International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

A process for identifying options or alternatives


The purpose of this step is to select the ideas, opportunities or solutions that best meet the needs and realities of the region. The outcome will be some form of elaborated table of specific alternative ideas, opportunities or solutions that will provide the basis for more detailed in-country consultations and discussions on options or alternatives. This approach is based on political pragmatism. The overall initial suggestion for ideas, opportunities or solutions will come from this step but their implementation will mostly be at the national level and it is important that governments do not feel imposed to take a particular approach.

These are suggested alternatives not decisions; all countries involved in the process are at liberty to propose additional solutions or to discount those coming from the SAP development team - it is an iterative process.

Reviewing process

An example of a review process for identifying options and alternatives is presented here.

In order to examine all the ideas, opportunities and solutions identified during the brainstorming step it is useful to create a matrix or table Alternatives matrix to capture all the information. The table, completed by each group involved in the process ensures that the process is consistent between groups.

The ‘relative priority’ column should be completed at the end of the sub-group sessions and then reviewed in plenary. The idea of this column is not to dictate which of the proposals will go forward but to provide an objective viewpoint on the feasibility of the proposals.

It is perfectly acceptable for a sub-group to argue that all of the proposals are high priority (or medium or low) if this can be substantiated by good reasoning. At a later stage however, some of the proposals must be subjected to economic analysis (see next section); these studies are time consuming and expensive and the purpose of the pre-screening is to avoid unnecessary effort on proposals that have limited chance of success.

At this stage however, no technically feasible proposal should be rejected, merely rated according to the opinion of the participants and passed on to the next stage of the process where it is considered by national teams.

The effect of Climate change

It is also important to consider the impact of climate change when identifying options and alternatives and prioritizing actions for the SAP.

In particular, the SAP should explicitly recognize that adaptation to climate variability and change needs to be mainstreamed into the specific activities that will be developed and implemented. Two criteria that could to be given particular consideration when analysing the options and alternatives are:

  • How will the proposed options and alternatives contribute to increasing the resilience of the region and its people to climate variability and change, and
  • how robust are the proposed solutions in a context of climatic uncertainty.