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TIAS Quarterly

No. 01/2017
The Newsletter of
The Integrated Assessment Society (TIAS)

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In this Issue

The Society

The Integrated Assessment Society is a not-for-profit entity created to promote the community of inter-disciplinary and disciplinary scientists, analysts and practitioners who develop and use Integrated Assessment (IA). The goals of the society are to nurture this community, to promote the development of IA and to encourage its wise application.

Integrated Assessment can be defined as the interdisciplinary process of integrating knowledge from various disciplines and stakeholder groups in order to evaluate a problem situation from a variety of perspectives and provide support for its solution. IA supports learning and decision processes and helps to identify desirable and possible options for addressing the problem. It therefore builds on two major methodological pillars: approaches to integrating knowledge about a problem domain, and understanding policy and decision making processes. IA has been developed to address issues of acid rain, climate change, land degradation, water and air quality management, forest and fisheries management and public health.



Transdisciplinary Research – Lessons from the Palestinian-Dutch Academic Cooperation Program on Water

Gül Özerol, Assistant Professor, CSTM - Department of Governance and Technology for Sustainability, Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences, University of Twente, Netherlands

Projects concerning development cooperation often aim to improve the capacity of stakeholders in the target country or region. Transdisciplinary research offers a promising approach in this respect by incorporating the perspectives of academic and non-academic stakeholders and combining the knowledge from technical and social domains. Such approaches are particularly relevant for the water sector, where a continuous dialogue is needed among various actors that have diverse disciplinary or sectoral backgrounds. The Palestinian-Dutch Academic Cooperation Program on Water (PADUCO) is improving the water-related curricula in Palestinian higher education and capacity development in the water sector through a transdisciplinary partnership of academic and non-academic actors. The lessons learned from PADUCO can be valuable for future transdisciplinary cooperation programs that originate from the local needs.


The role of development cooperation is key to developing sustainable solutions to increasingly complex and challenging problems of target countries (OECD, 2014). Such forms of cooperation often aim to improve the capacities of individuals and organizations. However, barriers to improving the capacities at multiple levels are experienced in many cases. For instance, insufficient financial and human resources or the limited transferability of knowledge hinder capacity improvement. These objectives and barriers also apply to the water sector, where knowledge exchange and transfer among countries has become a common practice (Vinke-de Kruijf and Özerol, 2013).
A multi-level and contextualized approach is needed to design and implement capacity improvement programs that can lead to sustainable solutions through development cooperation. Transdisciplinary methodologies provide such approaches since they incorporate the perspectives of academic and non-academic stakeholders as well as the knowledge from natural and social sciences (Brutschin and Wiesmann, 2002; Hurni and Wiesmann, 2014). These methodologies can be particularly useful for devising solutions to water problems which require continuous dialogue between public and private spheres that include various stakeholders with diverse disciplinary backgrounds. Despite such promises, there are several challenges to undertaking transdisciplinary research. These challenges mainly include a lack of the following elements: coherent problem framing, integration of methods, research process and knowledge production, practitioners’ engagement and/or generating impact (Brandt et al., 2013). These issues are being addressed in the Palestinian-Dutch Academic Cooperation Program on Water (PADUCO) is improving the Palestinian higher education and water sectors.


Background and objectives of PADUCO

PADUCO has been developed bilaterally between Palestinian and Dutch stakeholders. In March 2012, the General Delegation of Palestine in The Hague organized a higher education mission to the West Bank, which was attended by 10 Dutch universities. Eight Dutch universities subsequently signed a letter of intent in June 2012, and together with the Palestinian universities they selected water as the core field of cooperation given its crucial role for Palestine, while acknowledging the linkages with other sectors such as agriculture, environment, energy and land use. In early 2013, a needs assessment was conducted through local(?) interviews and document reviews. Major findings of the assessment included:
  • A shortage of highly qualified staff required for sustainability in water-related higher education;
  • Insufficient capacity to conduct quality research and training in priority areas of the water sector;
  • Lack of attention in teaching curricula to management and governance in the water sector;
  • Lack of innovative solutions and technical know-how.
In April 2013, five Palestinian and five Dutch universities established an academic consortium with the objective of improving the institutional capacities in the Palestinian higher education and water sectors. The partners of the consortium are Birzeit University, Al-Quds University, An-Najah National University, Palestine Polytechnic University, Palestine Technical University Kadoorie from Palestine, and the University of Twente, Delft University of Technology, Maastricht School of Management, UNESCO-IHE and Wageningen University from the Netherlands. The scope and objectives of PADUCO align with the development cooperation policy of the Netherlands in Palestine (NRO, 2011; NRO, 2013), as well as the strategies of Palestine in both higher education and water sectors (PNA, 2011, 2014; Rukab, 2012). Given these matching objectives and the acknowledgement of the benefits of academic cooperation, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs funded the first phase of PADUCO (2013-2016). After a successful implementation of the first phase, the second phase (2016-2019) has also been approved for funding.

