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Structuring or steering with MCA and CBA: Decision-support methods for Dealing sensibly with risks

MCA en MKBA: structureren of sturen? Een verkenning van beslissingsondersteunende instrumenten voor Nuchter omgaan met Risico's

Synopsis

Societal cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and multi-criteria analysis (MCA) can be useful in deliberations on environmental health risks, but they are no 'cure all'. Their usefulness is found more in the capacity they have to produce complex and multi-facetted information. This is relevant in the context of 'Dealing sensibly with risks', the Dutch government's new risk policy. One of the key issues in this policy is contained in the question: do societal costs and benefits of an activity outweigh the risks and dangers associated with that activity? CBA and MCA can function as a supplement to the 'Appraisal Framework Health and Environment'. For the moment, the steering capacity of CBA and MCA in deliberations on environmental health risks is limited. This is because of the lack of standardization and unity in methods and techniques; furthermore, outcomes vary considerably. When complexity and uncertainty are very high, the quality of the deliberation process and the participation of parties concerned are more important, while the choice between MCA and CBA is less important. These are then the main results of a study to explore advantages and disadvantages of CBA and MCA (along with their applications) for decision support. The study was carried out by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) on commission of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM). The report also provides some recommendations for further development of the Appraisal Framework on Health and Environment and lends a provisional 'helping hand' to the deliberations in the context of 'Dealing sensibly with risks'.
 

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