Advertisement

Rethinking Sustainability Assessment: Incorporating the Ethical Dimension into Decision-Making

  • Hui-Ting TangEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Human development continues to degrade ecosystems on a global scale. Such challenge calls for more informed decision-making in all fields of human activities so that each of our undertakings can be planned and designed for a more sustainable and equitable future. Sustainability assessment (SA), in its simplest form, is a tool that bridges evidence and decision-making. This study proposes to investigate the wholeness of SA from the perspective of behavioral decision-making theories, which can be classified into quantitative and qualitative approaches. Assessment and predictions in quantitative terms have their own merits; yet, in a world of emerging technologies and changing paradigms, we can no longer rely purely on mathematical representations of the decision to be made. SA currently in place often fails to give fair consideration to qualitative factors of more inherent nature, namely, the ethical issues relevant for sustainability. This study will elaborate the logics and the need of incorporating the ethical dimension into decision-making toward sustainability.

Keywords

Sustainability assessment Decision-making Human-environment relationship Environmental ethics 

References

  1. 1.
    Bebbington J, et al. Accounting technologies and sustainability assessment models. Ecol Econ. 2007;61:224–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Devuyst D. How green is the city? Sustainability assessment and the management of urban environments. New York: Columbia University Press; 2001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Sadler B. A framework for environmental sustainability assessment and assurance. In: Petts J, editor. Handbook of environmental impact assessment. Oxford: Blackwell; 1999. p. 12–32.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Colombo AG, Erickson PA. Tools: environmental impact assessment (EIA). 2017. http://media.leidenuniv.nl/legacy/Tools%20EIA.pdf. Accessed 10 June 2017.
  5. 5.
    Natural Resources Wales. Environmental report: draft Dee River Basin Management Plan. 2014. https://naturalresources.wales/media/3222/environmental-report.pdf. Accessed 10 June 2017.
  6. 6.
    Hacking T, Guthrie P. A framework for clarifying the meaning of triple bottom-line, integrated, and sustainability assessment. Environ Impact Assess Rev. 2008;28(2–3):73–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pope J, et al. Conceptualising sustainability assessment. Impact Assess Proj Apprais. 2004;23(4):293–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Dewan H. Sustainability index: an economics perspective. 2006. http://economics.ca/2006/papers/0409.pdf. Accessed 10 June 2017.
  9. 9.
    Warhurst A. Sustainability indicators and sustainability performance management. 2002. http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/G01026.pdf. Accessed 12 June 2017.
  10. 10.
    Knowledge Economy Indicators. Workpackage 7: state-of-the-art report on simulation and indicators. 2005. https://www.uni-trier.de/fileadmin/fb4/projekte/SurveyStatisticsNet/KEI-WP7-D7.1.pdf. Accessed 12 June 2017.
  11. 11.
    Santiago-Brown I, et al. Sustainability assessment in wine-grape growing in the new world: economic, environmental, and social indicators for agricultural businesses. Sustainability. 2015;7(7):8178–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Meadows D. Indicators and information systems for sustainable development—a report to the Balaton Group. 1998. https://www.iisd.org/pdf/s_ind_2.pdf. Accessed 31 May 2017.
  13. 13.
    Cooper S, Pearce G. Climate change performance measurement, control and accountability in English local authority areas. Account Audit Account J. 2011;24:1097–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Itanyi O, et al. Evaluation of decision making criteria with special reference to quantitative and qualitative paradigms. Afr J Bus Manag. 2012;6(44):11110–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Sadler B. International study of the effectiveness of environmental assessment final report—environmental assessment in a changing world: evaluating practice to improve performance. Minister of Supply and Services Canada, EN106-37/1996E, Ottawa. 1996.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Morrison-Saunders A, Fischer TB. What is wrong with EIA and SEA anyway? A sceptic’s perspective on sustainability assessment. JEAPM. 2006;8(1):19–39.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Verheem RAA. Recommendations for sustainability assessment in the Netherlands. In: Environmental impact assessment in the Netherlands—views from the commission for EIA in 2002. The Netherlands: Commission for Environmental Impact Assessment; 2002. p9–p14.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Böhringer C, Jochem P. Measuring the immeasurable—a survey of sustainability indices. Ecol Econ. 2007;63:1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Economist. Triple bottom line—it consists of three Ps: profit, people and planet. 2009. http://www.economist.com/node/14301663. Accessed 12 June 2017.
