In 1997, a core set of six principles was established by ecological economist Robert Costanza for the sustainability governance of the oceans. These six principles became known as the "Lisbon Principles": together they provide basic guidelines for administering the use of common natural and social resources.
Robert Costanza is an ecological economist and Professor of Public Policy at the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University.
- Principle 1: Responsibility. Access to environmental resources carries attendant responsibilities to use them in an ecologically sustainable, economically efficient, and socially fair manner. Individual and corporate responsibilities and incentives should be aligned with each other and with broad social and ecological goals.
- Principle 2: Scale-matching. Ecological problems are rarely confined to a single scale. Decision-making on environmental resources should (i) be assigned to institutional levels that maximize ecological input, (ii) ensure the flow of ecological information between institutional levels, (iii) take ownership and actors into account, and (iv) internalize costs and benefits. Appropriate scales of governance will be those that have the most relevant information, can respond quickly and efficiently, and are able to integrate across scale boundaries.
- Principle 3: Precaution. In the face of uncertainty about potentially irreversible environmental impacts, decisions concerning their use should err on the side of caution. The burden of proof should shift to those whose activities potentially damage the environment.
- Principle 4: Adaptive management . Given that some level of uncertainty always exists in environmental resource management, decision-makers should continuously gather and integrate appropriate ecological, social, and economic information with the goal of adaptive improvement.
- Principle 5: Full cost allocation. All of the internal and external costs and benefits, including social and ecological, of alternative decisions concerning the use of environmental resources should be identified and allocated. When appropriate, markets should be adjusted to reflect full costs.
- Principle 6: Participation. All stakeholders should be engaged in the formulation and implementation of decisions concerning environmental resources. Full stakeholder awareness and participation contributes to credible, accepted rules that identify and assign the corresponding responsibilities appropriately.
Adaptive management (AM), also known as adaptive resource management (ARM) or adaptive environmental assessment and management (AEAM), is a structured, iterative process of robust decision making in the face of uncertainty, with an aim to reducing uncertainty over time via system monitoring. In this way, decision making simultaneously meets one or more resource management objectives and, either passively or actively, accrues information needed to improve future management. Adaptive management is a tool which should be used not only to change a system, but also to learn about the system. Because adaptive management is based on a learning process, it improves long-run management outcomes. The challenge in using the adaptive management approach lies in finding the correct balance between gaining knowledge to improve management in the future and achieving the best short-term outcome based on current knowledge. This approach has more recently been employed in implementing international development programs.
Environmental full-cost accounting (EFCA) is a method of cost accounting that traces direct costs and allocates indirect costs by collecting and presenting information about the possible environmental, social and economical costs and benefits or advantages – in short, about the "triple bottom line" – for each proposed alternative. It is also known as true-cost accounting (TCA), but, as definitions for "true" and "full" are inherently subjective, experts consider both terms problematical.
The Earth System Governance Project is a long-term, interdisciplinary social science research programme originally developed under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change. It started in January 2009.
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary academic field that integrates physical, biological and information sciences to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems. Environmental science emerged from the fields of natural history and medicine during the Enlightenment. Today it provides an integrated, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental systems.
Environmental economics is a sub-field of economics concerned with environmental issues. It has become a widely studied topic due to growing environmental concerns in the twenty-first century. Environmental Economics "...undertakes theoretical or empirical studies of the economic effects of national or local environmental policies around the world .... Particular issues include the costs and benefits of alternative environmental policies to deal with air pollution, water quality, toxic substances, solid waste, and global warming."
Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services based upon which the economy and society depend. The desired result is a state of society where living conditions and resources are used to continue to meet human needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the natural system. Sustainable development can be defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Ecological economics is both a transdisciplinary and an interdisciplinary field of academic research addressing the interdependence and coevolution of human economies and natural ecosystems, both intertemporally and spatially. By treating the economy as a subsystem of Earth's larger ecosystem, and by emphasizing the preservation of natural capital, the field of ecological economics is differentiated from environmental economics, which is the mainstream economic analysis of the environment. One survey of German economists found that ecological and environmental economics are different schools of economic thought, with ecological economists emphasizing strong sustainability and rejecting the proposition that natural capital can be substituted by human-made capital.
Environmental resource management is the management of the interaction and impact of human societies on the environment. It is not, as the phrase might suggest, the management of the environment itself. Environmental resources management aims to ensure that ecosystem services are protected and maintained for future human generations, and also maintain ecosystem integrity through considering ethical, economic, and scientific (ecological) variables. Environmental resource management tries to identify factors affected by conflicts that rise between meeting needs and protecting resources. It is thus linked to environmental protection, sustainability and integrated landscape management.
Environmental policy is the commitment of an organization or government to the laws, regulations, and other policy mechanisms concerning environmental issues. These issues generally include air and water pollution, waste management, ecosystem management, maintenance of biodiversity, the protection of natural resources, wildlife and endangered species. Concerning environmental policy, the importance of implementation of an eco-energy-oriented policy at a global level to address the issues of global warming and climate changes should be accentuated. Policies concerning energy or regulation of toxic substances including pesticides and many types of industrial waste are part of the topic of environmental policy. This policy can be deliberately taken to direct and oversee human activities and thereby prevent harmful effects on the biophysical environment and natural resources, as well as to make sure that changes in the environment do not have harmful effects on humans.
The idea of public ecology has recently emerged in response to increasing disparities over political, social, and environmental concerns. Of particular interest are the processes that generate, evaluate and apply knowledge in political, social, and environmental arenas. Public ecology offers a way of framing sustainability problems, community dynamics and social issues. Forests, watersheds, parks, flora, fauna, air, and water all constitute environmental quality and are therefore public goods. The processes society engages in to negotiate the meaning of these goods, upon which decisions and actions are based, reside within the public domain.
The "Melbourne Principles" for Sustainable Cities are ten short statements on how cities can become more sustainable. They were developed in Melbourne (Australia) on 2 April 2002 during an international Charrette, sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. Experts at the Charrette were drawn from developing and developed countries.
Public participation, also known as citizen participation or public involvement, is the inclusion of the public in the activities of any organization or project. Public participation is similar to but more inclusive than stakeholder engagement.
Ecologically sustainable development is the environmental component of sustainable development. It can be achieved partially through the use of the precautionary principle; if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation. Also important is the principle of intergenerational equity; the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations. In order for this movement to flourish, environmental factors should be more heavily weighed in the valuation of assets and services to provide more incentive for the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity.
Natural resource management refers to the management of natural resources such as land, water, soil, plants and animals, with a particular focus on how management affects the quality of life for both present and future generations (stewardship).
Watershed management is the study of the relevant characteristics of a watershed aimed at the sustainable distribution of its resources and the process of creating and implementing plans, programs and projects to sustain and enhance watershed functions that affect the plant, animal, and human communities within the watershed boundary. Features of watershed that agencies seek to manage include water supply, water quality, drainage, stormwater runoff, water rights and the overall planning and utilization of watersheds. Landowners, land use agencies, stormwater management experts, environmental specialists, water use surveyors and communities all play an integral part in watershed management.
Sustainability metrics and indices are measures of sustainability, and attempt to quantify beyond the generic concept. Though there are disagreements among those from different disciplines, these disciplines and international organizations have each offered measures or indicators of how to measure the concept.
This page is an index of sustainability articles.
Sustainability is the ability to exist constantly. In the 21st century, it refers generally to the capacity for the biosphere and human civilization to coexist. It is also defined as the process of people maintaining change in a homeostasis balanced environment, in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations. For many in the field, sustainability is defined through the following interconnected domains or pillars: environment, economic and social, which according to Fritjof Capra is based on the principles of Systems Thinking. Sub-domains of sustainable development have been considered also: cultural, technological and political. According to the Our Common Future, Sustainable development is defined as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainable development may be the organizing principle of sustainability, yet others may view the two terms as paradoxical.
Ecosystem management is a process that aims to conserve major ecological services and restore natural resources while meeting the socioeconomic, political, and cultural needs of current and future generations.
Environmental governance is a concept in political ecology and environmental policy that advocates sustainability as the supreme consideration for managing all human activities—political, social and economic. Governance includes government, business and civil society, and emphasizes whole system management. To capture this diverse range of elements, environmental governance often employs alternative systems of governance, for example watershed-based management.
A social-ecological system consists of 'a bio-geo-physical' unit and its associated social actors and institutions. Social-ecological systems are complex and adaptive and delimited by spatial or functional boundaries surrounding particular ecosystems and their context problems.
Ocean governance is the conduct of the policy, actions and affairs regarding the world's oceans. Within governance, it incorporates the influence of non-state actors, i.e. stakeholders, NGOs and so forth, therefore the state is not the only acting power in policy making. However, in terms of the ocean, this is a complex issue because it is a commons that is not ‘owned’ by any single nation/state. The consequences of this has resulted in humankind abusing the oceans’ resources, by treating them as shared resources, but not taking equal and collective responsibilities in caring for them. This means that rules on the conduct of the ocean can only be implemented through international agreements. Therefore, there is a need for some form of governance to maintain the ocean for its various uses, preferably in a sustainable manner.
Traditionally, market orientation (MO) focuses on microenvironment and the functional management of an organisation. However, contemporary organisations have widened their focus to incorporate more roles, functions and emphasis on the macro environment. Firms have been concerned with short run success and often not taken into account the long-run ecological, social and economic effects from their activities. Despite growth in the MO concept, there is still a need to reconceptualise the concept with a greater emphasis on external factors that influence a firm.
The Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCC) are a network of 22 regional conservation bodies covering the entire United States and adjacent areas, established in 2009. They are autonomous cooperatives sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and aim to develop coordinated conservation strategies applicable to large landscape areas. Partnerships are formed with governmental and non-governmental conservation organisations. Similar initiatives have been started or advocated in other parts of the world.