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Sci Total Environ. 2011 Sep 1;409(19):3578-94. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.06.022. Epub 2011 Jul 18.

Multi-criteria decision analysis in environmental sciences: ten years of applications and trends.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Decision-making in environmental projects requires consideration of trade-offs between socio-political, environmental, and economic impacts and is often complicated by various stakeholder views. Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) emerged as a formal methodology to face available technical information and stakeholder values to support decisions in many fields and can be especially valuable in environmental decision making. This study reviews environmental applications of MCDA. Over 300 papers published between 2000 and 2009 reporting MCDA applications in the environmental field were identified through a series of queries in the Web of Science database. The papers were classified by their environmental application area, decision or intervention type. In addition, the papers were also classified by the MCDA methods used in the analysis (analytic hierarchy process, multi-attribute utility theory, and outranking). The results suggest that there is a significant growth in environmental applications of MCDA over the last decade across all environmental application areas. Multiple MCDA tools have been successfully used for environmental applications. Even though the use of the specific methods and tools varies in different application areas and geographic regions, our review of a few papers where several methods were used in parallel with the same problem indicates that recommended course of action does not vary significantly with the method applied.

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