Integrated Assessments have many important outcomes. For example, they are effective at multiple scales, help leverage new resources or successful spinoff projects, evolve based on participant interests, build coalitions that would otherwise not exist, and provide a neutral setting for parties to meet about contentious issues.
PARTICIPANT Feedback ABOUT the PROCESS
"What did you get out of the IA process?" That's essentially the question we asked of scientists, NGO managers, state and federal agency administrators, consultants, and community members who have been involved in IA projects (focusing on projects conducted by Michigan Sea Grant, a seasoned IA leader). We specifically interviewed participants from the following four IAs, which represent different issues, scales and levels of stakeholder involvement:
- Northeast Michigan Integrated Assessment – Connecting Great Lakes, Coastal Access, Tourism, and Economic Development
- Rein in the Runoff – Tracing the Path and Influence of Water in Spring Lake
- Fish Consumption Advisories in the Detroit River – What’s Safe to Eat and Why
- Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico – Documenting the Dead Zone
TANGIBLE & INTANGIBLE BENEFITS OF IA
What we most learned from our interviews is that the Integrated Assessment method provides both tangible and intangible benefits, both equally valuable to the issues at hand. Here's a synopsis of what we heard:
- IA Reporting: One of the most important tangible outcomes of an IA is the actual report that evaluates policy options. The IA report creates one accessible source of accurate, agreed upon information developed from multiple perspectives.
- Support Data: IA projects also typically provide valuable datasets, models, and other technical information.
- Modified Perspectives: IA participants often see their issue through a new lens and explore challenges and strategies not previously considered. For example, IA can create a shift from local to regional perspectives and motivate people to see how issues are connected.
- New Partnerships: The IA process catalyzes partnerships by bringing people together to tackle a challenging issue from multiple perspectives. Many of these working relationships continue long after the process is over because IAs build communication, cooperation, trust, and public participation.
- Change in Process: IA can change decision making through through new policies and new strategic planning. These projects bridge gaps between science and policy and increase access of policy making to a greater number of groups and individuals.
- New Opportunities & Resources: IA often motivates participants to continue efforts beyond the initial project, leverages additional funding, and creates spinoff projects.
This page represents just a snapshot of what we found through our survey of IA participants. For more information, please see related links below:
- Integrated Assessment Research Framework (PDF)
- “Benefits of Using Integrated Assessment to Address Sustainability Challenges” - article published in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.
- "Benefits of Integrated Assessment" - full report (PDF)
- Michigan Sea Grant webpage