Success case: Magdalena basin forum

14th October 2015, Bogotá

“A river, though, has so many things to say that is hard to know what it says to each of us."

Norman MacClean


Over 60 high level representatives of public and private key stakeholders of the Magdalena-Cauca basin attended the Magdalena Basin Forum, where SimBasin was at the heart of a discussion on the basin's future.They included representatives from the ministry of environment, ministry of energy and mining, national planning units, research institutes and universities, the environmental managers of major private companies and journalists from the national media.The event was organised in cooperation with Semana magazine in order to facilitate discussion about the basin and generate interest in SIMA, the Magdalena decision support system, due to be launched by TNC in 2016.

After an introduction, the players were split into four multi-sectoral groups, each with the task to find the most robust way of managing the SimBasin basin over the next thirty years, leading to interesting discussions. Two of the groups made all the decisions by consensus; the other groups were only allowed to discuss with those from their own sector.

The game revealed some interesting ways in which decisions were made. For example, the mental models of the basin the players came to the table with were often more detailed and nuanced than the model driving the game, since they knew about the regulatory framework surrounding the decisions. However, they often underestimated the long-term feedbacks and impacts which the computer model captured well.

Once the game was over, the results from the tables were compared to find the winner, which was a table making decisions by consensus. In dialogue-allowed tables, risk among sectors was overall evenly distributed, and players were “comfortable” with trade offs, even when not anticipated. In dialogue-forbidden tables, however, players recriminated each other’s decisions after the game.

The event closed with a presentation of SIMA (the Magdalena Basin Decision Support System being developed by TNC), which will address the same issues as the game in a real-world setting. Now, there is a large interest from both public and private institutions, in the Magdalena Basin Decision Support System.