ASSESSING APPROACHES TO STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN REGIONAL CLIMATE IMPACTS MODELING: A CASE STUDY ANALYSIS
Allen, Elizabeth Rose
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Scientific research is key to understanding complex environmental systems and informing decisions about natural resource management in the context of climate change. However, when environmental science research is conducted without active stakeholder engagement, the result is typically development of new knowledge that does not directly serve the needs of individuals, industries and organizations that make decisions about environmental policy and resource management. Recent decades have seen rapidly expanding efforts to conduct environmental science research that directly informs government policies and private decision-makers’ management plans, yet significant barriers remain in the pursuit of usable climate science. Strategies for effective collaboration among researchers and stakeholders, who have diverse needs and expertise, are not well developed. Metrics are needed for evaluating approaches to usable climate science production. This research advances understanding of how to foster effective stakeholder engagement for usable climate science outputs, focusing on regional environmental modeling efforts based at universities. By tracking researchers’ perceptions about stakeholder engagement over the course of a 5-year project, assessing stakeholders’ information needs and perceptions of research and identifying characteristics of effective boundary-spanning organizations, this work suggests strategies for evaluating the effectiveness of efforts to produce usable climate science and identifies strategies for academic scientists to develop their capacity to bridge boundaries between research and decision-making.