Sumernet

SUMERNET panel on "Robust Decision Support" for policymaking on water at the 2016 Greater Mekong Forum in Bangkok

SUMERNET partners will be organizing a panel on the Robust Decision Support (RDS) tool for policy decision-making on water issues at the 2016 Greater Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy in Bangkok during 9-11 November. The panel (session no. 18) will be held on Thursday 10th November from 1.30-3.00 pm at Room No. 3, Patcharawadee 1 at Prince Hotel, Bangkok. 

Climate change in the Mekong Region is resulting in more intense rainfall and floods along with extended dry seasons and longer periods of drought and water scarcity. The region’s economic and industrial development is also leading to increasing competition over use of water and land especially in rural areas. 

The rising uncertainties over water and water-use are posing many challenges for policy makers and planners in natural resource management. It is becoming clear that conventional planning approaches are no longer adequate and new planning tools and methods are needed.  SEI’s practice of Robust Decision Support (RDS) is based on a theoretical decision making under uncertainty framework referred to as Robust Decision Making (RDM)

SUMERNET panel on RDS

SUMERNET's panel at the greater Mekong Forum is titled "Uncertainties in Mekong Catchment Planning: Can Robust Decision Support (RDS) Help?

The panel aims to: 1) Share the latest results of deploying RDS in the Mekong sub-region; 2) Develop everyone’s fundamental understanding of how to evaluate a proposed policies for robustness; 3) Encourage more holistic thinking across sectors.

The panel will offer first-hand experiences of applying RDS to Mekong sub-regions and the results that were generated. The panel participants can practice using RDS to see how the outputs make it possible to weave together a better understanding of a policy’s implications across sectors

The RDM framework

The RDM framework emerged because traditional decision making approaches based on an assessment of the likely probabilities of future conditions are usually based on a single best estimate of a future condition.  But this approach does not respond well in a situation such as climate change where a range of climate-risk related situations can occur in the future. 

The central feature of the RDS practice is to acknowledge and intentionally incorporate the analysis of external factors such as climate change, but also potentially other factors such as economic development, water- and land-use, into the evaluation of the potential benefits associated with specific water management adaptation actions. While understanding the uncertainty of many external factors, the decision makers engage in an iterative process of identifying actions that can be taken at the watershed scale in order to reduce climate vulnerability and increase the climate resilience of water systems.

Application of RDS in the Mekong region

SEI has applied the RDS framework in the Mekong region in five country case studies in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam to assist in developing policies and strategies to address the challenge of water planning and decision making under climate change.  SEI is using a participatory approach to formulate and define the problems related to water resources management and subsequently identify uncertainties and planning responses.

In the initial period, all relevant stakeholders and decision makers are given the opportunity to participate in the critical problem formulation and analytical design process. A technical level of understanding on water modeling expertise is reached among stakeholders. 

The RDS framework assists decision makers to identify and design new decision options that may be more robust than those they had originally considered. In addition, RDS is useful in group decision-making when there are a number of possibel scenarious and little consensus to guide the most effective decisions.

Using RDS in the Mekong region allows policy makers to become better informed about water scarcity conditions in order to develop and apply effective strategies for management and allocation of limited water resources. Technical experts and planners can effectively consider changing temporal circumstances, and how to address water and climate uncertainty in the short, medium, and long term.

Please download the attached flyer (pdf, low-res) for more details about the SUMERNET panel and speakers. 

The Greater Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy is an annual event that brings together researchers, policymakers, development agencies and practitioners as well as the private sector to explore water sustainability issues across the Mekong region.