This paper identifies challenges inherent in addressing multi-scale environmental problems, and outlines tentative guidelines for addressing such challenges and linking science and policy across scales. The study and practice of environmental assessment and management increasingly recognize the importance of scale and cross-scale dynamics in understanding and addressing global environmental change. These ongoing efforts, however, lack a systematic way of thinking about and addressing the challenges involved in integrating science and policy across multiple scales, for example, in the design of policy-relevant, scientific assessments of problems such as climate change. These challenges include matching scales of biogeophysical systems with scales of management systems, avoiding scale discordance (matching the scale of the assessment with the scale of management), and accounting for cross-scale dynamics. In this paper we propose tentative guidelines for meeting such challenges for both assessors and decision-makers: (1) utilize boundary organizations — institutions which serve to mediate between scientists and decision-makers, and between these actors at different scales; (2) utilize scale-dependent comparative advantages — coordinating the allocation of resources, technical expertise, and decision-making authority to best capitalize on scale-specific capabilities; and (3) employ adaptive assessment and management strategies — constructing long-term, iterative, experiment-based processes of integrated assessment and management.
Global Environmental Change – Elsevier
Published: Jul 1, 2000
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