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How Not-For-Profit Organisations can learn about Multi-criteria Assessment Methods



Conflicts over resource extraction or waste disposal increase every year. Civil society organisations active in environmental justice issues focus on the link between the need for environmental security and the defence of basic human rights. values like land rights, human life, cultural signficance, biodiversity cannot be adequately assessed and quantified in monetary terms therefore cost benefit analyses can be controversial. There is a family of tools for decision-making which take into account the complexity of environmental issues.


Members of REEDS who are involved in the Environmental Justice, Liabilities and Trade (EJOLT) project funded by the European Commission have just released a  report on three methods of assessing conflict issues via Multi-criteria Assessment (MCAs) methods. These methods can be useful to Environmental Justice Organisations in their struggles. The aim of EJOLT is to improve policy responses to and support collaborative research on environmental conflicts through capacity-building of environmental justice groups and multi-stakeholder problem-solving. This report contributes to that.


The report outlines three methods: Social Multi-critieria Evaluation, Multi-criteria Mapping, and Integraal. It takes an academic approach to each, explaining what is multi-criteria assessment and looking at the nature of participation, treatment of values and criteria and how results are obtained. Human and financial resources involved in each approach are outlined. Examples of specific case studies are given, for example in the controversial issue of genetically modified crops and foods in Europe.


Two case studies are highlighted: Both involve the concept of 'leaving oil in the soil', in Ecuador and Nigeria. They are very good examples of the sorts of thinking and planning that needs to take place to understand the problems and how possibly to deal with them.


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