Mathematical and numerical models can provide insight into sustainability indicators using relevant simulated quantities, which are referred to here as predictions. To be useful, many concerns need to be considered. Four are discussed here: (a) mathematical and numerical accuracy of the model; (b) the accuracy of the data used in model development, (c) the information observations provide to aspects of the model important to predictions of interest as measured using sensitivity analysis; and (d) the existence of plausible alternative models for a given system. The four issues are illustrated using examples from conservative and transport modelling, and using conceptual arguments. Results suggest that ignoring these issues can produce misleading conclusions.
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Using models to manage systems subject to sustainability indicators