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Robust knowledge for Sustainability
  • Policies for sustainability cannot wait until all the facts are known.
  • We must plan and implement radical changes in technology and lifestyle, in spite of irreducible uncertainty, ignorance, and value-conflicts.
  • The commitment of all of civil society is necessary for such changes to be accomplished; thus sustainability is a moral issue.
  • The relevant knowledge base must be robust in relation to the constraints and demands of this new context of use.
  • It must be designed to be fit for its various functions in the discursive, inclusive policy processes on complex issues that are essential for consensus.
  • All stakeholders (including those who produce, use and are affected by policy-relevant knowledge) should be equipped with tools for a critical self-awareness of their engagement with that knowledge.
  • These are now being created by developments based on the insights of NUSAP and Post-Normal Science.
  • In that way we will achieve the robust knowledge that is essential for sustainability.

Jerry Ravetz, 14-08-2002

This website is maintained by Jeroen van der Sluijs (editor-in-chief, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, e-mail: j.p.vandersluijs@uu.nl), Silvio Funtowicz, Jerry Ravetz, Serafin Corral Quintana, James Risbey and Ângela Guimaraes Pereira.

Guidance for Uncertainty Assessment and Communication - Revised edition
Posted by Jeroen on Tuesday, June 10 2014 @ 11:43:21 CEST (1068 reads)
After a decade of fruitful use and further methodological development, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency publishes the second edition of its Guidance for Uncertainty Assessment and Communication. The first edition was published by PBL’s predecessor, RIVM/MNP, in 2003. Without adequate attention for the implications of uncertainty, there is a risk of compromising the credibility of assessment studies. The Guidance is intended as an instrument to guide analysts, in order for them to reach thorough conclusions that reflect the underlying uncertainties and provide maximum transparency.

download the report (PDF, 976 kB)
web application first edition
Guide for Uncertainty Communication
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Guide for Uncertainty Communication
Posted by Jeroen on Tuesday, June 10 2014 @ 11:36:31 CEST (641 reads)
News and announcements Dealing with uncertainty, in terms of analysis and communication, is an important and distinct topic for PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. Without paying adequate attention to the role and implications of uncertainty, research and assessment results may be of limited value and could lead to incorrect policy decisions and all the related consequences.

Download the report (PDF 1MB)
Guidance for Uncertainty Assessment and Communication

Further reading:
Wardekker et al. 2008: Uncertainty Communication in Environmental Assessments: Views from the Dutch Science-Policy interface
Background report: Uncertainty Communication: Issues and good practice.
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Recent journal articles on Post Normal Science and Knowledge Quality Assessment
Posted by Jeroen on Tuesday, October 02 2012 @ 05:47:15 CEST (3912 reads)
News and announcements Post-normal reflections on the Science-Policy Interface Methods for knowledge quality assessment Case studies applying tools for knowledge quality assessment
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Nature and Culture 2012 special issue: Climate Change as Post Normal Science
Posted by Jeroen on Thursday, September 20 2012 @ 15:44:48 CEST (3019 reads)
News and announcements Special Issue of Nature and Culture 7 (2) pp 121-230 Post Normal Climate Science This special symposium grew out of a workshop held in Hamburg in 2011
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Sensitivity Auditing
Posted by Jeroen on Friday, November 25 2011 @ 12:11:02 CET (10769 reads)
News and announcements Sensitivity Auditing, recommended reading:
  • Andrea Saltelli (2011) Sensitivity auditing. Gauging model quality in relation to model use.
  • Andrea Saltelli (2002) Global Sensitivity Analysis: An Introduction. EU ISPRA
  • Andrea Saltelli and Beatrice D’Hombres (2010) Sensitivity analysis didn’t help. A practitioner’s critique of the Stern review. Global Environmental Change 20 (2010) 298–302.
  • Andrea Saltelli and Paola Annoni (2010). How to avoid a perfunctory sensitivity analysis, Environmental Modelling & Software 25, 1508-1517.
  • Andrea Saltelli and Silvio Funtowicz (2004) The Precautionary Principle: implications for risk management strategies International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, 2004; 17(1): 47-58.
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    STH Special issue on Post Normal Science
    Posted by jeroen on Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 14:53:31 CEST (4621 reads)
    News and announcements Special issue on Post Normal Science, Science, Technology & Human Values May 2011
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    Futures Special Issue on Post Normal Science
    Posted by jeroen on Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 14:52:32 CEST (4381 reads)
    News and announcements Special Issue on Post Normal Science, Futures, March 2011
    A selection of papers from the symposium "Post Normal Science – perspectives & prospectives 26-27th June 2009: Oxford On the occasion of the 80th birthday of Jerry Ravetz, has been published in a special issue of Futures.
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    Climate change impact assessment and adaptation under uncertainty
    Posted by jeroen on Tuesday, May 31 2011 @ 13:40:04 CEST (4154 reads)
    News and announcements Download thesisExpected impacts of climate change are associated with large uncertainties, particularly at the local level. Adaptation scientists, practitioners, and decision-makers will need to find ways to cope with these uncertainties. Several approaches have been suggested as ‘uncertainty-proof’ to some degree, but their suitability depends on the specific situation. For instance, some approaches work well under deep uncertainty, while others perform better under lower levels of uncertainty. This thesis presents several empirical studies on climate change impacts & adaptation under uncertainty in actual adaptation decision-situations. Methods used include expert elicitation, document analysis, empirical workshops, discourse analysis, literature review, and case-study analysis.
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    Book launch: Science for Policy
    Posted by Jeroen on Wednesday, October 21 2009 @ 23:29:10 CEST (6123 reads)
    News and announcements A new book "Science for Policy" edited by Ângela Guimarães Pereira and Silvio Funtowicz appeared with Oxford University Press (India).

