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Hartwig Kremer and Jörg Köhn, 2008.
Specifying User Needs for Global Change Science in Coastal Zones

    Coastal areas are getting continuously under increasing pressure for human settlement, use of natural resources and spilling waste. There is no other type of ecosystems that undergoes such dynamic and hardly to forecast changes than coastal areas do. One expects that currently more than 60 per cent of the world population are sustained by the coastal zone (Lange, 1999). With a view on spatial, food and material resources provided by the earth coastal zone environ¬ments this seems to be a rather conservative estimate. However, no matter what the exact figure is the pressure on this global domain continuously increases due to growing demands first of all caused by a growing world’s population. This development will obviously cause substantial changes in the structure of coastal areas and their functioning. The increasing pressures will cause changes in environmental as well as social states of both the environmental as well as the social system. These changes are related to a magnitude of foreseeable and unforeseeable impacts to the natural and social environment that will require appropriate response. Human response to such changes bases on decisions that should safeguard a development that eventually has to support sustainability. However, it is still quite the exception rather than the rule that humans use their environments in a sustainable way presently.

    Moreover, the way indigenous people live in sustainable economies that base on a day-to-day subsistence not on market economy driven by individual interests may only serve as a model for a sustainable economy. The economy of indigenous people was determined by limited wants that offered unlimited means with regard to limits in population growth (Ponting, 1991; Gowdy, 1998). Social and economic pressures on coastal structures and ecosystem functioning are mainly related to drivers such as rise in population number or commercial use of resources such as fish, seaweed or gravel, land transformation, agriculture, transportation or industry including tourism. The concurrent development drives into an impasse that needs concerted action of analysis, science and spatial planning (Turner and Bower, 1999, Fig. 1.3), which in the sense of ICZM (Integrated Coastal Zone Management) leads to application of non-static manage¬ment strategies and thus to sustainable delivery option for goods and services. In practice this IZCM implementation means to redirect economy, planning for urban and agrarian development, to mitigate environmental impacts, to safeguard social development and to involve stakeholders in decisions that may support sustainability.

    Human’s action bases on decisions. Humans do their decisions in a world that only allows in part foreseeing or predicting consequences of decisions. Uncertainty, unpredictability and surprise are constitutional parameters of decision-making systems therefore decisions call for support systems that allows at least to reduce uncertainty (Köhn, 1997; Kremer, 1998a, van der Weide and de Vrees, 1999). Decision support systems mainly base on experience from past decisions but increasingly and complexity driven they rely on scientific advice. Social and biophysical sciences may ideally supply a set of different decision supporting systems that in one case more than another involves stakeholder experience. Big scientific programs like the IGBP/LOICZ (International Geosphere Biosphere Programme / Land Ocean Interaction of Coastal Zones Programme) and ELOISE (European Land Ocean Interaction StudiEs) are asked to put increasing effort in a user oriented synthesis. Not only should they cover those issues seeking scientific advice but also broker their respective deliverables to the various client groups continuously. Obviously a deliberate identification of users’ needs against their different issues and the deliverables matching these needs is obligatory.

    This paper will in particular reflect on the subset of potential deliverables of global and regional environmental change projects like LOICZ and ELOISE. It addresses questions such as: What are the issues, e.g. relevant uses that need decision support? Who are users involved in such decisions? What are their interests? What do users need to decide what? Why users should be involved in science and vice versa? When and how users should be involved in doing science? When and how should science be involved in decision-making? What are the user expectations from science and when is scientific advice required and for what purposes? What should science deliver to properly address the numerous physical, geographical, temporal and administrative scales of issues in overlapping systems? What are experiences that may be useful for ICZ? In conclusion we are trying to combine the scientific innovation cycle with decision-making by designing a perpetual information cycle that based on mutual interests and participation may support decision-making in coastal zone management.
12.11.2019 16:56