total economic value that arises due to uncertainty about future conditions.


regulating servicesA category of ecosystem services.
rentReturn on a factor of production above the amount necessary to entice that factor into the production process.
replacement costsA method by which the value of ecosystem goods or services are estimated by calculating the cost of replacing or recreating them.
resilienceThe capacity of a system to absorb and utilize, or even benefit from, perturbations and changes, and so to persist without a qualitative change in the system’s structure.
responseA forced change in the ecosystem (e.g. eutrophication ). Note that this is different from use of this term in the DPSIR framework.
returnTotal monetary flow of an asset as a fraction of its price.
revealed preferenceRevealed preference techniques of valuation use market information and behaviour to infer the economic value of an associated non-market impact.
riskPossibility that human actions or natural events lead to consequences that affect aspects of what humans value.
risk assessmentScientific process of identifying unwanted consequences (and their causes) and calculating their probabilities and magnitude.
roleIn a SAF application, roles include stakeholding, policy-making, decision-making, being an actor, working as a scientist. A role is the behaviour expected of an individual who occupies a given social position or status.


SAF"Short for ‘Systems Approach Framework’, and comprising: 1) the use of General Systems Theory (GST) and Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) to understand and model problems in social-ecological systems; 2) the simulation of scenarios including problem management options; and 3) the engagement of stakeholders at the science-policy interface."
satellite accountSatellite accounts provide a framework linked to the central accounts and which enables attention to be focussed on a certain field or aspect of economic and social life in the context of (the system of) national accounts; common examples are satellite accounts for the environment, or tourism, or unpaid household work.
scaleThe spatial, temporal, quantitative, or analytical dimensions used to measure and study any phenomenon
scenarioA coherent, internally consistent and plausible description of a possible future state of the world. A scenario is not a forecast; rather, each scenario is one alternative image of how the future can unfold. A projection may serve as the raw material for a scenario, but scenarios often require additional information (e.g., about baseline conditions). A set of scenarios is often adopted to reflect, as well as possible, the range of uncertainty in projections.
scientistTechnical expert, such as an ecologist, economist, mathematical modeller, political scientist, social scientist, and systems analyst, who will apply the SAF to provide stakeholders with the information they need for better deliberation of management or policy options.
sensitivity analysisAnalysis of the sensitivity of the model results to changes in parameter values or other assumptions (e.g. input data). In a sensitivity analysis the various sources of uncertainty are analysed individually.
simulation (in the sense of 'to simulate')Use of a validated model to gain insight into reality and obtain predictions. These include insights into how reality can be expected to respond to human interventions.
simulation modelA model based on mathematical equations and quantitative information, which allows a virtual system to be simulated. Within the SAF, the model formed by linking the ecological, social and economic components to generate the outputs from scenarios.
simulation model resultA particular solution of a model for a given set of parameter values and initial and boundary conditions
social choiceA possible way to arrive at judgements about society, given the diversity of preferences, concerns and predicaments of the different individuals within society
social-ecological systemAn area in the physical world in which human society interacts with 'nature' or 'the environment'.
socio-economic modelling domainComprises all modelling activities related to human interventions and evaluations.
SSMShort for 'soft system methodology'. Approach to systems' design that focuses on explicating different perspectives; SSM builds on the interpretative or hermeneutic paradigm and “is a methodology which recognizes the role of the individual’s ‘world images’ and the influence of historical background on the interpretation of reality.
stakeholderAn individual, a group of individuals, a non-governmental or government entity that has a direct or indirect interest or claim; stakeholders will, or may, be affected by a particular decision or policy. Stakeholding can be seen as a role.
stakeholder engagementAny process of gaining information from, imparting information to, consulting with, or working with, stakeholders or the representatives of stakeholder groups
stakeholder forumA (time-limited by the SAF process) vehicle, such as an open meeting, workshop or online space, enabling an exchange of information, ideas and views amongst the various stakeholders
stakeholder mappingA social mapping method for identifying the stakeholders relevant to a particular issue and for assessing their interests in the issue.
stateThe condition of a system.
state variableA variable that describes one aspect of the state of the system.
stated preferenceStated preference techniques of valuation utilise questionnaires which either directly ask respondents for their willingness to pay (accept), or offer them choices between “bundles” of attributes and from which choices the analysts can infer willingness to pay (accept).
storylineA narrative description of a scenario (or a family of scenarios), highlighting the main scenario characteristics and dynamics, and the relationships between key driving forces.
supplyThe willingness and ability to sell a range of quantities of a good at a range of prices, during a given time period. Supply is one half of the market exchange process; the other is demand.
supply chain analysisAnalysis of the system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Supply chain activities transform natural resources, raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to the end customer.
supporting servicesA category of ecosystem services.
systemA set of interconnected components within defined boundaries; often including hierachically-arranged sub-system and feedback loops, and possessed of emergent properties as a result of the latter
system appraisalFourth step in the SAF: simulation and interpretation of the coastal zone system’s response to the selected policy issue(s). The goals of this step are: to devise the simulation model for delivery of the specified outputs; to conduct the accompanying interpretive analyses and so provide the scientific and descriptive supplements to these outputs; and, to evaluate the results
system designFirst step in SAF, in which 1) stakeholders and environment managers are consulted to identify the issue, or coastal zone problem, that involves a cause-&-effect chain from a human activity to its impact on ecosystem goods and services; 2) a virtual system is identified, embodying suffciently real-world behaviour to allow the problem to be explored through modelling; 3) remedial management options are agreed with stakeholders
system dynamicsSystem dynamics is a method for studying the world around us. It deals with understanding how complex systems change over time. Internal feedback loops within the structure of the system influence the entire system behavior.
system formulationThird step in SAF, in which 1) conceptual, mathematical and numerical models are built for use in simulating system behaviour or its ecological, economic and social components; 2) data needed by these models is sought
System of National AccountsThe System of National Accounts consists of a coherent, consistent and integrated set of macroeconomic accounts, balance sheets and tables based on a set of internationally agreed concepts, definitions, classifications and accounting rules.
system outputFifth and final step in SAF, in which results are taken back to the stakeholders; the analysis is explained and the stakeholders are assisted in deliberating on their choice amongst options.
system stability"Equilibrium stability: a discrete measure that considers a system stable if it returns to its equilibrium after a small perturbation away from the equilibrium. A stable system, therefore, has no variability in the absence of perturbations. General stability: a measure which assumes that stability increases as the lower limit of population density moves further away from zero. Under non-equilibrium dynamics, such limits to population dynamics generally imply a decrease in population variance."
system-based modelA model constructed of various sub-systems to represent the whole system. In the SAF, this includes economic, social and environmental components.
systems approachThe systems approach devises strategies to extract information on the functioning of complex systems that could not have been garnered from a sequence of subsystem-scale studies. This contrasts to analytical approaches that reduce the considered system to simple constitutive elements for separate study. The systems approach is more global, focusing on interconnections between sub-systems and on system structure.
systems thinkingA way of understanding the human and natural worlds as systems made up of interacting components.


