Global environmental change is increasingly understood to have causes, consequences, and responses which span multiple levels, from the local to the global. The multi-level nature of such problems has required a radical shift in the relationship between knowledge and action. This working paper illustrates that in an era of global change which is inexorably linked with local ecosystems and communities, successful efforts of regional assessments which address large-scale environmental change can be characterized as distributed research, assessment, and decision support systems. Such systems share a number of characteristics. They: 1) integrate research, assessment, and decision-making across multiple levels; 2) are structured to assess and address global change in the context of local consequences; 3) identify, assess, and respond to the interactions between society and environment which cross levels; and 4) structure the relationship between decision-makers and researchers as a two-way, dynamic, and iterated process (not a "pipeline" from science to decision-maker).
Clark, William C. and David Cash. "From Science to Policy: Assessing the Assessment Process ." KSG Faculty Research Working Papers Series RWP01-045, November 2001.