Systems Analysis – a new paradigm and decision support tools for the water framework directive
- Centre for Water Resources Research, University College Dublin, Newstead, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
Abstract. In the early days of Systems Analysis the focus was on providing tools for optimisation, modelling and simulation for use by experts. Now there is a recognition of the need to develop and disseminate tools to assist in making decisions, negotiating compromises and communicating preferences that can easily be used by stakeholders without the need for specialist training. The Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires public participation and thus provides a strong incentive for progress in this direction. This paper places the new paradigm in the context of the classical one and discusses some of the new approaches which can be used in the implementation of the WFD. These include multi-criteria decision support methods suitable for environmental problems, adaptive management, cognitive mapping, social learning and cooperative design and group decision-making. Concordance methods (such as ELECTRE) and the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) are identified as multi-criteria methods that can be readily integrated into Decision Support Systems (DSS) that deal with complex environmental issues with very many criteria, some of which are qualitative. The expanding use of the new paradigm provides an opportunity to observe and learn from the interaction of stakeholders with the new technology and to assess its effectiveness.