Buizer, J., K. Jacobs, and D. Cash, 2009. Making short-term climate forecasts useful: linking science and action. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. online, doi:10.1073/pnas.0900518107
This paper discusses the evolution of scientific and social understanding that has led to the development of knowledge systems supporting the application of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forecasts, including the development of successful efforts to connect climate predictions with sectoral applications and actions “on the ground”. The evolution of “boundary-spanning” activities to connect science and decision-making is then discussed, setting the stage for a report of outcomes from an international workshop comprised of producers, translators, and users of climate predictions. The workshop, which focused on identifying critical boundary-spanning features of successful boundary organizations, included participants from Australia, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands, the US Pacific Northwest, and the State of Ceará in northwestern Brazil. Workshop participants agreed that boundary organizations have multiple roles including those of information broker, convenor of forums for engagement, translator of scientific information, arbiter of access to knowledge, and exemplar of adaptive behavior. Through these roles, boundary organizations will ensure the stability of the knowledge system in a changing political, economic, and climatic context. The international examples reviewed in this workshop demonstrated an interesting case of convergent evolution, where organizations that were very different in origin evolved toward similar structures and individuals engaged in them had similar experiences to share. These examples provide evidence that boundary organizations and boundary-spanners fill some social. institutional roles that are independent of culture.