    On Thursday 5 November the book will be launched at the Université de Versailles St-Quentin-en-Yvelines (Guyancourt site), in the presence of both editors and most of the contributors.

    This volume discusses the changing role of science in policymaking. Producers and users of science and technology for policy are increasingly aware of the need to change the ways in which knowledge is produced and deployed, especially science‐based knowledge used to foster, support, or legitimize policy decision making. The challenge is to develop new decision‐making styles in order to cope with deep uncertainty, even ignorance, about facts, and in a plurality of value systems.

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    NUSAP used in undergraduate science education at Aalborg University
    Posted by Jeroen on Tuesday, October 13 2009 @ 14:45:51 CEST (3673 reads)
    News and announcements A group of students from Aalborg University applied the NUSAP approach to the risk of methane migration into houses situated on the terminated landfill “Skrænten” in Hjørring, Denmark”. The team consists of Marie Inger Dam, Jon Kjær Jensen, Jóhann Gunnar Jónsson, Mathias Krause Kristensen, Ane Katrine Mortensen, Ole Papsø, Mette Skovmand and Tom Børsen. Their report "Inclusion of Pedigree-analysis (NUSAP) in undergraduate science education: An example" is now available. It may serve as an example and source of inspiration for other students and professors who would like to use NUSAP in BSc and MSc education.
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    New Report: Tool catalogue frame-based information tools
    Posted by Jeroen on Friday, May 29 2009 @ 12:33:08 CEST (6996 reads)
    News and announcements A new report Tool catalogue frame-based information tools has been published.

    In the perception, knowledge production and policymaking on complex issues (‘wicked problems’), such as climate change, frames and framing play an important but often hidden role. Frames relate to one’s ‘schemas of interpretation’; the conceptual images, values, starting points, and mental models that one may have of an issue. This can include, for instance, one’s problem definition, perceptions of the cause-effect relationships in an issue, one’s primary goals, perception of one’s and others’ roles and responsibilities relating to the issue, and views on suitable strategies and interaction with (other) stakeholders
    Differences in frames can lead to miscommunication and conflicts. This tool catalogue is intended as an idea-guide and eye-opener for organisations who are confronted with framing-related issues and who want to take these into account when developing knowledge, policy, or viewpoints. The catalogue does not aim to give a complete list of methods. Rather, it will present a number of characteristic examples of how various tools deal with framing. Some suggestions will be given on the situations for which these approaches are most suitable. For more extensive overviews of participatory methods, refer to the various stakeholder participation guidelines and catalogues that are available (several references have been included in the present document).

