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TIAS Quarterly

No. 04/2018 (December)
The Newsletter of
The Integrated Assessment Society (TIAS)

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In this Issue

Wishing all of our members and friends a happy, healthy and sustainable 2019!

Photo: Ulli Meissner ©

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.



Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

Elements of success in multi-stakeholder deliberation platforms

by Jennifer Garard (1), Larissa Koch (2) and Martin Kowarsch (3)
This article summarizes and has been adapted from the results presented in the article below and includes excerpts from it. The original article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as appropriate credit is given to the original author(s) and the source:

Garard, J., Koch, L., & Kowarsch, M. (2018). Elements of success in multi-stakeholder deliberation platforms. Palgrave Communications, 4(1), 129

There is growing acknowledgement in the literature that scientific knowledge alone is often insufficient to deal with complex sustainability issues. In light of this, various forms of stakeholder collaboration are increasingly prominent in environmental governance, including those that are intended to provide input to integrated scientific assessments. Deliberation platforms offer a particularly promising way to contribute legitimate and credible inputs to assessments addressing complex issues. Deliberation platforms are facilitated venues for bridging disciplines and sectors. Here, stakeholders with diverse perspectives can discuss problems and explore potential solutions, while integrating scientific and other types of knowledge. An overarching goal of deliberation platforms is to foster active discussion, emphasizing equity amongst participants and the exchange of arguments crucial in fostering social learning.

Designing and organizing participatory deliberation processes is, however, challenging in practice. A better understanding of deliberation platforms is of crucial importance, not least because so many resources are invested into this promising form of participation. If insufficient emphasis is placed on design and evaluation, participants and organizers alike may come away feeling that the process was not successful, potentially even increasing any pre-existing polarization resulting from divergent viewpoints.

This article is intended to facilitate our understanding of deliberation platforms by identifying those elements of deliberation platforms that are most central to their success and how these elements interact with one another from the perspective of those organizing the platforms.

Elements of Success Identified

To undertake the analysis, the authors conducted 16 semi-structured interviews with organizers of several deliberation platforms and a Qualitative Content Analysis. The table below summarizes the five elements identified as most central to success in deliberation platforms. We refer to success as an overarching goal common to the various platforms analysed: providing a platform for participants to share and learn about various perspectives related to policy-relevant sustainability issues in order to provide inputs to environmental governance processes. 

Top five elements of success in deliberation platforms

1. Participants : Participant diversity is important in order to represent diverse perspectives.

However: Discussing diverse perspectives can cause conflict situations, which can hinder productive deliberation. Some interviewees supported an approach that avoids too many divergent voices when high-level government representatives are present. Fundamental controversial debates require time to clarify divergent viewpoints, and holding such deliberations with government representatives can be seen as a poor use of their time.

2. Openness:   “Attitude before method”

Be aware and reflective of your own perspective as an organizer, including whether this has led to biased choices before and during deliberation. There are particular approaches that can be used to actively foster openness and discussion at “the same level,” e.g. sitting in circle formation, avoiding center stages, balancing between larger panel discussions and smaller break-out groups.

3.  Facilitation:  Achieving a balance between neutral and knowledgeable facilitation is crucial.

An important element of facilitation is to remain as neutral as possible, but to acknowledge that oftentimes the facilitator cannot be entirely neutral. Therefore, it is important to make one’s own perspectives and opinions transparent. A second facilitator can be helpful in increasing neutrality if they are not familiar with the content.

4. Communication Increasing transparency is a major goal of communication in deliberation platforms, among other things helping to manage expectations, clarify objectives and key terms, ensure that information is accessible, and planning for outputs appropriate for their target audiences.

Caution: It is important to pay special attention to jargon and expert terminology used, and to translate it into simpler language, e.g. using infographics or symbols, as needed.

Maintaining contact with participants after the meeting is also important, for example by sending a brief summary or follow-up document with outcomes.

5. Dialogue:  Fostering dialogue between participants with particular methods and rules can be helpful. It is critical to move beyond simply convening a group and assuming they will talk, and to take measures to explicitly foster dialogue. This can include, for example, the Salon Method. A safe space for exchange can be created by applying clear rules such as the Chatham House Rule.

Trade-offs and co-benefits between different elements

An obvious trade-off exists between many of the central elements in the organization of deliberation platforms. In some cases, additional resources could help to alleviate some of the challenges faced in realizing the central elements necessary for a successful platform. This can include, for example, employing multiple facilitators to split the role into more manageable parts, having specific contact persons for specific issues to improve communication with participants, or holding multiple workshops or meetings over a longer period of time to build trust and strengthen dialogue. Often, however, simply  increasing funding or human resources is not feasible, especially in cases where funding for a deliberation platform is fixed (which is the case most of the time).

