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Assessing Sustainability: Some Conceptual and Empirical Challenges

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  • Toman, Michael
  • Lile, Ron
  • King, Dennis

Abstract

In this paper we address two related conceptual and practical challenges in assessing "sustainability." The first is the criteria to be used, in particular the relationship between sustainability and measures of economic well-being and the use of monetary versus nonmonetary indicators. The second is the problem of determining which physical scales to use for sustainability assessments when there are multiple and overlapping "communities" or stakeholder groups. While neither set of challenges admits a definitive solution, there has been progress on the first set of issues – in particular, through the development of multi-criteria assessment strategies and stakeholder involvement processes. In contrast, the problem of how to assess sustainability in practice at multiple scales remains less well understood.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-98-42.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 1998
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-98-42

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  1. P J G Pearson, 1989. "Proactive energy - environment policy strategies: a role for input - output analysis?," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 21(10), pages 1329-1348, October.
  2. Munda, Giuseppe, 1996. "Cost-benefit analysis in integrated environmental assessment: some methodological issues," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 157-168, November.
  3. Cletus C. Coughlin & Thomas B. Mandelbaum, 1991. "A consumer's guide to regional economic multipliers," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 19-32.
  4. Bryan G. Norton & Michael A. Toman, 1997. "Sustainability: Ecological and Economic Perspectives," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 73(4), pages 553-568.
  5. Asheim, Geir B, 1994. " Net National Product as an Indicator of Sustainability," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 96(2), pages 257-65.
  6. Forsund, Finn R., 1985. "Input-output models, national economic models, and the environment," Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, in: A. V. Kneese† & J. L. Sweeney (ed.), Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 325-341 Elsevier.
  7. Pearce, David W. & Atkinson, Giles D., 1993. "Capital theory and the measurement of sustainable development: an indicator of "weak" sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 103-108, October.
  8. Richard B. Howarth, 1996. "Climate Change And Overlapping Generations," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(4), pages 100-111, October.
  9. James, David, 1985. "Environmental economics, industrial process models, and regional-residuals management models," Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, in: A. V. Kneese† & J. L. Sweeney (ed.), Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 271-324 Elsevier.
  10. Krupnick, Alan & Toman, Michael & Kopp, Raymond, 1997. "Cost-Benefit Analysis and Regulatory Reform: An Assessment of the Science and Art," Discussion Papers dp-97-19, Resources For the Future.
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Cited by:
  1. Basil M. H. Sharp, 2001. "Sustainable Development: Environment and Economic Framework Integration," Treasury Working Paper Series 01/27, New Zealand Treasury.

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