Building an Ecologically Sustainable Society: Book of Abstracts
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Selected List of English publications by Roefie Hueting See also the page at RePEc that mentions only a few journals. See also this text of the presentation. Cover and photograph.
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Goodland, H. Daly, S. El Serafy and B. Also published in: R. Goodland et al. Note for professor Elim Salim , in cooperation with Nizam A. First use of the vertical demand curve. Correction on the Nature article by Costanza et al. Sustainability is an objective concept , by Roefie Hueting, Lucas Reijnders , original, published in Ecological Economics, 27 2 , The use of the discount rate in a cost-benefit analysis for different uses of a humid tropical forest area , published in Ecological Economics 3, Broad sustainability contra sustainability: the proper construction of sustainability indicators , by Roefie Hueting and Lucas Reijnders , original, also published in Ecological Economics, 50 , How to correct wrong information about economic growth , DeGrowth conference, Barcelona see the oral sessions.
Why environmental sustainability can most probably not be attained with growing production , Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 18, Issue April 6 , pages Our planet is threatened by a wrong belief in a wrongly formulated growth , Speech for the congress Jenseits des Wachstums , Berlin May and powerpoint presentation. See also www. The environmental problem is seen primarily as a market failure due to the nature of natural resources such as air and water as public goods, thus generating a negative externality problem.
State action is necessary only to correct this market failure, either through privatization or the pricing of natural resources. Once these failures have been resolved to ensure the correct economic signals of the relative scarcity of these environmental services, the dynamic of intertemporal allocation of resources based on cost-benefit assessments would tend to be processed efficiently, with no problems such as uncertainty and risk of irreversible losses.
It must be said, however, that not everyone in this current has accepted these logical conclusions based on the assumptions made, considering that there are many situations in which one should opt for the preservation of a given ecosystem due to its importance and irreplaceability. In the fourth and fifth sections the paper elaborates on the argument for defining sustainable development from an ecological economics perspective.
In the fourth section, initially the criticism of environmental economics assumptions enables developing a concept of ecological sustainability that does not exist in the various definitions of sustainable development. It is not possible to increase indefinitely the efficient use of natural resources second law of thermodynamics , and capital is essentially complementary to natural resources, which are represented especially by complex ecosystems that are vital for human survival.
From these assumptions, the central issue for ecological economics is how to get the economy to work while accepting the existence of these limits. Regarding the first action plan, in the case of ecological economics, reversing the rationale behind the decision of environmental economics would suffice: the amount of natural resources to be used - scale - must be previously defined based on ecological sustainability parameters.
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Setting limits to the use of natural resources raises the problem of their distribution among the various actors, which should be based on the criterion of justice. Finally, the market will be responsible for the efficient allocation of investments within the framework of these ecological and social constraints. As for the second action plan, which is the topic of the fifth and final section, the paper briefly examines the two problems to be addressed for achieving zero growth: a stopping economic growth without generating a crisis; b consumer expectations in consumer societies.
The technical solution to the first problem is especially the formulation of macroeconomic policies, an environmental macroeconomics. Specifically, it entails facing, for example, the issue of employment, inequality and incentive to technological innovation. The legitimacy for implementing these policies depends on the solution to the second problem, the one about consumer expectations that legitimates economic growth policies. However, this necessary altruism that legitimizes zero growth policies can be enhanced by the growing realization that the current level of material comfort is more than enough, and that continuing growth efforts will produce more harm than good.
A definition of sustainable development is therefore proposed. The concept of sustainable development. The concept of sustainable development emerged under the name of eco development 2 in the s. It resulted from the effort to find a third alternative path to those that put developmentalists on the one side and advocates of zero growth on the other.
The first United Nations Conference on Environment held in Stockholm in was the stage of this polarization that tended to generate deadlocks. In turn, the vast majority of countries remained poor, with problems to start a process of sustained economic growth. Until then the great controversy about economic development put on the one side those who saw the scenario of global inequality as a problem of historical stages in the process of economic growth, i.
Building Theory at the Intersection of Ecological Sustainability and Strategic Management
On the other side were those who saw both international inequality and national inequality concentrated income distribution in poor countries as a result of some form of perverse articulation between rich and poor countries for the benefit of the first and of a minority, a small elite, in the latter. In other words, inequality stemmed primarily from exogenous factors related to the form of unfavorable inclusion of poor countries in the international division of labor.
Initially, all currents rejected the conclusions of the Club of Rome report. To the representatives of the second current there were no theoretical reasons to justify defending the lack of environmental limits to economic growth. The problem was also in the socio-economic implications of this idea, but related to the perpetuation of exclusion in favor of central capitalist countries.
The first UN reactions following the Stockholm Conference, with the support of eco-developmentalists, were not only to defend the need for economic growth in poor countries, but also to consider poverty itself as one of the root causes of environmental problems in those countries. According to the Cocoyok Declaration , 9 the population boom would be the result of the lack of all types of resources, which in turn would lead this population to overuse the land, water and other natural resources.
The responsibility of industrialized countries to the problems of underdevelopment would lie in over-consumption.
They would have to reduce their consumption levels and disproportionate participation in the pollution of the biosphere. The colonial system would have concentrated the land suitable for agriculture in the hands of a social minority and European settlers.
