In a stakeholder engagement process, the social process around the assessment is often confused with the assessment of the social aspects of the issue at stake. The integration of social dimensions in an assessment should not be reduced to stakeholder participation or a simple opinion poll.
Natural processes are not easy to understand, but the social aspects are just as complicated, and there is often a significant information deficit in comparison to the bio-physical components. Social aspects involve sociological, political, economic and legal components. Unlike natural processes, they are much more difficult to reduce to numerical and statistical analyses. Social data are mostly qualitative, sometimes with a subjective component that calls for particular forms of treatment in the assessment.
Various problems are also commonly encountered with social and economic information. Sometimes detailed data exist but are not analysed at the scales relevant to the environmental issue.
An environmental issue is first and foremost a social issue and is therefore highly context dependent: political agenda, regulatory conditions, power relations at a given time and place. This requires specific data collection and processing for which resources must be dedicated.
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Improving the management of atlantic landscapes: acounting for biodiversity and ecosystem services Interreg Atlantic Area, started in 2017
Coordination by J. Ballé-Béganton and D. Bailly