A further trade-off is the issue of prioritizing diversity among perspectives, but inadvertently creating a situation where open dialogue becomes challenging. This is particularly significant in cases where the topic addressed is highly controversial. In such cases, it is important for organizers of deliberation platforms to consider which constellations of actors will contribute to a productive discussion. It is important not to ignore the other perspectives, but rather to think about alternative ways of bringing them into the debate without causing verbal battles or increasing polarization. In such cases, mediation techniques and expert facilitation can be very valuable.

There are numerous potential co-benefits of employing an experienced facilitator including better communication and improved (and more open) dialogue between participants even when there are strongly diverging viewpoints. Thus, designing a platform to take advantage of this co-benefit could help to address the trade-off concerning the diversity of perspectives hampering open dialogue. In cases where organizers prefer to limit the diversity of actors involved in an exchange, communication between organizers and participants is strengthened and transparency improved when it is clear who is involved and why they have been selected. This could also provide an incentive to participants to maintain their involvement in a process.

Another trade-off identified is between having a neutral facilitator with knowledge of the subject matter and ensuring openness on the part of the organizer. Often, when someone is professionally engaged in debates and has enough understanding to be a knowledgeable facilitator, they will have already formulated their own judgment on these debates. Thus, it can construed as somewhat artificial for someone very knowledgeable about the topic to act as a neutral facilitator and could potentially raise questions regarding how open organizers truly are regarding their own position and stakes. In a worst-case scenario, this could be used as an argument by certain actors to discredit others who hold an opposing perspective which they feel, rightly or not, was strengthened by the support of a supposedly neutral facilitator with the same perspective. This scenario could also entail a slew of other unwanted consequences, for example, further polarizing different groups.

Strengthening communication and in particular transparency with regard to potential biases and perspectives held by organizers or facilitators could potentially help to mitigate this trade-off. This could be done by ensuring that the opinion or perspective of the facilitator is transparent from the outset and then clearly communicating the protocol for neutral facilitation and identifying the boundaries of neutrality. Going a step further could involve opening up a dialogue explicitly devoted to the particular perspectives held by organizers and facilitators, including a discussion of the influence other stakeholders' perceptions of these perspectives on the process as a whole.


Lessons to consider when organizing a deliberation platform

We took a broad view of deliberation platforms, striving to find commonalities between different processes in order to strengthen understanding of how organizers operate across a diversity of processes. The initial set of 44 elements was narrowed down to the five general elements most central to the organization and operation of deliberation platforms. So, lessons learned are on two levels: the general and the context-specific.

One general lesson learned is that public engagers should avoid gravitating towards individuals they are familiar with to represent the various groups or organizations in deliberation platforms, and should instead identify the change agents within those groups—individuals who are relatively open, and are able to transfer learning in the platform to their own groups. Such considerations, including determining how to incentivize the participation of change agents, must be taken early in the planning stages of a deliberation platform.

Trust also emerged as a central cross-cutting point. While some organizational elements can foster trust, including openness on the part of both public engagers and participants, appropriate facilitation and transparent communication, others are the product of a trusting environment, in particular dialogue. Being transparent as a public engager organizing a deliberation platform refers not only to choices made regarding the platform itself, but also includes their own existing knowledge, personal perspectives on the topic and potential biases, which should not be hidden from participants. Structuring the process so that meetings are recurring was another general lesson, which applied to less formal platforms as much as to more strictly organized ones, since it contributed to building trust among participants over time.

Regarding more context-specific lessons, one difference emerged between longer-term, better-funded platforms and shorter-term platforms with fewer resources. Longer-term platforms may have more flexibility in adapting processes and procedures according to the openness of participants to each other’s perspectives. It may be even more important in shorter-term or less flexible processes to select participants who are open as compared to longer-term, better-funded processes. Additional funding also means that options such as engaging multiple facilitators or dividing communication up among multiple contact points, are more feasible.

The question of facilitation is another interesting one. While many public engagers were in favor of neutral facilitation, the two who most explicitly questioned the extent to which facilitators could actually be neutral were themselves involved in the most transformative, co-designed projects. Thus, it is possible that the threat of false neutrality is more significant in bottom-up deliberation platforms with the goal of eliciting transformative societal change.

