Designing Institutions To Leverage Science And Technology To Achieve Sustainable Development

The research reviewed above provides a springboard for beginning to develop an understanding of the design characteristics of effective drought management institutions. Our research on climate sensitivities and water management in the Great Plains complements this work and suggests several propositions that might tie together a number of the literatures described in Section III.

A first proposition is that multiple boundaries characterize the landscape of drought assessment, planning, and management, and that a key role institutions can play in reducing vulnerability is to better manage such boundaries. Perhaps the most fundamental of these boundaries is that between science and policy, in which actors on both sides of the boundary have an interest in maintaining the separation of the two arenas (Gieryn, 1995): "To shore up their claims on cognitive authority, scientists have to impose their own boundaries between science and policy" (Jasanoff, 1987, p. 199). Scientists have an interest in maintaining a boundary to ensure the credibility of their work. Politicians have an interest in maintaining a boundary to ensure their claims of representative legitimacy. But although there is interest in maintaining this boundary, scientists also have an interest in bridging boundaries when they seek to have science contribute socially relevant information that can be used by policy makers and decision makers. Thus the trick is managing the boundary, bridging where necessary, but maintaining it as a barrier as well.

A similar tension exists for other important boundaries. Academic disciplines (and boundaries between them) exist to deepen understanding of issues using specific and agreed-upon tools, yet interdisciplinary research is needed to understand and solve problems characterized by interconnected-ness. Boundaries exist across levels to balance the efficiencies of centralized governance and the specificity to local context, yet coordination across jurisdictions, from global to local levels, seems to be necessary to address transboundary problems, commons problems, and the interactions between global and local change (Cash and Moser, 2000; Wilbanks and Kates, 1999). Finally, boundaries also exist between different issue areas—many management regimes are structured by issue (e.g., water, agricultural, and environmental agencies in states), again, allowing efficient focus on a narrow topic, but providing barriers for integrated management.

Given this prevalence of boundaries in human systems, what does recent research tell us about institutional structures that facilitate the management of boundaries? An emerging literature grounded in the social studies of science characterizes such institutions as "boundary organizations": institutions that act as an intermediary across boundaries and provide functions of convening, translation, collaboration, and mediation (Cash, 2001; Guston, 1999; Guston, 2001). Such organizations act as the site of co-production of knowledge, where scientists, managers, decision makers, and users of information jointly set agendas and decide on appropriate methodologies and products (Andrews, 2002).

In the Great Plains, for water and other natural resource issues, boundary organizations are embodied in the county agricultural extension offices and local (multi-county) water or resources management agencies. The local (multi-county) water or resources management agencies sit between farmers and other water users on the one hand, and the state resource agencies and state land grant college and experiment stations on the other hand. They are able to convene farmers, managers, and researchers for meetings and workshops on a wide range of topics. Resource district staff routinely translate farmers' needs and concerns for researchers in order to set research agendas, and they regularly help translate research results in ways that are understandable and relevant to farmers. They also translate the interests, concerns, and needs of constituents for decision makers at the state level. The district office can serve as a site for collaboration, bringing together farmers, agronomists, hydrologists, and managers to build hydrologic and agronomic models to test different policy options for water management. Finally, the district office is a place where discussions between multiple, often conflicting, perspectives can be mediated and conflict resolved. The areas with a management district that served these functions were able to integrate research on climate and hydrology with decision making and produce outcomes that reduced social and ecological vulnerability better than areas without such boundary management institutions (see Figure 1) (Cash, 2001; Cash et al., 2003).

Our research suggests that information that is co-produced through the actions of boundary organizations has three critical attributes, which have been the focus of recent

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Figure 1 This schematic diagram illustrates the nodes and links in the decision-making and scientific research network for two counties in the U.S. Great Plains. The system in which Swisher County, Texas, is embedded is relatively sparse, with relatively weak connections across scale and between decisionmaking and scientific nodes. Although the Swisher County Extension Office plays the role of a boundary organization, its capacity is somewhat limited because of the lack of connection across levels and with the policy arena. The network that includes Chase County, Nebraska, however, has a rich network that links federal scientific organizations such as the U.S. Geological Survey with the state-level and substate research institutions and links this research system with state agencies and the local management district (Upper Republican Natural Resources District [URNRD]). As is illustrated in the diagram, URNRD and the Chase County Extension Office play critical roles managing the boundaries across levels and between science and decision making. (Acronyms: ARD, Agricultural Research Division; CSD, Conservation and Survey Division of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; CSREES, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service; DWR, Department of Water Resources (Nebraska); NRC, Natural Resources Commission (Nebraska); NRCS, Natural Resources Conservation Service; TAMU, Texas A&M University; TTU, Texas Tech University, Lubbock; TWDB, Texas Water Development Board; UNL, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; URNRD, Upper Republican Natural Resources District; USDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture; USGS, U.S. Geological Survey.)

