How does public participation in decision-making help cost-benefit analysis (CBA)/ multi-criteria analysis (MCA)?

Public participation help CBA/MCA at various stages of analysis to minimize the role of subjective factors and arrive at figures which best reflect social valuation. It is impossible to include the social dimension, especially the equity issue in CBA. Stakeholder participation becomes even more useful in view of the widespread gaps in reliable data and information, which prevail in developing economies.

The voice of the public can determine the weights of the qualitative and subjective elements forming a part of CBA. The opinion of the public may be sought at different stages in the CBA/MCA exercise. The first inclusion of local values in the CBA/MCA process comes at the “scoping” stage, resulting in selection of the more important impacts for further study. But it is in the valuation of intangibles that stakeholder participation is expected to be most useful.

The public may also be invited to give comments on a CBA/MCA worked out by experts whether with or without stakeholder participation and be taken into account while finalizing CBA/MCA.