Transdisciplinary themes

Achieving the capacity improvement objective of PADUCO requires engaging a broad set of stakeholders from multiple social and economic sectors, such as water, agriculture, energy and land use, and various scientific disciplines. For this purpose, both academic and non-academic actors are involved in the planning and implementation of program activities. This transdisciplinary methodology is exemplified by the identification of the key themes in consultation with the policy-makers in Palestine. Currently, the program has two major themes: 1) Water quality and pollution, with a focus on industrial wastewater treatment and reuse, and 2) Water resources and supply, with a focus on safeguarding and augmenting water availability and agricultural water use. These themes are addressed under three components, which are implemented through work packages: 1) applied research, 2) education and training, and 3) institutions, partnerships and networks. The core component is applied research, which currently includes five large-scale projects that have been approved for funding, while the call for small-scale projects will be opened in 2017. The research projects seek innovative solutions to the water problems of Palestine, while they also have an instrumental role in improving education programmes and establishing long-term partnerships among stakeholders. Thus, the three components of the program are strongly interlinked to each other.

Partnership approach

The partner universities of PADUCO work in the three components together with non-academic stakeholders. Starting from the initial design of the program, the active involvement of governmental and non-governmental organizations, private companies and citizens has been a priority. Governmental organizations play two major roles: participation in the components and facilitation of knowledge dissemination and networking. The Palestinian ministries of water, agriculture and the environment also provide strategic and technical advice through forming the program advisory board and participating in the committee that evaluates project proposals. Additionally, the PADUCO team collaborates with non-governmental organizations both from the two partner countries and from other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. The main motivation here is to create synergies with other programs, for instance through joint projects. Program partners also collaborate with companies, for instance in knowledge transfer, adjustment of curricula to the needs of the private sector, providing fellowships for researchers, and traineeships for students. Finally, the involvement of individual citizens such as farmers is sought in all research projects.

Knowledge creation and dissemination

Since the launch of the program in December 2013, various activities have been carried out to generate scientific knowledge that is applicable in the political, social and economic contexts of the Palestinian water sector. During the first phase, 11 pilot research projects have been implemented, which involved about 60 researchers and 20 master students. Additionally, assessments on education and training needs and the feasibility of a PhD program on water were completed. Two international conferences were organized in 2015 in both countries to disseminate the results from the projects and assessments to wider audiences. In addition, various workshops and meetings have been organized both to disseminate the results of the projects and to involve non-academic stakeholders. The project teams also produced articles, several of which were published in scientific journals, as well as policy briefs and guidelines for practitioners.

Lessons learned

PADUCO is successfully applying water solutions through the active involvement of academic and non-academic stakeholders. Based on the experience gained over the four years of the program, three lessons can be distilled. First, partnership-building among academic and non-academic organizations, particularly private companies, requires significant time and human resources investments and a long-term commitment. Many stakeholders typically experience two challenges: institutionalizing the relationships that are initially established by individuals, and creating long-term financing options rather than one-time and ad-hoc arrangements. Secondly, experienced researchers and practitioners often tend to work within disciplinary and sectoral boundaries, resulting from conventional fragmentation. This calls for changes in the education models towards more transdisciplinary curricula, which can also alleviate cross-sectoral fragmentation. Thus, graduate students and early-career professionals can play a crucial role in applying transdisciplinary approaches. Thirdly, the political context of Palestine significantly influences the implementation potential and sustainability of cooperation actions. For instance, difficulties were experienced in involving participants from the Gaza Strip, since the mobility is very limited due to Israeli occupation, and students from Dutch universities were often discouraged from traveling to Palestine due to safety concerns. The lessons learnt from PADUCO are relevant both for program stakeholders, and for other initiatives that design and implement development cooperation according to local needs.


