Participatory Environmental Valuation: A Comparative Analysis of Four Case Studies

December 06, 2016 by Leslie Carnoye, Rita Lopes

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The valuation of multiple ecosystem services requires the design of valuation processes able to integrate different dimensions of value and to cope with complexity. Following the “value-articulating institution” framework, we note that three core problems arise: the cognitive, normative and composition problems. Combining valuation methods, such as contingent valuation and multicriteria analysis, with participatory and deliberative techniques is increasingly promoted as a means to address those fundamental problems. However, the quality and legitimacy of the valuation process then becomes dependent on how participation is framed. We note that numerous issues need to be taken into account, such as the roles assumed by participants, the differences in contribution among participants, the level of participatory impact and the level of democratization of the decision-making process. This paper proposes a detailed qualitative analysis of four case studies, each of them having implemented a specific valuation method in a participatory process. We analyze how those cases were handled in each of the dimensions considered and offer our conclusions about the added values and remaining challenges related to participatory environmental valuation.