English, Article edition: BEYOND THE PILLARS: SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT AS A FRAMEWORK FOR EFFECTIVE INTEGRATION OF SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND ECOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN SIGNIFICANT DECISION-MAKING ROBERT B. GIBSON

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Physical Description
  • article
Language
  • English

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Title
  • BEYOND THE PILLARS: SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT AS A FRAMEWORK FOR EFFECTIVE INTEGRATION OF SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND ECOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN SIGNIFICANT DECISION-MAKING
Author
  • ROBERT B. GIBSON
Physical Description
  • article
Notes
  • Sustainability is an essentially integrative concept. It seems reasonable, then, to design sustainability assessment as an essentially integrative process and framework for decision-making on undertakings that may have lasting effects.The realm of sustainability has often been depicted as the intersection of social, economic and ecological interests and initiatives. Accordingly, many approaches to sustainability oriented assessments â at the project as well as strategic level â have begun by addressing the social, economic and ecological considerations separately and have then struggled with how to integrate the separate findings. The problem is exacerbated by the generally separate training of experts in the three fields, the habitual collection of data separately under the three categories and the common division of government mandates into separate social, economic and ecological bodies. The combined effect is not merely an absence of integrative expertise, data and authority but an entrenched tendency to neglect the interdependence of these factors. The three pillars or triple bottom line approach also appears to encourage an emphasis on balancing and making trade-offs, which may often be necessary but which should always be the last resort, not the assumed task, in sustainability assessment.There are, however, important concerns underlying advocacy and application of some three pillar, limited integration approaches. Most significant are well-grounded fears that integrated, sustainability-based assessments may facilitate continued or even renewed neglect of traditionally under valued considerations, especially the protection of ecological systems and functions. This problem needs to be addressed thoughtfully in judgements about how integration is to be done.One possible solution is to take sustainability as an essentially integrative concept and to design sustainability assessment more aggressively as an integrative process. This would entail a package of regime and process design features, centred on ones that.⢠build sustainability assessment into a larger overall governance regime that is designed to respect interconnections among issues, objectives, actions and effects, though the full interrelated set of activities from broad agenda setting to results monitoring and response;.⢠design assessment processes with an iterative conception-to-resurrection agenda, aiming to maximise multiple, reinforcing net benefits through selection, design and adaptive implementation of the most desirable option for every significant strategic or project level undertaking;.⢠redefine the driving objectives and consequent evaluation and decision criteria to avoid the three conventional categories, to ensure attention to usually neglected sustainability requirements and to focus attention on the achievement of multiple, mutually reinforcing gains;.⢠establish explicit basic rules that discourage trade-offs to the extent possible while guiding the decision-making on those that are unavoidable;.⢠provide means of combining, specifying and complementing these generic criteria and trade-off rules with attention to case- and context-specific concerns, objectives, priorities and possibilities;.⢠provide integrative, sustainability-centred guidance, methods and tools to help meet the key practical demands of assessment work, including identifying key cross-cutting issues and linkages among factors, judging the significance of predicted effects, and weighing overall options and implications; and.⢠ensure that the decision-making process facilitates public scrutiny and encourages effective public participation.
  • Sustainability assessment, integration, process design, decision criteria, trade-off rules
  • RePEc:wsi:jeapmx:v:08:y:2006:i:03:p:259-280
Language
  • English
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