Environmental assessments generate and/or collect individual research efforts to answer policy-relevant questions and otherwise provide technical advice to decision-makers, typically legislators, international negotiators and regulators. Though one might think first of assessments in terms of the reports that they often produce, the implications of scientific assessment are better understood by viewing assessments as a social processes, rather than principally as a document. Assessment processes are embedded in different sorts of institutional settings, within which scientists, decision-makers, and advocates communicate to define relevant questions for analysis, mobilize certain kinds of experts and expertise, and interpret findings in particular ways. This social process perspective on assessment directs attention beyond the content of assessment reports to encompass questions the design of the social process. In this paper, we focus on four elements of assessment design that are too frequently under-appreciated: assessment context and initiation, science–policy interaction, participation in assessment processes, and assessment capacity. We show how widely these elements vary across five different assessments and discuss the implications of this variation.
Global Environmental Change – Elsevier
Published: Dec 1, 2001
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