Brandt, P., Ernst, A., Gralla, F., Luederitz, C., Lang, D.J., Newig, J., Reinert, F., Abson, D.J., von Wehrden, H. (2013). A review of transdisciplinary research in sustainability science. Ecological Economics, 92, 1-15.
Brutschin, J., Wiesmann, U. (2002). Transdisciplinary research in development cooperation: origins and paradigms, Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, EOLSS Publishers, Oxford.
Hurni, H., Wiesmann, U. (2014). Transdisciplinarity in practice. Experience from a concept-based research programme addressing global change and sustainable development. GAIA-Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 23(3), 275-277.
NRO: Netherlands Representative Office (2011). Towards Two States: Multi-Annual Strategic Plan for the Palestinian Territory, 2012-2015.
NRO (2013). Towards A Palestinian State: Multi-Annual Strategic Plan for the Palestinian Territory, 2014-2017.
OECD: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (2014). Development Co-operation Report: Mobilising Resources for Sustainable Development, OECD Publishing.
PNA: Palestinian National Authority (2011). Palestinian National Plan 2011-2013: Water and Wastewater Sector Strategy.
PNA (2014). National Development Plan: 2014-16.
Rukab, N. (2012). Capacity Building within the Palestinian Water Authority, International Roundtable on Transboundary Water Resources Management in the Southern Mediterranean, 26-27 November 2012, Rome, Italy.
Vinke-de Kruijf, J. Özerol, G. (2013). Water management solutions: On panaceas and policy transfer. In: C. de Boer, J. Vinke-de Kruijf, G. Özerol, H. Bressers (eds.), Water Governance, Policy and Knowledge Transfer: International Studies on Contextual Water Management, London-New York: Routledge, 12-35.
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TIAS Annual General Meeting

On the 22nd of March TIAS members met online for the Annual General Meeting. We had lively discussions and exchanges on our plans for 2017. We hope and expect that the coming year will be an active year with members being engaged in webinars, regional chapters, conference sessions and workshops.
During the meeting we have seen a presentation by Matt Hare on the new regional chapter for Latin America. TIAS-LA now has their own page on the TIAS website, which will soon be translated into Spanish. They also plan to translate a key document on Integrated Assessment (IA) into Spanish and to organize podcasts on participatory processes in Spanish. Matt and his team very much welcome ideas for key documents on IA they could translate.
We have also seen the introduction of several new initiatives, including a working group on principles for IA, an early career network and a Learning Community. The Learning Community already ran its first webinar and is planning for another soon. The Community brings together TIAS members and non-TIAS members with an interest in learning for sustainable development. The online community has about 80 members, mostly scientists. The working group on IA principles plans for two webinars in the coming months to kick-off a process focusing on the formulation of IA principles. The early career network is also planning an online meeting.
The executive board is also coordinating an effort by TIAS members to apply for national funds to organize an international workshop on IA in their respective countries. In addition, we will in several months have resources to develop the hoped for expert database of TIAS members and we are currently discussing affiliation with one or two scientific journals.
We encourage all our members (junior and senior) to become actively engaged in TIAS activities, for example, by establishing or joining a regional chapter or working groups and co-organizing conference sessions or webinars with TIAS.
Once the participants of the Annual General Meeting have reviewed the minutes, we will share relevant reports, plans and the minutes of the meeting with other members. We thank all members for their input and look forward receiving your suggestions and ideas.
Joanne Vinke-de Kruijf, Secretary
Copyright Jens Newig

Our newest members


Fabian Heitmann holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics as well as a Master's degree in Environmental Systems and Resources Management. Fabian is developing and applying a WEF-Nexus System of Systems Design Framework which illustrates how to better coordinate various stakeholder objectives and functions in Water-,  Energy-, and Food-Systems. Since Nov. 2015, he is a PhD candidate under the supervision of Prof. Claudia Pahl-Wostl and Prof. Stefanie Engel in the Institute of Environmental Systems Research at Osnabrück University, Germany.  His study combines a range of methods to assess, analyze and discuss possible solutions to the trade-offs that are implicit in the Nexus. This is the main reason for his interest in IA. --> Contact


Caroline Lumosi is a PhD candidate in the Institute of Environmental Systems  Research, Resource Management Group at Osnabrück University, Germany. Her PhD focus is understanding the role of social learning processes in transboundary river basin management in Omo and Zambezi Basin. Her interest relates to social learning processes, climate change communication and multi-stakeholder processes. She is am the acting second assistant to the TIAS board supporting administration, communication and membership, a role which we hope will be formalized at the next election of the extended executive. In addition, she provides technical support during TIAS webinars. Contact

