Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 81–100 | Cite as

ICT applications in the research into environmental sustainability: a user preferences approach

Article

Abstract

Whether information and communication technology (ICT) constitutes a threat or a cure to environment’s deterioration is controversially discussed. Empirical evidence on the impacts of ICT is rare, so that generalizable lessons can hardly be drawn. This study provides empirical results on the role of ICT in research for environmental sustainability, but instead of ascertaining the impact of ICT on environmental protection, we conduct an analysis of the use of ICT in sustainability research. We assess the preferences of experts in different thematic sustainability fields for applying ICT tools, and we investigate ways to improve the application of these tools in order to augment their returns with respect to environmental protection research. This analysis is based on a set of surveys that were administered to international experts to evaluate the importance of ICT in environmental sustainability research and the research demands in key environmental sectors, such as climate change, natural resources, energy and biodiversity. The methodological framework is built on the analysis of users’ preferences for future developments in ICT tools using stated preferences techniques. Overall results suggest that ICT tools need to be developed in specific contexts, taking into account users’ needs and expectations. Our analysis shows that the use of ICT in environmental research is of great importance in the scientific community, but it can also play a crucial role in the policy context.

Keywords

User preferences Biodiversity Climate change Energy efficiency Natural resources Sustainability Information and communication technology (ICT) 

