Handbook of Environmental and Resource Economics
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Handbook of Environmental and Resource Economics

Edited by Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

This major reference book comprises specially commissioned surveys in environmental and resource economics written by an international team of experts. Authoritative yet accessible, each entry provides a state-of-the-art summary of key areas that will be invaluable to researchers, practitioners and advanced students.
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Chapter 58: Multi-criteria methods for quantitative, qualitative and fuzzy evaluation problems

R. Janssen and G. Munda


58 Multi-criteria methods for auantitative. qualitative and fuzzy evalua'tion problems Ron Janssen and Giuseppe Munda 1. Introduction It has become more and more difficult to see the world around us in a unidimensional way and to use only a single criterion when judging what we see. Multiple and conflicting objectives, for example, to minimize costs, to maximize environmental quality and to make sure that everybody gets a fair share are key issues in most projects. The importance of negative external effects of economic growth and the emergence of equity issues in economic development have shown limitations of cost-benefit analysis as a tool to deal with conflicts between policy objectives. Cost-benefit analysis essentially follows the priorities of the market: prices are derived directly or indirectly from market prices or are assessed from the willingness of individuals to pay (contingent valuation). To maximize economic efficiency is the central policy objective. Multi-criteria methods revolve around preferences of decision makers. These methods try to consider simultaneous multiple conflicting criteria. Environmental decision making usually involves competing interests groups, conflicting objectives and different types of information. This may explain the increasing popularity of multi-criteria methods in environmental decision making. In the Netherlands, for example, many environmental impact statements use a multi-criteria method to compare alternatives. Recent examples include decisions on routing of new highways and rail links, decisions on location of waste storage and waste-processing facilities, decisions on housing and wind power projects (Bonte et al., 1997). Reviews of applications in other countries can be found...

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