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Social multi-criteria evaluation as a decision support tool for integrated coastal zone management

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Social multi-criteria evaluation as a decision support tool for integrated coastal zone management
  Social multi-criteria evaluation as a decision support tool for integrated coastalzone management Eneko Garmendia a , b , * , Gonzalo Gamboa b , Javier Franco c , Joxe Mikel Garmendia c , Pedro Liria c ,Marta Olazabal d , e a Environmental Economics Unit, Institute for Public Economics, University of the Basque Country, Spain b Institute for Environmental Sciences and Technologies (ICTA), Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain c  AZTI-Tecnalia, Marine Research Division, Herrera Kaia  e  Portualdea z/g, 20110-Pasaia, Spain d LABEIN-Tecnalia, Urban and Industrial Environment Unit, Parque Tecnológico de Bizkaia, 48160 Derio, Spain e Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, CB3 9EP, United Kingdom a r t i c l e i n f o  Article history: Available online 21 May 2010 a b s t r a c t Traditional top-down and technocratic approaches seem to be insuf  fi cient to tackle the many con fl ictsrelated to the sustainable use of natural resources. At the same time, reductionist and mono-disciplinaryapproaches lack the capacity to capture the complex interactions within evolving socio-ecologicalsystems. Coastal zone management is an area that provides a clear example of such dif  fi culties. In thispaper we explore the scope of a participatory integrated assessment process, known as Social Multi-Criteria Evaluation (SMCE), in the context of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM). Througha two-year collaborative research process, between an interdisciplinary group of researchers anda diverse group of stakeholders in the Urdaibai Estuary (a Biosphere Reserve in the Basque Country,Northern Spain), we show that improving the integration of diverse expertise and values can lead,through a mutual learning process, to the de fi nition of relevant policy options and sound decisions in theface of complexity, value con fl ict and unavoidable uncertainty.   2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. 1. Introduction In the past, the failure of research to account for the full spec-trum of natural system functions and human system complexityhasoftenhindereditsabilitytoproducerealisticresultsthatleadtoinformed policies [1]. In coastal areas this situation has beenexacerbated by inappropriate managerial interventions [2]. Hardengineering solutions and command and control approaches,which neglected the diversity of social actors and the multiplescales of complex socio-ecological issues, have been shown to beinsuf  fi cientforsolvingmanycontemporaryissuesrelatedtocoastalzone management. Global trends show a decline in the quality of these regions due to habitat loss, decline in water quality, collapseof   fi sheries or loss of biodiversity [3,4].In recent years, increasing attention has been given to theinclusion of participatory approaches in natural resource manage-mentandpolicymaking[5 e 14]andICZMhasalsoshiftedtoamoredeliberate role worldwide [15 e 19]. Claims for the active andsustained involvement of different stakeholders and citizens inhow coastal resources are allocated and con fl icts mediated comefrom different strands [2,3,9,20 e 27]. Nevertheless, efforts in thisdirection still need further attention. In this paper we will try toaddress the following key questions:(i) How do we make operational the claim for more inclusiveapproaches in ICZM?(ii) Aiming to provide better management options for our coastalsystems, how could we enhance participatory approachescapable of integrating a wide range of scientists, coming fromdifferent disciplines, with a broader public and stakeholders,with different values and interests, in a collaborative andinclusive partnership?(iii) Howcouldwedealwithfuzzy,uncertainandoftenincompleteinformation about the complex socio-ecological systems (SES)that surround us [28]?Ourunderstandingofhownaturalandsocialsystemsinteract,overlongtimeperiodsandalongthespatialscale,needstobesubstantiatedbydemocraticmechanismsthatcandealwiththeinherentproblemsof continuous change, irreversibility, uncertainty and multiple legiti-matestandpointsofthesystems[5].Inthiscontextitisdif  fi cultto fi nd *  Corresponding author. Environmental Economics Unit, Institute for PublicEconomics, University of the Basque Country, Spain. Tel.: þ 34 946017103; fax: þ 34946017100. E-mail address: (E. Garmendia). Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Ocean & Coastal Management journal homepage: 0964-5691/$  e  see front matter    2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2010.05.001 Ocean & Coastal Management 53 (2010) 385 e 403  any alternative to what has been de fi ned by Funtowicz and Ravetz[29 e 31] as an extended community of peers. When facts are uncer-tain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent, scientistscannot provide any useful input without interacting with the rest of society, and the rest of society can hardly make any sound decisionwithoutconsideringthebestscienti fi cknowledge(seealso[32 e 35]).From this it seems obvious that in addition to the inclusion of various scienti fi c disciplines, collaboration should be enhancedbetween all relevant stakeholders representing the diversity of values in society [36]. Local actors, citizens and other collectivestraditionally excluded from decision-making can contributesubstantially in this sense [37,38], as  “ non-experts ”  may see prob-lems, issues and solutions that experts miss [39]. In other words, the process of policy design requires a more collaborative interplaybetween decision-makers, scientists and other actors [40 e 44], andparticipatory approaches constitute a promising framework forpursuing this collective effort [45 e 47].Among other holistic approaches, Multi-Criteria Evaluation(MCE) techniques have been shown to be particularly appropriatefor integrationwith participatory approaches in the search for newstrategies that foster sustainability in many issues characterized bydeep complexities and unavoidable con fl icts [10,48 e 55]. Thisapproach allows one to take into account controversial, multidi-mensional and uncertain effects of decisions [56], in a systematicand structured way [57]. In the end, management plans are aboveall hypotheses that require  “ re fl ection before action ”  [44], andpublic and stakeholder participation supported by integratedassessment tools, like the one presented in this paper, can initiatesocial learning processes that enrich this re fl exive process in thelight of complexity and unavoidable uncertainty [47,58,59].With this study we explore the potential of a participatoryintegrated assessment process developed under the Social Multi-CriteriaEvaluationframework(SMCE),inthecontextofcoastalzonemanagement,througharealcasestudycarriedoutintheBiosphereReserve of Urdaibai (Basque Country, Northern Spain). The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 presents brie fl y themethodological framework. Section 3 introduces the case study.Section 4 describes the whole participatory integrated assessmentprocess that has been developed to analyse different managementoptionsforthestudyarea.Section5showstheresultsobtainedfromthis process. Finally, Section 6 discusses the potential of this meth-odologyin thecontextofICZMandgives somegeneral conclusions. 2. Methodological framework: Social Multi-CriteriaEvaluation (SMCE) MCE is a means of simplifying and structuring complex deci-sion-making problems that can involve many stakeholders,a diversity of possible outcomes and many, sometimes intangible,criteriabywhichtoassesstheoutcomes[53].TheoriginsofMCEliein the  fi elds of mathematics and operational research but in recentyears it has been increasingly applied in the context of naturalresource management and other sustainability related issues.When  fi rst developed, MCE was characterized by the method-ological principle of multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM). Theobjective was to elicit clear preferences from a (mythical) decisionmaker and then to solve a well-structured problem by means of a mathematical algorithm. Progressively, ideas about  proceduralrationality 1 [60]andthe constructive or creative approach developedby Roy 2 [61] have lead to the development of the methodologicalframework of Multi-criteria Decision Aid (MCDA). With time, moreand more authors emphasize the need to include, public partici-pation in MCDA [48,51,53] fostering the emergence of ParticipatoryMulti-criteria Evaluation (PMCE). Social multi-criteria evaluation(SMCE) was born in this context and emphasizes transparency. Themain idea is that results of an evaluation exercise depends on theway a given policy problem is structured; thus, the assumptions,ethicalpositions,interestsandvalueshavetobemadeclear.Withinthis framework SMCE public participation is a  necessary  condition,butnota suf   fi cient  one,mathematicalaggregationconventions playan important role, i.e. to assure that the ranking of alternatives areconsistent with the information and the assumptions used [51].SMCE also includes:   Consideration of the socio-cultural context in which the rela-tionship decision-makers/analysts is embedded;   Combination of participatory methods (qualitative andquantitative);   The use of a cyclic and dynamic evaluation procedure, in whichtheresearchteamandtheinvolvedsocialactorsexperimentwitha learning process (that may lead to a change inpreferences).Within this framework the application of participatoryapproaches must account for the:   Potential in fl uence of powerful stakeholders in discussiongroups;   Lack of representation of qualitative participatory approaches(focus groups and in-depth interviews, among others);   Inclusion of non-organized groups as part of the social actors;   Ethics  e  public participation and scienti fi c outcomes do notentail de-responsibility of decision-makers.People transform their positions and opinions with regard to anissue by interacting with other agents, exchanging information andre fl ecting on their underlying