Friday, October 13, 2017

Climate change communication in the Netherlands

Together with Daan Boezeman and Martijn Vink, I was asked to reconstruct the history of climate change communication in the Netherlands for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. Going back to the 1950s and covering two "climate change waves", we used the theoretical perspectives of framing and agenda setting, science-policy-society interactions, and online communication in the network society, to guide our analysis. National and international policy developments are both the objects and drivers of communication processes over time.

The paper can be accessed here:

Here's the abstract and the full reference:

Climate change communication in the Netherlands started in the 1950s, but it was not until the late 1970s that the issue earned a place on the public agenda, as an aspect of the energy problem, and in the shadow of controversy about nuclear energy. Driven largely by scientific reports and political initiatives, the first climate change wave can be observed in the period from 1987 to 1989, as part of a broader environmental consciousness wave. The Netherlands took an active role in international climate change initiatives at the time but struggled to achieve domestic emission reductions throughout the 1990s. The political turmoil in the early 2000s dominated Dutch public debate, until An Inconvenient Truth triggered the second climate change wave in 2006–2007, generating peak media attention and broad societal activity. The combination of COP15 and Climategate in late 2009 marked a turning point in Dutch climate change communication, with online communication and climate-sceptic voices gaining much more prominence. Climate change mitigation was pushed down on the societal and political agenda in the 2010s. Climate change adaptation had received much attention during the second climate change wave and had been firmly institutionalized with respect to flood defense and other water management issues. By 2015 a landmark climate change court case and the Paris Agreement at COP21 were fueling climate change communication once again.

Dewulf, A., Boezeman, D., & Vink, M. (2017). Climate Change Communication in the Netherlands. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science (pp. 1–35). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Results from the Mountain-EVO project: two publications on the social and hydrological aspects of water

Two publications resulting from the Mountain-EVO project have become available. They both address the social and hydrological aspects of water governance.

The paper by Feng Mao and others addresses the implications of how social and hydrological systems are conceptualized when studying their resilience. The paper by Julian Clark and others develops a theoretical framework on hydrosocialities and applies it to two remote mountain communities in the Mustang region in Nepal.

Mao, F., Clark, J., Karpouzoglou, T., Dewulf, A., Buytaert, W., & Hannah, D. (2017). HESS Opinions: A conceptual framework for assessing socio-hydrological resilience under change. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 21(7), 3655–3670.

Clark, J., Gurung, P., Chapagain, P. S., Regmi, S., Bhusal, J. K., Karpouzoglou, T., … Dewulf, A. (2017). Water as Time-Substance: The Hydrosocialities of Climate Change in Nepal. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 4452(July), 1–19.

Friday, January 27, 2017

User-driven design of decision support systems for polycentric environmental resources management

Another result from the Mountain-EVO project has been published in Environmental Modelling and Software. The paper was led by Zed Zulkafli, former postdoc at Imperial College and now Lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia. The paper presents and a participatory framework for designing decision-support systems that builds on understanding the decision making processes and on iterative design of the user interface. The framework is illustrated with a Peruvian case study.

User-driven design of decision support systems for polycentric environmental resources management

Open and decentralized technologies such as the Internet provide increasing opportunities to create knowledge and deliver computer-based decision support for multiple types of users across scales. However, environmental decision support systems/tools (henceforth EDSS) are often strongly science-driven and assuming single types of decision makers, and hence poorly suited for more decentralized and polycentric decision making contexts. In such contexts, EDSS need to be tailored to meet diverse user requirements to ensure that it provides useful (relevant), usable (intuitive), and exchangeable (institutionally unobstructed) information for decision support for different types of actors. To address these issues, we present a participatory framework for designing EDSS that emphasizes a more complete understanding of the decision making structures and iterative design of the user interface. We illustrate the application of the framework through a case study within the context of water-stressed upstream/downstream communities in Lima, Peru.

Zulkafli, Z., Perez, K., Vitolo, C., Buytaert, W., Karpouzoglou, T., Dewulf, A., … Shaheed, S. (2017). User-driven design of decision support systems for polycentric environmental resources management. Environmental Modelling & Software, 88, 58–73. 

The is open access and can be downloaded from

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Coping with the wicked problem of climate adaptation across scales: The 5-R Governance Capabilities

As part of a special issue on Working with wicked problems in socio-ecological systems a paper based on a collaborative effort between members of the Public Administration and Policy (Wageningen University) has been published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning. The paper builds on and extends the Governance Capabilities framework developed earlier by our group (see Termeer et al., 2013), and applies to the analysis of the governance of climate change adaptation. Each of the governance capabilities addresses a particular dimension of wicked problems, and absence of the capability leads to particular risks (see the table below).

This is the abstract of the paper:
Adapting social-ecological systems to the projected effects of climate change is not only a complex technical matter but above all a demanding governance issue. As climate change has all the characteristics of a wicked problem, conventional strategies of governance do not seem to work. However, most conventional governance institutions are poorly equipped to enable, or at least tolerate, innovative strategies. This paper analyses the various strategies used to cope with the wicked problem of climate adaptation across scales, and the institutional conditions that enable or constrain such strategies. For this, it relies on a theoretical framework consisting of five governance capabilities that are considered crucial for coping with wicked problems: reflexivity, resilience, responsiveness, revitalization and rescaling. This framework is used to analyse the governance of adaptation to climate change at three different levels: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its activities to assist adaptation; the European Union and its climate adaptation strategy; and the Netherlands and its Delta Program. The results show that conventional governance strategies are rather absent and that mixtures of reflexive, resilient, responsive, revitalizing and rescaling strategies were visible at all levels, although not equally well developed and important. In contrast to the literature, we found many examples of enabling institutional conditions. The constraining conditions, which were also present, tend to lead more to postponement than to obstruction of decision-making processes.
Termeer, C. J. A. M., Dewulf, A., Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, S. I., Vink, M. J., & Vliet, M. van (2016). Coping with the wicked problem of climate adaptation across scales: The Five R Governance Capabilities. Landscape and Urban Planning, 154, 11–19.

The paper can be found at or downloaded here