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Water 2018, 10(8), 1009; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10081009

A Philosophical Justification for a Novel Analysis-Supported, Stakeholder-Driven Participatory Process for Water Resources Planning and Decision Making

1
Latin America Center, Stockholm Environment Institute, Bogota 110231, Colombia
2
U.S. Water Group, Stockholm Environment Institute, Davis, CA 95616, USA
3
Energy and Resources Group, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
4
Research Applications Program, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80305, USA
5
Department of Classical Studies, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA 23173, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 May 2018 / Revised: 19 July 2018 / Accepted: 20 July 2018 / Published: 31 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Water)
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Abstract

Two trends currently shape water resources planning and decision making: reliance on participatory stakeholder processes to evaluate water management options; and growing recognition that deterministic approaches to the evaluation of options may not be appropriate. These trends pose questions regarding the proper role of information, analysis, and expertise in the inherently social and political process of negotiating agreements and implementing interventions in the water sector. The question of how one might discover the best option in the face of deep uncertainty is compelling. The question of whether the best option even exists to be discovered is more vexing. While such existential questions are not common in the water management community, they are not new to political theory. This paper explores early classical writing related to issues of knowledge and governance as captured in the work of Plato and Aristotle; and then attempts to place a novel, analysis-supported, stakeholder-driven water resources planning and decision making practice within this philosophical discourse, making reference to current decision theory. Examples from the Andes and California, where this practice has been used to structure participation by key stakeholders in water management planning and decision-making, argue that when a sufficiently diverse group of stakeholders is engaged in the decision making process expecting the discovery of the perfect option may not be warranted. Simply discovering a consensus option may be more realistic. The argument touches upon the diversity of preferences, model credibility and the visualization of model output required to explore the implications of various management options across a broad range of inherently unknowable future conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: scientific analysis; decision-support; classical views on knowledge and authority; designing participatory processes involving stakeholders scientific analysis; decision-support; classical views on knowledge and authority; designing participatory processes involving stakeholders
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Purkey, D.R.; Escobar Arias, M.I.; Mehta, V.K.; Forni, L.; Depsky, N.J.; Yates, D.N.; Stevenson, W.N. A Philosophical Justification for a Novel Analysis-Supported, Stakeholder-Driven Participatory Process for Water Resources Planning and Decision Making. Water 2018, 10, 1009.

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