References

  1. Alberini, A., Chiabai, A., & Muehlenbachs, L. (2006). Using expert judgment to assess adaptive capacity to climate change: Evidence from a conjoint choice survey. Global Environmental Change, 16(2), 123–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnold, G. E., de Lange, W. J., & Blind, M. W. (2005). The concerted action Harmoni-CA: Facilitating the dialogue and bridging the gap between research and the WFD implementation. Environmental Science & Policy, 8(3), 213–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barratt, R. S. (2006). Meeting lifelong learning needs by distance teaching—Clean technology. Journal of Cleaner Production, 14(9–11), 906–915.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bateman, I. J., Carson, B., Day, B. H., Hanemann, N., Hanley, N., Hett, T., et al. (2002). Economic valuation with stated preference techniques: A manual. Cheltenham: Edgar Elgar.Google Scholar
  5. Berkhout, F., & Hertin, J. (2001). Impacts of information and communication technologies on environmental sustainability: Speculations and evidence. Brighton: Report to the OECD.Google Scholar
  6. Carson, R. T., Flores, N. E., Martin, K. M., & Wright, J. L. (1996). Contingent valuation and revealed preference methodologies: Comparing the estimates for quasi-public goods. Land Economics, 72(1), 80–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chiabai, A., Travisi, C., Markandya, A., Ding, H., & Nunes, P. A. L. D. (2011). Economic assessment of forest ecosystem services losses: Cost of policy inaction. Environmental and Resource Economics. First published online: May 11, 2011. doi:10.1007/s10640-011-9478-6.
  8. Choi, H., Kim, Y., & Kim, J. (2011). Driving factors of post adoption behavior in mobile data services. Journal of Business Research, 64(11), 1212–1217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crema, L., & Ghidini, C. (2010). Focus area survey (WP8): Information and communication technologies (ICT) in energy efficiency research. Technical report for ICT-ENSURE.Google Scholar
  10. de Dios Ortúzar, J., & Rodriguez, G. (2002). Valuing reductions in environmental pollution in a residential location context. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 7(6), 407–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. EFTEC. (2000). Guidance on using contingent valuation and related techniques for the monetary valuation of non-market effects. London: Economics for the Environment Consultancy Ltd.Google Scholar
  12. Esty, D. C. (2004). Environmental protection in the information age. New York Law Review, 79, 115–211.Google Scholar
  13. Fichter, K. (2003). E-Commerce—Sorting out the environmental consequences. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 6(2), 25–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Forge, S. (2007). Powering down: Remedies for unsustainable ICT. Foresight, 9(4), 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fuchs, C. (2008). The implications of new information and communication technologies for sustainability. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10(3), 291–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Green, K., Shackley, S., Dewick, P., & Miozzo, M. (2002). Long-wave theories of technological change and the global environment. Global Environmental Change, 12(2), 79–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hargreaves Heap, S., Hollis, M., Lyons, B., Sugden, R., & Weale, A. (1992). The theory of choice: A critical guide. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  18. Hempell, T. (2005). Does experience matter? Innovations and the productivity of information and communication technologies in German services. Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 14(4), 277–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jaffe, A. B., Newell, R. G., & Stavins, R. N. (2005). A tale of two market failures: Technology and environmental policy. Ecological Economics, 54(2–3), 164–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kahneman, D. (1994). New challenges to the rationality assumption. Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, 150(1), 18–36.Google Scholar
  21. Kaijkawa, Y. (2008). Research core and framework for sustainability science. Sustainability Science, 3(2), 215–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Labelle, R., Ludwig, K., Rodschat, R., & Vetter, T. (2008). ICTs for e-environment. Guidelines for developing countries, with a focus on climate change. Geneva: ICT Applications and Cybersecurity Division, Policy and Strategies Department, ITU Telecommunication Development Sector, International Telecommunication Union (ITU).Google Scholar
  23. Lubchenco, J. (1998). Entering the century of the environment: A new social contract for science. Science, 279(5350), 491–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. MacCrae, D., & Whittington, D. (1996). Expert advice for policy choice: Analysis and discourse. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Maurer, L., Marsh, J., & Tochtermann, K. (2010). Limitations and potential of information and communication technologies for environmental sustainability. In: EnviroInfo 2010, integration of environmental information in Europe, Proceedings of the 24th international conference on informatics for environmental protection, Cologne/Bonn.Google Scholar
  26. Mitchell, R. C., & Carson, R. T. (1989). Using surveys to value public goods. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.Google Scholar
  27. Nishino, K., Iribe, Y., Mizuno, S., Aoki, K., & Fukumura, Y. (2010). An analysis of learning preferences and e-learning suitability for effective e-learning architecture. Intelligent Decision Technologies, 4(4), 269–276.Google Scholar
  28. Oates, B. J. (2003). The potential contribution of ICTs to the political process. The Electronic Journal of e-Government, 1(1), 33–44.Google Scholar
  29. Patterson, D. (2010). Focus area survey (WP8): Information and communication technologies (ICT) in biodiversity. Technical report for ICT-ENSURE.Google Scholar
  30. Pearce, D., Özdemiroglu, E., et al. (2002). Economic valuation with stated preference techniques. Summary guide. London: Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions.Google Scholar
  31. Pearce, D., & Turner, K. (1990). Economics of natural resources and the environment. Essex: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  32. Peeraer, J., & Van Petegem, P. (2011). ICT in teacher education in an emerging developing country: Vietnam’s baseline situation at the start of ‘The Year of ICT’. Computers & Education, 56(4), 974–982.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rejeski, D. (2002). E-commerce, the internet, and the environment. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 6(2), 1–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Røpke, I. (2001). New technology in everyday life—Social processes and environmental impact. Ecological Economics, 38(3), 403–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Smith, V. K., & Huan, J.-C. (1995). Can market value air quality? A meta-analysis of hedonic property value models. Journal of Political Economy, 103(1), 209–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Spiteri, A. (2010) Focus area survey (WP8): Information and communication technologies (ICT) in natural resources management. Technical report for ICT-ENSURE.Google Scholar
  37. Strasser, U. (2010). Focus area survey (WP8): Information and communication technologies (ICT) for climate change, Technical Report for ICT-ENSURE.Google Scholar
  38. Toffel, M. W., & Horvath, A. (2004). Environmental implications of wireless technologies: News delivery and business meetings. Environmental Science and Technology, 38(11), 2961–2970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Veraart, J. A., van Ierland, E. C., Werners, S. E., Verhagen, A., de Groot, R. S., Kuikman, P. J., et al. (2010). Climate change impacts on water management and adaptation strategies in The Netherlands: Stakeholder and scientific expert judgements. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 12(2), 179–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. von Hauff, M., & Wilderer, P. A. (2008). Industrial ecology: Engineered representation of sustainability. Sustainability Science, 3(1), 103–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Whittington, D. (1998). Administering contingent valuation studies in developing countries. World Development, 26(1), 21–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Yi, L., & Thomas, H. R. (2007). A review of research on the environmental impact of e-business and ICT. Environment International, 33(6), 841–849.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3)BilbaoSpain
  2. 2.Ikerbasque, Basque Foundation for ScienceBilbaoSpain
  3. 3.Knowledge Management InstituteGraz University of TechnologyGrazAustria

Personalised recommendations