Testing co-exploratory approaches for decision support and eliciting information needs in urban contexts in southern Africa

16:15 Wednesday 29 May


Room S11


Elizabeth Daniels (United Kingdom) 1; Sukaina Bharwani (United Kingdom) 1; Anna Taylor (South Africa) 2; Ruth Butterfield (United Kingdom) 1

1 - SEI; 2 - SEI / University of Cape Town


To evaluate and test the efficacy of different decision-making support and decision-making process-based methods to go beyond their traditional aim of supporting adaptation option appraisal. This can improve their ability to co-explore climate information needs and support improved communication, collaboration and decision-making. In urban contexts in southern Africa as part of the Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands (FRACTAL) project, we are supporting decision-makers to better integrate relevant climate knowledge into their urban planning and action. This paper focuses on the use and applicability of various decision-making methods and other participatory approaches to achieve this aim.


The FRACTAL project has centred on using transdisciplinary co-exploration and co-production processes to create and share new climate knowledge in southern African cities. A selection of decision-making support and decision-making process methods has been reviewed and tested in different contexts: including Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP); decision scaling; and the Climate Capacity Diagnosis and Development (CaDD) tool. In these applications we explore the benefits of the method applied, the challenges or barriers in applying it, and its efficacy in supporting improved communication, collaboration and decision-making. Other participatory exercises and methodologies have been developed and tested which are also analysed.


Structured, collaborative decision-making processes are not commonplace in the contexts in which these approaches and methods have been tested. Decision-makers’ access to, and capacity to process, interpret and use climate information is limited. As such, decision methods requiring high technical capacity and detailed climate information are not highly demanded or appropriate in these contexts. This highlights the importance of adapting methodologies to the user context – both in relation to the decisions they are making and their institutional context. We find that decision-making support methods have a useful, yet unintended, role to play in raising awareness and developing capacity through the process of application regardless of the final output or end result that is generated.


Many decision-making support methods have utility and efficacy in application beyond their traditional aim of supporting adaptation option appraisal. The process of applying such methods can strengthen decision-makers’ awareness of, and capacity in, climate resilient decision-making. Tailoring and refining participatory co-exploration approaches to achieve this is critical. We offer initial applications with the aim that further exploration, testing and tailoring of such methods is taken forward.

Developed by Trioss – Climate CaDD