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Describe the scientific route towards sustainability.
1. Scientific Route: Sustainability is preservation.
Tries to define the problem: requires distinction between defining sustainability and operationalizing sustainability
What system and more exactly what parts and characteristics of the system should be preserved?
For how long should it/they be preserved?
When do we assess whether it has/they have been preserved?
Sustainability is seen as an observable property of a system.
The economic route: Focus on the possibility of future generations to produce and to meet their needs / weak sustainability / bent towards economy
The natural science route: Biophysical sustainability means maintaining or improving the integrity of the life support system of the Earth (planetary boundaries) / bent towards environment
The ecological-economic route: a direction towards desirable social objectives; that is, it is a list of attributes which society seeks to achieve or maximize / economy is one aspect of the environment.
Describe the 3 difficulties of the scientific route towards sustainability.
1. The scientific-technical-economic problem of operationalization: Non-knowledge, uncertainty and complexity
The circumstances of the ecosystems, the atmosphere, the economy etc. as well as interrelations between these systems must be known in order to conclude limits for all relevant emissions and waste disposal as well as limits for the extraction of natural resources.
However, the complex interrelations of the environment and the economy are only partly known.
Sustainability cannot be operationalized in the form of an 'if-then-relationship': 'If we do this, then it will lead to sustainable or un-sustainable development.
2. The social problem of agreement
members of society must accept the knowledge and agree upon the necessary measures
even if we know what needs to be done, this is no guarantee that the members of a democratically organized society really will agree upon the necessary measures
3. The social problem of implementation
Members of a society must accept and obey the instructions and laws
It is necessary that the laws be voluntarily obeyed by the vast majority
Describe the Ethical Route Towards Sustainability.
1. The Ethical Route: Sustainability is justice and responsibility
Refers to the action and behaviour of humans
Asks for fairness, justice and responsibility
Complimentary to the scientific-technical-economic route towards sustainability
It assumes the determined will of society to strive for the ideal of sustainability
this ideal is a source of guidance on how to act fairly towards our descendants, our fellow-citizens and nature
Considers sustainability as an ideal
How the ethical route becomes effective
Long-run this can change human norms and behavioral patterns
voluntary setting and obeying of rules and limits is an essential component
However, as it cannot be forced/planned for all time, there is nor guarantee that the ethical approach will result in sustainability.
What is operationalizing sustainability? What does it mean?
Translate the abstract sustainability norms in concrete, empirically testable sustainability targets
The degree of achievement of the targets needs to be empirically measurable by a system of indicators
Formulating management rules: normative rules of thumb that give hints at what actions are necessary to approach sustainability
Approaches to operationalization: environmental standards (e.g., the EU Water Framework Directives) and UN SDGs
Describe Environmental Standards.
Definition of Environmental Standard: Legal prescriptions, administrative regulations or private regulations that substantiate indefinite legal concepts in environmental law by operationalizing and standardizing of measurable values in concrete proscriptions, precepts, permissions.
Describe status by measurable indicators and set targets for sustainability
Deficit analysis: compare status quo and target status
Derive need for action from the deficit analysis
EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) - example of environmental standard
Overview: the directives take an ecological perspective
Became effective in Dec 2000
What should be preserved? i.e., environmental objective / target?: All groundwater, surface and coastal waters should reach a “good status” by 2015
Deficit analysis/need for action: A concept for monitoring the water status is to be developed and implemented until 2005
How should it be preserved?: A management plan (including a programme of measures) explaining how the environmental objectives will be reached has to be set up in each river basin district until 2009
Summary of Objectives
1) All water bodies: prevent detoriation / Reduction of priority substances (phasing out hazardous substances)
2) Surface Water: Natural water body and artificial/heavily modified water body: good chemical and good ecological status and potential
3) Groundwater: Good chemical and good quantitative status
Considerate effect on water management in the EU
Water status is measurable, testable, specific, litigable
The implementation progress can be observed
The 'good to high' assessment statuses does not provide appropriate guidance for the resolution of use conflicts
Intersectoral coordination (e.g., with agriculture) is difficult
Describe the Sustainable Development Goals (2015).
17 goals / 169 targets
Agreed by UN General Assembly in 2015 (Valid from 2016 to 2030)
Applies to all countries
Measured by a catalogue of indicators - using only existing data (what has been criticized)
Good overview over development in many sustainability-relevant fields
Monitoring of status development and target achievement is possible
Sets concrete political goals
Data-basis for monitoring is too weak
Goals are not legally binding
Impact on day-by-day politics is limited
What are the 4 central aspects of sustainability?
1. Intra- and intergenerational justice
Unbalanced distribution of chances to develop in the different parts of the world
Most consequences of degradation of the environment and consumption of non-renewable resources will be born by future generations
2. Long-run perspective
From the claim of intergenerational justice follows that long-term effects of today’s actions need to be taken into account
A holistic and integrative approach is necessary to grasp all the different aspects of sustainability problems
4. Preservation of nature
All sustainability concepts (maybe with exception of the concept of weak sustainability) claim that nature has certain characteristics that need to be preserved so that future generations will benefit from the respective ecosystem services
Some sustainability concepts claim the preservation of nature because of nature’s intrinsic value