Policy platforms as support tools for climate change mitigation and adaptation policymaking

A case study of policymakers and policy advisors’ perceptions of policy platforms as support tools and how to improve their design and use

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challenges affect the effectiveness of climate change mitigation and adaptation
measures, such as accountability, intergenerational justice and developing
countries’ increased participation in greenhouse gas emissions. The high
complexity of information surrounding models’ assumptions, results, and
scenarios related to climate change also presents a challenge, especially when
communicating with policymakers. In this context, support tools such as policy
platforms can help bridge the science-policy gap by allowing policymakers to
understand scenarios and available policy levers, enabling a better
understanding of relevant concepts and models or serving as hubs for
disseminating best practices and success stories. Available literature often
evaluates support tools within the context of use by regular citizens, making
it unclear how policymakers perceive support tools and how well they meet their
needs, pointing to an important knowledge gap. This thesis explores policymakers’
and policy advisors’ perceptions of the usefulness of climate change mitigation
and adaptation (CCMA) policy platforms and the characteristics of such policy
platforms they prefer in order to use them as support tools. A collective case
study was conducted with ten CCMA policy platforms within the context of the
EU-funded Horizon 2020 programme. In addition, interviews (11) and surveys (9)
with policymakers and policymakers’ advisors in the Netherlands and seven other
countries within and beyond the EU were conducted. Nine characteristics
of CCMA policy platforms were identified: Transparency & Credibility of
information, Ease of use, Flexibility of use, Accessibility & Portability,
Education & Awareness, Communication of complex information, Data
visualisation & interactivity, Actively maintained and supported, and
Security & privacy. Interviews and surveys show that accessibility,
relevance, applicability, and credibility were identified as the primary
factors driving the perception of policymakers about the usefulness of CCMA
policy platforms and four groups of characteristics were identified with
decreasing levels of priority for policymakers: mandatory or must-have (formed
by communication of complex information, free and open access to the tool, transparency
regarding data sources and limitations, and high level of detail for spatial
and temporal data); highly desirable or should-have (formed by availability of
training and learning functionalities, availability of detailed documentation
on concepts and models, interactive and easy-to-navigate elements, and availability
of a web-based platform); ‘nice to have’ or could-have (user stories from
policymakers or communities, availability of very recent data, ability to
import user data/export results, and ability to modify parameters and run
custom analyses), and indifferent (availability of languages beyond English and
the ability to use the tool in mobile phones or tablets). Four main
recommendations are made to improve the design and use of CCMA policy platforms:
Incorporating systematic reviews of existing CCMA policy platforms as part of projects
developing such platforms, involving boundary organisations in the development
and use of CCMA policy platforms, developing CCMA policy platforms with longer
life expectancies and developing CCMA policy platforms flexible for different needs
and preferences of policymakers.

With these
results, new CCMA policy platforms can be developed with a better understanding
of how useful policymakers perceive them and what they want from these support