Uncertainty in engineering, research, negotiation and adaptive management for water sensitive cities

Publication: Research - peer-reviewConference abstract in proceedings – Annual report year: 2012

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A conceptual framework for comprehending, discussing and coping with uncertainty in practical urban water management is presented, which explains why there are good reasons to perceive and manage uncertainty differently across e.g. the technical, natural, economic, planning and social sciences.
A 2x2 “matrix of decision making” that clearly distinguishes uncertainty/certainty about the problem to be solved (i.e. agreement/disagreement about goals) and about the means to solve the problem (i.e. the knowledge required to achieve the goals) is introduced and combined with a well-established frame for characterizing uncertainty distinguishing three distinct dimensions (location, level and nature of uncertainty). Each quadrant in the matrix is an arena for different types of professionals involved in decision making, and is furthermore characterized by mainly one distinct level of uncertainty (statistical uncertainty, scenario uncertainty, qualitative uncertainty, and recognised ignorance). Because the location, level and nature of uncertainty differs between the quadrants the appropriate management strategy and the role of the water manager as an actor in decision processes also differs.
The framework illustrates how positivistic and constructivist planning approaches are complementary dependant on the location in the 2x2 matrix, and offers recognizable patterns that can be used for reflection when aiming to make complex and wicked decision situations tangible. The framework will be illustrated and discussed in the full paper using contemporary examples from urban water management.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWSUD 2012 - 7th International Conference on Water Sensitive Urban Design: Building the Water Sensitive Community, Final Program and Abstract Book
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherInternational Conference on Water Sensitive Urban Design
Publication date2012
ISBN (print)9780858258952
StatePublished - 2012
Event7th International Conference on Water Sensitive Urban Design - Melbourne, Australia


Conference7th International Conference on Water Sensitive Urban Design
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