inquiry: salience (its relevance to decision-making bodies or publics), credibility (its technical believability, or whether or not it is endorsed by relevant evaluative communities), and legitimacy (how fair an information-producing process is and whether it considers appropriate values, concerns, and perspectives of different actors) (Cash et al., 2003; Eckley et al., 2002). We refer to these three judgments as attributions because they are not objective, or even readily agreed-upon, characteristics of a knowledge production system but rather involve actor-specific judgments using different criteria and standards. Thus, salience, credibility, and legitimacy are perceived and judged differently by different audiences. Given the diverse nature of many kinds of natural resource problems such as drought, the fact multiple perceptions exist about what is salient, credible, and legitimate suggests an important connection between boundary organizations and salience, credibility, and legitimacy.

Performing functions of convening, translating, collaborating, and mediating, boundary organizations are especially well suited to helping the negotiation of information production so that the information produced is salient to a potential user and is credible, valuable to the scientist who produced it. A boundary organization, in offering a site for co-production, also can facilitate a legitimate process in which users and producers both feel they have a stake and voice at the table. In many different contexts in the Great Plains, this balancing of different needs and different perspectives has led to the production and use of hydrogeologic models; a broad network of potential evapotranspiration monitors that provide daily information on crop needs; the development of highly efficient irrigation technologies such as the nozzle systems on center-pivot systems; and many other systems that link technical knowledge derived from universities, government agencies, or industry with decision making on the ground (Cash, 2001).

In the United States, the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC; http://www.drought.unl.edu) appears to function as a boundary organization, with institutional mechanisms in place that facilitate the production of salient, cred ible, and legitimate information. Housed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (a major research institution), the mission of the NDMC is to bridge the data collection, monitoring, and research capabilities at the university and elsewhere with agencies making decisions about drought preparedness and policy. In 1998, for example, the U.S. Congress established the National Drought Policy Commission, charged with developing the framework for a massive restructuring of national drought preparedness and response efforts, and the NDMC played a central role in convening and legitimizing the final product of this commission. In serving such functions, the NDMC seeks to produce high-quality (credible) information about drought that is timely, useful, and relevant to decision makers' needs (salient) at multiple levels (local, state, national). By encouraging collaborative research and multiple avenues for two-way dialogue (e.g., workshops, conferences, etc.), it is establishing a process that has a high probability of being viewed as fair and inclusive (legitimate) by multiple actors from different perspectives.

Given its institutional structure, it is difficult to imagine that the NDMC would not reduce drought-related vulnerability in some ways. Yet the charge of the NDMC is not simple. Its success will be defined in part by how well it collaborates with other, more locally focused institutions also charged with mobilizing information on drought-related vulnerability. This information is almost certainly a moving target, given the spatial and temporal variability of drought and the difficulty in defining it (Wilhite, 2001). The NDMC and its partner institutions must constantly communicate with each other as well as with their end user base.

Outside the United States, the recent focus on reducing drought-related vulnerability has increasingly centered on seasonal climate forecasts (SCFs) (Dilley, 2000). The premise is straightforward: if people are suffering because of drought, and if they lack detailed foreknowledge of the drought, then improved forecasts should reduce the suffering. In the last 20 years we have seen dramatic progress in scientific efforts to understand seasonal to interannual climate dynamics, to characterize social and environmental impacts, and to predict

El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events several months in advance. As skill in forecasting has improved, concerted efforts to reduce social vulnerability by applying this growing knowledge to decision making have been made by international organizations, national agencies, and research institutions, which serve a boundary function. ENSO application efforts have been targeted at such areas as emergency preparedness, agriculture, food security, tourism, public health, and fisheries, especially in drought-prone regions. However, the hope engendered by improvements in scientific skill has not always been realized.

Multiple challenges (unanticipated, for the most part) have impeded the integration of forecasting information into decision making. Some challenges stem from distortions and manipulation of climate information for political reasons (Broad et al., 2002; Lemos, in press; Lemos et al., 2002). Others stem from inadequate understanding in the scientific community of the needs, interests, and adaptation capacities of the end users of climate information (O'Brien and Vogel, 2003; Patt and Gwata, 2002). Still other obstacles originate in institutional constraints that inhibit the co-production of information, resulting in climate information that lacks salience, legitimacy, or credibility (Cash et al., 2003; McCarthy et al.). One of the primary lessons from reviewing these evaluations of climate forecasting systems is a questioning of the traditional notion of the primacy of producing scientifically valid information that will be simply picked up by decision makers and incorporated into decision making. Rather, this body of work suggests that institutions designed to harness science to address social vulnerability to natural phenomena require a more nuanced approach. Political and social contexts must be well understood; institutional structures must be in place to help manage the boundaries between science and decision making; and information must be perceived as multidimensional, relying not only on objective credibility, but also on its salience to decision makers' needs and the legitimacy of its production.

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