Increasing the effectiveness of environmental decision support systems: lessons from climate change adaptation projects in Canada and Australia
There is a need to increase regional and community level action towards adaptation to climate change. Natural resource managers and planners have to make challenging decisions within the complex and uncertain arena of climate change. Environmental decision support systems (EDSS) have been developed to assist stakeholders in effective decision making for the management of complex natural resource problems. EDSS which combine community engagement in developing future scenarios with computer-based land use planning and modeling tools are used internationally and reported to be effective. Yet, they are often not used after the research and development phase. To gain an understanding of the effectiveness of these tools, we interviewed the end users of an EDSS used in a climate change adaptation project in Canada and another in Australia. The end users of the tool are key informants, yet their perspective is lacking in the sustainability science literature. The findings show that neither EDSS was used after the projects ended. However, the majority of the end users in both projects valued the EDSS, confirming that the tools resulted in direct adaptation activities and influenced the thinking and work habits of the end users of the EDSS. We report on lessons learned from the two case studies and make recommendations regarding the processes and structures required to increase the effectiveness of the EDSS, its long-term use, and the legacy of learning that is embodied within it.
KeywordsChampion Climate change adaptation Community engagement End user Environmental decision support system
The authors would like to thank all those who participated in the interviews for sharing their experiences with us so generously.
Compliance with ethical standards
Human Research Ethics approval was granted prior to the interview process by the Queensland University of Technology University Human Research Ethics Committee (approval number 1500001155).
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