Natural resource issues are not just technical challenges and you may find there is no single right answer. Decisions will inevitably involve judgements about the appropriate course of action. Working with others to achieve practical consensus will be one of your most important tasks and your aim will be to work towards an agreed set of options.

Ideally your work will resolve any trade-off tensions so you are able to integrate analysis that will result in ‘win-wins’. However, no matter how hard you work to create ‘win-wins’, sometimes you will be faced with trade-offs and hard choices on policy options.

Filtering options by their level of certainty and consequence (including whether limits may be crossed) and ranking them according to agreed factors can further aid the development of an agreed set of options. Where you find ranking is ambiguous or practical consensus cannot be achieved, a number of policy options may be promoted.


The purpose of this component is to bring together analysis and rank policy options towards an agreed set. This requires that you understand and, where possible, resolve any trade-offs in the set of options before accepting any trade-offs. An iterative process is likely to refine and filter options.


The aim is to achieve practical consensus of the important issues and make transparent any value judgements and trade-offs associated with policy options.

Tier 1: Tasks


  • Resolve trade-off tensions identified and refine policy options.
  • Categorise and then filter policy options in accordance with their risk.
  • Rank remaining policy options and indicate where trade-offs lie.

Questions to guide analysis

  • What trade-off tensions exist for each policy option and can they be resolved or refined?
  • How certain are the consequences of each policy option and are they acceptable?
  • What is the final set of options and trade-offs that need to be confronted for each policy option?

Tier 2: Reasoning

Look closely at the assumptions and reasons that underlie your analysis to understand them better and test their strength.

Tier 3: Engagement / tools

Engagement opportunities

  • Understand the multiple dimensions of trade-offs and if compromises are possible.
  • Build a common understanding and narrative across government.
  • Build participants’ understanding of trade-offs, uncertainties, risks and solutions.
  • Seek practical consensus on ways forward.

Useful tools

  • Trade-off principles.
  • Deliberative methods.