Monitoring local well-being in environmental interventions: a consideration of practical trade-offs


Within the field of environmental management and conservation, the concept of well-being is starting to gain traction in monitoring the socio-economic and cultural
impact of interventions on local people. Here we consider the practical trade-offs policy makers and practitioners must navigate when utilizing the concept of well-being in environmental interventions. We first review current concepts of well-being before considering the need to balance the complexity and practical applicability of the definition used and to consider both positive and negative components of well-being. A key determinant of how well-being is opertionalized is the identity of the organization wishing to monitor it. We describe the trade-offs around the external and internal validity of different approaches to measuring well-being and the relative contributions of qualitative and quantitative information to understanding well-being. We explore how these trade-offs may be decided as a result of a power struggle between stakeholders. Well-being is a complex, multi-dimensional, dynamic concept that cannot be easily defined and measured. Local perspectives are often missed during the project design process as a result of the more powerful voices of national governments and international NGOs, so for equity and local relevance it is important to ensure these perspectives are represented at a high level in project design and implementation.

Palmer Fry, M. Agarwala, G. Atkinson, T. Clements, K. Homewood, S. Mourato, J.M. Rowcliffe, G. Wallace and E.J. Milner-Gulland. In Oryx, available on CJO2015. doi:10.1017/S003060531500112X.