If assessment reports are to form the basis for broad public debate and political decision-making, both the reports themselves and the ways in which they are produced must be subject to continual critical review and improvement. This raises the question of what makes an assessment report successful. Against this background, one field of research of the MCC is dedicated to the scientific analysis of already existing scientific assessments.
At the MCC, the working group Scientific Assessments, Ethics, and Public Policy (SEP) focuses on the analysis of already completed assessments, ultimately feeding into a learning process on the design of future assessments. For example, in a joint project with UNEP, this working group is analyzing the Fifth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5). The aim is to better understand the processes and methods of global environmental assessments and to make a scientific contribution to their improvement. One particular focus in this effort is policy relevance.
The examination of the ever-changing political context alongside an analysis of the problems and conflicts of this complex social learning process will contribute to building a solid basis for future assessments. The goal is to develop a theoretical model with which to facilitate the carrying out of assessments. Overall, the working group Scientific Assessments, Ethics, and Public Policy responds to the ever-growing number of national and international environmental targets, a context that calls for new courses of action, especially those with practical, solution-oriented approaches.