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Consequently, large masses of the original population were expelled and marginalized, and forced to use less suitable land. The conciliatory proposition of eco-developmentalists is based on a normative concept of what development can and should be: it is possible to maintain efficient sustainable economic growth in the long term alongside improved social conditions by distributing income while respecting the environment. However, efficient economic growth is seen as a necessary but not sufficient condition for improving human welfare: the desired income distribution the primary indicator of social inclusion does not automatically result from economic growth, which can be socially exclusionary; specific public policies designed to prevent growth from benefiting only a minority are necessary; likewise, the ecological balance can be adversely affected by economic growth and limit it in the long run without the help of ecologically prudent policies that encourage the increase of eco-efficiency and reduce the risk of potentially important environmental losses.
In the case of poor countries, this set of policies would provide an opportunity for them to start a process of sustained economic growth, distributing income and avoiding repeating the trajectory of environmental impacts of developed countries. The second UN Conference on the environment took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the same year in which an update of the first Club of Rome report was published ratifying the key conclusions of the original document.
Interestingly, twenty years after the first conference, it had become clearer that technical progress - the magic wand of optimistic developmentalists - had been much more efficient in addressing the issue of the environment as a a provider of raw materials than in confronting the issue of the environment as b a provider of ecosystem services: a the prices of raw materials had fallen, t hanks to technical progress in the exploitation of natural resources, in the replacement of expensive inputs for cheaper ones, and in the ecological efficiency of their use; b however, pollution and the degradation of ecosystems had increased despite technical progress.
This second fact b is reflected in the updated report of the Club of Rome, whose main highlight is the destruction of ecosystems and its implications in the carrying capacity of the planet, to the extent that ecosystems as a whole provide the main ecosystem service, i. The risk of depletion of non-renewable raw materials, especially oil, pales before this. In any event, the conclusion of the analysis remains the same: economic growth needs to be stopped.
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Another important fact to note in the socioeconomic context of that time was the realization - taking Brazil was an iconic case - that economic growth by itself could be highly exclusionary. High income concentrations could persist despite years of strong economic growth, because of structural problems that could only be solved through more active State intervention. These facts have contributed to strengthen the position of advocates of the concept of sustainable development: there is a risk of important environmental losses, and economic growth can be socially exclusionary; the solution is a set of public policies that remove structural obstacles to the dynamic redistribution of income and address environmental problems with caution and ecological efficiency technical progress.
Regarding the first aspect, the notion of prudence gives way to the most appropriate and accurate concept of Precaution, raised to the condition of principle - formally adopted at the Rio 92 Conference. Prudence applies to situations of risk in which the distribution of probabilities is known.
Precaution applies when there is uncertainty. In the first case, safety procedures can be defined with probable margins of precision, thus enabling maintaining a given course of action. In the second case there is only one safety procedure: stopping or reducing the course of action in order to buy time for the acquisition of new knowledge that reduces or eliminates uncertainty Hourcade, In the case of global warming and its confrontation based on the Precautionary Principle as proposed by the Kyoto Protocol , the issue of ecosystem uncertainty highlights the second aspect, since the rapid reduction of emissions is costly.
Policies that supposedly addressed the risk of environmental losses in a proper way, based on prudence.
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In turn, the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC have reinforced the arguments of environmentalists in favor of stronger action to reduce emissions. Stern criticizes the gradualism of Nordhaus, considering the risk of important environmental losses if the temperature rises above that limit.
His decision rule is that of environmental efficacy and cost-effectiveness. To him, gradualist models such as that of Nordhaus do not reckon a number of impacts and, in particular, catastrophic impacts. Regarding the latter, Stern works with subjective probability distributions although, as pointed out by Vale , p.
The explicit concern about intergenerational distribution and justice leads him also to adopt a very low, close to zero discount rate. In contrast, however, he structures these policies based on a framework of macroeconomic scenarios where the environmental costs of inaction are estimated. In the recent report of the United Nations Environment Program on Green Economy UNEP, , the fundamental eco-developmental premise is explicitly stated, 16 , but similar to the Stern Review it is included in a stricter macro-economic analytical framework.
Two key aspects of this analytical scheme deserve to be highlighted: firstly, environmental risks can be estimated, therefore enabling the simulation of scenarios showing the cost-benefit of adopting a particular set of policies; 17 secondly, the problems stem primarily from the inefficient allocation of production factors; this inefficiency, in turn, results from market failures related to ecosystem services, as well as from wrong incentives arising from existing public policies.
Policy proposals are a mix of command and control policies and with policies based on economic instruments. In relation to the first, an aggressive environmental regulation is also recommended to anticipate future scarcity. Developing countries have specificities - such as large portions of the population still living on forestry activities and small subsistence agriculture - that need to be addressed through specific policies.
The technological revolution of the green economy would be different for three reasons: a the short period of time within which it should occur given the pressure on ecosystems; b because of that and the limitations of market mechanisms, governments will have to play a much more active role in the production and dissemination of technology; c the need for international cooperation, since the main environmental problems are global in nature.
Environmental economics: the thermodynamic Saci TN and the capitalist Midas.