Stakeholder Involvement in Environmental and Risk Deliberations

Robin Gregory 

A great deal has been written in recent years about the need to increase community and local participation as part of environmental decision making. The number of multi-stakeholder environmental deliberations must now be counted in the thousands. Despite this attention, significant problems remain and many environmental deliberations fall short of expectations: consultations are not perceived as open, the scientific basis for decisions is questioned, and managers often are unprepared for ecological, social, economic, and political surprises. Many lay and community participants continue to feel disenfranchised and believe that key elements are missing from recommended management options.

Robin’s research and consulting on these questions has centered on the use of structured decision processes as an aid to participants and decision makers. Based in the techniques of decision analysis, structured decision processes start by helping participants to define and to articulate their objectives clearly (i.e., what matters in the context of this problem) and to come up with good measures for these that will distinguish between different alternatives in terms of how well each of several actions or policy options satisfy a specified objective. This information then helps to understand, and to guide more detailed investigations into, the consequences of different alternatives and the key sources of uncertainty (i.e., what is not known, and how much does it matter).

For more, read:

Gregory, R., Failing, L., Harstone, M., Long, G., McDaniels, T., & Ohlson, D. (2012). Structured decision making: A practical guide to environmental management choices. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Gregory, R., & Keeney, R. (2002). Using Stakeholder Values to Make Smarter Environmental Decisions. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 38, 1601-1612.

Gregory, R., McDaniels, T. & Fields, D. (2001). Decision aiding, not dispute resolution: Creating insights through structured environmental decisions. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 20, 415-432.