values and assumptions. In thisregard, authentic deliberation would require non-coercivecommunication so as to induce re fl ection upon preferences [62].There are hundreds of mathematical algorithms to solve multi-criteria analysis problems [63] and each of them has advantagesand disadvantages depending on the context in which we want touse them [64]. The mathematical algorithm must yield outcomesconsistent with the information and assumptions used: theiraxiomatization should be complete and clear. Also, they should beas simple as possible in order to assure transparency in a socialcontext [51].In this case, given the complexity of coastal ecosystems, thesurrounding uncertainty and the presence of high degrees of con fl ict among the stakeholders involved we have chosen the so-called SMCE framework. As we have seen above, this novelapproach combines multi-criteria algorithmic (mathematical)methods with participatory approaches in its various stages andwas explicitly designed for dealing with complex and uncertainissues in the context of sustainability [65]. The theoretical foun-dation of this framework can be found in Post-Normal Science andComplex System Theory and rests on the idea of weak compara-bility of values, which states that irreducible value con fl ict isunavoidable but can be made compatible with rational choice by 1 According to Simon, one can distinguish between substantive and proceduralrationality. The former is independent of the way a decision is made and refersexclusively to the results of the choice. The last refers to the process in whicha decision is made. 2 According to Roy,  fi nding a  fi nal solution in a decision problem is lessa discovery than a creation, in which the actors taking part in the decision processeither shape, argue and/or transform their preferences, arriving at a decision thatmeets their goals. E. Garmendia et al. / Ocean & Coastal Management 53 (2010) 385 e 403 386  employing practical judgments [51,56,66]. Renewable energypolicies [67], regional planning [68], risk assessment [69] or water management [70] are but some areas to which this particularframework has been applied.The main characteristics that make SMCE suitable for ICZM ingeneral and this case study in particular, can be summarized asfollows:- inter/multi-disciplinary (with respect to the research team);- participatory (with respect to all stakeholders involved);- transparent (since all criteria are presented in their srcinalform and avoid reductionist assumptions);- allows the inclusion of qualitative information in fuzzy oruncertain evaluation problems;- adaptive and dynamic in a way that allows a continuouslearning process while capturing the emergent properties of the coevolving socio-ecological system. 3. Study area: Urdaibai estuary  Urdaibai is located in the south-eastern corner of the Bay of Biscay, in the Basque Country (Fig.1). It covers an area of 220 km 2 witharound45,000inhabitants,mostof themconcentratedinthetownsofGernikaandBermeo.Ithas22municipalities,11ofwhichlie wholly within its borders. To the north its border is the coast,where capes Matxitxako and Ogoño protect the entrance to theestuaryand the islandof Izarostandsguard.The restof itsbordersfollowthewatershed of theRiverOkawhichis12 kminwidthand20 in.length.Theterritoryischaracterizedbyahydrographicbasinofsmallcreeksthatmergeinagreatsaltmarshsurroundedbyhighsheer cliffs. The surrounding countryside is occupied by meadowland,oakgroves,leafywoodsand,especially,byplantationsoffast-growing conifers (mainly  Pinus radiata ).The central area of this region is the Urdaibai Estuary (UE),which is also referred to as the Oka, Mundaka or Gernika Estuary. Itis 12 km long and around 1 km at its maximum width [71]. Thisarea represents in all its complexitya clear example of the multipleinterests that coexist in the coastal zones and the dif  fi culties weface in managing them. The estuary was used for food provision byits prehistoric inhabitants and nowadays we can still  fi nd variousremnants of the prehistoric, Roman and Middle Ages eras. Sincethen this area has been in a constant co-evolution with the humanactivities that modify it. Despite the major industrial developmentof the district throughout the 20th century, the estuary has main-tained its rural character and nowadays it encompasses the largestcoastal wetlands and the best preserved estuary in the BasqueCountry.  