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Towards regional sustainability: the need for interdisciplinary and applied research

In the face of global and long-term environmental problems, international political organisations such as the World Commission on Environment and Development have put forward the concept of sustainable development (WCED 1987). The origin and political career of this concept as well as debate on how the principles of sustainable development might be defined and put into practice have been the subject of numerous publications1.
Irene Ring, Bernd Klauer, Frank Wätzold

Decision making for regional sustainability


Decisions in the context of sustainable development: ethics and implementation of multi-criteria analysis

Decisions in the context of sustainable development entail simultaneously meeting obligations in three domains: economic development, ecological stability and social fairness. Any instrument of decision analysis which is to help us make decisions needs to be accessible for all aspects of decision-making in the three domains. These decision-analysis tools have to incorporate multiple criteria from different fields which generally are not reducible to merely one criterion, as will be substantiated below. The group of multi-criteria analyses (MCA) is commonly divided into MC decision-making and MC decision-aid tools (see Roy 1990b). While the former is meant to select an action in a well-stated decision context with multiple criteria, the latter should help the decision-maker either to group or select possible actions, or to clarify the relevant criteria and their respective importance.
Felix Rauschmayer

Stakeholder approaches to intertemporal valuation

The two most widely discussed subjects concerning the economics of the environment are sustainable development and climate change. The frequently cited definition of the first (“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs… [It] must not endanger the natural systems that support life on Earth…”, WCED 1987: 42, 44–45) explicitly stresses the needs of future generations and acknowledges that the decisions we take today may have effects far into the future. The second involves processes that may have very long delays between action (cause) and effect and where the ecological and economic effects may be large. In both cases, valuation of benefits, costs, and effects at different points in time is of primary importance for decision-making. It is therefore surprising that the approaches to intertemporal valuation used in these areas are crude and undifferentiated.
Bengt Å Månsson

Sustainable development of society, economy and environment: consequences for integrated coastal management

The intensification of the process of global environmental change and its manifestation across a range of temporal and spatial scales has served to highlight the importance of the contemporary sustainability debate. It is tempting to characterise the wider debate in terms of two polar viewpoints which contrast economic growth-orientated technological optimism with steady-state-oriented technological pessimism. The latter position also implies that there is a need for some new environmental ethic to guide individual and collective action and public policy.
R. Kerry Turner

Communicating sustainable development options — who evaluates the trade-offs?

The search for models of sustainable development has not been easy. Some concepts and definitions have taken their cue from the Brundtland report’s temporal understanding of sustainability as maintaining the welfare of present generations without endangering the welfare of future generations (WCED 1987); others see sustainability as a spatial concept which implies that sustainable communities or regions stay within their ecological carrying capacity (Wallner et al. 1996); yet others view sustainability as a concept of development that promotes a balance between three interrelated systems – the economy, social systems and ecological systems (Robinson and Tinker 1995, O’Hara 1998).
Sabine O’Hara, Vivek Shandas, Jose Vazquez

Modelling as support for policy analysis


Model-based criteria for the effectiveness of conservation strategies — an evaluation of incentive programmes in Saxony, Germany

Human activities have enormously accelerated habitat destruction and deterioration as well as landscape fragmentation. Industrial development has brought about land use forms which allow changes on a shorter temporal but a larger spatial scale, with serious consequences for all successional processes. As a result, many species have become endangered. Therefore, conservation strategies are needed which enable these effects to be effectively counteracted, reduced, or compensated for.
Karin Frank, Irene Ring

Joint abatement strategies: a dynamic analysis of acidification and tropospheric ozone

Acidification impacts water, soil and ecosystems. Tropospheric ozone (sometimes called ground level ozone, hereafter referred to as ozone or O3) causes negative health effects and vegetation damage. Acidifying compounds such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are often produced together, most typically by the burning of fossil fuels. Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are important factors in the formation of ozone. Currently, many ecosystems in the United States, Europe, and the emerging economies in Asia face acid depositions far in excess of their specified critical loads. Ozone exceeds critical levels in many cases. The excess acid depositions, the excessive ozone levels and the trans-boundary nature make it necessary to combat pollution on the continental level in the USA, Europe and Asia. The many interactions indicate that policies to reduce acidification influence ozone, and the other way around, ozone policies affect acidification. Figure 1 illustrates the main relations and interactions between economic activity, the sources of pollutants, the effects and receptors. This study pays special attention to the grey shaded boxes and their linkages.
Erik C. Schmieman, Ekko C. van Ierland

Incorporating resistance in pesticide management: a dynamic regional approach

Pesticide resistance in agricultural systems has been recognised as one of the world’s top environmental problems for nearly two decades (UNEP 1979). Occurring in over 500 species of insects (Georghiou 1990), resistance is a genetic phenomenon whereby resistance-conferring genes accumulate in pest populations. Agricultural producers contending with pests that reduce the quality and/or quantity of outputs apply pesticides to increase profits or to decrease income variability. As resistance begins to accumulate, however, these treatments become less effective. Attempting to maintain expected crop yield, producers typically apply additional pesticide applications, yet over time, this practice compounds the problem by increasing environmental selection for resistant traits (Croft and Dunley 1993).
Matthew J. Kotchen

