Anahí Ocampo-Melgar is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Hydraulics and Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering, at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, Chile. Sebastián Vicuña is associate professor in the Department of Hy- draulics and Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering; and Director of Centro Interdisciplinario de Cambio Global, at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Jorge Gironás is associate professor in the Department of Hydraulics and Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering, at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC), and associate researcher at the Centro de Desarrollo Urbano Sustentable, Centro de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada de Desastres Naturales, and Centro Interdisciplinario de Cambio Global—all at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Robert G. Varady is interim director and research professor of environmental policy at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy. He is also adjunct professor of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences; and research professor of in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, and in the Arid Lands Resource Sciences Program—all at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. Christopher A. Scott is professor in the School of Geography and Development and research professor of Water Resources Policy at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy. He is also adjunct professor in the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences; Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science; School of Natural Resources and the Environment; and Arid Lands Resource Sciences Program—all at the University of Arizona.
In the face of high-impact, but uncertain, environmental changes likely to affect the supply and demand of water resources, societies are discussing the need to adapt to such changes and considering their available options to do so. Inspired by a decision-analysis approach called robust decision making (RDM), a collaborative science-policy dialogue is being sustained in Chile’s Maipo River basin. The Maipo is a highly populated, water-scarce basin that has long faced multiple environmental challenges. Through a science-policy dialogue, a group—comprising representative water-resources stakeholders and multidisciplinary researchers—has identified water-related attributes that the different stakeholders wanted to protect in anticipation of climate variability and change in the basin. The result has been a hybrid water security–ecosystem services–human well-being adaptation framework with three dimensions: (i) water availability and requirements (quantity and quality), (ii) water-related objectives, and (iii) ultimate human well-being and ecosystem-services outcomes. We show that this framework—“co-produced” by stakeholders and researchers—supports adaptation by helping participants recognize the underlying development and ecosystem-services aims that must be planned for in addition to the aims of satisfying short-term water needs. The framework is used to identify appropriate performance indicators that would evaluate the need for climate-change adaptation strategies. The adaptation framework helps to visually focus the dialogue on (i) uncertainties in the climate and development scenarios that are likely to influence the definition of alternative futures; (ii) intersectoral and upstream–downstream relations that need to be better understood through models and stakeholder engagement; and (iii) the scale and location of the implementation of potential adaptation strategies.