Seeds of Learning: Uncertainty and Technology Adoption in an Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Game

We introduce an interactive game exploring ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change, with a focus on technology adoption and uncertainty. The game is useful in academic classes and trainings for policymakers and stakeholders. Participants play the role of small-scale farmers in a developing country where their farming practices cause erosion that pollutes waterways, while at the same time climate change is making farmers more vulnerable to natural threats like flooding. The game gives participants a series of opportunities to adopt ecosystem-based adaptation practices: for example, a riparian buffer strip, low-till farming, and agroforestry. The practices differ in the uncertainty surrounding their effects on yields. The game deploys three policies to encourage adoption: a flat payment, a conservation auction, and a flat payment with a pilot bonus for early adoption. Players observe each other’s choices and outcomes, which allows for social learning. Participants get a hands-on understanding of climate change’s impacts, adaptation, ecosystem services, payment for ecosystem service programs, choice under uncertainty, social learning, adoption of new technology, learning spillovers, cost-effective conservation, and conservation auctions. We provide all materials necessary to run the game, a list of suggested readings, and ideas for discussions and assignments.

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