Decision-making under future uncertainty: developing adaptive urban water strategies
This paper describes a decision-making framework created to develop long term adaptive water supply and demand strategies to respond to future contextual uncertainties, such as climate change and urbanisation. Whilst there are various theoretical methods for decision making under uncertainty, they generally have not been applied to the water sector. Nor have they been brought together in an integrated, practically-grounded process to guide strategic planning and project level decisions, such as the approach proposed in this paper. This approach avoids predictions of the future or modelling intensive analysis, rather it integrates the fundamental characteristics of uncertain system influences (trends and shocks) with two additional thinking tools: the use of scenarios based on a number of uncertainties to describe potential futures, and the focus on investment approaches to guide the packaging of potential response measures.
Keywords: adaptive systems, decision making, urban water, uncertainty, scenarios, planning, utilities