researcher suggested that the enhanced legitimacy of a more collaborative, but user-driven system might even enable such a system to better withstand a “failed” forecast.
In addition, given the multiple dimensions of risk management efforts, climate information is usefully seen as one part of a stream of information about many topics that decision makers must evaluate. A workshop participant explained that users need to integrate climate knowledge into their risk management framework in a continuous fashion, just like all the other pieces of knowledge that are taken into account in decision making. It is important for users to recognize the relative contribution of climate knowledge versus all the other pieces of knowledge for particular decisions. For some decisions (e.g., where climate extremes pose serious risks to health, safety, or economic well-being), climate information will be a major factor, whereas for other decisions, climate information may be one of many factors taken into consideration by the user.
Box 1 - User-Driven Problem Definition
Case: Ceará, Brazil
In the early 1990s, the Ceará government designed a new set of institutional arrangements that aimed at both democratizing and improving water management in the state. The new water law replaced a system that was mostly centralized, fragmented, and dominated by “technical solutions” with one based on integrated, decentralized, participatory, and environmentally sustainable water management. The new law also defined the river basin as the territorial unit for planning and decision making and created a series of decision-making bodies—river basin committees and water users commissions—whose mandate included decisions regarding water use and distribution, reservoir management, and construction of infra-structure. That recent innovation in governance in Ceará has facilitated the process of problem definition and risk management and has become a model in Brazil. The recently created Hydrographic Basin Committees include an assembly of decision makers that have been given authority by the state to manage water resources in the hydrographic region. The committees are composed of water users (30 percent of the members), civil society (30 percent), public municipal power (20 percent), and public state and federal powers (20 percent).
The formation and operation of the Hydrographic Basin Committees are coordinated by the State Secretariat of Water Resources (managing agency of water resources of the State of Ceará). A significant advance in the participatory management of water resources in the Lower Jaguaribe River of Ceará is the determination in advance of the amount of water that users are allowed to access from the reservoirs and the negotiation of how that water is allocated. The definition of this allocable volume requires forecasts of supply goal for the next season or year. To predict the available supply for the next season or year, the Users Commission, which mirrors in composition the Hydrographic Basin Committees in that the state, users, and organized civil society are represented, uses forecasting products from FUNCEME that are developed in collaboration with the Companhia de Gestão dos Recursos Hídricos (COGERH). Based on the needs that the Users Commission has communicated, FUNCEME supplies climatic information and forecasts for precipitation and outflows, as well as basic studies in the area of water and environmental resources. The Users Commission in turn use these forecasts as one of several key factors for determining how much water the users should be allowed to withdraw for the upcoming season.