Alternative Approaches to Project Evaluation
This research explores alternative approaches to project appraisal aiming to transcend the shortcomings of the Environmental and Resource Economics methodology of cost-benefit analysis.
The Ecological Economics field provides a valuable set of principles from which a project evaluation framework can be derived. Weak comparability of values, strong sustainability, intra- and inter-generational equity, as well as efficient allocation constitute important building blocks of the discipline. In this context, the economy is considered a subsystem of a larger global ecosystem that sets limits to physical growth. Hitherto research suggests that the transfer of basic principles of Ecological Economics to a project evaluation framework requires the employment of a non-compensatory multi-criteria method incorporating aspects of stakeholder involvement as well as physical indices.
This study seeks to examine key differences between the Environmental and the Ecological Economics approach to project evaluation. For this purpose, a previously applied assessment scheme for the UK High Speed Rail Network is reviewed as an example for a cost-benefit analysis. The adoption of an Ecological Economics lens to the appraisal of this very project points to important methodological differences between the two procedures and provides the basis for novel insights into the outcomes of the decision-making process in public infrastructure project evaluation.