Multiple objectives, tradeoffs, and games

In multiple objectives, trade-offs, and games, development of a user-friendly prototype software tool for Multiple-Criteria Model Analysis (MCMA) was completed, the co-benefits of key energy sustainability objectives were revealed, and decision-support system (DSS) with multiple objectives of energy users, producers, and legislative authorities were designed.

Multi-criteria analysis © IIASA

Multi-criteria analysis

Conflicting economic, social, and environmental objectives often add complexity to the problems of global change and make them even harder to resolve. Multi-criteria analysis (MCA) is a tool for presenting optimal solutions. It does not suggest a single decision on how to balance conflicting goals, but rather presents a full set of meaningful options. In some cases synergy between several goals can be revealed. MCA thus makes it impossible for a decision maker to improve one goal without sacrificing another (so-called Pareto-optimal solutions). 

ASA has long-standing experience in multi-criteria analysis. In 2013 ASA completed development of a user-friendly prototype software tool for Multiple-Criteria Model Analysis (MCMA) which is now available for use in practical applications. It has already been applied in a number of case studies within the South African YSSP (SA-YSSP) programs of 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, and also by the Energy (ENE) Program.

Key energy sustainability objectives were assessed based on a large ensemble of alternate energy-climate futures derived by the MESSAGE model [1]. The authors discovered and quantified essential co-benefits. For example, concerted decarbonization was found to lead to improved air quality, thereby reducing energy-related health impacts. At the same time, it was shown that low-carbon technologies and energy-efficiency improvements could help foster energy security goals by promoting a more dependable, resilient, and diversified energy portfolio.

A decision support system (DSS) was designed with multiple objectives in terms of energy users and producers [2]. The scientists relied on a model of robust strategic energy efficiency and risk management with long-term strategic and short-term operational decisions. Systemic risk effects induced by recent deregulations in the energy sector and the so-called “20-20-20” targets of the EU were analyzed. The DSS is installed on test sites in Austria and Spain.

Different energy futures were analyzed for South Africa [3]. Multiple environmental, social, and economic criteria guiding several types of decision makers (neutral decision maker, water activist, global warming activist, bean counter, and socially focused decision maker) were taken into account. The key result is that coal is the least desirable option regardless of cost because of its high environmental impact across almost all categories. In addition, the imported gas alternative is preferred consistently by decision makers because the “advantage”  of environmental impact occurring outside South African borders does not count in national policy regulations.


[1] McCollum DL, Krey V, Riahi K, Kolp P, Gruebler A, Makowski M, Nakicenovic N (2013). Climate policies can help resolve energy security and air pollution challenges. Climatic Change, 119 (2), 479-494.
[2] Cano EL, Moguerza JM , Ermolieva T, Y.Ermoliev Y (2014). Energy efficiency and risk management in public buildings: Strategic model for robust planning. Computational Management Science, 11 (1-2), 25—44 (Published online 4 July 2013).
[3] Prado-Lopez V, Stewart T, Makowsk Mi, von Winterfeldt D (2013). Value measurement analysis of energy tradeoffs in South Africa. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technologies (ISSST), 1,


ASA’s main collaborators in the field of multi-criteria analysis include E. Cano, Associate Professor, Department of Statistics and Operations Research, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid; U. Dieckmann, Program Director, EEP, IIASA; T. Ermolieva, Research Scholar, ESM, IIASA; G. Fischer, Research Scholar, WAT, IIASA; O. Franklin, Research Scholar, ESM, IIASA; F.J. Granat, Department Leader, National Institute of Telecommunications, Warsaw, Poland; A. Grubler, Program Director, TNT, IIASA; M. Lehtveer, Research Scholar, ENE, IIASA; D. McCollum, Research Scholar, ENE, IIASA; J. Moguerza, Department of Statistics and Operations Research, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid; B. Monchusi, Researcher, NRF, South Africa; Y. Nakamori, Professor, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Naomi, Japan; N. Nakicenovic, Deputy Director, IIASA; M.Obersteiner, Program Director, ESM, IIASA; W. Ogryczak, Deputy Director for Research, Institute of Control & Computation Engineering, Warsaw University of Technology,Poland; M. Ryoke, Professor, University of Tsukuba, Tokyo Branch, Japan; H.J. Sebastian, Chair, RWTH, Aachen, Germany; F. Wagner, Research Scholar, MAG, IIASA.
ASA’s main collaborators in the field of Games include H. Matsukawa, Professor, Keio University, Japan; A. Nentjes, Professor, Groningen University, The Netherlands; M. Obersteiner, ESM Program Director, IIASA, Austria; F. de Vries, Professor, University of Stirling, UK.

Print this page

Last edited: 21 May 2014


Elena Rovenskaya

Program Director:Acting Program Director

Advanced Systems Analysis

Evolution and Ecology

T +43(0) 2236 807 608

Further information



International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313