Australian Stocks & Flows Framework
The ASFF covers the entire domestic economy with detailed accounts of physical processes for all sectors. It explores sustainability issues that are long-term (over many decades), economy- and nation-wide, but with considerable sectoral and spatial detail (down to local government scale). The ASFF research capability is a combined database and simulation system for analysing the sustainability of the Australian economy. The ASFF covers the entire domestic economy with detailed accounts of physical processes for all sectors. It explores sustainability issues that are long-term (over many decades), economy- and nation-wide, but with considerable sectoral and spatial detail (down to local government scale).
While ASFF shares common features with complementary approaches (such as Mass Flow Analysis, Physical Input-Output Tables, and Life Cycle Analysis), it is distinctly and powerfully different from these because the biophysical processes throughout the economy and environment are represented explicitly.
The simulation capability is grounded with a fully integrated database of the physical economy and environment. Considerable data is drawn together from a range of sources detailing human, natural and industrial activity across all sectors throughout Australia over many decades.
The simulation relationships and historical data calibration are fully transparent; these are also documented in a range of publications.
The framework can flexibly develop quantitative scenarios, for example, based on trends, historical inertia, and aspirations for the future, using a multitude of levers involving socio-economic behaviour, substitution possibilities and technological progress.
The ASFF was originally developed by the CSIRO during 1996–2000 and generated considerable research and media attention when first commissioned by the Immigration Department to report on environmental implications of alternative population trajectories.
Since then, the ASFF and related models have been employed by many clients on a wide variety of sustainability studies, including: population and immigration; green collar employment; food security; renewable electricity; water-energy and urban form; cropping; fisheries; transport; climate change.
Recently both the database and simulation capability have been upgraded to provide greater relevance to a wider range of stakeholders. Advancements include (lately under licence to the University of Melbourne):
• temporal resolution of 1-year timesteps;
• spatial detail incorporating (approx 1400) SLA demographic and building accounts and (approx 220) SSD regions for economic activity;
• many more detailed materials and biophysical processes are incorporated e.g., distributed electricity generation;
• the historical database has been completely updated to 2006, providing access to numerous data sources and a turnkey process for recalibration;
• the ASFF simulation reproduces key statistical and observed data when implemented over past decades, particularly:
demographic profile (@SLA); primary production (crops; fisheries; minerals and fuels); electricity generation and fuel supply; energy use of sectoral activity; import and export trade flows (of all primary and secondary commodities and goods); water basin resource flows.
These recent developments are being implemented as the core modelling component of an ARC Linkage project on Food Security Scenarios.
The comprehensive and detailed coverage of the Australian economy and environment means that many applications and collaborative interactions are possible. As the diagram below illustrates, these may involve research projects on cross-sectoral sustainability (such as food security or carbon security), or the provision of national whole-economy context to small area research (such as precinct urban design), or data integration where ASFF provides the biophysical relationships to ensure consistency.
Dr Graham Turner