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Über dieses Buch

The authors of this book, who represent a broad range of scientific disciplines, discuss the issue of centralized versus decentralized control and regulation in the context of sustainable development. The stability and resilience of complex technical, economic, societal and political systems are commonly assumed to be highly dependent on the effectiveness of sophisticated, mainly centralized regulation and control systems and governance structures, respectively. In nature, however, life is mainly self-regulated by widespread, mainly DNA-encoded control mechanisms. The fact that life has endured for more than 2.4 billion years suggests that, for man-made systems, decentralized control concepts are superior to centralized ones. The authors discuss benefits and drawbacks of both approaches to achieving sustainability, providing valuable information for students and professional decision makers alike.



Chapter 1. Regulation and Control Processes in Ecosystems

The question whether and to what extent economic and societal systems should be organized by a central or decentral regime is an important one. Natural ecosystems, however, cannot serve as a model to answer this question. They are a-central in character.
Wolfgang Haber, Jürg Bloesch

Chapter 2. Control and Management of Man-Made Systems

This chapter is devoted to gauge the effects of centralized vs. decentralized organization of dynamical systems. From the analysis it appears that “alignment of intelligence” between agents is key to achieve optimality as well as stability in distributed systems, and this alignment of intelligence is made possible thanks to communication. It appears that in any well-functioning and intelligent system, there shall be an equilibrium between local control and central control, and there shall be rules of interaction between the intelligent agents participating. This brings up the question of ethics, which is defined as the actual behavioral principles of the participating intelligent agents, and the discussion focusses on how desired behavior (desired ethics) can be made concordant with actual ethics. System-wide conditioning plays an important role in achieving this.
Patrick Dewilde, Ulrich Drost, Martin Grambow, Bernhard Schätz, Martin Korndörfer

Chapter 3. Governance of Societies

It is no secret that the world is urbanizing very fast. If UN estimates turn out to be true, by midcentury 2.5 billion people will have joined the approximately 3.9 billion living in cities today, an urban population increase of over 60 %! It is one of the biggest questions of our time, how the 6.4 billion who will live in cities by 2050 will be fed, housed and provided with basic services in a sustainable way. What kind of infrastructure and governance models will be the most healthy in the progressing urbanization of the planet? What is the best mix between decentralization and centralization of services, infrastructure and government structures?
Christian Werthmann, Ortwin Renn, Anastassia Makarieva, Victor Gorshkov, Peter A. Wilderer, Verena Risse, Carolin Böker, Bettina Haas

Chapter 4. Towards Sustainable Economies

In the current sustainability debate with economic justifications, other areas such as sustainable consumption clearly indicate that a decentralized level of execution is required to implement a sustainable development paradigm.
Michael von Hauff, Franz-Theo Gottwald, Katharina Stöckl, Jelena Kurz, Carolin Böker

Chapter 5. Sanitary Engineering: Central or Decentral Solutions?

To minimize volume and rate of abstraction from aquifers and man-made reservoirs the century old concept of water supply and sanitation needs to be complemented by innovation concerning use, transportation and pricing of water and wastewater. Particularly in water scarce areas maintenance of assets, cascading use of water and water reuse deserves specific attendance. Wastewater has to be considered a source of water useable as substitute of fresh water. When choosing the water reuse option it might be useful to place the facility where wastewater is converted into useable water close to the user of the purified water (decentral solution) instead of pumping the water over long distances from central wastewater treatment plants.
Peter A. Wilderer, Martin Grambow, Asher Brenner, Werner P. Bauer

Chapter 6. Communication, Mobility and Logistics

The global problems of mankind (e.g., energy, mobility, urbanization, nutrition, financial markets, communication) are cross-over to specialized disciplines of science and need interdisciplinary studies in systems science (1). In sociotechnical systems, information and communication technology (ICT) is growing together with societal infrastructures (e.g., smart grids, smart cities), in order to handle the complexity of human civilization (2). In the age of big data, information and communication technologies (ICT) promise support of knowledge sharing through global online participation. But big data technologies only deliver technical support, no competence of interdisciplinary problem solving. Increasing complexity of our civilization needs reflection on the foundations and laws of systems dynamics in order to support global governance (3).
Klaus Mainzer, Verena Huber, Joachim Schütter

Chapter 7. The Wildbad-Kreuth-Declaration

Loss of stable functioning of major market mechanisms, decay of good governance in many countries of the world, continuation of pollution and excessive exploitation of resources, vanishing interpersonal relationships and last but not least deterioration of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems encouraged a group of 39 scientists, representatives of regulatory agencies, NGOs, businesses and from media to explore whether shifting from globalization towards decentralization would re-stabilize the Earth system including its human dominated components. The workshop was entitled “Global Stability through Decentralization?—In Search for the right balances between central and decentral solutions”.
Peter A. Wilderer, Martin Grambow

Erratum to: Global Stability through Decentralization?

Peter A. Wilderer, Martin Grambow


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