, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 761-780,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 19 Oct 2012

Combining qualitative and quantitative understanding for exploring cross-sectoral climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability in Europe

Abstract

Climate change will affect all sectors of society and the environment at all scales, ranging from the continental to the national and local. Decision-makers and other interested citizens need to be able to access reliable science-based information to help them respond to the risks of climate change impacts and assess opportunities for adaptation. Participatory integrated assessment (IA) tools combine knowledge from diverse scientific disciplines, take account of the value and importance of stakeholder ‘lay insight’ and facilitate a two-way iterative process of exploration of ‘what if’s’ to enable decision-makers to test ideas and improve their understanding of the complex issues surrounding adaptation to climate change. This paper describes the conceptual design of a participatory IA tool, the CLIMSAVE IA Platform, based on a professionally facilitated stakeholder engagement process. The CLIMSAVE (climate change integrated methodology for cross-sectoral adaptation and vulnerability in Europe) Platform is a user-friendly, interactive web-based tool that allows stakeholders to assess climate change impacts and vulnerabilities for a range of sectors, including agriculture, forests, biodiversity, coasts, water resources and urban development. The linking of models for the different sectors enables stakeholders to see how their interactions could affect European landscape change. The relationship between choice, uncertainty and constraints is a key cross-cutting theme in the conduct of past participatory IA. Integrating scenario development processes with an interactive modelling platform is shown to allow the exploration of future uncertainty as a structural feature of such complex problems, encouraging stakeholders to explore adaptation choices within real-world constraints of future resource availability and environmental and institutional capacities, rather than seeking the ‘right’ answers.