National sustainable transport planning – governance with MCDA?


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Planning for a national sustainable transport system is a complex task and with a conflict potential since it involves taking into account a wide range of criteria. In assessment of public policies, multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) seems adequate, since it facilitates the use of both qualitative as well as quantitative measurement scales, which makes it possible to address multidisciplinary problems. MCDA has seen a widespread decision-support function in public decision making in sectors such as energy and environment. Over the last decade transport planning, similar to other sector planning, has undergone a change from traditional planning to governance. This together with an increasing emphasis on sustainable development calls for new procedures, institutions and planning tools. Unlike cost-benefit analysis and environmental impact analysis, MCDA is rarely required by national laws or directives. Nonetheless, examples of public support of MCDA can be found: An EU guide points out that MCDA facilitates the participation of all actors and helps reaching a compromise or defining a coalition of views. UK has put a focus on MCDA by publishing a general MCDA guide for official use. Italian law states that MCDA is required as regards project selection for public works. Several examples of use of MCDA in the public domain exist for e.g. Sweden, Portugal and France. This paper evaluates the use of MCDA in national transport planning by its strengths and weaknesses in assessing the impacts of public policy options up for examination within sustainable national transport planning. The evaluation is based on a review of identified relevant literature. The overall key issue of this paper is to highlight the application potential of MCDA in national transport planning and its utility to policymakers engaged in such planning for a sustainable development of the transport system.

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  • What is policy analysis? And how is MCDA relevant in a policy analysis context? Here we should define policy analysis as activities, methodologies, and tools that are used to give aid and advice in a context of public policymaking.The quality of policy processes and policy outcomes comprises multiple attributes: not only efficiency and effectiveness, but also legitimacy, democratic character, fairness, transparency, accountability, and other values come into play, and may even conflict with each other (Thissen and Walker, 2013).
  • Indirectly MCDM is required in most countries prescribing EIA. Participation and environmental criteriaMCDM adopted by supra-national level e.g. EU, World bank and UN.”One goal – one instrument” is inadequate For road projects Véron (2010) has made an international comparison of how impacts are assessed for road projects. He lists several impacts which are appraised in a qualitative manner ranging from 3 to 16 different impacts.
  • National sustainable transport planning – governance with MCDA?

    1. 1. National sustainable transport planning – governance with MCDA? Anders Vestergaard Jensen1, Steen Leleur1 and Joe Zietsman2 1Technical University of Denmark 2Texas A&M University
    2. 2. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen2 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Agenda • Research context – SUSTAIN research project – Sustainability and sustainable planning – Sustainability assessment • Sustainability and transport planning – Two ‘national’ approaches (The UK and Switzerland) • Case example – Railway corridor in the Baltic region
    3. 3. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen3 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark SUSTAINABILITY
    4. 4. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen4 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark SUSTAIN project • Research objectives: • How can the concept of sustainability be operationalised and transformed into strategic performance measures for national transport planning? • How can these types of knowledge about organisational forms and planning processes contribute to the achievement of such sustainability measures? • And how can these new types of knowledge be built into new model-based planning tools that can help advance the strategic planning in the desired sustainable direction?
    5. 5. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen5 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Deliberate, knowledge-based and strategic endeavours to integrate sustainability principles, criteria and goals in the development, management, regulation and assessment of nationally significant transport systems and services Three interlinked dimensions: * Normative * Analytic * Governance National sustainable transport planning
    6. 6. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen6 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Transition towards sustainability – three dimensions Dimensions Generic meaning National transport planning context Normative The fundamental ethical principles and value-orientations of sustainability What sustainable transport is, what the pillars and principles imply in transport and which goals to pursue Analytic Determine whether an action is sustainable or not Knowledge on consequences for sustainability of possible interventions, e.g. infrastructure and transport service projects Governance The system of governance that should promote and implement changes towards sustainability Organisational forms in the transport sector, the set-up of government institutions and transport planning and implementation procedures to promote sustainability
    7. 7. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen7 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark The use of MCDA to govern The quality of policy processes and policy outcomes comprises multiple attributes: not only efficiency and effectiveness, but also: – Legitimacy – Democratic character – Fairness – Transparency – Accountability and other values come into play, and may even conflict with each other (Thissen and Walker, 2013).
