Why and when use FenRIAM?

When & Why

The enormous importance of RIs and their huge construction and op¬eration costs call for a careful planning of investments and an efficient use of the available resources. FenRIAM has been developed as a framework with procedure and tools for assessing the socio-economic impacts of RIs – with the aim to support decision-makers and RI managers. It has been designed in a way to provide guidance but also allow its application to various types of RIs in different regions and situations.

Decisions may need to be taken when only one RI project is on the table, or on the contrary, when more than one opportunity is to be analysed either different in nature for the same host region or alternative host regions for the same RI. Ţhree "use cases" (UCs) of FenRIAM address these situations:

  • UC1. Ex-ante estimation for a single RI
  • UC2. Ex-ante estimation of two or more competing host sites for the same RI
  • UC3. Ex-ante estimation of two or more competing RI projects in the same host region

Moreover, FenRIAM can also be applied to assess already existing laboratories or installations in the framework of stakeholder accountability or management optimisation processes. We derive another two use cases:

  • UC4. Ex-post evaluation of socio-economic impacts for an existing RI
  • UC5. Ex-ante estimation of SE impacts for an existing RI

The FenRIAM guide gives advice for these UCs, aiming at a balance between recommended procedure and the necessary flexibility for each singular case. Use case and additional specifications have significant implications for the methods to be selected and the data needed. For example, the demand for comparability in UC2 and UC3 calls for using standardized data bases (which is, nevertheless, also recommended for the other UCs) and imposes constraints on qualitative estimations.

More important than constraints, though, is the challenge in ex-ante estimation of future impacts of an RI. How can we tell the future? We cannot. But FenRIAM provides guidelines of how to apply future-oriented methods to put estimations on solid ground. Intertwining Foresight elements and socio-economic impact assessment is the feature that makes FenRIAM special and particularly valuable for ex-ante evaluation.

Briefly, FenRIAM enables:

  • Clarification over the scope of assessment and the roles and responsibilities of different actors in the process of evalutation
  • Analyzing the network of stakeholders
  • Developing future scenarios (for ex-ante evaluation) for the RI in its environment and thus creating more transparency about complex interactions
  • A structured exploration of the socio-economic implications of the RIs, matching a broad spectrum of SE impacts and the specificities of the one envisaged
  • Insides of the methods and data collection needed for the estimations of the identified SE focal dimensions
  • Conducting the concrete impact evaluation by using templates provided in the toolbox inspired by case studies and good practices for many methods recommended.

Is FenRIAM the ultimate guide? As a comprehensive collection of instruments with guidance and recommendations, FenRIAM creates the premises of a solid SE impact assessment. However, a one-size-fits-all solution would fall short and ignore the complexity of the matter and disregard fundamental specifities. Tailoring of each assessment is an inseperable feature of the process, increasing its relevance to a particular use case. FenRIAM provides a flexible framework that owes certain flexibility to the complexity of the matter. New indicators, new methods or approaches could further expand its territory.