A well-being framework for cross-cultural assessment of development scenarios: a case study from North-Western Australia.
In Western-democratic countries, it is widely accepted that affected communities should be involved in natural resource planning and decisions. This is especially so when the well-being of diverse communities is directly involved, and where alternative future options are being considered. Although there is an agreement that 'values' and 'well-being', in some form, guide decisions, there is no consensus on the well-being framework(s) that might be used in participatory planning. To assist a multicultural group in assessing alternative future development scenarios for the Martuwarra (Fitzroy River) in Western Australia, we developed a well-being framework that culturally diverse communities could share and use to discuss and assess scenarios. In this paper, we aim to evaluate the effectiveness of the well-being framework used to assess the potential impacts of scenarios by (i) analysing how effectively participants used the well-being framework; (ii) verifying whether the well-being framework was sensitive to the cultural diversity of participants and (iii) direct evaluation by workshop participants. Our analysis shows that participants effectively applied most well-being categories, and the framework was sensitive to the cross-cultural context of the application by capturing Aboriginal cultural elements. However, the approach can be improved by including principles of behaviour; producing a more complete system model; and reviewing and amending the well-being categories in more extensive community consultation. We conclude that the interaction among different worldviews generated valuable knowledge and that, with further adaptation, the framework shows promise for applications involving similar tasks in culturally diverse contexts.