WP 4 – The development of a prioritization methodology: A integrated multi-criteria analysis

WP 4 aims to develop a new methodology for the prioritization of cross-sectoral adaptation measures. In Northern India, prioritization of adaptation options will take place under uncertain conditions and will involve equity and sustainability issues. Such complex circumstances require new forms of environmental decision making. The prioritization methodology will be based on a participatory valuation approach. It will stimulate the involvement of stakeholders operating at different decision making levels. This new methodology will enhance the incorporation of different preferences and subjective views of stakeholders in the valuation of adaptation measures.

The challenge taken up in WP 4 is to develop a methodology that enhances knowledge based decision making about the most relevant set(s) of adaptation options. The knowledge supporting the decision making process will combine scientific knowledge derived from WP 1, 2 and 3 with the knowledge and perceptions of the stakeholders involved. 

The prioritization methodology will be developed through action combined with reflection. The action part will carried out in WP 6. The reflection part is typical for WP 4. The prioritization methodology to be developed in WP 4 will:

  • Be build upon an 'integrated multi criteria analysis'
  • Enrich the integrated multi criteria analysis’ by combining it with the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) tool
  • Acknowledge that stakeholders operate at different decision making levels within one or crossing multiple physical scales
  • Consider the participatory decision making process as a negotiation process for which future oriented models will be further developed and tested

The prioritization methodology that will be developed in WP4 builds upon the 'integrated multi criteria analysis' (ICM). ICM is an interdisciplinary approach for participatory multi-criteria decision support. It is a fairly new methodology that supports public decisions on complex environmental problems in the context of global change affecting large regions and long periods of time, involving considerable social, ecological, and economic effects. ICM combines assessment via Benefits Costs Analysis (BCA) and Multi Criteria Analysis (MCA). ICM also involves participation of relevant stakeholders to improve the competence and fairness in the decision making process.

The integrated multi criteria analysis' will be enriched by applying the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) method in the identification and weighting of the criteria, analyzing the data collected for the criteria and expediting the decision-making process. AHP helps to capture both subjective and objective evaluation measures, providing a useful mechanism for checking the consistency of the evaluation measures and suggested alternatives thus reducing bias in decision making.

The prioritization methodology aims to support the negotiation process on sets of adaptation measures between stakeholders. Adaptation under scarcity means that certain demands can not be satisfied. Participation of stakeholders in a prioritization process implies debating different values and contesting interests. As a consequence, the methodology for the prioritization of adaptation options needs to address the issue of negotiation between stakeholders operating within the same and/or different decision making level(s). A decision making level might correspond with a particular physical scale (e.g., basin scale, subbasin scale  or field/farm scale) or might cross multiple scales.

A focus on negotiation implies that the prioritization methodology will put emphasis on the similarities among stakeholders but also on the differences in uncertainties and risks perceived by different parties, including the weaker ones. The prioritization methodology will include methods that can assist negotiated decision making processes such as ‘reframing tools’ and ‘future oriented models’ to widen stakeholders’ view on options and their impact. Knowledge generated in WP 1,2, and 3 on climate, hydrology and socio-economic boundary conditions will thereby be used.

However to improve understanding and increase the impact of this knowledge in the priorization process a more integrated approach is needed than just presenting results and ‘knowledge’. WP4 will further test and improve WaterWise, a methodology aimed at linking stakeholder goals to (the knowledge of) the biophysical system and integrated it in the ICM approach. The WaterWise method is originally created to support stakeholder interaction in the Netherlands and further developed in an international context in the NEWATER project (Pahl-Wostl and Kabat, 2004). WaterWise (Van Walsum, 2008) is a holistic bio-economical model and method to explore the combined hydrological and economic consequences of land use changes and hydrological options like reservoir management in a spatially explicit way. The model offers a platform to link biophysical and economic knowledge and to use this in participative exploration studies. It will provide suggestions with respect to cost effective and sustainable spatial planning solutions. It thereby creates the possibility to highlight the effect on both the waterbalance as well as other (economic) indicators of peoples objectives, claims and preferences in land and water use.

The WaterWise method will add value to the interactive methodologies of WP4. It will make full use of and be based on the interactive modelling done in WP6 and further integrate the results of WP1 and WP2 within the WP4 methodology. Another strong link will be to WP3 in which regional socio-economic boundary conditions will be derived. These boundary conditions will also form the boundary conditions in the WaterWise method. The further development of the WaterWise in the HighNoon project will focus on the incorporation of uncertainties coming from multiple climate scenario predictions and the issue of scaling, two of the main issues in priorization  WP4 will work on.