SCENE (SoCial, ENvironmental and Economic model)


Use for

System analysis, identifying perverse links.


This method can be used to identify stocks and flows of social (people), ecological (planet) and economic (profit) capital. Accordingly, you can identify structural problems in the form of depletion of stocks and the perverse links that cause them. The SCENE method is based on system dynamics.

What do you do?

You start by making an inventory of social, ecological and economic 'stocks', for example in a city or region. Examples of stocks are employment, biodiversity, quality of life, knowledge, public health and population structure

  • You then determine the status of a stock on the basis of four characteristics: quantity, quality, space and function.
  • The next step is to define how the stocks change as a result of flows, which are the short-term changes driven by human action that affect the stocks in the longer term. You chart the flows between stocks within a particular domain (births and deaths in the population, for example) and between stocks of different domains (the consequences of poorer environmental quality on health, for example).

You should follow these steps with stakeholders. If you choose not to, at least discuss the results of your analysis with them.

The outcome of the analysis is a sustainability balance that shows the transfer mechanisms between stocks caused by perverse links. You can then come up with ideas for system innovations that will eliminate the perverse links or produce new links, the merits of which can then be assessed using the model.


Requires specific expertise.

More information

  • Grosskurth, J. and J. Rotmans (2004). The SCENE Model: getting a grip on sustainable development in policy making, Environment, Development and Sustainability 7 (1), pp. 133-149.
  • Weaver, P. M and J. Rotmans (2006). Integrated sustainability assessment: what is it, why do it and how?, International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development 1 (4), pp. 284-303.

Used by

Among others: Derk Loorbach, Drift, Erasmus Universiteit  Rotterdam: