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Managing contaminated land from a stakeholder network perspective

Managing contaminated land involves various agencies and people who need effective channels to communicate for the project to be a success. EU researchers developed a method to assess the social network configurations that affect the sustainability of such projects.
Managing contaminated land from a stakeholder network perspective
Approaches to managing polluted or otherwise contaminated land have evolved over time. Current thinking emphasizes that contaminated land should be managed in a way that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. So far, however, conceptualizing social sustainability has used only a few of the methodological tools of the social sciences.

The EU-funded NEXSUS (Network-based expert-stakeholder framework for sustainable remediation) initiative developed a novel way to assess the social sustainability of management strategies for contaminated land. This research proposes a sociological method - social network analysis - as a way to assess sustainability in terms of how well different stakeholders (or categories of stakeholders) are involved in and can make their voices heard in the management of contaminated land.

To achieve this, the researchers combined indicators of social networks with user-derived indicators of social, economic and environmental sustainability for contaminated land management projects. Their method of assessment takes scores that users have assigned to the three sets of sustainability indicators as well as the centrality of each user in the stakeholder communication network and ranks them.

Using this new methodology, practitioners are able to understand how the goals for contaminated land management affect the involved groups, and vice versa. The researchers successfully applied their methodology to managing an area of contaminated land in Italy in one of Europe's largest industrial zones (Porto Marghera).

The results are useful not only for researchers interested in contaminated land management but also for policymakers, consultants and other practitioners. NEXSUS hold the promise to improve the social acceptability of land management projects, hopefully enhancing the involvement of stakeholders and reducing the opposition to these projects in the future.

Related information

Keywords

Contaminated land, social network analysis, sustainability, land management, NEXSUS, social sustainability
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