Daniel Schweigatz holds a B.Sc. in Biology and a Master´s degree in Landscape Ecology. Since September 2016 he has been a PhD candidate in the Institute of Environmental Systems Research at Osnabrück University, Germany. He is interested in the complex interactions and interdependencies in Social-Ecological Systems that extend across spatial, temporal and organizational scales. His PhD focuses on intersectoral and regional aspects of natural resources governance problems through an integrated Social-Ecological network approach. He has been active in TIAS since 2015. In the future he will be part of the webinar support team and hopes to play a more active role in supporting Integrated Assessment. 
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Tàbara, J.D., Clair, A.L.S. and Hermansen, E.A., 2017. Transforming communication and knowledge production processes to address high-end climate change. Environmental Science & Policy, 70, pp.31-37. 

Recent GHG emissions trends are in stark contrast with the Paris Agreement’s target to hold the increase in average global warming to “well below 2 C and pursue efforts to stay below 1,5 C” by the end of the century compared with preindustrial times. This disconnect has further unveiled the limitations of current knowledge production and communication processes in Southern European countries, where fast institutional changes are needed to address the potential impacts as well as the opportunities for transformation derived from High-End Climate Change (HECC). The prevailing knowledge deficit-model – aimed at producing ‘more knowledge’ about climate impacts, vulnerabilities and long-term scenarios to decision makers – has long proven inadequate in tackling the many complexities of the present socioclimate quandary. The growing emphasis on assessing and implementing concrete solutions, demand new and more complex forms of agent interactions in the production, framing, communication and use of climate knowledge; and in particular, explicit procedures able to tackle difficult normative questions regarding assessment of solutions and the allocation of individual and collective responsibilities. To explore these challenges, the authors analyse the views of 30 Spanish knowledge contributors and users of the latest UN IPCC AR5 report and share the insights gained from the implementation of a participatory Integrated Assessment procedure aimed at developing innovative solutions to high-end climate scenarios in Iberia. Our analysis supports the view of the need to institutionalise transformation, and in particular underlines the potential role that transformative climate boundary organisations could play to address such difficult ethical choices in different contexts of action.

Saunders, A. and Jenkins, S., 2012. ‘Absent fear’: Re-envisioning a future geography. Futures, 44(5), pp.494-503.

This article, though not new, has been included in our newsletter as a complement to the TIAS report on Visioning and Backcasting released in December 2016.

The paper explores the significance fear plays, or does not play, in the practice of envisioning. Envisioning is seen as a powerful tool in the delivery of education for sustainable development, for it seeks to engage people in imagining and creating a better future. However, drawing on work undertaken with undergraduate students at the University of Glamorgan, South Wales, we argue that envisioning relies upon ‘absent fear’: it works to suppress, or make absent, fear as a valid response to present and future development. The presence of ‘absent fear’, we suggest, poses a barrier to fully engaging with the challenges and opportunities of a sustainable future, for it is difficult to conceive of a positive vision without first acknowledging and confronting our fears. It is in articulating fear, we observe, that people are more able to respond to the challenges of the future in hopeful and creative ways. Utilising work undertaken with our students this paper revisits envisioning and suggests the need to understand envisioning as a broader process of reflection and action.


Registration is now open for the International Summer School “Concepts and tools to engage in knowledge co-production and public participation”, which will be held 19 June – 23 June 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal. The summer school is jointly organized by LISODE (France) and SOCIUS-CSG/ISEG (Portugal). In this 5-day training course, the participants will co-construct their own training, contributing with unique content by presenting their own case studies and their personal styles. The training is based on “learning by doing” principle that makes it possible for the participants to test what they learn on-the-spot and get immediate feedback.  The course is meant for people (students, researchers, consultants, public sector employees) interested in developing or improving knowledge and skills in participatory methods to engage stakeholders in knowledge co-production through public participation. Registration deadline is 12 June 2017.
For more information, visit 
or contact

Applications are now open for the UNU-EHS Intensive Summer Course 2017 “Advancing Disaster Risk Reduction to Enhance Sustainable Development in a Changing World”. The course will run from 8 May to 19 May 2017. The course is interdisciplinary and combines insight from studies on vulnerability, resilience policy and international law as well as assorted methods of geospatial technology. It aims to bring together an internationally diverse group of 20 academics and practitioners. The course explores topics ranging from the role of human mobility to early warning systems and effective disaster coordination. In so doing, the Intensive Summer Course combines a series of seminars with practice oriented simulation exercises that are held by UN experts and practitioners. More information can be found at:

