Title: Social Multi-Criteria Analysis for the Evaluation of Water Management Alternatives : the Case of the Costa del Sol (Malaga, Spain)
Publisher: IWA Publishing
Publication Year: 2007
JRC N°: JRC35850
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC35850
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: This chapter describes the application of a hybrid tool to a case of water governance in the south of Spain. Multi-criteria techniques have been adopted as the means to address environmental management issues. Not only did they potentially allow for conflict analysis and evaluation from multiple perspectives but also embedded an important conceptual stand as far as decision processes are concerned. “[T]he principal aim of multiplecriteria decision aid is not to discover a solution, but to construct or create a set of relations amongst actions that better inform the actors taking part in a decision process”. In the last decade multi-criteria evaluations have evolved, from technocratic to participatory approaches, acknowledging the context in which decisions were taking place. Indeed, not only the algorithmic features have evolved to allow different types of scales to be processed simultaneously, but also the place of multi-criteria evaluation methods has changed. They are used as structuring tools, to support deliberation and decision making processes, assisting on: framing, scoping, generation of alternatives and eventually evaluation and comparison of alternatives. When applying participatory approaches in a cyclical and deliberative way, the decision process becomes a mutual learning exercise both for the participating stakeholders and the analysts’ team. It upholds the principle that stakeholder participation enriches the evaluation thanks to the multiplicity of perspectives, skills and expertise that it combines. Nevertheless, participation is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to soundly support and legitimise the decision-making. Taking into account that ethical judgements are intrinsic components of the assessment exercise, conditioning the overall outcome, transparency concerning assumptions present throughout the whole process is essential as a guarantee for the study’s quality preservation. Participatory techniques are, thus, useful tools for the understanding of the problems but have to be completed by the analyst’s responsibility towards society. Tolerance and plurality of ethical principles are also essential.
JRC Directorate:Space, Security and Migration

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