Title: We have the tools - How to attract the people? Creating a culture of Web-based participation in environmental decision making

Authors: Raimo P. Hämäläinen, Jyri Mustajoki and Mika Marttunen

Date: June 2, 2006

Status: Manuscript

Keywords: Multicriteria decision analysis, Decision support systems, Public participation, Environmental decision making, World Wide Web

The proliferation of the World Wide Web has opened new opportunities to support participatory decision making. We now also have a number of Web-based tools to support participation and decision analytical methods. This opportunity is of special interest in environmental applications where we always have multiple objectives and multiple stakeholders who are often geographically in different locations. In spite of the attractiveness of the tools, we still have very limited number of users. In this paper, we discuss the ways and requirements to apply decision analytical tools in Web-based public participation. We demonstrate a framework to support participatory processes, which includes Web-based tools for decision analysis and participatory feedback. The applicability of the framework is discussed in terms of experiences obtained from three lake regulation applications carried out in Finland in the years 1995-2003. Our main message is that there has to be a strong commitment to create a culture of Web-based participation by case projects before the public stakeholders and the authorities can accept this new approach.