    8. 8. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen8 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Sustainability • Wide acceptance of the importance of sustainability – However, less agreement on how to measure and assess it – Also differences in how sustainability is defined Congestion Traffic safety
    9. 9. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen9 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Sustainability: Multiple objectives • Weak/strong sustainability: Trade-offs, minimum requirements • Governance has been suggested to be added as the fourth dimension Social Economic Environmental Sustainability
    10. 10. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen10 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Sustainability assessment (SA) and MCDA • Indicator based comparativ sustainability assessment – By the use of MCDA and planning workshops (engagement of stakeholders) • The goal for some assessmenst (e.g. EIA) has been to ensure conditions were not made worse because of a development. – For SA the focused is on the principles of sustainability, ensuring developments provide maximum benefits – Thresholds for indicators to be implemented and managed by MCDA • SA should focus (in theory) on the longer term. – In practice, however, short term imperatives are driven by powerfull economic and political interests and difficult to resist – A challenge for MCDA – stakeholders representing the future generations?
    11. 11. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen11 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark MCDA and sustainability assessment MCDA ”One goal – one instrument” is inadequate Increasing sustainable consideration
    12. 12. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen12 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark SUSTAINABILITY, MCDA AND TRANSPORT PLANNING
    13. 13. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen13 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Transport and sustainability (Banister 2012) Established convention – Unsustainable Transport Low carbon mobility – Sustainable Transport Premised on abundant supplies of energy that can be reduced through greater efficiency in use Premised on need to reduce all resource consumption in transport – particularly oil Technological solutions to low carbon mobility Technology important, but societal change needed Market mechanisms can lead to low carbon futures High transport costs politically difficult to implement Car ownership is still seen as desirable – and should be accommodated in cities and more widely New forms of ownership required – sharing, leasing, renting – parking space reduced in cities Accepts high levels of mobility and the quantity of travel, as measured by speed and distance travelled Focus on accessibility and the quality of travel – need to reduce travel speeds and distances Segregation of space between motorised traffic and other use of street space Street space seen as a common resource that should be used flexibly for many different purposes Concerns over the main mode of transport rather than the total journey Concern over door-to-door travel, and the entire journey experience Travel time seen as ‘wasted’ time – to be minimised Travel time as having a positive value Travel decisions seen as choices – rationality Travel decisions as complex assemblages Accepts trends – transport as a short term issue Vision about the desired city over the longer term Plans and constructs forecasts of likely demand Pathways towards low carbon mobility and needs Social and environmental costs valued at less than economic costs All three pillars of sustainability important – also political and public acceptability Transport instrumental in regeneration and growth Transport not instrumental – but supportive
    14. 14. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen14 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark National transport planning & MCDA • UK: New Approach to Appraisal (NATA) – The cost-benefit analysis is complemented by assessments of impacts that are described qualitatively or that can be quantified, but not monetised
    15. 15. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen15 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Examples of national sustainable planning: Switzerland • Switzerland – Sustainable development strategies since 1997 – Currently the fourth: 2012-2015 – Transport infrastructure projects are subject systematically to a sustainability assessment while still at the planning stage
    16. 16. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen16 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Presentation of results
    17. 17. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen17 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark An example of CBA and MCDA used by the Swiss government Applicability of major assessment methods Assessment method Description Application Comparative value analysis (CVA) Example of MCDA Impacts are scores (e.g. -3 to +3). No weighting or aggregation Complex cases where unquantifiable or difficult quantify values are of importance Utility analysis (UA) Example of MCDA Indicators values (impacts) are rated on a uniform scale (e.g. 0- 100), impacts are weigthed, points totals and weightings are combined into a single utility value. In complex decision-making situations where unquantifiable or difficult quantify values are of importance and weighting is useful. Cost-impact analysis (CIA) Cost-effective analysis (CEA) Impacts are related to costs (how much ”impact” per monetary unit). No aggregation, weighting or monetarization. All impacts can be measured. No indification of efficiency. Applied where monetarization of utility components is not possible/desirable. Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) Monetary values for target measures fulfil the weighting function (no weighting and determination of utility values), different impacts can be compared directly (macro/microeconomic). Not suitable as sole method for complex multidimensional assessment processes such as sustainability assessmensts (rather as supplement). Information value of monetized values may be limited Swiss government (2004) Sustainability assessment
