By Russell Gorddard, Matthew Colloff, Russell Wise and Michael Dunlop
Adapting to climate change can require profound alterations in environmental management and policy. However the social context of a decision process limits options and resists change, often dooming attempts to adapt to climate change even before they begin. How can decision makers in policy and management more effectively see the institutional and social water they swim in, in order to better drive change?
Values, rules and knowledge (vrk) provide a useful heuristic to help decision makers analyze how the social system shapes their decision context. Put simply, decisions require:
knowledge of options and their implications
values to assess the options
rules that enable implementation.
Viewing the decision context as an interconnected system of values, rules and knowledge can reveal limits to adaptation and suggest strategies for addressing them (Gorddard et al. 2016).
Values are the set of ethical precepts that determine the way people select actions and evaluate events.
Rules are both rules-in-use (norms, practices, habits, heuristics) and rules-in-form (regulations, laws, directives).
Knowledge is both evidence-based (scientific and technical) knowledge and experiential knowledge.
Decision context is the subset of interacting subsystems that are at play in a particular decision process. One core idea is that the decision context may exclude relevant values, knowledge or rules from being considered in decisions. Adaptation may therefore involve change in the decision context.