Dealing with Uncertainty in Policy-making

The water sector may serve as an ideal arena to find answers to the question: How do policy-makers embrace uncertainty to come up with meaningful solutions?

What makes the water sector an ideal hunting ground for such a discussion? The water sector is home to multiple policy subfields, such as flood prevention, security of urban water supply, river basins. Also, policy-making for water is no longer just the purview of scientists and engineers but involves other actors such as communities and stakeholders, make the water sector a melting pot of diverse approaches.

For example, in the case of climate change, scientists and researchers need to reconcile their differing views on the impact of this phenomenon. Without such a reconciliation, it will be difficult for policy-makers to formulate necessary policies to address the issue. Hence, it is crucial for policy-makers to not only examine each uncertainty but also address the complexities that spring from the interaction of various uncertainties.

Such diversity in approaches makes the water sector a fertile ground to generate new thinking for overcoming “uncertainties.”

This study is a collection of papers that address “uncertainties” in policy-making in the context of the water sector. Political, social and economic sources of uncertainty are considered, in addition, to natural sources of uncertainty.

Likewise, mechanisms employed by decision-makers such as laws and regulations which can be sources of uncertainties are analysed as well. A recurrent theme in this issue is the value of acknowledging and working with uncertainty in the policy-making process, rather than attempting to reduce it at all costs.

This summary is based on the paper Embracing Uncertainty in Policy-Making: The Case of the Water Sector. 

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