Spatial Multicriteria Analysis for Environmental Decision-Making

Environmental decision-making involves the identification and comparison of different alternatives based on multiple objectives and criteria. This calls for a framework to integrate factual information on effects and impacts, with values and preferences of stakeholders. Multicriteria analysis (MCA) offers such a framework, and it is increasingly used in combination with GIS (spatial multicriteria analysis, SMCA).

This course provides the essential principles of MCA and SMCA applied to environmental decision-making, and covers the following topics:

  • Basic concepts of decision theory and problem structuring
  • The philosophy of (S)MCA for environmental decisions
  • Methodological steps in MCA and SMCA (value function and weight assessment, criteria aggregation, sensitivity analysis, result presentation). Overview of main MCA and SMCA methods
  • Using Decision Support Systems (DSS) and GIS-based DSS
  • Case studies in different domains.

The teaching method is based on theoretical lectures and hands-on exercises, using freely available software packages. The expected learning outcomes include:

  • Understanding the advantages and limitations of (S)MCA
  • Familiarizing with different methods and techniques
  • Acquiring skills in DSS and GIS-based DSS
  • Understanding the role played by technical experts, stakeholders and decision-makers
  • Gaining first-hand experience in real-life case studies

The target audience of this course is represented by PhD students, post-doc and research fellows, practitioners, as well as public officers interested in environmental decision-making and in the comparison of options.