Neglected Features of the Safe Minimum Standard: Socio-economic and Institutional Dimensions
This article describes and critically investigates core features of the safe minimum standard of conservation (SMS), as outlined by Ciriacy-Wantrup, which have been neglected, de-emphasized or poorly interpreted. Different ensuing interpretations and developments of SMS, aimed at giving it a theoretical basis and operationalizing it, are scrutinized. It is shown that the definition of features such as irreversibility, uncertainty, threshold and critical zone imply a socio-economic and institutional approach of SMS. Hence, endeavors to find a formal and positive foundation (game theory) or to identify SMS as an adjunct to cost-benefit analysis are unsuccessful. Rather, approaches assigning the definition of acceptable resource use to politics and society conform with SMS (e.g. by political norm setting or societal discourse). Furthermore, the paper discusses close normative relatives of SMS and identifies intragenerational distributional justice as a crucial variable for setting SMS. It is argued that SMS is a socio-economic and institutional approach; this should be the basis for further discussion and development of SMS.
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Volume (Year): 59 (2001)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
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