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Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis using multi-attribute value tree analysis (MAVT)

Using the resource
Requirements for using the resource:
<p>Expertise in MCDA methods and access to software that supports the analysis</p>
Potential benefits from using the resource
Covers wide range of ecosystem services, also less tangible cultural services
Can facilitate multi-stakeholder processes, transparency and discussion about the subjective elements in policy analysis
Can structure an assessment along both cognitive and normative dimensions
Uncertainty can be addressed by sensitivity analysis
Trade-offs can be evaluated
Potential limitations from using the resource
Representativeness (only a small group of stakeholders usually involved)
Some criteria such as cultural heritage or provisioning services vital for sustenance might not be amenable for trade-offs
Allows manipulation if not used in a participatory and transparent way
Requires commitment from stakeholder to be involved throughout the process
Sub/region where used:
Scale of application:
Practical information
UN languages in which the resource is available:
Development stage:
Full, working product
Contact details
Heli Saarikoski/Dr Jyri Mustajoki/Dr Mika Marttunen, Finnish Environment Institute
Phone number:
+ 358 295 251 5

Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) is a general term for methods developed to support complex decision-making situations with multiple and often conflicting objectives that stakeholders groups and decision-makers value differently. In environmental management, MCDA methods are increasingly used to structure participatory integrated assessment and valuation processes which combine information about decision alternatives and their consequences with information about stakeholder and/or decision-maker values and preferences.


A large number of MCDA methods have been developed to sort, rank or evaluate decision alternatives. In multi-attribute value tree analysis (MAVT), a problem is structured in a form of a value tree that presents a hierarchical structure of the criteria and alternatives. In the preference elicitation stage of MAVT, participants are asked to assign numerical weightings to reflect the relative importance of each appraisal criterion for them.  It is important to note that the weights need to be elicited with reference to the range of variations of the criteria that occur in the specific decision problem. Several software packages are developed to support MAVT, including Web-HIPRE.


Subregions covered