The Global Environmental Assessment Project (GEA) provides a systematic analysis of how and why scientific assessments influence policy.96 In spite of the fact that the very idea of scientific assessments is usually to have a policy impact, this is far from always being the case. The GEA project has identified three crucial factors for influence: salience, credibility, and legitimacy. Salience refers to whether the assessment is seen as relevant. Credibility deals with whether it is judged to be reliable and legitimacy refers to if the assessment is deemed respectful to the relevant audiences. Scientific and political legitimacy do not always go hand in hand, especially in controversial areas such as climate change where the policy stakes are high and science is often called into question. Rather, the GEA emphasizes the importance of recognizing the tensions and tradeoffs among salience, credibility, and legitimacy for different actors. The concepts of salience, legitimacy, and credibility address the relationship between an assessment and various actors. The key analytical question becomes: to whom is the assessment salient, credible and legitimate?
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