December 4, 2013, by Blue-Green team
Decision Making under Uncertainty workshop, Washington DC; a report by Lan Hoang
In November 2013, Lan Hoang, Cambridge University Centre for Sustainable Development, attended and gave a talk at the Decision Making under Uncertainty workshop, organised by the World Bank. This workshop aimed to build a community of practice and involved various experts to characterise and identify methodologies on decision making under uncertainty.
During the first day of the workshop, participants were invited to a decision game that demonstrated the risk of miscommunication and making decisions based on averages and the expected values of risks. This can well be transferred to flood risk management. For instance, the concept of flood return period of 1-in 10 or 1-in-100 years is often misinterpreted as events occurring once within 10 or 100 years. However, even to decision makers, understanding that the concept means a flooding probability of 0.1 or 0.01, is indeed misleading as floods might occur in clusters over time which is often not recognised from the probability estimation. The game also demonstrated the difficulties of compromising stakeholders’ vested interests of mitigating hazard risks while reserving capital for economic development.
On the second and third day of the workshop, the participants attended various talks and discussions on decision making methodologies, case studies using the methodologies, and how such methodologies could be adopted in the decision making process. Lan Hoang gave a talk on her PhD case study on drought planning in Sussex and received several questions and interest on her case study.
In the last section of the workshop, participants brainstormed on how to create a community of decision making under uncertainty and what role the community will play. The participants agreed that they would contribute towards researching the methodologies, comparing the case studies and exploring how the methodologies could be adopted for practitioners, particularly in adaptation projects for developing countries. A second meeting next year at RAND, a prominent organisation on robust decision making under uncertainty, is planned. Overall the workshop was a good opportunity to explore methodologies on decision making under uncertainty, an issue that the Blue-Green Cities project is highly interested in.
How does the Blue-GreenCities team address uncertainty? In-house workshops are a good starting point…
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