, Volume 21, Issue 7, pp 1075-1090
Date: 18 Nov 2006

Uncertainty Matters: Computer Models at the Science–Policy Interface

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The use of computer models offers a general and flexible framework that can help to deal with some of the complexities and difficulties associated with the development of water management plans as prescribed by the Water Framework Directive. However, despite the advantages modelling presents, the integration of information derived from models into policy is far away from being trivial or the norm. Part of the difficulties of this integration is rooted in the lack of confidence policy makers have on the incorporation of modelling information into policy formulation. In this paper we examine the reasons for this apparent lack of confidence and explore how some tools, presently in use, address this problem. We conclude that public confidence in models is highly dependent on the way uncertainties are addressed and suggest possible directions of action to improve the current situation. Four real case studies illustrate how computer models have been used in The Netherlands for carrying out management plans at regional and national scale. We suggest that the solution to integrate modelling information into policy formulation lies on both the modelling and the policy-making communities.