Using framing parameters to improve handling of uncertainties in water management practice



Management of water resources is afflicted with uncertainties. Nowadays it is facing more and new uncertainties since the pace and dimension of changes (e.g. climatic, demographic) are accelerating and are likely to increase even more in the future. Hence it is crucial to find pragmatic ways to deal with these uncertainties in water management. We argue for an analytical yet pragmatic approach to enable decision-makers to deal with uncertainties in a more explicit and systematic way and allow for better informed decisions. Our approach is based on the concept of framing, referring to the different ways in which people make sense of the world and of the uncertainties. We apply recently developed parameters of the framing of uncertainty in two sub-basins of the Rhine, the Dutch Kromme Rijn and the German Wupper. We present and discuss the results of a series of stakeholder interactions in the two basins aimed at developing strategies for improving dealing with uncertainties. The strategies are amended and synthesized in a check-list based on the uncertainty framing parameters as a hands-on tool for systematically identifying improvement options when dealing with uncertainty in water management practice. We conclude with suggestions for testing the developed check-list as a tool for decision aid in water management practice. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.