  20. 20.
    United Nations General Assembly. 2005 World summit outcome—resolution A/RES/60/1. 2005. http://data.unaids.org/topics/universalaccess/worldsummitoutcome_resolution_24oct2005_en.pdf. Accessed 25 May 2017.
  21. 21.
    Ness B, et al. Categorising tools for sustainability assessment. Ecol Econ. 2007;60(3):498–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    World Resources Institute. Ecosystems and human-wellbeing: a framework for assessment. Washington, DC: Island Press; 2003.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Actionbioscience. What is an ecosystem? 2000. http://www.actionbioscience.org/environment/esa.html. Accessed 25 June 2016.
  24. 24.
    Daily GC, et al. Ecology: the value of nature and the nature of value. Science. 2000;289:395–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Armsworth PR, et al. Ecosystem-service science and the way forward for conservation. Conserv Biol. 2007;21:1383–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Bryan BA. Development and application of a model for robust, cost-effective investment in natural capital and ecosystem services. Biol Conserv. 2010;143:1737–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Newton AC, et al. Cost-benefit analysis of ecological networks assessed through spatial analysis of ecosystem services. J Appl Ecol. 2012;49:571–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Nelson E, et al. Modeling multiple ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, commodity production, and tradeoffs at landscape scales. Front Ecol Environ. 2009;7:4–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    World Bank. Natural capital accounting: helping make better decisions for sustainable development. 2012. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTSDNET/Resources/RIO-BRIEF-Nat-Capital.pdf. Accessed 10 May 2013.
  30. 30.
    Dempsey J, Robertson MM. Ecosystem services: tensions, impurities, and points of engagement within neoliberalism. Prog Hum Geogr. 2012;36:758–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ranganathan J, et al. Sustaining biodiversity in ancient tropical countryside. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2008;105:17852–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Plieninger T, et al. The role of cultural ecosystem services in landscape management and planning. Curr Opin Environ Sustain. 2015;14:28–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Raymond CM, et al. Ecosystem services and beyond: using multiple metaphors to understand human-environment relationships. Bioscience. 2013;63(7):536–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Ludwig D. Limitations of economic valuation of ecosystems. Ecosystems. 2000;3:31–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Leopold A. A sand county almanac: and sketches here and there. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1949.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Darwin CR. On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray; 1859.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Atleo ER. Principles of Tsawalk: an indigenous approach to global crisis. British Columbia: University of British Columbia Press; 2011.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Carolina heelsplitters. 2001. https://www.fws.gov/charleston/pdf/Heelsplitter/carolina%20heelsplitter%20fact%20sheet.pdf. Accessed 28 June 2016.
  39. 39.
    Quebec Biodiversity. Part 1: impacts on biodiversity. 2016. http://redpath-museum.mcgill.ca/Qbp/3.Conservation/impacts.htm. Accessed 25 June 2016.
  40. 40.
    Hull R. All about EVE: a report on environmental virtue ethics today. Ethics Environ. 2005;10(1):89–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Shaw B. A virtue ethics approach to Aldo Leopold’s land ethic. Environ Ethics. 1997;19(1):53–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Hunt CT, et al. Moral education—a handbook, vol. 1: A-L. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger; 2007.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Cafaro P. Thoreau, Leopold, and Carson: toward an environmental virtue ethics. Environ Ethics. 2001;22:3–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Carson R. Silent spring. New York: Fawcett World Library; 1962.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Danish Architecture Center. Melbourne principles: respect for people and nature. 2002. http://www.dac.dk/en/dac-cities/sustainable-cities/historic-milestones/2002–melbourne-principles-respect-for-people-and-nature/. Accessed 6 May 2016.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Natural Resources ManagementNational Taipei UniversityNew Taipei CityTaiwan

Personalised recommendations