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Sustainability and Environmental Valuation


  • M.S. Common
  • R.K. Blamey
  • T.W. Norton


For economists, sustainability and environmental valuation are connected in two ways. At the micro level, proper environmental valuation is required if projects are to be approved and rejected consistently with sustainability requirements. This is cost benefit analysis. At the macro level, many take the view that sustainability requires that national income measurement be modified so as to account for environmental damage. Such natural resource accounting is possible only if environmental damage is valued for incorporation into the economic accounts. The paper reviews the techniques that economists have developed for environmental valuation. In regard to cost benefit analysis and sustainability, it is noted that the technique on which most interest focuses, the Contingent Valuation Method, involves the extension of the domain of consumer demand analysis to include the natural environment. Contributions questioning the appropriateness of this are reviewed, and it is argued that they merit more attention from economists than they have received to date. In regard to natural resource accounting, it is argued that while there is little prospect of it achieving what its proponents claim for it, the modelling that it necessarily implies has the potential to both clarify valuation issues and play an important role in informing the policy process.

Suggested Citation

  • M.S. Common & R.K. Blamey & T.W. Norton, 1993. "Sustainability and Environmental Valuation," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 2(4), pages 299-334, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev2:ev216

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:dau:papers:123456789/13032 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Cameron, John I., 1997. "Applying socio-ecological economics: A case study of contingent valuation and integrated catchment management," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 155-165, November.
    3. de Graaf, H. J. & Musters, C. J. M. & ter Keurs, W. J., 1996. "Sustainable development: looking for new strategies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 205-216, March.
    4. Daniel McKenney, 1998. "Resource Economists Should Do More Cost Analysis and Less Benefit Analysis," Working Papers in Ecological Economics 9801, Australian National University, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Ecological Economics Program.

    More about this item


    sustainability; valuation; environment; contingent valuation; natural resource accounting; optimization;

    JEL classification:

    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth


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