    18. 18. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen18 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark RAIL BALTICA CASE STUDY
    19. 19. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen19 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark SUSTAIN Appraisal Framework (SAF) Example of use
    20. 20. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen20 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark
    21. 21. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen21 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Two scenarios Business as usual Sustainable development Improved rail lines will result in more efficient land-bound connections between the Baltic and the Nordic countries (particularly Finland) and in the long run potentially further to Central Asia. Improved rail links will benefit the environment, contribute to alleviate congestion on the European road network, increase the accessibility of the Baltic States and potentially improve conditions for accelerated regional development in the countries involved. A good and cost- effective transport system is a pre- condition for maintaining high economic growth and improving the European integration. There exists a common belief that a transition to ‘sustainable’ transport modes is possible, while at the same time meeting the indicated stated by transport forecasts. The world’s natural resources are limited, and there is a realisation that alternative energy sources cannot replace the fossil fuels to maintain the same standards as we have previously known. This means that both individual and freight transport must be based on more resource efficient modes. Concerning private transportation, mobility is now more of a luxurious good than a matter of course. Instead planning is striving for accessibility to the necessary facilities. The big cities are becoming polycentric and more medium-sized cities are emerging. Due to the changed transportation pattern, there is a need to include and connect as many as possible of these cities in the sustainable transport corridors.
    22. 22. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen22 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Total scores – two scenarios 0.64 0.12 0.11 0.13 0.30 0.20 0.18 0.32 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 Alt. 1 Alt. 2 Alt. 3 Alt. 4 Total score SD BAU
    23. 23. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen23 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Sensitivity of criteria weights 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0.3 0.35 0.4 0.45 Relativefrequency Total score Sustainable development Alt. 1 Alt. 2 Alt. 3 Alt. 4
    24. 24. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen24 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Presenting the results • Impacts on the three dimensions of sustainability must be clearly apparent • Uncertainties and risks should be clearly expressed • Qualitative information must remain recognizable and receive equal emphasis as quantitative information • The most important conflicting goals between individual criteria must be apparent. An aggregate presentation cannot replace a presentation at level of individual criteria • Optimization opportunities should be presented and comparison of variants should be possible • The appropriateness of the criteria set used in relation to the project should be critically examined
    25. 25. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen25 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Strengths and difficulties of MCDA for governance Strenghts Difficulties Learning process, stimulates discussions, common understanding Openness to divergent values and opinions Capability to tackle qualitative and intangible factors Accountability (sytematic, transparent) Conflict resolution – political compromise Broad stakeholder participation Helps legitimise decision makers’ behaviour Preferences revealed in a more direct and practical way Technical complexity, e.g. elicitation of parameters Choice of stakeholders and timing of their participation Difficult inter-comparison of case studies Decisions on the degree of simplification of the decision content Potentially time consuming process Experts’ reluctance to share their knowledge/power On a higher decision level, experts are more suspicious of new instruments Information bias from certain stakeholder groups to strenghten their power. Gamper CD and Turcanu C (2007) On the governmental use of multi- criteria analysis. Ecological Economics 62(2): 298-307.
    26. 26. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen26 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark An appraisal framework in progress… • ”One goal – one instrument” is inadequate • Well developed indicator systems to be used • Challenges: • Decide on a national understanding of sustainability • Increased integration between systems and sectors • Sustainability of transport is difficult to measure precisely due to the interconnectedness between transport and other systems • How to represent the future generation in evaluation? • Which MCDA methods are most usefull? • Research will continue to develop and apply a framework for sustainable appraisal in the context of national transport planning
    27. 27. 28-06-2013Anders Vestergaard Jensen27 DTU Transport, Technical University of Denmark Thank you…