An Ecological Economics Approach
Edited by R. Kerry Turner, Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh and Roy Brouwer
Chapter 2: Integrated Assessment as a Decision Support Tool
R. Brouwer, R.K. Turner, S. Georgiou and J.C.J.M. van den Bergh 1 INTRODUCTION In the light of an increasingly emancipated society, decision-makers are held responsible and are made accountable for their decisions, sometimes even years after decisions were taken. Decisions have to be explained, especially to those who are affected by them. In complex decision-making situations, various, often competing, interests may be at stake. Demand for information which reflects this plurality and diversity of interests and the way these interests are affected by decisions is increasing. Ideally information has to encompass the various relevant aspects related to the problem a decisionmaker tries to solve, that is information has to be comprehensive and complete, even though in practice decision-making takes place in contexts in which uncertainties and incomplete information are present to different degrees. At the same time information has to be communicated in a meaningful and persuasive way to both decision-maker and those affected by decisions. As societal–environmental change becomes more complex and decisions, interests and value systems more inextricably connected, there is growing interest in integrated approaches to inform policy and decision-making. Integrated assessment procedures have been developed in order to avoid as many unforeseen consequences of policy decisions as possible (de Vries, 1999). In the context of water resources management, Mitchell (1990) has argued that effort directed towards more integrated management has three related dimensions. In the case of the management of wetlands, integration can be interpreted as follows: 1. In systems ecology terms, that is to...
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