    Download Tool catalogue frame-based information tools

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    Recent journal articles on Post Normal Science and Uncertainty
    Posted by Jeroen on Friday, May 29 2009 @ 11:53:22 CEST (8312 reads)
    News and announcements An overview of recent papers in the field of Post Normal Science
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    Expert Elicitation: Methodological suggestions
    Posted by Jeroen on Thursday, January 22 2009 @ 15:21:00 CET (13079 reads)
    News and announcements A new report Expert Elicitation: Methodological suggestions for its use in environmental health impact assessments has been published. It provides practical guidance on organising expert panels to assess uncertainty and risk.

    Download Expert Elicitation report

    This document contains three parts: (1) an introduction, (2) an overview with building blocks and methodological suggestions for a formal expert elicitation procedure; and (3) a literature list with key sources of information used and suggestions for further reading.
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    Uncertainty Communication: Issues and good practice.
    Posted by Jeroen on Wednesday, January 09 2008 @ 10:58:19 CET (15157 reads)
    News and announcements A practical guide to uncertainty communication has been developed for the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. It offers background information on uncertainty communication, and contains suggestions and guidance on how to communicate uncertainties in environmental assessment reports to several target audiences in an adequate, clear, and systematic way. It is not claimed that this is the only way or the best way to communicate uncertainty information, but the guidance in this report draws upon insights from the literature, insights from an international expert workshop on uncertainty communication, and several uncertainty communication experiments in the Utrecht Policy Laboratory.
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    New report on uncertainty and climate change adaptation
    Posted by Jeroen on Friday, December 21 2007 @ 15:34:19 CET (9594 reads)
    News and announcements Copernicus Institute Utrecht University and Tyndall Centre for climate change research issued a new report reviewing state-of-the-art of methods and tools available in the literature in helping inform adaptation decisions under uncertainty. The report reviews existing frameworks for decision making under uncertainty for adaptation to climate change. It explores how different ways of including uncertainty in decision making match with uncertainty information provided by various uncertainty assessment methods. It reviews a broad range of areas of climate change impacts and impacted sectors of society and economy that may require a response of planned adaptation.
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    Towards a new paradigm of science in scientific policy advising
    Posted by Jeroen on Monday, October 15 2007 @ 12:02:47 CEST (9430 reads)
    News and announcements Post Normal Science essay by Eva Kunseler: Towards a new paradigm of science in scientific policy advising.

    The prevailing paradigm of science is not suitable for the science policy context with its different perceptions of reality and presence of great scientific uncertainty and ignorance. A paradigm shift is argued by the concept of post-normal science, which emerged from dissatisfaction with knowledge arising from the gap between policy questions and scientific answers. Scientific policy advising in normal and post-normal context exemplify the line of reasoning.

    Download Eva Kunseler's essay
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    Post Normal Science, working deliberatively within imperfections
    Posted by Jeroen on Wednesday, April 11 2007 @ 11:15:09 CEST (12077 reads)
    News and announcements An introductory lecture Post Normal Science, working deliberatively within imperfections by Dr. Jeroen van der Sluijs is now available online at WUR TV.

    Note: after clicking it can take some minutes before the video starts...The lecture was held at Studium Generale of Wageningen University on 21 March 2007.

    Click here to see the lecture on WUR TV with smart navigation through the slides (requires Internet Explorer), please note that after clicking the link it takes some minutes for the video to start.

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    e-KAM SCHOOL E-Learning Course On Knowledge Assessment & Extended Participation
    Posted by Jeroen on Monday, July 31 2006 @ 00:48:51 CEST (9943 reads)
    News and announcements 2-6 October 2006
    Course without fees
    Limited number of participants
    Registration: before 22 September 2006
    Contact: e.kam-school@jrc.it
    WebSite: http://reforma.fceye.ull.es/ekschool

    The e-KAM School will provide courses on knowledge assessment and extended participation, deploying e-learning technology, developed at the University of La Laguna (supported by the EU funded project RE-FORMA (INTERREG III-B Programme).
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    Global Systems Failures
    Posted by Jeroen on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 15:15:29 CEST (10629 reads)
    News and announcements A new report by Jerry Ravetz Global Systems Failures has been posted to the nusap.net.

