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Ecological-economic viability as a criterion of strong sustainability under uncertainty

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  • Stefan Baumgärtner

    () (Centre for Sustainability, Leuphana University of Lüneburg)

  • Martin F. Quaas

    () (Department of Ecological Modelling, UFZ-Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle)

Abstract

Strong sustainability, according to the common definition, requires that different natural and economic capital stocks have to be maintained as physical quantities separately. Yet, in a world of uncertainty this cannot be guaranteed. To therefore define strong sustainability under uncertainty in an operational manner, we propose to use the concept of viability. Viability means that the different components and functions of a dynamic, stochastic system at any time remain in a domain where the future existence of these components and functions is guaranteed with sufficiently high probability. We develop a unifying and general ecological-economic concept of viability that encompasses the traditional ecological and economic notions of viability as special cases. It provides an operational criterion of strong sustainability under conditions of uncertainty. We illustrate this concept and demonstrate its usefulness by applying it to livestock grazing management in semi-arid rangelands.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Baumgärtner & Martin F. Quaas, 2007. "Ecological-economic viability as a criterion of strong sustainability under uncertainty," Working Paper Series in Economics 67, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lue:wpaper:67
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    capital (natural and economic); ecological-economic systems; ecosystem services; funds; stocks; sustainability; uncertainty; viability;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics

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