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Integrated simulation for national development planning

Matteo Pedercini (Millennium Institute, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Holger Maximilian Kleemann (Millennium Institute, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Nombuso Dlamini (Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland, Mbabane, Hhohho, Swaziland)
Vangile Dlamini (Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland, Mbabane, Hhohho, Swaziland)
Birgit Kopainsky (System Dynamics Group, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 13 July 2018

Issue publication date: 25 January 2019




The purpose of this papers is to highlight the applicability of integrated simulation models for national development planning to different issues and contexts. Specifically, the authors describe one such model, the Millennium Institute’s T21 model, which is used to support planning in various countries, and explore in detail the case of Swaziland to demonstrate the model’s usefulness at different levels in the planning process.


Integrated sustainable development planning models using the system dynamics (SD) modeling method have been designed to help overcome these obstacles and support decision-makers in the assessment of alternative policies. Such models are laboratory replicas of the critical mechanisms driving development in a country while being grounded in the historical data available. They can be used to perform simulation-based policy experiments that are otherwise impossible in the real world.


The proposed approach has facilitated the reporting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as on the cross-sector long-term ex ante evaluation of the country’s “Economic Recovery Strategy” and a proposed “Fiscal Adjustment” policy. These assessments provided essential information for improving the quality of the decisions made. Such information cannot be obtained by the application of purely economic models or sectoral tools, that are not including the fundamental feedback structures that shape development in the long run and determine its sustainability.

Research limitations/implications

The new generation of global long-term Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) covers a far broader range of issues and indicators than the MDGs. The T21-Swaziland model only offers a limited subset of such issues, and future research will focus on achievements and challenges in expanding its scope to encompass the SDGs.

Practical implications

The T21 model has become one of the fundamental planning instruments of the country, and it has been used to evaluate national planning documents and other suggested strategies with respect to whether they are sufficient for reaching the long-term goals. Such information is then used as a basis for revision of development plans and adoption or rejection of suggested policy packages.


The MDGs (and their expanded follow-up, the SDGs) have been important step toward better governance, as they quantify key indicators of development and thereby allow for an evaluation of the degree to which these quantified aspirations are actually achieved. In addition to such hind-sight evaluations, ex ante evaluations are equally important for improvement of the quality of the decisions made. The authors propose and test a tool to support such type of evaluation, supporting integrated planning and model-based governance.



Pedercini, M., Kleemann, H.M., Dlamini, N., Dlamini, V. and Kopainsky, B. (2019), "Integrated simulation for national development planning", Kybernetes, Vol. 48 No. 1, pp. 208-223.



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