EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Conflicting interests over hydropower: Identifying and representing stakeholder perspectives on new projects using causal mapping. 

Guillaume Voegeli1,2,3 and David Christian Finger2,4
Guillaume Voegeli and David Christian Finger
  • 1Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 2Sustainability Institute and Forum (SIF), School of Science and Engineering, Reykjavik University, Reykjavik, Iceland
  • 3Electricy, Pipelines and Water Usage, Swiss Federal Office of Energy, Ittigen, Switzerland
  • 4Energy Institute at the Johannes Keppler University, Linz, Austria

The evaluation of the stakeholders’ perception of new hydropower projects is essential for assessing public acceptance, ensuring local involvement, and identifying feasible and desirable changes towards sustainable development. This study uses the concept of causal diagrams (CD) to identify the individual perspectives of stakeholders of two new hydropower projects, one in Switzerland (Val d’Ambra project) and one in Iceland (Hvammvirkjun project). For this purpose, semi-structured interviews with relevant stakeholders were conducted, which were then categorized into 5 interest groups. Using the software Atlas.ti, we identified and sequenced the perceived causality of impact pathways of the two projects. The results are exposed in two series of 10 topical causal networks, and two aggregated diagrams. For each case, CDs expose the complexity of multi-sequenced causalities between elements of a very heterogeneous nature, as expected and reported by stakeholders. This approach enables the identification of inter- and intra-group conflicting perspectives, and perceived uncertainties, concerning both subjectives matters along with much more tangible and predictable aspects. Our method enables the identification of areas where further research or better transfer of information between stakeholders is required. It also exposes how hydropower impacts can differ in time and space, when in one case study, intracommunity tensions and conflicts were identified at the earliest project stage, along with psychological distress of some local residents. Based on the presented CD, we conclude that this method can facilitate communication and problem-solving in complex social-environmental situations amid multiple stakeholder categories, which heterogeneity should not be underestimated.

This research has been published in Energy Research and Social Science:

How to cite: Voegeli, G. and Finger, D. C.: Conflicting interests over hydropower: Identifying and representing stakeholder perspectives on new projects using causal mapping. , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16362,, 2021.


Display file

Comments on the display

to access the discussion