the 1985 assessment, which did not even include an executive summary, subsequent assessments evolved to produce reports with carefully prepared summaries, viewgraphs, talking points, and nontechnical publications (e.g., Common Questions About Ozone) that summarize current knowledge in commonsense terms and (implicitly) address any current attempts to mislead or obscure the consensus.
Executive summaries are one of the most crucial elements for the successful impact of the assessment exercise on policy and decision making. It should be concise, value-free, and clear about assumptions and uncertainties, and should be crafted and reviewed with attention to clarity, substance, relevance, absence of jargon, and the differing needs of policy and decision makers—recognizing that they are generally not specialists.
Recommendation: Assessments should have a comprehensive, multifaceted communication strategy from the start, encompassing an analysis of the potential audiences, ranging from those requesting the assessment to the general public; use multiple modes of engaging them; focus on the decisions the assessment intends to inform (e.g., policy decisions, legislation, technological innovation, standards, international treaties); and include appropriate dissemination activities.
The management structure tends to vary from assessment to assessment. The NACCI established the National Assessment Synthesis Team (NAST) made up of experts from industry, academia, government laboratories, and nongovernmental organizations. The NAST, with its three co-chairmen, had substantial authority to guide the process, and their guidance was critical to the successes of the NACCI. The ACIA established a management structure consisting of various steering committees and local secretariats. The ACIA also benefited from having leadership with substantial understanding of the ability to incorporate lessons learned from previous assessment processes. Major decisions of the IPCC are taken by the plenary of government representatives, which elects 30 chairs and vice-chairs who make up the IPCC bureau. Each working group is supported by a technical support unit, and the overall Bureau is supported by a secretariat. The leadership in the ozone assessment was particularly effective due to both familiarity with the scientific issue and the political awareness necessary to communicate the scientific findings effectively (NRC 2005).
The need for a strong leadership structure is self-evident and was a common thread running through the committee’s discussions with those responsible for conducting assessments. A general principle is that the decision-making structure within the assessment needs to be well articulated