Water Resources Research Report

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Summary

Climate change remains one of the most critical issues that humans and the natural world face today. Yet while a strong body of scientific research has identified the risks if mitigation and adaptation measures are not taken, there still remains a policy lag. This leads researchers to pose several questions: is there an identified need by the policy domain for more or different science? Is the science that is conducted made policyrelevant? If not, are there tools to better link science to policy? This report will explain the process of science-policy communication related to the development of an integrated system dynamics model of the social-economic-climatic system at the University of Western Ontario under NSERC strategic grant program funding. It will describe the science-policy interface and outline the main challenge to developing science tools for policy, and will then explain how the UWO research team overcame such challenges. Finally, it explains (a) briefly the proposed model and (b) the process of policy scenarios development. The main objective of the research presented in this report is to bring the model closer to policy makers and emphasize how useful this tool is specifically for the Canadian federal government.

The science policy communication process has been established through the set of interviews and workshops. Interviews were used (a) to identify the issues of importance to be incorporated in the model development and (b) to formalize a set of policy scenarios that will provide input for policy making. Workshops were used to communicate science to policy developers and discuss the issues of importance for policy development. The research was fundamentally based on a multi-disciplinary approach that assisted in bridging the research domain to the policy domain. Ultimately, the feedback from the interviews and workshops was embedded in the development of the model and its scenarios, and made it possible to transform policy questions into model scenarios. In other words, by linking science and policy domains, the research team was able to produce a science-based and policy-relevant tool.

Limitations to the work mainly reflect the current stage of research and model development. As the strategic research continues on the integrated system dynamics model of the social-economic-climatic system, these limitations are likely to be overcome. The other key limitation is in the selection of the government partners. While the current group of partners has provided valuable insight, further research will aim to expand the group of partners across different departments. This will not only reflect a broader range of interests, but will also more accurately represent a systems view of government. Furthermore, a broader range of disciplinary biases will be consulted, including government policymakers who work more intimately with science and policy research.

ISBN (Online)

978-0-7714-2839-5

ISBN (Print)

978-0-7714-2838-8

Publication Date

9-2010

Publisher

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Western Ontario

City

London, Ontario, Canada

Keywords

Science, Policy, Science-policy interface, Climate model, Policy tools, Integrated systems dynamics

Disciplines

Civil and Environmental Engineering | Geography

Notes

Report no.: 067