Environmental processes have been modelled for decades. However, the need for integrated assessment and modeling (IAM) has grown as the extent and severity of environmental problems in the 21st Century worsens. The scale of IAM is not restricted to the global level as in climate change models, but includes local and regional models of environmental problems. This paper discusses various definitions of IAM and identifies five different types of integration that are needed for the effective solution of environmental problems. The future is then depicted in the form of two brief scenarios: one optimistic and one pessimistic. The current state of IAM is then briefly reviewed. The issues of complexity and validation in IAM are recognised as more complex than in traditional disciplinary approaches. Communication is identified as a central issue both internally among team members and externally with decision-makers, stakeholders and other scientists. Finally it is concluded that the process of integrated assessment and modelling is considered as important as the product for any particular project. By learning to work together and recognise the contribution of all team members and participants, it is believed that we will have a strong scientific and social basis to address the environmental problems of the 21st Century.
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