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Valuation of ecosystem services and social choice: the impact of deliberation in the context of two different aggregation rules

Abstract

This paper describes an empiric study of aggregation and deliberation—used during citizens’ workshops—for the elicitation of collective preferences over 20 different ecosystem services (ESs) delivered by the Palavas coastal lagoons located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea close to Montpellier (S. France). The impact of deliberation is apprehended by comparing the collectives preferences constructed with and without deliberation. The same aggregation rules were used before and after deliberation. We compared two different aggregation methods, i.e. Rapid Ecosystem Services Participatory Appraisal (RESPA) and Majority Judgement (MJ). RESPA had been specifically tested for ESs, while MJ evaluates the merit of each item, an ES in our case, in a predefined ordinal scale of judgment. The impact of deliberation was strongest for the RESPA method. This new information acquired from application of social choice theory is particularly useful for ecological economics studying ES, and more practically for the development of deliberative approaches for public policies.

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Notes

  1. Of course there are obstacles to the ‘good’ properties of a deliberation other than those associated with the aggregation of preferences. Actual deliberative processes can sometimes be affected by power relations that reproduce systems of privilege and inequality. Two types of indicators can be used to assess the quality of a deliberation process. The first relates to the balance of speaking times and the transparency and traceability of the debates. The second type of indicator is related to the diversity and representativeness of the participants (Howarth and Wilson 2006).

  2. For example, an unstructured process might be dominated by the powerful participants, particularly if they are in agreement. In contrast, a facilitated process might amplify the voices of people in the minority, forcing engagement and social learning on matters of disagreement (Howarth and Wilson 2006).

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Acknowledgements

This study has been financed by the DRIIHM LabEx (ANR-11-LABX-0010_DRIIHM), “Device for Interdisciplinary Research on human-environments Interactions” within the framework of the Human-environment observatory “Mediterranean coastline. Special thanks are due to Nicole Lautredou and Mylène Farge for their help during the citizen workshops. We acknowledge the support of the municipalities of Lattes, Villeneuve- lès- Maguelone and Mireval for providing conference rooms for the workshops. The local managers of the former Syndicat Mixte des Etangs Littoraux (SIEL) and Ms. Nicole Plank (municipal council of Lattes) are thanked for their support and useful suggestions. We are most thankful to the 42 participants at the citizens’ workshops and particularly to those 31 who fully engaged in the deliberative process.

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Correspondence to Rutger De Wit.

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Special Issue of Social Choice and Welfare: Deliberation and Aggregation, guest editors: Olivier Roy and Mikael Cozic.

Appendix

Appendix

Appendix 1

The list of the ecosystem services used in the study (Table 6).

Table 6 The set of the twenty ecosystem services (ESs) used in this study

Appendix 2

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Sy, M.M., Figuières, C., Rey-Valette, H. et al. Valuation of ecosystem services and social choice: the impact of deliberation in the context of two different aggregation rules. Soc Choice Welf (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00355-022-01421-7

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