Handbook of Sustainable Development Planning
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Handbook of Sustainable Development Planning

Studies in Modelling and Decision Support

Edited by M. A. Quaddus and M. A.B. Siddique

This authoritative Handbook comprehensively examines the current status and future directions of model-based systems in decision support and their application to sustainable development planning.
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Chapter 9: On the Edge of Policy Failure: An Evaluation of New York City’s Watershed Protection Plan from a System Dynamics Perspective

April M. Roggio


April M. Roggio (with the assistance of Radhika Nath, Patricia Quinn and Elise Axelrad Weaver) Introduction The City of New York’s upstate watershed furnishes the daily water needs of the City’s nearly 8 million inhabitants. In its varying forms, this watershed has provided tasteful, healthy and abundant water for decades, although it is geographically quite distant from its urban consumers. In an interesting role reversal, the historically rural, upstate communities within the watershed have begun to yearn for the benefits gained through development and growth, while New York City, having abandoned the explosive growth of youth, struggles to protect its water as a vital natural resource. The problem of water for New York offers academics and practitioners the opportunity to explore why collaborative understanding is so rare, and collective problem solving so elusive. Moreover, this analysis offers guidance, both in our efforts to develop reasoned responses to vital natural resources questions, and, even more importantly, in our struggle to envision a world shaped by sustainable development. This chapter offers a qualitative and analytical approach to evaluate the New York City watershed problem as the dynamic interplay of two feedback-rich and interdependent subsystems. Achieving the delicate balance of environmental well-being and economic health is a dilemma that spans regions and localities and is better assessed through an analysis that acknowledges the fragile interconnectedness of regions and their problems. Donella Meadows, coauthor of the Limits to Growth studies, prolific writer and teacher, spoke often and eloquently about our perceptions of...

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