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Home Events Looking at the UNEP Global Environment Outlook Report...


Friday, February 29th, 2008 from 18.00-20.00

The Brussels-EU Chapter and the European Support Centre of the Club of Rome are pleased to invite you to the 49th Aurelio Peccei Lecture at the The Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium of Sciences and Arts

Looking at the UNEP Global Environment Outlook Report, GEO-4 : The uses of modeling for analysing trends of the future.

by Prof. Barry Hughes

International Futures, University of Denver, Colorado, US

The complex interactions of economic and social changes over many decades of global development require new systems of analysis to be able to simulate the possible impacts of policy frameworks over the next decades. The International Futures system is one of a new generation of computer-based simulation models, that attempts to reflect the combined effect of hundreds of interrelated parameters, both as a teaching tool in Universities, and as a basis for National and inter-nations simulations of economic and social development trajectories.

About the Topic

International Futures (IFs) is a large-scale integrated global modeling system. The broad purpose of the International Futures (IFs) modeling system is to serve as a thinking tool for the analysis of long-term country-specific, regional, and global futures across multiple, interacting issue areas.
IFs is heavily data-based and also deeply rooted in theory. It represents major agent-classes (households, governments, firms) interacting in a variety of global structures (demographic, economic, social, and environmental). The system draws upon standard approaches to modeling specific issue areas whenever possible, extending those as necessary and integrating them across issue areas.

The menu-drive interface of the International Futures software system allows display of results from the base case and from alternative scenarios over time horizons from 2000 up to 2100. It provides tables, standard graphical formats, and a basic Geographic Information System (GIS) or mapping capability. It also provides specialized display formats for age-cohort demographic structures and social accounting matrices.

The system facilitates scenario development via a scenario-tree that simplifies changes in framing assumptions and agent-class interventions. Scenarios can be saved for development and refinement over time. Standard framing scenarios, such as those from the United Nations Environment Programme’s GEO 3/4 are available.

The modeling system also provides access to an extensive database for longitudinal and cross-sectional analysis. Insofar as possible, data represent 182 countries since 1960. In addition to providing a basis for developing formulations within the model, the database facilitates comparison of data with "historic forecasts" over the 1960-2000 period.

About the Speaker

Dr. Hughes earned a B.S. in Mathematics from Stanford in 1967 and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota in 1970. He taught at Case Western Reserve University, 1970-1980. He is now Professor at the Graduate School of International Studies, University of Denver. He also served the university as Vice Provost for Graduate Studies from 1992-2001 and was all-University Lecturer in 2006. His principal research interests are in the areas of (1) global change, (2) computer simulation models for economic, energy, food, population, environmental, and socio-political forecasting, and (3) policy analysis. The fundamental concerns that synthesize these various interests are (1) developing effective response to long-term global change and (2) improving the long-term human condition. He has developed a widely-used computer simulation called International Futures (IFs) for study of long-term issues by students and policy makers.
Dr. Hughes has consulted for the governments of Germany, Iran, Egypt, and the U.S, as well as for the European Union and the United Nations Environment Programme. He has taught in Costa Rica and China. He has written The Domestic Context of American Foreign Policy (Freeman 1978), World Modeling (Lexington 1980), World Futures (Johns Hopkins 1985), Disarmament and Development (Prentice-Hall 1990), Continuity and Change in World Politics (Prentice-Hall 1991, 1994, 1997, 2000), International Futures (Westview 1993, 1996, 1999), Exploring and Shaping International Futures (Paradigm 2006) as well as numerous articles.

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