Environmental Decision-Making

Hari Srinivas
Concept Note Series E-001. June 2015

Across the world, environmental decisions are constantly being taken. Their settings vary, as do the people and groups involved. Environmental decisions occur within neighbourhoods, small businesses, corporate boardrooms, and in the offices of local, state and national governments. They involve different people with different backgrounds. There is a constant need for understanding the various processes, actors and preconditions of decision-making processes for environmental management.

Three key stakeholders at the local levelEnvironmental decisions anchor themselves on three entities - businesses, government, and the civil society at large. Facilitating interaction between them, and focussing on sustainable use of earth's resources, have been key challenges for developed and developing countries alike. What directions should research and development take? What specific roles should be played by the different actors so that innovation and creativity in environmental decisions can be fostered? How can environmental decision-making at various levels be supported and promoted?

Awareness, Assessment and Action

Good environmental decision making can be filtered down to two aspects assessing alternative options and implementing action.

Data taken from the filed, indicators, standards and codes, prevalent laws and regulations etc. Help in assessing alternative options to solving an environmental problem.

A thorough stakeholder analysis along with proper outcome management will help in implementing action to over come environmental problems.

Both the above two aspects are grounded with strong awareness of the what/why/how of environmental problems. This helps in developing a long-term vision, and broad goals and objectives that guide both assessments and actions.

It is clear that a culture of study, research and pedagogy needs to be developed, that is primarily focussed on the earth, and on man's environmental footprint. Environmental research needs to be geared towards mitigating current problems, and securing the earth for future generations. What changes, modifications and adjustments are necessary for a turn-around to refocus our efforts on sustainable lifestyles?

Research insights, monitoring and evaluation results, and information dialogues need to be incorporated into environmental projects, so that demonstrable successes can be an inspiration for further action and replication. What concrete steps should be taken? What is the nature of partnerships and networking that need to be put in place for sharing of knowledge gained?

This GDRC programme combines alternatives, information, outcomes, and preferences to enable decision-makers achieve clarity of environmental action. The researh focusses on ways of breaking down a problem into manageable parts and explicitly considering all available courses of action. By systematically evaluating the implications of their decisions, decision-makers can clarify their actions, understanding what they should do, even with uncertainities.

GDRC and Environmental Decision-Making (EDM)

It is interesting to look at the information available in the various programme pages of GDRC from the perspective of EDM - What kind of decisions are necessary for each theme? At what level should it be taken? Who takes them, and who are affected by the decisions? What are the intended outcomes? What pre-conditions need to be met before the decisions are implemented? What information is necessary to be collected for the decision to be taken?

These questions are pertinent, and form the starting point for good decision-making, particularly at the local level.

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