Stakeholder Perceptions about Incorporating Externalities and Vulnerability into Benefit–Cost Analysis Tools for Watershed Flood Risk Mitigation

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Multi-scalar climate hazards in watersheds and growing consideration regarding equity call for innovation in how agencies evaluate and prioritize mitigation and adaptation projects. Benefit–Cost Analysis (BCA) is one approach that is increasingly being applied to decision-making (i.e., FEMA BCA toolkit), but that has not been applied to watershed and equity-based flood management initiatives. This paper addresses this topic and presents a case study evaluating projects for watershed flood and climate mitigation projects by the Louisiana Watershed Initiative (Louisiana, USA). Through semi-structured interviews with stakeholders and practitioners, we found that BCA tool design must be embedded in the program and policy in order to be successfully applied and that equity has not traditionally been a core value of mitigation practice. Even though many stakeholders understand the need for incorporating environmental and social project consequences at a watershed scale, challenges to doing so include inequitable barriers to project design in competitive processes, the complexity of integrating modeling and environmental outcomes data, jurisdictional interests, and the need for better science communication with local decision-makers.

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Sustainability (Switzerland)

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