Although there is significant consensus on the role human activities play in climate change, there is still uncertainty about the rate and magnitude of its impacts across the globe. Climate projections are not often on a scale that is relevant or useful to decision makers. In some areas, it is virtually impossible to predict future trends.
The implications of uncertainty for decision making are significant. Decisions will often need to be made before adequate information is available. Though such decisions should be designed in a manner that they can be applied under multiple future scenarios, but decision makers may not be familiar with tools and steps that assist in planning for uncertainty, and they may lack the resources to use such tools. In order to explore how developing country decision makers can incorporate uncertainty about climate risks into existing planning and policymaking processes, the WRR has commissioned a set of papers by a number of experts with experience in creating decision scenarios in uncertain circumstances.
These short papers contain on-the-ground insights and examples that should be useful to practitioners and policymakers as they wrestle with the challenges of uncertainty.
You can find the summaries of these responses below. We welcome your thoughts; please leave us a comment describing your reactions and your own experiences with uncertainty in the planning process.
How do you adapt in an uncertain world? Lessons from the Thames Estuary 2100 project
The authors describe the Thames Estuary 2100 project, which has built uncertainty into a process around planning for sea level rise in London.
How Can Developing Country Decision Makers Incorporate Uncertainty about Climate Risks into Existing Planning and Policymaking Processes?
The authors present a framework for robust adaptation, using a case study from Yemen to illustrate the process.
How can decision-makers in developing countries incorporate uncertainty about future climate risks into existing planning and policy-making processes?
This paper sets out simple, practical principles that aim to reduce the impact of uncertainty on decision-making, with a focus on promoting good development and long-term adaptive capacity while avoiding inflexible decisions that could lock-in future climate risk in the long term.
Decision-scaling for Robust Planning and Policy under Climate Uncertainty
This paper explains the practice of decision-scaling, which identifys what kind of climate changes would cause problems in a plan and then turns to climate models to estimate whether those climate changes are likely. A case study from the Niger Basin shows its usefulness in action.
Managing Climate Risks in Developing Countries with Robust Decision Making
The authors present the concept of robust decision making (RDM), which draws on already-existing knowledge of practitioners to choose actions that are viable in both the short- and long-term.
Photo Credits: River Thames from flickr.com/rumpleproofskin. Yemen Watering Hole from flickr.com/Stefan Geens. Weather monitoring station from flickr.com/mundoo. Niger River from flickr.com/Ferdinand Reus. Flooded road in Pakistan from flickr.com/Oxfam International.
- Expert Perspectives on...
- Does climate change require new approaches to making decisions?
- How can we balance today’s pressing needs with long term risks?
- How can development agencies help vulnerable countries adapt effectively?
- Must we fundamentally change course to conserve ecosystems in a changing climate?
- How can information for adaptation decision making be collected and disseminated so as to advance integration of climate risks into plans and policies and be useful for those who need it most?
- What types of information are needed for adaptation decision making?
- Thought leaders explore how to meet both today’s development challenges and tomorrow’s climate risks.
- How can national-level governments learn from the private sector and encourage investment and decision making to promote the public good in a changing climate?
- How can civil society best support, and hold accountable, national-level governments in their efforts to integrate climate change risks into planning and policy-making processes?
- Case Studies
- Controlling Yangtze River Floods: A New Approach
- Building Resilience to Extreme Weather Events: Index-Based Livestock Insurance in Mongolia
- Namibia: Combating Land Degradation with Tools for Local-Level Decision-Making
- Nepal: Responding Proactively to Glacial Hazards
- Increasing Food Security: Mali's National Meteorological Service Helps Farmers Manage Climate Risk
- Indonesia: Managing Peatland Fire Risk in Central Kalimantan Province
- Mangrove Restoration and Rehabilitation for Climate Change Adaptation in Vietnam
- Bangladesh's Comprehensive Approach to Disaster Management
- Rwanda: Ecosystem Restoration and Sustainable Hydropower Production
- South Africa: Ecosystem-Based Planning for Climate Change
- China's Agricultural Development: Adaptation in Action
- Brazil: Fire and Flood Responses in the Amazon
- In-Country Simulations
- Decision-Making In Depth