Some evidence of the relative efficiency of multiple-instrument policies for controlling agricultural nonpoint pollution: an application to nitrate pollution

Controlling water pollution from agriculture is intrinsically difficult. In most cases, pollution occurs over a wide area and its sources are diffuse and difficult to identify. In addition, water pollution levels can vary substantially over space and time, and depend not only on rainfall pattern and land type, but also on farmers’ decisions. These decisions include land use choices, crop choices, production techniques and the intensity of inputs used. Under the conventional assumption of farmers’ rationality,1 such decisions are determined by relative prices as well as by government support policies.
Athanasios Kampas, Ben White

Evaluating policies for regional sustainability


The role of the Common Agricultural Policy in maintaining High Nature Value farming systems in Europe

Human interference of European landscape by the cultivation of land for agriculture and forestry is significant for the state of landscapes and biodiversity. The so-called High Nature Value (HNV) farming systems are important in the maintenance of landscapes and biodiversity. They are often referred to as low-intensity farming systems with highly diverse habitat types (Baldock and Beaufoy 1993). They may, however, also be high-intensive farming systems with rich natural potential, like the Dutch Peat-lands. Some examples of farmland with high natural values are semi-natural grasslands, breeding areas for birds, areas for migratory birds, areas with many natural features and the dehesas and montados which are agroforestry systems with rotation of arable and livestock production under trees (Van Dijk 1996). Intensification of agriculture and abandonment of agricultural land are the main threats to HNV areas. This has to be avoided. This article investigates the role present and alternative Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) measures can play in maintaining farming systems responsible for the high natural value of the areas throughout the EU.
Petra Hellegers

Pesticide collection programs: a proposition to prevent future contamination

Millions of pounds of unwanted pesticides are being stored by agricultural producers and others in barns and other buildings throughout the United States. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that more than 13 million pounds of unwanted pesticides were located in six Great Lakes States: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin (Jones 1993). Due to the environmental threat posed by these stored pesticides, governments have become concerned. The EPA adopted a federal Universal Waste Rule that partly addresses this problem (Federal Register 1995). State legislative and regulatory actions have also been enacted to address the disposal of unwanted pesticides. Nearly all of the individual U.S. states have become involved in collection efforts to remove unwanted pesticides from storage and to dispose of them safely (Cubbage 1996).
Terence J. Centner, Lewell F. Gunter

Nature conservation in urban landscapes. Implementation and acceptance issues

So far, nature conservation and landscape protection have only played a subordinate role in environmental sociology. Bearing in mind the potential for conflict inherent in this field, this is astonishing. How nature and the landscape can best be used is the subject of intense social debate. Since different groups of users compete to avail themselves of nature and the landscape, nature conservation and landscape protection schemes often clash with various users’ interests. One important task of sociological research is to analyse the use of nature and the landscape as a major area of social conflict. Sociological analysis thus complements the general conservation debate mainly involving ecologists and legal experts, and which in recent years has been joined by economists.
Georg Kneer

Local Agenda 21 as an intergovernmental approach to sustainable development: a promising new strategy?

‘Sustainable development’ usually refers to the definition given in the Brundtland Report, which identifies it with actions taken to meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Despite the simplicity of this definition, the concept is beset by tremendous implementation difficulties, mainly due to its high level of complexity and aggregation. Since sustainability is the cumulative result of all individual activities, no particular individual, firm or government can be held responsible for its implementation. How progress in sustainability can be achieved in spite of this interdependence and individual disincentives to act for the common good is the main issue discussed in this paper. Based on the economic assumption of rational, self-interested individuals, it focuses on the incentive-compatibility of action taken at different levels of government by asking how incentives can be enhanced by institutional arrangements.
Sandra Greiner



Perspectives for economic research into sustainable policies

Sustainability is a highly controversial concept when it comes to policy recommendations. While widespread agreement is possible on the necessity of the sustainable utilisation of environmental resources, there is no consensus on what a sustainable policy actually is. Although any environmental policy issue could illustrate this point, a look back at the general discussion of the possibility of sustainable policies once started by an article of Ludwig et al. (1993) in Science and taken up in a special issue of Ecological Applications will best illuminate the difficulties. It reveals that researchers are rather ambiguous over whether the concept of sustainability yields policy recommendations or not. With respect to resource management, Ludwig et al. (1993) hold that uncertainty is the crucial issue to be addressed and that it necessarily leads to overexploitation. The reason why Ludwig et al. are so frustrated by natural resource management is exemplified by the California sardine and the Peruvian anchoveta (see Ludwig et al. 1993: 17). The California sardine was overexploited despite warnings from the California Division of Fish and Game. The fishing industry countered these warnings with scientific statements which claimed that a pelagic species1 could not possibly be overexploited. There is as yet no consensus. The Peruvian anchoveta became a major source of fish meal for cattle feed once the Pacific sardine collapsed. The yields decreased rapidly from 10 million metric tons to zero within just a few years. General agreement on the causes of collapse has not been reached.
Kilian Bizer


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