Decision Analysis (Decision-Screening)

Submitted by Sukaina Bharwani | published 25th Mar 2011 | last updated 17th Mar 2020

Climate adaptation is about making decisions. It is not our role to tell people what the outcome of climate change will be in 20 years as it is not knowable - there is too much uncertainty. However, we can say something about what should be changed when making a decision, because of climate change. There are many frameworks for making decisions and climate adaptation should fit into one of those frameworks. Nevertheless, to ignore the uncertainty around climate change is dangerous and misleading in terms of planning suitable and robust options.

However, there are still many decision screening processes that may take place at this point. This theme aims to provide advice on the best methods for decision screening in a given case exploring many different decision making methods. That is not to advocate any one particular method and not to design a comprehensive decision making model. This will still need to be done once the method is chosen. The advantages and disadvantages of each decision-making framework will be part of the advice that is provided.

The screening theme offers tools and guidance for evaluating different adaptation options, particularly with respect to making decisions in an uncertain domain such as that posed by future projections of climate change. There are many ways to make decisions, and many more tools proposed by professionals under a rubric of decision science. We cannot develop all of them for climate change applications, nor should we!

Key products of decision analysis

  • The Climate Adaptation Options Explorer is in prototype phase and is a decision support tool to screen adaptation options and provide guidance on appropriate options. The page on the Climate Adaptation Options Explorer provides a wealth of information on decision-making
  • NAIADE- a multi-criteria analysis tool to help choose between different options
  • Adaptation Metrics - a summary of approaches being taken in weADAPT on how to measure adaptation (not just as a reduction in vulnerability!).

A sample of methods and tools for decision screening

From our experience here a few approaches we have found useful. We would like to share and learn from each other, so please add more to the list or fill in the blank pages!

  • Multi-Criteria Analysis: recommended in the NAPA guidelines. We have not made plans to develop other econometric approaches such as cost-benefit or cost-effective, although there are certainly needs for economic analysis
  • KnETs Knowledge Elicitation Tools
  • Elimination by aspects and rule based decision making: screening options through filters that might include climate, but does not always do so


Technical note: The guidance offered in this theme may be driven by an expert system framework, possibly using the Java Expert System Shell (Jess).

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