    It is now obvious that there is a problem of possible massive failures of the various systems on which modern society, indeed all of civilisation, depends. Thanks to climate change and instability, we must reckon with the prospect of at the very least the disruption of our civilisation, quite possibly its serious damage or collapse, and indeed the real possibility of an extinction of species on a scale that takes us back to early in the history of life on the planet. Should we escape from any of those fates, we still must reckon with the fragility of many other global systems.

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    The Precautionary Principle
    Posted by Jeroen on Tuesday, July 19 2005 @ 15:39:29 CEST (10425 reads)
    News and announcements Recently, the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) of UNESCO established an expert group on the Precautionary Principle in order to bring clarity in the multitude of definitions and interpretations of the PP. The final report as it was adopted at a UNESCO COMEST meeting in Bangkok, March 2005 is now available on the UNESCO website:

    THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE

    The report aims to reduce the gaps in the understanding of the principle and to clarify the PP for decision-makers and scientists in order to achieve a more informed debate of the principle and to serve as reference for possible further implementations of the PP.

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    Categories
    · Archived articles (06/19)


    Past Articles
    Sunday, February 27 2005

    · The Post-Normal Times


    Friday, February 25 2005

    · Interactive Web application of Uncertainty Guidance instruments


    Wednesday, October 20 2004

    · Uncertainty and Precaution in Environmental Management: insights from UPEM


    Wednesday, September 01 2004

    · WORLDWIDE VIRTUAL NETWORK OF YOUNG PRACTITIONERS WORKING ON SCIENCE AND SOCIETY


    Wednesday, August 25 2004

    · Short Course Model Uncertainty Analysis (13-14 October 2004)


    Wednesday, July 28 2004

    · Summer school on sensitivity analysis in Venice


    Wednesday, May 26 2004

    · Course: Genetic engineering; Connecting science, risk and communities


    Tuesday, April 27 2004

    · Uncertainty and Precaution in Environmental Management (UPEM 2004)


    Monday, April 26 2004

    · New book on sensitivity analysis


    Tuesday, March 16 2004

    · Uncertainty assessment of NOx, SO2 and NH3 emissions in the Netherlands


    Wednesday, March 03 2004

    · Safety Paradoxes - revised
    · Towards Guidance in Assessing and Communicating Uncertainties


    Saturday, November 29 2003

    · Professor Poul Harremoës died


    Monday, August 04 2003

    · Towards a synthesis of qualitative and quantitative uncertainty assessment


    Monday, July 21 2003

    · Workshop: Interfaces between science and society, 27-28 nov 2003, Milano


    Monday, June 23 2003

    · RIVM/MNP guidance for uncertainty assessment and communication


    Thursday, June 12 2003

    · Workshop: Uncertainty in environmental health risk science and policy


    Saturday, May 17 2003

    · Mini sysmposium:
    The management of uncertainty in risk science and policy



    Tuesday, January 28 2003

    · Symposium: Uncertainty and Precaution in Environmental Management (June 2004)


    Tuesday, November 05 2002

    · Ruskin and the Scientists


    Tuesday, October 29 2002

    · The Precautionary Principle, Knowledge Uncertainty, and Environmental Assessment


    Monday, October 07 2002

    · MUST Session at November FP6 conference


    Thursday, September 12 2002

    · Safety in the Globalising Knowledge Economy


    Wednesday, June 19 2002

    · One day free course on Sensitivity Analysis at the JRC - Ispra.


    Friday, June 07 2002

    · Conference announcement: Foresight
    · EoI Management of Uncertainty in science for suSTainability sent to Brussels


    Tuesday, May 28 2002

    · Utrecht University to start Master Sustainable Development


    Monday, May 27 2002

    · State of affairs FP6 EoI Uncertainty Management


    Thursday, May 23 2002

    · Network of Excellence on uncertainty management in science for sustainability


    Tuesday, April 23 2002

    · Summer School on Sensitivity Analysis of Model Output


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