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Abstract

The field of Participatory Integrated Assessment (PIA) is still very young, having evolved from the broader field of Integrated Assessment (IA) in the mid to late 1990s. Like IA, PIA is a problem-based field, with a focus on interdisciplinary research. Fundamental to PIA, however, is the assertion that the quality of decisions is improved by the direct involvement of stakeholders in the assessment process—particularly when those decisions pertain to complex, intractable problems. Climate change presents just such a problem, and it is in the domains of climate change and related sustainability issues where PIA has seen its broadest application. Previous reviews have focused primarily on the mechanisms of participation in PIAs. The purpose of this review is to take a broader look at the field of PIA, focusing on components and cross-cutting themes that appear to be defining the conduct of PIA exercises. The review first looks at common components of PIA, including methods (future scenarios and models), participation (mechanisms of participation, representation, and stages of involvement), and outcomes (policy outcomes and process outcomes). The review then turns to an examination of cross-cutting themes in the field of PIA. These themes include the tension between qualitative and quantitative information, the role of interactivity in PIA, the importance of institutions and institutional change, and navigating the space defined by choice, uncertainty, and constraints. As governments at all levels move toward response options for climate change, PIA is increasingly becoming an approach for providing meaningful participation in the selection of those options. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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