Lastly, the context-specific topics of deliberation platforms can also have a bearing on participant selection. In particular, our results show that platforms with highly technical topics may not be able to engage with marginalized groups without also engaging in capacity-building. Furthermore, highly contentious topics may require additional resources in order to engage actors with more extreme or entrenched positions in different ways, without excluding them but avoiding direct confrontations which could exacerbate divides. However, even in less technical or contentious deliberation platforms, it is crucial to acknowledge and try to rectify power imbalances between participants so that all can engage on an equal footing.

Developing a better understanding of the relationship between precise elements of deliberation platforms and different types of learning is a first step towards better understanding of how to more precisely foster and encourage transformation. This was the ultimate goal of many of the platforms analyzed in the paper. Those platforms potentially create novel social ties between participants who have previously had adversarial relationships, but through deliberation learn how to overcome personal distances, bridge divisions and cross boundaries.

The authors
  1. Jennifer Garard, Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, Working Group Scientific Assessments, Ethics, and Public Policy, EUREF Campus 19 Torgauer Str. 12-15 10829, Berlin, Germany
  2. Larissa Koch, Resources Management Working Group, Institute for Environmental Systems Research, Osnabrück University, Barbarastraße 12, 49076, Osnabrück, Germany
  3. Martin Kowarsch, Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, Working Group Scientific Assessments, Ethics, and Public Policy, EUREF Campus 19 Torgauer Str. 12-15 10829, Berlin, Germany



TIAS Session at European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly, Vienna 7- 12 April., 2019

The EGU General Assembly 2019 and TIAS invite abstracts for the following session by January 10, 2019: Addressing ambiguity in participatory processes for sustainable resources management (Session: ITS2.9/ERE1.8/EOS11.1/BG1.35):
Central to Integrated Assessment is the engagement of stakeholders and scientists, often from diverse disciplines and/or sectors, and the concomitant ambiguity that emerges when these individuals with diverse backgrounds and interests meet to address resource management issues.  Ambiguity is a type of uncertainty that refers to the confusion or lack of complete understanding among actors in a group over the issues of concern and their solutions. Ambiguity reflects the many meanings and preferences in responding to change.  Ambiguity speaks for diversity and it is an unavoidable characteristic of any social system. However, it is commonly overlooked in participatory processes resulting in processes that are biased, exclusive or simply responding to the needs of just a few stakeholders. In this session we want to explore, from a methodological point of view, how ambiguity is, or has been, addressed in the context of IA. We are particularly interested in applications that use participatory forms of inquiry (e.g., participatory modelling, decision support systems, etc.) in addressing ambiguity in IA. Further information for submitting an abstract can be found here.


Elections 2018

In October, TIAS held biannual the elections for the members of the extended executive (secretary, treasurer, assistant to the board and the advisory board). The association welcomes back Caroline van Bers as treasurer and Caroline Lumosi, this time officially in her role as assistant the executive. She replaces Johannes Halbe, who has taken on significant teaching and research responsibilities at Osnabrück University. The board thanks him for his many years of support. The positions of the TIAS extended executive will run until October 31, 2020. After two terms with TIAS, Joanne Vinke-de Kruijf decided that with her many new tasks and responsibilities at the University of Twente she would not run for another term as secretary. Anna-Lena Guske of the Freie Universität Berlin has agreed to take over the role of honorary secretary on a temporary, trial basis. We very much hope that this will be the beginning of our longer cooperation with her.

The advisory board members are listed on the TIAS website. We were pleased to welcome back five members to the board, Marcela Brugnach, Matt Hare, Anthony Jakeman, Laszlo Pinter and Willemijn Tuinstra and extend a warm welcome to three new members:
  • Bas Arts, Chief Scientist to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Professor in Forest Governance at Wageningen University, NL
  • Peter Viebahn, Co-Director, Future Energy and Mobility Structures, Wuppertal Institute, DE
  • Joanne Vinke-de Kruijf (TIAS outgoing secretary) Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering and Management University of Twente, NL
On behalf of the association, we thank the outgoing members of the advisory board: Rik Leemans, Gül Özerol, Dale Rothman and Hedwig van Delden. We look forward to continuing work on various initiatives and to initiating new ones with all of these individuals together with other TIAS members over the next two years. A meeting of the new board will be organized in early 2019.

