Strategies for integrating scientific evidence in water policy and law in the face of uncertainty - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Science of the Total Environment Year : 2024

Strategies for integrating scientific evidence in water policy and law in the face of uncertainty


Understanding how human actions and environmental change affect water resources is crucial for addressing complex water management issues. The scientific tools that can produce the necessary information are ecological indicators, referring to measurable properties of the ecosystem state; environmental monitoring, the data collection process that is required to evaluate the progress towards reaching water management goals; mathematical models, linking human disturbances with the ecosystem state to predict environmental impacts; and scenarios, assisting in long-term management and policy implementation. Paradoxically, despite the rapid generation of data, evolving scientific understanding, and recent advancements in systems modeling, there is a striking imbalance between knowledge production and knowledge utilization in decision-making. In this paper, we examine the role and potential capacity of scientific tools in guiding governmental decision-making processes and identify the most critical disparities between water management, policy, law, and science. We demonstrate how the complex, uncertain, and gradually evolving nature of scientific knowledge might not always fit aptly to the legislative and policy processes and structures. We contend that the solution towards increased understanding of socio-ecological systems and reduced uncertainty lies in strengthening the connections between water management theory and practice, among the scientific tools themselves, among different stakeholders, and among the social, economic, and ecological facets of water quality management, law, and policy. We conclude by tying in three knowledge-exchange strategies, namely - adaptive management, Driver-Pressure-Status-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework, and participatory modeling - that offer complementary perspectives to bridge the gap between science and policy.
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Dates and versions

hal-04568624 , version 1 (05-05-2024)




Niina Kotamäki, George Arhonditsis, Turo Hjerppe, Kari Hyytiäinen, Olli Malve, et al.. Strategies for integrating scientific evidence in water policy and law in the face of uncertainty. Science of the Total Environment, 2024, 931, pp.172855. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.172855⟩. ⟨hal-04568624⟩
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