3.1. Environmental characteristics and main morphologicalelements Like many other estuaries on the Cantabrian Coast, the UrdaibaiEstuary and its surroundings include a great variety of habitats andenvironments: cliffs, rocky shores, sand dunes and sand beaches inthe outermost area; intertidal sand banks, muddy banks and lowand intermediate marshes in the middle reaches; and highmarshes,freshwaterhabitats andriverinewoods in the innerareas.This estuary also hosts several habitats and species of EuropeanimportanceaccordingtotheBirds andHabitatsDirective.Ofspecialrelevance is that the area represents an important refuge for birds,mainly during the migration and winter seasons and both asa resting and feeding area. Many bird species included in the BirdsDirective are regular visitors to this estuary, like the EurasianSpoonbill ( Platalea leucorodia ), the Osprey ( Pandion haliaetus ) andmany waders.Theestuarycanbeseentofunctionasatidalinlet,intermsofitssediment dynamics. The effect of river  fl ow is relatively low,compared with the tidal prismvolume, which representsalmostallof the water  fl ow in the estuary mouth [72]. Tidal inlets are one of the most dynamic elements of the littoral sediment budget. Somestudies have shown that the characteristics of the main morpho-logical elements of a tidal inlet depend upon the tidal prism, inletgeometry, shoreline con fi guration, offshore bathymetry, waveclimate, littoral drift, sediment characteristics and freshwaterrunoff  [73 e 77].The main morphological elements of the UE and their dynamicsare described below, in order to create a conceptual model of theevolution of the system and facilitate the construction and valua-tion of different management options for the area.According to the dominancy of different dynamics in themorphology and sediment transport we can describe threedifferent parts of the estuary, with different morphologicalelements in each one.(i) The offshore sand reservoir: this is the lower part of thebeach pro fi le and in the UE is laterally con fi ned by rockycontours (Izaro Island to the east and Matxitxako Cape to thewest). Completely wave dominated and without contact withother offshore sand banks or inputs due to coastal sedimentdrift.(ii) The estuary mouth: this is the most dynamic area and wavedynamicsand tide-dynamicsare balanced. Inthis zonewecanidentify the following morphological elements:- Ebb tidal delta. Known locally as the  “ Mundaka Sandbar ”  it isformed as the result of equilibrium between the tidal action(tidal out fl ow) and wave activity. The morphology of theMundaka Sandbar, in turn, is in response to the shorelinecon fi guration (high-angle half-delta) [72].- Main channel: tidal action dominates and its cross-sectionalarea is directly related to the tidal prism. The channel is alsoconditioned by wave action that tends to accumulate sand,constricting its section.- Dynamic beach pro fi le: this includes the breaking zone andthe intertidal beach. It is almost completely wave dominatedand its evolution is related to mean wave climate.- Supratidal beach: this is a reservoir of sand modelled bywind action creating sand dunes. Its form is also condi-tioned by extreme storms on its north face and themeandering erosion of the main channel on the southernpart.(iii) Theinnerpartoftheestuary:tidalactionandriver fl owarethemain dynamics in this area. Wave action can have someimpact(especiallyinfragravitywavesinextremestorms)butitdecreases rapidly towards the inner part. In this part alsodifferent morphological elements can be described:- Flood deltas: these are created by the diffraction of the  fl uxduring the  fl ood and modelled by the meandering erosiveactionof themainchannel.Waveactivitystillhassomeeffectmaking the sand banks ( fl ood deltas) migrate inland.- Main channel: tidal action on each point is proportional tothe tidal  fl ow. Thus the dominance of the river out fl owincreasesaswemove fromtheestuarymouthtotheinside of the estuary. There is still some wave activity, especially inrelation to the displacement of the sand banks andmorphology of the channel.- Secondary channels: the dynamics are very similar to thesedescribed in the main channel but with no in fl uence of wavedynamics.- Mud  fl ats: dynamics are really slow in this part. Freshwaterrunoff and some tidal action are the main factors. E. Garmendia et al. / Ocean & Coastal Management 53 (2010) 385 e 403  387   3.2. A turning point: the creation of the Biosphere Reserve and thenew legal framework In1984,consideringitsnaturalandculturalvalues,thisareawasaccepted as part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves byUNESCO (Man and Biosphere Programme) and later, the BasqueCountry Parliament adopted the Urdaibai Biosphere ReserveProtection and Planning Act, Law 5/1989, with the aim of: “ . protecting the integrity and promoting the recovery of theland,  fl ora, fauna, landscape, water and atmosphere, and inshort, of the whole ecosystem on the basis of its natural,scienti fi c,educational,cultural,recreationalandsocio-economicinterest ”  (article 1).In 1992 this area was also included on the Ramsar Convention ’ sList of Wetlands of International Importance; in 1994 it joined thenetworkofSpecialProtection Areas(SPAs)forBirds,whichentailedautomatic inclusion in the Natura 2000 network of European pro-tected natural areas;  fi nally in 2006, the Urdaibai littoral zones andmarshes were declared a Site of Community Importance (Natura2000 Network).  