Compromise not consensus: designing a participatory process for landslide risk mitigation

Scolobig, A., Thompson, M., & Linnerooth-Bayer, J. (2016). Compromise not consensus: designing a participatory process for landslide risk mitigation. Natural Hazards 81 (S1) 45-61. 10.1007/s11069-015-2078-y.

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Project: Living with landslide risk in Europe: Assessment, effects of global change, and risk management strategies (SAFELAND, FP7 226479)


With the escalating costs of landslides, the challenge for local authorities is to develop institutional arrangements for landslide risk management that are viewed as efficient, feasible and fair by those affected. For this purpose, the participation of stakeholders in the decision-making process is mandated by the European Union as a way of improving its perceived legitimacy and transparency. This paper report on an analytical-deliberative process for selecting landslide risk mitigation measures in the town of Nocera Inferiore in southern Italy. The process was structured as a series of meetings with a group of selected residents and several parallel activities open to the public. The preparatory work included a literature/media review, semi-structured interviews carried out with key local stakeholders and a survey eliciting residents' views on landslide risk management. The main point of departure in the design of this process was the explicit elicitation and structuring of multiple worldviews (or perspectives) among the participants with respect to the nature of the problem and its solution. Rather than eliciting preferences using decision analyticl methods (e.g. utility theory or multi-criteria evaluation), this process built on a body of research - based on the theory of plural rationality - that has teased out the limited number of contending and socially constructed definitions of problem-and-solution that are able to achieve viability. This framing proved effective in structuring participants' views and arriving at a 'compromise' recommendation (not, as is often aimed for, a 'consensus') on measures for reducing landslide risk. Experts played a unique role in this process by providing a range of policy options that corresponded to the different perspetives held by the participants.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: participatory processes; theory of plural rationality; contested terrain; consensus or compromise; clumsy solution
Research Programs: Risk & Resilience (RISK)
Risk, Policy and Vulnerability (RPV)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:52
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:24

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