01 Nov Madeleine Greenlee
Madeleine is a water resources engineer who combined her strong technical foundation with a Master of Integrated Water Management for a resulting uniquely holistic mindset. Maddie works passionately to improve upon how we develop, rehabilitate, and utilize innovative, strategic project development ideas to produce impactful work – starting with communication mechanisms.
Today’s greatest issues in water are not due to available science, rather our struggle is engaging communities, sharing knowledge, and influencing change. Improving the integration and harmonization of ecological, social, and economic dimensions of water use will require improved communication strategies. Dennison (2007) argues that the iterative and collaborative nature of communicating results leads to shared investment and stimulates new areas of scientific inquiry. Thus, to build the knowledge base of the involved stakeholders in any given context can not only provide power but inspire and stimulate action.
This study focuses on report cards specifically. Literature review and stakeholder interviews in SEQ and the GBR regions were used to research the following questions:
- Are report cards effectively influencing decision-making?
- Are report cards effective in triggering behaviour change?
- How can report cards be improved as a communication tool for decision-makers and community?
Science is most beneficial when it is well communicated, and report cards are currently used to communicate complex science in a way that is transparent, simple, and consistent. Report cards highlight management areas that need attention and encourage improvements annually by telling the ecosystem’s story. By highlighting how science supports decision making and change, we were able to determine the effectiveness of report cards and develop a framework to improve these communication tools.
As relatively new products, there have been few studies on report cards at all, and none on the overall effectiveness at influencing decision-making or behaviour change (Connolly 2013). Yet, without effective communication mechanisms those distributing scientific knowledge cannot create enough understanding of the issues to influence decision making, generate behaviour change, or to maximize social welfare in an equitable manner that supports the sustainability of vital ecosystems, a primary goal of IWRM. This framework is essential to a sustainable future.