Decision making


Biodiversity decision making processes are part of a policy cycle, and processes at all stages have their own characteristics and requirements. Most decisions about biodiversity conservation are ultimately taken by authorities or bodies with authority, but mostly they are the result of a complicated decision making process involving multiple parties, within a framework that is set by general as well as biodiversity policy and, ultimately, voters.

The power structure in a decision making process plays an important role in determining the outcome. Especially authorities can at certain stage of the policy cycle be in a position to use their (legal) power to force a decision, as for instance often happened in the national adoptions of Natura 2000 policy.

But stages in a policy process are not independent of one another, and causing annoyance by forcing a decision in one stage can have a negative impact on progress in a consecutive phase, like for instance happened in Natura 2000 policy implementation in the Netherlands.

Especially in the policy implementation phase, results often depend on cooperation of and compromise and consensus between a number of parties. Decision making then depends on the dialogue, trust and credebility, and to produce results the process needs to run its course and needs to take its time. Time that is can also be used to develop the  capacity to build effective argumentation.

Numerous factors make up the context for decision making. The socio-economic setting and the interests of the parties involved can be seen as part of it. The same is true for the level of knowledge, beliefs and assumptions of the people involved. Social and legal obligations will usually also be factors depending on the interactions between governance levels and modes.

BESAFE’s results show that tailoring of arguments to the situation, using the right framing and the right strategies are important factors determining the effective use of argumentation in decision making.