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Thematic Guide to Integrated Assessment Modeling



The Need for Multiple Parallel Projects

The lack of an authoritative vision of how to do integrated assessment dictates the value of several parallel efforts pursuing it. Indeed, doing integrated assessment for climate change through a diverse portfolio of separate projects provides many advantages. First, the task is too large, complex, and difficult for any single project to do it all. Pursuing different visions of how to do integrated assessment, through designing and structuring projects in different ways, is liable to advance the craft most rapidly. Diversity of project approaches allows people to think differently, and individual projects benefit from both the pressure of competition and the opportunity to learn from each other.

Pursuing a diverse portfolio of assessment projects would have two implications. First, it suggests that the great value in vehicles that bring together the approaches and results of different projects, perhaps through structured comparisons analogous to the Energy Modeling Forum. Second, it suggests that some projects will be unsuccessful, and that projects and sponsors must somehow combine high intellectual standards with enough error tolerance to permit exploration of novel methods that may carry high risks.

The knowledge and capacity to do good integrated assessments can be built up but will require continuity of support and can be lost, as it has before. Even on a particular issue such as climate, assessment is not a one-time activity that culminates with delivery of one report, but must be revisited, continuously or episodically, as policy questions and relevant knowledge advance. To the extent that assessment skills may generalize across issues, there would also be benefit in building capacity in a way that can be applied to different issues. The argument that generalized assessment capacity can be built does make assumptions about the gaming between researchers and sponsors, presuming that enough researchers pursue problems of integrated assessment sincerely and enthusiastically that a body of knowledge, and a community with its own standards and incentives, can develop.


The next section is Major Unresolved Questions.





Parson, E.A. and K. Fisher-Vanden, Searching for Integrated Assessment: A Preliminary Investigation of Methods, Models, and Projects in the Integrated Assessment of Global Climatic Change. Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). University Center, Mich. 1995.


Suggested Citation

Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). 1995. Thematic Guide to Integrated Assessment Modeling of Climate Change [online]. Palisades, NY: CIESIN. Available at [accessed DATE].



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