Right tools for the right problems – Improving environmental planning with portfolio decision analysis (PORTRIGHT)

Environmental problems are complex and contested, and finding solutions to them requires a good overall understanding of the ecological, economic and social systems and relationships within and among them. Often the problems are portfolio problems where the task is to find a set of actions that meets the objectives of the various stakeholders as well as the specific targets (e.g. CO2 emission reduction) and constraints (e.g. costs). The challenge is that the development and evaluation of portfolios can become very complicated, especially if the number of candidate actions is large and if there are synergies or antagonistic effects among the actions.

Portfolio Decision Analysis (PDA) is a powerful approach for dealing with portfolio problems, but the use of PDA in environmental decision making has been limited to-date. The main reasons for this are: (i) awareness of the approach and its potential is not widely recognized and (ii) applying the approach in practice is often challenging due to the large data requirements, computational capacity demand and cognitive complexity. This project aims to improve the operationalization of PDA by

  • identifying, analyzing and addressing the prospects, needs and key challenges of applying PDA to support selection of portfolios in environmental planning,
  • developing PDA methods to meet the characteristics of different types of the problems and to test these methods in practice, and
  • developing a framework and best practices for applying PDA methods in environmental portfolio problems.

The project will enhance PDA methods and practices, and thereby improve the application opportunities of PDA in participatory environmental planning. Specifically, the project will develop new methods that enable, e.g. (i) modelling of interactions among the actions’ consequences, (ii) capturing spatially dispersed consequences of actions, and (iii) mitigation of behavioral biases in preference elicitation. Importantly, this method development will be driven by requirements identified in real-life case studies in collaboration with stakeholders. The project also identifies those multi-criteria decision analysis practices for problem structuring and stakeholder participation that can be incorporated into PDA-based decision support processes. The project will increase the applicability and legitimacy of PDA in environmental decision making and increase awareness of its application opportunities in operations research


Contact details:

Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE): Head of Unit Mika Marttunen, email: firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi, p. +358295251411

Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE): Professor Anne Tolvanen, email: firstname.lastname@luke.fi, p. +358295323782

Aalto University School of Business: Associate professor Juuso Liesiö, email: firstname.lastname@aalto.fi

Published 2019-10-14 at 10:11, updated 2019-10-14 at 10:10