Managing Transitions Toward Adaptive Delta Infrastructure

A framework for improving the decision context stage

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Because of the potential consequences of sea level rise, decision-making to set adaptive strategies to handle the uncertainty over these consequences is required. There are several decision-making methods to deal with deep uncertainty and attempt to contain the impacts of sea level rise in organized response as the future unfolds. These methods are under development and need improvements to overarch challenges and strengthen the flexibility to work in different circumstances. Although each method has advantages that can be valuable and constructive in specific scopes, there are still future challenges and limitations concerning each method. Therefore, more research is required to widen the current focus and improve the applicability of the methods beyond the functional context.
This study aims to provide a framework to improve decision-making methods by focusing on the decision context stage and the important aspects that must be considered by decision-makers at this stage. The decision context stage is the theoretical fundamental for the methods and a signpost to steer the whole decision-making process.
The objective leads to the following research questions:
How to improve the decision-making context stage to deal with deep uncertainty in redesigning delta infrastructure?
1. What are the decision-making under deep uncertainty methods (DMDU) and to what extent do they consider uncertainty over sea level rise and future states of the delta?
2. What are the different functions of the Eastern Scheldt barrier system and how are they affected by the drivers?
3. What are the steps to improve the decision context for decision-making?
The resulting framework emphasizes the importance of zooming in to improve the context stage and integrate the life cycle management and shows an iterative way to improve the context stage in case of disagreement on the definition of success between different stakeholders and disciplines. Furthermore, the framework includes understanding the influence of drivers and the order of priorities to minimize uncertainty by integrating long-term planning into social and political contexts to avoid radical changes in the future. The study attempts to include these different steps in the context stage within other steps that already exist in the methods. The suggested steps can be considered as a trial to interconnect the infrastructure with the changing factors on the political, social, and economical levels. Redesigning delta infrastructure requires an integral approach to comprehending different aspects that play a role in handling deep uncertainty in the future.