Development of valuation frameworks and principles

We identified frameworks and principles for recognising the multiple values of the marine environment to support EBM.

Project Leader Duration Budget
Jim Sinner (Cawthron Institute) April 2016 – July 2019 $300,000


Values are central to environmental decision-making, but there is no consensus about how they should be used. Environmental valuation involves describing why places and environments are important.

In this research, we engaged with ‘values-holders’ about their experiences with planning processes in the Marlborough Sounds. We found that formal marine environment valuation and decision-making processes can alienate participants, demanding huge investments of time and personal sacrifices.

While assessment of values is intended to improve decision-making, formal processes can generate antagonism that undermine people’s confidence in democratic institutions. All valuation processes are imperfect, so our research covers use of both formal and informal methods to enable people to present their values.  

We identified several tentative principles about how to acknowledge diverse values and values-holders and help to maintain confidence in democratic institutions. We explored valuation frameworks that represent three broad approaches to assessing values for decision-making: cost-benefit analysis, ecosystem services and multi-criteria analysis.  

Māori resource management professionals have expressed that EBM should sit within the Treaty of Waitangi framework. Among other things, mana whenua want to explore how they can share decision-making. Further engagement is needed to identify frameworks and principles that would give Māori confidence in the decisions being made. 

These and other frameworks and principles will be further tested in a Sustainable Seas case study in Tasman and Golden Bays to generate recommendations for future practice. 

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