3.3. Management problems and related con  fl icts Nowadays within this area, like in many other Cantabrian andMediterranean coastal zones, a wide range of interests coexist, e.g.tourism, agriculture,  fi shing, industry, recreational activities orconservation. Nevertheless this coexistence is not always an easytask and managing the system in a sustainable manner entailsa great challenge.The estuary encompasses a highly dynamic and complex system,and the human activities within this system are closely inter-connected. Due to this complexity, compatibility among variousinterests is not always possible. Managers have to make trade-offs toappease the diverse interests and competing values. In the case of Urdaibai, fi shersclaimaccesstosel fi shandconsideranyrestrictioninfavour of conservation measures an infringement on their rights,which are previous to the creation of the Biosphere Reserve. Bird-watchers, environmental guides and others dependent on theecological values of the estuary underscore the legal status of theestuary as a special protected area and report illegal  fi shing andnavigation as a great threat to these habitats. Surfers depend on thecon fi guration of the Mundaka sandbar to guarantee proper waves. Fig. 1.  Map of the study area showing, on the left, the main locations cited in the text and, in the photograph on the right, the main habitats of the estuary. E. Garmendia et al. / Ocean & Coastal Management 53 (2010) 385 e 403 388  Theyrejectanyconservationmeasures,likethecreationoftheduneinthemouthoftheestuary,thatcouldalterthedynamicsofthechanneland modify the con fi guration of the bar. Tourism also depends onrecreationalactivities,e.g.,kayakingorkitesur fi ng,intheinnerpartof the estuary, which also creates tension between sport practitionersand conservationmeasures. These are just some examples, but in thelast decades many other con fl icts have arisen in the area due to thepresence of confronted interestand perspectives.The last serious episode took place in 2003 when a shipyardlocated in the middle of the estuary dredged over 300,000 m 3 of sandandmudtofacilitatethelaunchingofitsboats.Thedisposalof the dredged material in the outer estuary modi fi ed its hydrody-namicsandsubsequentlythe morphologicalfeaturesof thesystem,affecting a number of activities like sur fi ng,  fi shing and birdwatching, and causing social alarm. The intervention in the bottomof the channel was nota new issue, and has been the focus of manycontroversies.Inthe1970sforinstance,underFranco ’ sdictatorship,the pressures suffered by the estuary led to the creation of some of thepioneeringconservationandecologistassociationsintheBasqueCountry. Nevertheless, this time, due to a combination of severalfactors,especiallytheimpactonMundaka ’ swave(thelongestleftinEurope and host of the World Cup) and the role of the mass media,the concern about the futureof the estuary reached unprecedentedlevels. Many local, regional and also international collectivesshowed their concern about the future of the area, leading toa turning point in the current management regime (Fig. 2).In summary, the emergence of new social values and needs hasshifted the management system in the estuary. Between the 16thcentury and the beginning of the 19th century, increasing demandfor agricultural land due to demographic pressure diminishedwetland areas and created polders. In the last part of the 19thcentury and the beginning of the 20th century, a large channel andrailway along the estuary were built to serve the local economy,shifting management and greatly in fl uencing the dynamics of theestuary. Between the 1960s and the late 1990s, abandoned agricul-turallandrevertedtomarshland,anddredgingactivitiesshapedtheestuary. Finally, the creation of the Biosphere Reserve in 1989 andthesubsequentlegalprotectionoftheestuaryasaconservationzonehave conditioned the future of the area. The law now requires thesustainable management of the estuary (see Section 3.2).In this context, in 2007 a diverse group of researchers 3 togetherwith local, regional and national stakeholders 4 concerned about thesituationinthearea,createdacollaborativeresearchprocesswiththeaim of analysing sustainable management options for the UrdaibaiEstuary from a holistic perspective and considering the activeinvolvementofadiversegroupofstakeholders.InthefollowingsectionwedescribeinmoredetailthewholeparticipatoryintegratedprocessthathasbeendevelopedwiththispurposeundertheSMCEframework. 4. The participatory integrated assessment process under theSMCE framework  In operational terms, the application of a social multi-criteriaframework, in a participatory context, involves the following mainsteps [51]: Fig. 2.  Multiple uses in the estuary: (a) Polders constructed in the past due to demographic pressure and land demand; they are currently threatened by invasive species in due toabandonment of agricultural activity; (b) shipyard in the middle of the estuary; (c) Mundaka ’ s wave and surfers in the river mouth of the estuary, (d) Recovered dunes in the outerpart of the estuary. 3 Composed of: marine scientists, biologists, sociologists, economists, engineers,lawyers, chemists, ecologists and geologists. 4 Among others this group included representatives from: the Basque govern-ment, Spanish environmental ministry, industry and labour unions, mayors, citi-zens, NGOs, birdwatchers,  fi shers and surfers. E. Garmendia et al. / Ocean & Coastal Management 53 (2010) 385 e 403  389
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