Comparative studies in the water governance: follow-up publication to the TIAS-IUSF 2015 Autumn School  

In the Autumn of 2015, TIAS and the Institute of Environmental Systems Research at Osnabrueck University organized (with financial support from the Volkswagen Foundation) a ten-day training event, “Concepts, frameworks and methods for the comparative analysis of water governance” for early career researchers. In early 2017, a longstanding TIAS member, Gül Özerol, invited us to join her in a collaborative writing project. With a team of twelve persons, we collaborated over one and a half years and conducted a systematic review of comparative studies in the water governance domain. The resulting publication is now available! Our study provides a comprehensive synthesis of the emerging field of comparative water governance studies. We critically reflect on how water governance is defined, conceptualized and assessed in various contexts, and we also identify four areas for further research.
Özerol, G., J. Vinke-de Kruijf, M. Brisbois, C. Casiano Flores, P. Deekshit, C. Girard, C. Knieper, S. Mirnezami, M. Ortega-Reig, P. Ranjan, N. J. S. Schröder and B. Schröter. 2018. Comparative studies of water governance: a systematic review. Ecology and Society 23 (4):43. [online] URL:



Call for Submissions: Socio-Environmental Systems Modeling Journal

Tony Jakeman, TIAS advisory board member, invites submissions to the open access journal, Socio-Environmental Systems Modeling, for which he serves as editor-in-chief. More information about the journal:   Specific questions can be directed to Professor Jakeman: tony.jakeman[at]


Recent Publications of Members

Garard, J., Koch, L., & Kowarsch, M. (2018). Elements of success in multi-stakeholder deliberation platforms. Palgrave Communications, 4(1), 129.

Özerol, G., J. Vinke-de Kruijf, M. Brisbois, C. Casiano Flores, P. Deekshit, C. Girard, C. Knieper, S. Mirnezami, M. Ortega-Reig, P. Ranjan, N. J. S. Schröder and B. Schröter. 2018. Comparative studies of water governance: a systematic review. Ecology and Society 23 (4):43.


Other publications

Szell, M., Ma, Y.  and Sinatra, R., 2018. A Nobel opportunity for interdisciplinarity. Nature Physics, 14(11), p.1075.

Tubiana, L. Making Climate Change Matter, in Project Syndicate, 14 Dec. 2018


The World Energy Outlook 2018

The World Energy Outlook 2018 published by the International Energy Agency (EIA) in November ‘examines future patterns of a changing global energy system at a time of increasing uncertainties and finds that major transformations are underway for the global energy sector, from growing electrification to the expansion of renewables, upheavals in oil production and globalisation of natural gas markets. Across all regions and fuels, policy choices made by governments will determine the shape of the energy system of the future. At a time when geopolitical factors are exerting new and complex influences on energy markets, underscoring the critical importance of energy security, World Energy Outlook 2018, the International Energy Agency’s flagship publication, details global energy trends and what possible impact they will have on supply and demand, carbon emissions, air pollution, and energy access.’ (IEA, Accessed 21 Dec. 2018)

Impressions of WEO 2018: Good publication, bad news. In global totals, it comes down to the fact that the new energy system is stacked on top of the old one. The old system continues to grow, with a whole generation of young coal-fired power stations and increasing gas imports, but soon to be followed by oil shortages. At most we can expect an increase in conventional sources that is less steep thanks to improvements in efficiency. It should not be expected that oil shortages will influence the climate policies of emerging countries. In fact, just adding new technology is not enough because existing fossil fuel based installations already account for 95% of the cumulative carbon budget under the Paris Accord over its remaining lifetime. The scenario corresponds with DNV's Energy Transition Outlook released earlier this year, but, more than DNV, IEA emphasizes the momentum of the fossil systems. IEA makes a point of taking a global look on energy. In particular, the perspective of emerging countries 1.5 billion people without access to electricity, in a rapidly electrifying world, remains as important politically as the drive for de-carbonization. IEA is not impressed by electric cars: the largest volume of fossil fuel for transport continues to used by trucks, shipping and aviation. According to IEA’s Executive Director, Dr. Fatih Birol, the idea that Teslas will revolutionize energy consumption by the whole transport sector is completely wrong.
Jan Bakkes, TIAS Vice-president

Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060

OECD. Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060: Economic Drivers and Environmental Consequences. OECD: Paris. Available from January 23, 2019

‘This report presents global projections of materials use and their environmental consequences, providing a quantitative outlook to 2060 at the global, sectoral and regional levels for 61 different materials (biomass resources, fossil fuels, metals and non-metallic minerals). It explains the economic drivers determining the decoupling of economic growth and materials use, and assesses how the projected shifts in sectoral and regional economic activity influence the use of different materials. The projections include both primary and secondary materials, which provides a deeper understanding of what drives the synergies and trade-offs between extraction and recycling.

