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Record information and status
Record ID
Date of creation
2012-05-10 19:23 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)
Date of publication
2012-05-10 19:23 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)

General Information
Uncertainty communication in environmental assessments: views from the Dutch science-policy interface
J. Arjan Wardekker, Jeroen P. van der Sluijs, Peter H.M. Janssen, Penny Kloprogge, Arthur C. Petersen
Author’s contact information
J.A. Wardekker

Copernicus Institute, Utrecht University,
Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht,
The Netherlands.

Tel.: +31 30 2533618;
fax: +31 30 2537601.

E-mail address: j.a.wardekker@uu.nl
  • English
Publication date
Summary, abstract or table of contents

Scientific assessments of environmental problems, and policy responses to those problems, involve uncertainties of many sorts. Meanwhile, potential impacts of wrong decisions can be far-reaching. This article explores views on uncertainty and uncertainty communication in the Dutch science policy interface and studies several issues concerning presentation of uncertainty information. Respondents considered uncertainty communication to be important, but it should be concise and policy relevant. Several factors influence policy relevance, including the place of an issue in the policy cycle, and its novelty, topicality and controversiality. Respondents held particular interest in explicit communication on the implications of uncertainty. Related to this, they appreciated information on different sources and types of uncertainty and qualitative aspects of uncertainty (e.g. pedigree charts). The article also studies probability terms, particularly for IPCC's 33-66% probability interval ('about as likely as not'). Several terms worked reasonably well, with a median interpretation of 40- 60%. Finally, as various target groups have different information needs and different amounts of attention for various parts of a report or communication process, it is important to progressively disclose uncertainty information throughout the communication. Improved communication of uncertainty information leads to a deeper understanding and increased awareness of the phenomenon of uncertainty and its policy implications.
Thematic areas
  • Scientific and technical issues
    • Risk assessment
Background material to the “Guidance on risk assessment of living modified organisms”
Is this document is recommend as background material for the “Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms”
Section(s) of the “Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms” this background material is relevant
Additional Information
Type of resource
  • Article (journal / magazine / newspaper)
Publisher and its location
© 2008 Elsevier Ltd.
15 page PDF
Environmental science & policy
Keywords and any other relevant information
Keywords: Risk communication, Uncertainty, Probability, Pedigree, Science-policy interface, Information needs

Citation: Environmental science & policy 11 (2008) 627-641