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Sustainable exploitation of ecosystems using scenarios of sustainable vs. unsustainable economic development: the Ciric River basin, Iasi, Romania

Domenii publicaţii > Ştiinţe sociale + Tipuri publicaţii > Articol în revistã ştiinţificã

Autori: Ciumasu IM, Manolescu I, Costica N, Talmaciu M, Costica M, Nita V, Stefan N.

Editorial: ISEE 2008: Applying Ecological Economics for Social and Environmental Sustainability, 7-11.08.2008, Nairobi,, Talk, section VII-7.4 – Integrated modelling approaches, 2008.


The success of the transition to sustainable development is conditioned by a switch of the bulk of economic investments from unsustainable to sustainable technologies and practices. In this sense, the basic lesson from the Environmental Kuznetz Curve theory is that approaches based exclusively on nature protection rationales are unlikely to succeed on a wide scale, especially in developing countries (Barbier et al, 2005). This is often true even though the bell-shape pattern cannot be generalized (Jha & Bhanu Murthy, 2003; Ciumasu & Costica, 2008). The most obvious way to escape, or at least to weaken, the constraint of environmental degradation-producing before sustainability can be reached, is to demonstrate the validity of the claims that ‘sustainability’ creates prosperity (Feiler et al, 2004).
Here we describe how we transpose scientific research into scenario analysis (Tallis and Kareiva, 2006). Our approach is to integrate various aspects of ecological and social science in a study area into a set of scenarios of sustainable and unsustainable development. This will include both (1) scenarios of long term development, in corroboration with the current metropolitan projections of the local authorities, and (2) management scenarios for each potential path. We have developed a river basin approach that is realistic and representative for the current member states of the European Union which were formally in the socialist block.
Cost-benefits analyses and ecological-social-economic indicators are being used to create and compare scenarios. Unsustainable growth is defined as the growth where environmental, social and economic costs outweigh benefits (e.g., Islam et al., 2003; Wen and Chen, 2007). We describe how, in order to maintain sustainability, qualitative and quantitative equilibrium can be reached between various options of economic developments: urban sprawl (metropolitan development), tourism and leisure, agriculture, industry. We applied a panel of international literature-inspired, context-tailored set of indices (specialized and synthetic) to monitor various aspects of sustainability. These indices are not a simple list, but they are applied and interpreted according the inclusion concept described by Giddings et al (2002): economy is a subsystem of the society, which in turn is a subsystem of the biosphere. In our case, economic indices are only relevant (values acceptable or not) within the values of the social indices, which in turn are only relevant within the values of ecological indices. We propose that this inclusion approach deserves to be generalized, and we disagree with those who assume equal functional importance of the so called ‘three pillars’ approach, in an ecology-society-economy triangle.
Further, we compare our results with those in other former socialist countries now in the European Union (e.g., Holas & Hrncir, 2002), and try to identify common problems and their potential solutions. The common feature that comes out is that, in implementing sustainability at this stage, development itself is a much stronger incentive than sustainability. This resonates with the Environmental Kuznetz Curve theory (e.g. Barbier et al. 2005). Therefore we recommend that sustainability should not be sought by combating current ways of income generation – there is the risk to compromise sustainability in the eyes of the citizens of these countries. Instead, sustainability should prove itself as a viable way of development. This can be done through the installation and the support of additional, and for the purpose sustainability-compatible, technologies. Old ‘dirty’ technologies should be left to lose importance by means of natural economic development.
The final report of this pilot study will be handed over to local authorities, as scientific basis for future investments in the area, and guide (toolkit) for integrative modelling and adaptive management in the studied peri-urban area. The toolkit will be continuously updated and refined in response to evolutions of local needs and scientific progresses. Also, our results and scenarios will be promoted in the public arenas, so that citizens can secure their say in the decision-making process. By doing this, we seek achieving sustainability through public choice (Daneke, 2001).
The here-presented approach is unique in the countries from the former socialist block that are now members of the European Union. However, our approach takes into account the common peculiarities across these countries, and therefore can function as an example for future actions.

Barbier, E.B., 2005. Natural resources and economic development. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK.
Ciumasu, I.M., Costica, N., 2010. Impacts of air pollution on ecosystem and human health: a sustainability perspective. In: Gurjar B.R, Molina, L., Ojha, C.S.P. (eds) Air Pollution and Health Impacts, CRC Press (Taylor & Francis), Washington DC, USA, pp. 447-491.
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Daneke, G.A., 2001. Sustainable development as systemic choices. Policy Studies Journal 29(3): 514.
Feiler, K. (Ed), 2004. Sustainability creates new prosperity. Peter Lang GmbH, Vienna, Austria.
Holas, J., Hrncir, M., 2002. Integrated watershed approach in controlling point and non-point source pollution within Zelivka drinking water reservoir. Water Science and Technology 45, 293-300.
Islam, S.M.N., Munasinghe, M., Clarke, M., 2003. Making long-term economic growth more sustainable: evaluating the costs and benefits. Ecological Economics 47: 149-166.
Jha, R., Bhanu Murthy, K.V., 2003. An inverse global environmental Kuznetz curve. Journal of Comparative Economics 31(2): 352-368
Tallis H.M. and Kareiva P. 2006. Shaping global environmental decisions using socio-ecological models. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 21(10): 562-568.
Wen, Z., Chen, J., 2007. A cost-benefits analysis for the economic growth in China. Ecological Economics 65: 356-366.

Cuvinte cheie: Sustainability, ecological economics