Decision Processes

Even when viable technologies or actions that could be effective in limiting the magnitude or adapting to the impacts of climate change exist, and appropriate institutions and policies to facilitate their implementation or adoption are in place (see Themes 2, 3, and 4), success can depend strongly on decision-making processes in populations or organizations (NRC, 2005a, 2008h). One of the major contributions the social sciences can make to advancing the science of climate change is in the understanding, development, assessment, and improvement of these decision-making processes. Scientific research can, for example, help identify the information that decision makers need, devise effective and broadly acceptable decision-making processes and decision-support mechanisms, and enhance learning from experience. Specific research agendas for the science of decision support are available in a number of other reports (NRC, 2009g, 2010b), and other sections of this chapter describe some of the tools that have been or could be developed to inform or assist decision makers in their deliberations

(for example, vulnerability and adaptation analyses of coupled human environmental systems, which are described in Theme 3).

One of the most important and well-studied approaches to decision making is deliberation with analysis (also called analytic deliberation or linked analysis and deliberation). Deliberation with analysis is an iterative process that begins with the many participants in a decision working together to define a decision problem and then to identify (1 ) options to consider and (2) outcomes and criteria that are relevant for evaluating those options. Typically, participants work with experts to generate and interpret decision-relevant information and then revisit the objectives and choices based on that information. This model was developed in the broad context of environmental risks (NRC, 1996) and has been elaborated in the context of climate-related decision making (NRC, 1999b, 2009g)

The deliberation with analysis approach allows repeated structured interactions among the public, decision makers, and scientists that can help the scientific community understand the information needs of and uses by decision makers, and appreciate the opportunities and constraints of the institutional, material, and organizational contexts under which stakeholders make decisions (Lemos, 2008; Rayner et al., 2005; Tribbia and Moser, 2008). It also helps decision makers and other stakeholders better understand and trust the science being produced. While research on deliberation with analysis has provided a general framework that has proven effective in local and regional issues concerning ecosystem, watershed, and natural resource management, more research is needed to determine how this approach might be employed for national policy decisions or international decision making around climate change (NRC, 1996, 2005a, 2007a, 2008h).

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