project summary
Aims | Objectives | Themes | Applications

The FIRMA project will improve water resource planning by developing and applying agent-based modelling to integrate physical, hydrological, social and economic aspects of water resource management.

It will yield insights into the social processes of water management, leading to the consideration of a wider range of aspects of the environment in decision making. It will also result in improved water management techniques including better management of water catchments.

The models will improve on existing integrated assessments by explicitly representing customers, suppliers, and government and their interaction at various levels of aggregation. This has not been attempted before and will provide new tools for policy makers concerned with issues such as waste water, water scarcity and integrated catchment planning. The project will adopt a participatory approach to ensure that its outputs are of value to stakeholders. A generic model will be developed and applied in five contrasting regions in Europe. The outputs will include the prototype models in the form of tools usable by managers, a methodology for developing and applying agent-based models, and educational materials for water resource managers and modellers.

Specific objectives are:

  • To further cooperation between water resource decision makers and experts in water resource management and in agent-based social simulation.
  • To analyse hydrosocial issues of waste water treatment, water scarcity and integrated catchment planning in selected regions and assemble the data required for agent-based modelling.
  • To develop agent-based models for application to issues of water treatment, scarcity and planning.
  • To carry out participatory integrated assessments in five selected regions, involving stakeholders, scientists and agent-based modelling exerts.
  • Based on the experience gained, to compare the management of water and to develop a methodology for the agent-based simulation of water resource issues in Europe.

The project is structured around three main themes:

  • Methodological development of agent models that scale from individual, cognitive decision makers to institutions representing more aggregate behaviour. Generic methodological knowledge will be encapsulated in a set of 'core' models that will be applied throughout the project.
  • The agent-based models will be demonstrated in five regions of Europe, linking the modelling and application teams in addressing real water problems.
  • Transfer of knowledge, experience and techniques, between experts on agent-based modelling and experts on water resource management and involving an interaction between the project and the wider community of policy makers.


Stakeholder participation is an essential feature, starting with the formulation of questions and the design of the models. The major activity regarding participation is assessments of the regional problems and evaluation of risks and options, using the models in participatory settings.

The agent-based models will be demonstrated in five regions of Europe, linking the modelling and application teams in addressing real water problems. The case studies are:


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