An institutional analysis of methods for environmental appraisal
This paper focuses on a set of issues when choosing between methods for environmental appraisal. Approaches like cost benefit analysis/contingent valuation, multicriteria analysis and deliberative methods are based on very different assumptions concerning the characteristics of environmental resources, the capacities of the individuals involved and the role the methods play in framing the process. The present paper views environmental appraisal methods as institutional structures. They are seen as rules concerning a) who should participate and in which capacity, b) what is considered data and which form data should take, and c) rules about how a conclusion is reached. Specifically, the choice of method defines the logic of the appraisal process and next influences the output. While cost benefit analysis is based on the assumption of individual rationality, deliberative methods assume that individuals can act according to social rationality. The first part of the paper is devoted to clarifying what institutions are and their role in the valuation process. Second, the main features of environmental or ecosystem services and the demands they raise for decision-making are described. A general framework for evaluating appraisal methods is then developed. Finally, this structure is elaborated in more detail as a basis for deciding over the choices of methods in the case of evaluating ecosystem services. A set of unresolved issues are identified -- especially related to how the choice of appraisal methods themselves should be instituted.
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