A decision analysis framework for stakeholder involvement and learning in groundwater management

Autores UPV


Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) methods are increasingly used to facilitate both rigorous analysis and stakeholder involvement in natural and water resource planning. Decision making in that context is often complex and multi-faceted with numerous trade-offs between social, environmental and economic impacts. However, practical applications of decision-support methods are often too technically oriented and hard to use, understand or interpret for all participants. The learning of articipants in these processes is seldom examined, even though successful deliberation depends on learning. This paper analyzes the potential of an interactive MCDA framework, the decision analysis interview (DAI) approach, for facilitating stakeholder involvement and learning in groundwater management. It evaluates the results of an MCDA process in assessing land-use management alternatives in a Finnish esker aquifer area where conflicting land uses affect the groundwater body and dependent ecosystems. In the assessment process, emphasis was placed on the interactive role of the MCDA tool in facilitating stakeholder participation and learning. The results confirmed that the structured decision analysis framework can foster learning and collaboration in a process where disputes and diverse interests are represented. Computer-aided interviews helped the participants to see how their preferences affected the desirability and ranking of alternatives. During the process, the participants¿ knowledge and preferences evolved as they assess their initial knowledge with the help of fresh scientific information. The decision analysis process led to the opening of a dialogue, showing the overall picture of the problem context, and the critical issues for the further process.