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Zagonari, Fabio
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Quaderni - Working Paper DSE 1023
In this paper, I develop an operational methodology to consistently compare alternative sustainability paradigms (weak sustainability [WS], strong sustainability [SS], a-growth [AG], and de-growth [DG]) and different assessment approaches (life-cycle assessment [LCA], cost-benefit analysis [CBA], and multi-criteria analysis [MCA]) within alternative relationship frameworks (economic general equilibrium [EGE] and ecosystem services [ESS]). The goal is to suggest different environmental interventions (e.g., projects vs. policies) for nature management and guide decisions to achieve nature conservation, defined here as reducing environmental pressures to preserve the future environment and its functioning over time. I then apply the methodology to 30 interdependent industries in Italy for three pollutants (greenhouse-effect gases, polluted rain, and air pollution) and four resources (water, minerals, fossil fuels, biomass) during two periods (from 1990 to 2007 and from 1990 to 2012). The industries were prioritised in terms of interventions to be taken to diminish pollution damage and resource depletion (e.g., fishing and non-energy mining for any sustainability paradigm), whereas sustainability paradigms are compared in terms of their likelihood (i.e., WS > AG = DG > SS), robustness (i.e., AG > SS > DG > WS), effectiveness (i.e., SS > AG > DG > WS), and feasibility (i.e., SS > DG > WS > AG). Proper assessment approaches for projects are finally identified for situations when policies are infeasible (e.g., LCA in WS and SS, MCA in DG and SS within ESS, CBA in WS and AG within EGE), by suggesting MCA in WS within ESS once ecological services are linked to sustainability criteria.
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