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CR 14:255-260 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/cr014255

Stakeholder involvement in climate assessment: bridging the gap between scientific research and the public

Robert E. O¹Connor1,*, Patti J. Anderson2, Ann Fisher3, Richard J. Bord4

1Department of Political Science, 2Environmental Resources Research Institute, 3Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, and 4Department of Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA

ABSTRACT: Stakeholder participation is a crucial component of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Assessment (MARA) of Possible Consequences of Climate Variability and Change. We involved stakeholders for 6 reasons: to ensure that the assessment addresses stakeholder concerns, to enhance the technical quality of the assessment, to provide a forum for stakeholders with diverse constituencies to share ideas, to facilitate dissemination of assessment findings, to sensitize stakeholders to possible impacts as well as adaptation strategies, and to legitimize the process to third parties. The key means for involvement is an Advisory Committee that represents a myriad of experiences and perspectives, including members from mining companies, non-governmental voluntary organizations, and government as well as researchers. In the first phase members attended workshops and, approximately bimonthly, received (via e-mail, fax, or regular mail) updates on the MARA team¹s progress, with a request for feedback on items such as work plans for specific topics (e.g., forestry, coastal zones), outlines of working group reports, draft scenarios that would serve as the basis for assessing impacts, or early materials for the draft preliminary report. Stakeholder involvement affected the focus of the assessment and the quality of the report. Stakeholders modified the MARA focus to include concerns that might have been ignored and improved the technical analysis of possible impacts.

KEY WORDS: Stakeholders · Climate change · Regional assessment · Mid-Atlantic states

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