, Volume 23, Issue 15, pp 3191-3205

Assessing Framing of Uncertainties in Water Management Practice

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Abstract

Dealing with uncertainties in water management is an important issue and is one which will only increase in light of global changes, particularly climate change. So far, uncertainties in water management have mostly been assessed from a scientific point of view, and in quantitative terms. In this paper, we focus on the perspectives from water management practice, adopting a qualitative approach. We consider it important to know how uncertainties are framed in water management practice in order to develop practice relevant strategies for dealing with uncertainties. Framing refers to how people make sense of the world. With the aim of identifying what are important parameters for the framing of uncertainties in water management practice, in this paper we analyze uncertainty situations described by decision-makers in water management. The analysis builds on a series of “Uncertainty Dialogues” carried out within the NeWater project with water managers in the Rhine, Elbe and Guadiana basins in 2006. During these dialogues, representatives of these river basins were asked what uncertainties they encountered in their professional work life and how they confronted them. Analysing these dialogues we identified several important parameters of how uncertainties get framed. Our assumption is that making framing of uncertainty explicit for water managers will allow for better dealing with the respective uncertainty situations.