Job Openings

A fully funded PhD-position (3 years duration) is available at the University of Leicester. The project focuses on mathematical modelling of the plankton-oxygen dynamics in ocean ecosystems under the climate change. Application deadline: 10 April 2017. More information:
A position for a PhD candidate (4 years duration) is available at Radboud University in the Netherlands to work on modelling the effects of pharmaceuticals in the environment. The candidate will develop tools to map and quantify the relative risk due to exposure to pharmaceuticals and multi-resistant bacteria in river basins, covering ecosystems, human health, drinking water production, water recreation and irrigation. The application deadline 2 April 2017.
More information:

[Senior] Fellow position at Ecologic Institute, Berlin, Germany. Ecologic Institute is looking for a (senior) Fellow in the field of EU agricultural and soil policies to provide key support to our team in the preparation of current projects with a particular focus on agriculture, soils and land use. In the medium term the selected candidate would be expected to acquire and lead projects in this area with the goal of permanent employment.  More information:

PhD Research Position - WANDEL Project (65% FTE), Environmental Systems Research, Osnabrück University
The three-year position beginning May 2017 is embedded in a 3-year research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF): Wasserressourcen als bedeutsame Faktoren der Energiewende auf lokaler und globaler Ebene (WANDEL). WANDEL is a coordinated project with partners from science and practice and is part of a series of projects funded by BMBF under the umbrella of the "Global Resource Water" program. The central focus of WANDEL is the analysis of the influence of restrictions in water availability on the use of conventional and renewable energies and how this may accelerate or adversely affect the global transformation in the energy system. The analyses are carried out in case studies in Germany, Morocco and Brazil and at the global scale. The deadline for applications is April 9th. For the English-language job description, please contact Ms. Elke Altekruse: elke.altekruse[at]

PhD Research Position - STEER Project (65% FTE), Environmental Systems Research, Osnabrück University
The position, beginning in June 2017, is embedded in a 3-year research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF): „Erhöhung der STEuerungskompetenz zur ERreichung der Ziele eine integrierten Wassermanagement (STEER)“. STEER has partners from science and practice and is part of a series of projects funded by the BMBF under the umbrella of the program "Global Resource Water". The goal of STEER is to identify, together with stakeholders, approaches to increase governance capacity with respect to dealing with complex water resource problems and systemic challenges with a focus on improving coordination and cooperation. A diagnostic toolbox will be developed, which is suitable for application in different institutional and environmental contexts. Case studies are conducted in Germany, Spain, South Africa and Mongolia. The Toolbox, together with an interactive, expandable case study database, supports an international learning process and exchange of experience. STEER aims at making a major contribution to the implementation of the integrated water management target of the Sustainable Development Goals. The deadline for applications is April 9th. For the English-language job description, please contact Ms. Elke Altekruse: elke.altekruse[at]


24-25 April 2017, Making the Planetary Boundaries Concept Work, Berlin, Germany. The conference will address the following questions: How can we further improve the scientific justification of the internationally recognised concept? How can we apply the concept to national environmental and sustainability policies and policy-making? Which opportunities provided by the concept arise for technical, economical and social innovations, for corporate risk and corporate environmental management, for environmental education and communication? These questions will be discussed in order to explore which role the concept of planetary boundaries concept can play in the transformation towards sustainability. The conference is hosted by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Society (BMUB), the German Environment Agency (UBA) and the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU). It is organized by adelphi, the Potsdam Institute for Climate-Impact Research and the Stockholm Environment Institute and supported by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the Forum Nachhaltige Geldanlagen.
More information:

25-26 September 2017, The SustEcon Conference, Berlin, Germany. The focus of the conference will be on the contribution of the sustainable economy to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It’s possible to observe these contruibutions on a number of different levels: Innovations toward achieving the SDGs are to be as much a topic at the conference as methodological questions about measuring sustainability. In addition to that, the differences between various discourses and concepts and their respective contributions to the sustainable economy are also to feature prominently in the conference. A further topic of interest will be the (political) framework conditions and barriers to a sustainable economy as well as the contribution of science to the SDGs. Submission of abstracts is open until 25 April 2017. More information:

TIAS Quarterly

TIAS Quarterly is the newsletter of The Integrated Assessment Society.
ISSN: 2077-2130
Editor: Caroline van Bers
Associate editors: Joanne Vinke-de Kruijf, Anna-Lena Guske
Layout: Caroline van Bers

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E-Mail: info[at]

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