J9.1 Hands across the water: an integrative approach to uncertainty and decision-making

Monday, 24 January 2011: 4:00 PM
618-620 (Washington State Convention Center)
Gregg M. Garfin, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Central Arizona has experienced a combination of sustained drought, rapid population growth, and a burgeoning heat island that makes it exceedingly vulnerable to climate change impacts on water supplies, especially surface water supplies from the Colorado River. For scientists, questions related to climate change, adaptation and governance present a formidable conglomerate of complex issues calling for innovative problem-solving processes that lead to robust solutions. For practitioners, acceptance of hydroclimatic non-stationarity prompts interest in exploring alternatives to the ‘predict-plan-build' paradigm, in order to build the adaptive capacity needed for decision-making under uncertainty. For practitioners and scientists to motivate this paradigm shift requires moving beyond deterministic predictions and embracing uncertainty through the exploration of scenarios, understanding how they are constructed (e.g., modeling), what they mean (plausible futures), and how to use them for operational management and long-term planning (backcasting). In this presentation, we describe a project to co-produce science and policy, called Collaborative Planning for Climate Change: An Integrated Approach to Water-Planning, Climate Downscaling, and Robust Decision-Making. We highlight the roles of boundary organizations, and focus on design principles that ensure co-construction of knowledge accounting for credibility, legitimacy, and salience. These include (1) co-leadership by representatives from water management entities and the science community, mediated through a team of science-translators; (2) a purposeful and functional approach to collaboration; (3) commitment to an iterative approach of scientific data and information production, mutual discussion of implications and future needs, and application of knowledge by water managers; (4) dissemination of the process and its results, to raise awareness and foster acceptance by various constituencies, such as managers in other cities (replication), water management policy constituencies (policy making), and the broader public (engagement).
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