The report projects a doubling of global primary materials use between today and 2060. Population and converging per capita income growth drive the growth in materials use. However, structural change, especially in non-OECD countries, and technology improvements partially dampen that growth. Metals and non-metallic minerals are projected to grow more rapidly than other types of materials.’
(Source:,  accessed 21 Dec. 2018)

Emissions Gap Report 2018

United Nations Environment Programme. Emissions Gap Report 2018. Nairobi, Kenya
'The annual UN Environment Emissions Gap Report presents an assessment of current national mitigation efforts and the ambitions countries have presented in their Nationally Determined Contributions, which form the foundation of the Paris Agreement.' (Source:, accessed 21 Dec. 2018).


Beyond GDP: Measuring What Counts for Economic and Social Performance

Stiglitz, J., Fitoussi, J.P. and Durand, M., 2018. Beyond GDP: Measuring What Counts for Economic and Social Performance. Sciences Po.

‘Metrics matter for policy and policy matters for well-being. In this report, the co-chairs of the OECD-hosted High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, Joseph E. Stiglitz, Jean-Paul Fitoussi and Martine Durand, show how over-reliance on GDP as the yardstick of economic performance misled policy makers who did not see the 2008 crisis coming. When the crisis did hit, concentrating on the wrong indicators meant that governments made inadequate policy choices, with severe and long-lasting consequences for many people. While GDP is the most well-known, and most powerful economic indicator, it can’t tell us everything we need to know about the health of countries and societies. In fact, it can’t even tell us everything we need to know about economic performance. We need to develop dashboards of indicators that reveal who is benefiting from growth, whether that growth is environmentally sustainable, how people feel about their lives, what factors contribute to an individual’s or a country’s success. This book looks at progress made over the past 10 years in collecting well-being data, and in using them to inform policies. An accompanying volume, For Good Measure: Advancing Research on Well-being Metrics Beyond GDP, presents the latest findings from leading economists and statisticians on selected issues within the broader agenda on defining and measuring
well-being’. (Source:, Accessed 21. Dec. 2018)

Events and courses

2019 events

TIAS Session at European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly, Vienna 7-12 Apr. 2019
The EGU General Assembly 2019 and TIAS invite abstracts for the following session by January 10, 2019: Addressing ambiguity in participatory processes for sustainable resources management (Session: ITS2.9/ERE1.8/EOS11.1/BG1.35). Further information for submitting an abstract here.

Looking back on 2018 Conferences

G-STIC is a global conference about upscaling technology and innovation for the SDGs. From the perspective of those from TIAS who have attended it, the conference tends to assume that the sustainable development agenda is clear, and that the challenge is to mobilize the big players and funding sources. The 2018 event attracted more than 1300 participants from more than 90 countries. For highlights see the chairs summary of this year’s event.

COP24 - Katowice December 2018: The main goal of the conference was to operationalize the Paris Agreement. For more information on the outcomes see Summary Highlights of Katowice Climate Change Conference.



24 - 30 March 2019. The Oxford Spring School in Ecological Economics in Oxford, UK.
This year’s theme: Green Economy for Countries, Cities and Regions: Ecosystems, Economy, Policy. The programme includes interventions from The Club of Rome, Sustainable Europe Research Institute, The Open University, Imperial College London, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Institute of Sustainable Development Strategies and Environment Europe. The course is intended for PhD students, government experts, representatives of international organizations and business. The course will give participants an opportunity to explore key methodologies for ecological-economic analysis and to apply these to various case studies.

Wageningen University & Research open online courses
New Online Course:
Landscape Leadership - Catalyse Sustainable Development in Landscapes
Other online courses available:
  • Circular Economy: An Interdisciplinary Approach
  • Sustainable Tourism: Society & Environmental Aspects
  • Sustainable Tourism: Rethinking the future
  • Sustainable Urban Development
  • Co-Creating Sustainable Cities
  • Sustainable Food Security: The value of systems thinking
See all online Courses in Environmental Studies



PhD opportunity: Transdisciplinary Analysis of the Likelihood of Farming Community Adoption of Different Soil Restoration Strategies, Using a Co-Designed, Integrated Biophysical, Social and Economic Simulation Model. Joint Edinburgh University / James Hutton InstituteMore information  (DEADLINE: 04 January 2019)


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, Caroline Lumosi, Anna-Lena Guske
Photos: Ulli Meissner 
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Layout: Worldshaper design - Fabian Heitmann, Caroline van Bers

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