Framework for system understanding (DPSIR)

How to Use

DPSIR should be seen as a descriptive, not a prescriptive framework. It helps to structure on-going investigations. In this sense it can be used qualitatively as well as quantitatively. Qualitative application helps to further define the scope and relevant aspects of an environmental assessment, quantitative description helps to establish the significance of each aspect. The tool can be used by governmental organisations, (marine) construction companies, scientists, consultants and NGO’s to get grip on various aspects of the effects of human activities on the environment.

A stepwise approach can be followed to structure ongoing analysis:

  1. Define the objectives of the assessment.
  2. Delineate the scope of the assessment: what are the drivers, specific pressures, states or impacts to focus on in the project?
  3. Gather information on each of the aspects of D-P-S-I and R. This can be done by literature search, by expert and stakeholder interviews, or by applying auxiliary tools, such as models.
  4. Analyse, correlate and discuss the relevant aspects in the light of the environmental issue at hand.
  5. Explore potentially suitable response measures.

Recommendations and advice

Applying a DPSIR framework to a project is strengthened by a solid knowledge base, and the result highly depends on data availability. It is recommended to address various sources of information, including industry sectors, science, NGO’s and government. If data are lacking, it is advised to use auxiliary tools (models, GIS, expert judgement) if available.

In the case of Building with Nature projects, the lack of data on environmental issues is a concern, in particular if BwN measures are taken in an area with many other activities. Building with Nature measures meant to achieve positive effects on the environment may then be annihilated by negative effects resulting from other activities. In order to fully exploit the potential of Building with Nature measures it may be good to consult government agencies and private parties dealing with the specific issue at hand, to raise mutual awareness and to join forces to improve ecosystem performance. DPSIR helps to identify and analyse the relevant aspects