MCA describes any structured approach used to determine overall preferences among alternative options, where the options accomplish several objectives. In MCA, desirable objectives are specified and corresponding attributes or indicators are identified.

The actual measurement of indicators need not be in monetary terms, but are often based on the quantitative analysis (through scoring, ranking and weighting) of a wide range of qualitative impact categories and criteria. Different environmental and social indicators may be developed side by side with economic costs and benefits. Explicit recognition is given to the fact that a variety of both monetary and non-monetary objectives may influence policy decisions. MCA provides techniques for comparing and ranking different outcomes, even though a variety of indicators are used. MCA includes a range of related techniques, some of which follow this entry.


Multicriteria analysis or multiobjective decision making is a type of decision analysis tool that is particularly applicable to cases where a single-criterion approach (such as cost-benefit analysis) falls short, especially where significant environmental and social impacts cannot be assigned monetary values. MCA allows decision makers to include a full range of social, environmental, technical, economic, and financial criteria.

State of Development Please Select

Development Contact


Outcome Areas Economic, Environmental, Social, Cultural
Management Domains Air Quality, Land, Coastal, Urban Systems, Natural Hazards, Biosecurity, Biodiversity, Community, Waste, Freshwater
Steady State or Dynamic Unknown

Input & Output Data


Open/Closed Source Open Source

User Information

User Interface Please Select
Ease of Use Unknown Depends on the particular MCA tool employed. All rely on the exercise of some expert judgment.

Technical Considerations

Analytical Techniques Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis
Keywords social, environmental, technical, economic, financial
Key References

A Multi-Criteria Assessment Framework for Carbon-Mitigation Projects: Putting 'development' in the centre of decision-making


DEFRA. 2003. Use of multi-criteria analysis in air quality policy: A Report (

DTLR. 2001. Multi Criteria Analysis: A Manual. The internet version is now available at

ETR. 1999. Review of Technical Guidance on Environmental Appraisal: A Report by Economics for the Environment Consultancy (

Associated Case Studies

  • Other Key Case Studies

    World Commission on Dams. Integrated Decision Making Framework. ( World Conservation Union Office for West Africa. Sustainable Development Planning Process ( Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research. Framework for Carbon Mitigation Projects (