technological progressImproved knowledge about methods of production that shifts the production function upwards.
time stepUnit interval of time used by discrete model for time series simulations.
total economic valueThe economic value of any environmental asset. It decomposes into use and non-use values, and further sub-classifications can be provided if needed.
trade-offSituation that involves losing one quality or aspect of something in return for gaining another quality or aspect. It implies a decision to be made with full comprehension of both the upside and downside of a particular choice. In economics, the opportunity costs of selecting one alternative rather than another.
travel cost methodA revealed preference method of valuing non-market environmental assets. Use values associated with a site (usually recreational in nature) are estimated by collecting information on the costs that have been incurred by users travelling to that site (in terms of time, fuel, etc.).


uncertainty analysisQuantification of uncertainty in model results due to incomplete knowledge of model parameters, input data, boundary conditions and conceptual model. In an uncertainty analysis the combined effects of these uncertainties are taken into account.
use valueValue derived from actual use (e.g. a visit to a national park), planned use (a visit planned in the future), or possible use (say in the future) of a good ; further divided into direct use or indirect use.
utilityEconomic jargon for satisfaction, welfare or well-being. An assumption that underlies most conventional economic theory is that people aim to maximise their utility, i.e. they want as much utility as they can get. The hypothesis of utility maximisation is countered by some empirical evidence that the economic decisions made by individuals are partly guided by attitudes, habits and traditions, in addition to being limited by their cognitive capacity, their unconscious reflexes, their values and concepts, making them unable to make optimal decisions in the sense that economic theory posits.


valuation approachTechnique to estimate the value of ecosystem goods and services; to determine the importance of environmental consequences of economic activities that are not taken into account in market transactions.
valueValue at the level of a single, homogeneous good or service is equal to the price per unit of quantity multiplied by the number of quantity units of that good or service; in contrast to price, value is independent of the choice of quantity unit.
value addedThe value of a firm's output minus the vale of the intermediate goods the firm purchased.
virtual systemthe system represented by the Simulation Model. It is a simplified version of the real system, with physical boundaries prescribed during the Design Step.
welfareRefers to the economic well-being of an individual, group or economy. For individuals, the concept of utility is often used.
willingness to accept compensationThe amount of money an individual would be willing to accept as compensation for forgoing a benefit or tolerating a cost.
willingness to payThe amount of money an individual would be willing to pay to secure a benefit or avoid a cost. Willingness to pay (accept) for ecosystem goods and services can be estimated using various economic valuation techniques such as revealed and stated preference methods or pricing approaches.