Using the Analytic Hierarchy Process to support decision making on climate change adaptation

Submitted by Christina Daszkiewicz | published 19th Aug 2020 | last updated 22nd Sep 2020
People gathered around a map in a sunny room

Cover picture from the publication.

Introduction

Adaptation decision making is context-specific. There are different approaches, methods and tools to support adaptation decision making, including the Analytic Hierarchy Process. The choice of approach, method or tool depends on the nature of the problem and the characteristics of the decision-making system. 

This training manual is aimed at supporting decision-makers in government institutions, international agencies, civil society and other development partners at the national and sub-national levels. Based on the local and contextual requirements, the content of the manual could be customised. The trainers/facilitators are free to restructure the sessions and add relevant exercises, case studies, and games.

The manual is based on a workshop approach. On one hand, it makes the learning practical and useful for the participants. On the other, it makes it easier for the trainers to effectively facilitate the planning process. The manual aims to assist the prospective trainers/facilitators to organize training of trainers (ToTs) and conduct a climate change adaptation planning workshop. It describes essential processes that would contribute to the successful organization of a workshop.

*Download the full publication from the right-hand column. An overview of the manual is provided below. See the full text for much more detail

Methodology

This training manual has been designed based on existing literature on the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) and is set within the Government of Nepal's National Framework on Local Adaptation Plans for Action (LAPA). The content of the manual has been enriched by the feedback of participants from national-level training of trainers (ToT) as well as Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Planning Workshops organized in Myagde Rural Municipality, Tanahun district, and Kalilka Urban Municipality, Chitwan district, of Nepal. 

Objectives and Expected Outcomes

The objectives of this manual are: 

  • To support adaptation decision-makers in government institutions, international agencies, civil society and other development partners to identify and prioritize adaptation solutions; 
  • To facilitate transparent communication and support consensus building among various stakeholders (e.g., community members, government officials, civil society, political representatives, academia, private sector and policy organizations) in the context of adaptation planning; and 
  • To provide practitioners with a manual that could guide them to organize a climate change adaptation planning workshop. 

The training outcome would be critical in terms of developing a thought process for the decision-makers on: 

  • How can transparency be improved in communication among various stakeholders in the context of climate change adaptation planning? 
  • How can consensus be built among various stakeholders regarding prioritization of adaptation options and strategies? 
  • How can indigenous populations, socially marginalised groups and women be involved in climate change adaptation planning? 

 

Methods and Tools

What is the Analytic Hierarchy Process?

The Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) is a multi-criteria decision making method developed by Thomas L. Saaty in 1977. It is used to analyse a complex decision-making problem, which requires multiple perspectives to be considered. The problem is decomposed into a hierarchy. The AHP is designed to select the best option from a number of alternatives, which are evaluated in the context of several criteria that could be tangible as well as intangible. Overall priorities are developed for ranking the alternatives by using simple pairwise comparison judgements by decision-makers. The AHP evaluates the consistency of judgements. It is a useful method in situations where it is difficult to quantify or compare elements of the decision, or where consensus-building and communication among stakeholders is constrained by differences in expertise, goals and worldviews.

Analytic Hierarchy Process and workshop approach

The manual is based on a workshop approach. On one hand, it makes the learning practical and useful for the participants. On the other, it makes it easier for the trainers to effectively facilitate the planning process. The manual aims to assist the prospective trainers/facilitators to organize training of trainers (ToTs) and conduct a climate change adaptation planning workshop. It describes essential processes that would contribute to the successful organization of a workshop, in three sections.

Section 1 - Conducting the workshop and facilitating the sessions

This section discusses the preparations required for a workshop on climate change adaptation planning and the role of a trainer/facilitator. Trainers/facilitators would have to decide the aim and scope of the ToT or planning workshop, including contents, duration, participants and overall setting.Trainers would have to undertake the following actions during this phase:

  • Develop the scope, content and structure;
  • Incorporate feedback from major stakeholders in content development;
  • Prepare details of different sessions;
  • Prepare a list of participants with a special focus on gender and social inclusion;
  • Organize logistics; and
  • Identify facilitators and resource persons.

Section 2 - Preparation for a workshop on climate change adaptation planning

This section provides an overview of the training/planning workshop, including detailed descriptions of the following thematic sessions:

  • Thematic Session 1: Climate change adaptation
  • Thematic Session 2: Overview of the Local Adaptation Plan for Action
  • Thematic Session 3: Introduction to the Analytic Hierarchy Approach
  • Thematic Session 4: Finalizing the criteria and their relative weights
  • Thematic Session 5: Pairwise comparison of adaptation options
  • Thematic Session 6: Presentation of the results of the prioritization exercise
  • Thematic Session 7: The way forward and closing remarks

Trainers/facilitators would have to undertake the following actions during this phase:

  • Conduct the planned sessions as per the programme;
  • Create a conducive environment for co-learning;
  • Facilitate interaction between participants;
  • Ensure that participants from indigenous groups, socially marginalized groups and women receive opportunities to contribute; and
  • Evaluate daily performance, gather participants’ feedback and improve the workshop design.

Section 3 - Evaluation of the climate change adaptation planning workshop

During this phase, participants, either individually or collectively, use learning from the ToT or planning workshop. Trainers/facilitators would have to undertake the following actions during this phase:

  • Seek feedback from participants about the use of learning;
  • Provide technical support to participants as they attempt to utilize their learning; and
  • Use the feedback from participants to further enhance the content and design of the workshop.

This section presents the evaluation form that can be used.


Participants pose for a picture after the completion of the planning workshop in Kalilka Municipality,
Chitwan district, Nepal, from p.23 of the publication.