CHAPTER 12: TOOLS FOR ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (Precautionary…
CHAPTER 12: TOOLS FOR ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
: Probability that a substance or situation will cause harm or create adverse impacts on people, the environment and/or property.
: Potential for a substance or situation to cause harm or to create adverse impacts on persons, the environment and/or property.
Risk Assessment provide details of the potential adverse effects of substances or activities on humans and the environment.
Integrates: Toxicological data, human experience, exposure information, fate of a chemical and transportation data, statistics and probability.
Steps in the analysis of hazards and risks:
Problem Characterisation and Hazard Identification
Hazard accounting and exposure assessment
Quantification of event probabilities
Quantification of consequences
Overall impact and risk assessment
Risk management and Risk prevention
Environmental Risk Assessment
Provides a formalised process for assessing the impact of a chemical or activitiy on an ecosystem.
Ecological Intergrity Assessment
Provide a standard 'biosphysical examination' that assesses how well an ecosystem is doing, including its size, its component vegetation, soil and hydrology, and its interactions with the surrounding landscape.
Three level approach: Remote sensing imagery, rapid field assessments and detailed quantitative assessments.
Provide land managers, conservationists and agencies with critical information on factors that may be degrading, maintaining or helping to restore an ecosystem.
The intelligent anticipation of events that could have harmful consequences, and the adoption of courses of action aimed at either stopping the feared events or minimising their impact.
Techniques that individuals, industry and governments use to reduce or mitigate adverse risks. (especially risk to health, but applicable to all risk assessment):
Prohibiting the use of potentially damaging process/object/substance
Regulating or modifying activities
Reducing the vulnerability of those threateend, eg by relocation
Requiring regular ongoing monitoring of environmental health impacts
Developing and implementing post-event emergency response procedures
Instituting compensation schemes
If there are threats of serious of irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.
Decision-making should be guided by:
a) A careful evaluation to avoid serious or irreversible damage to the environment wherever practicable; and
b) an assessment of the risk-weighted consequences of various options
The precautionary principle is being applied directly when:
measures are taken to prevent serious or irreversible environmental harm in the absence of scientific evidence establishing a causal link between the activity and its effect on the environment.
the burden of proof is placed on the developers to prove that their actions will not cause serious or irreversible harm to the environments
in determining whether an activity will cause serious or irreversible damage, the risk of error is weighted in favour of the environment
the precautionary principle is mentioned explicitly or there is reference to ecologically sustainable development.
The Precautionary principle is being applied indirectly when:
Insurance schemes or environmental bond arrangements should be used
Strict liability principles govern the imposition of penalties
Policies and proposed activities that may cause serious or irreversible harm to the environment undergo environmental impact assessment procedures
Perceptions of Risk
Life Cycle Analysis
Covers the entire life cycle of the product; from extracting raw materials, through manufacturing, distribution, use and disposal.
Improves the information base for decision-making by assessing the impact of energy and material use and waste discharges
This info is used to adopt alternative material or methods to reduce the product's environmental impact. (LCA consider ecological health, human health and resource depletion)
For all stages, LCA identifies:
Materials used (and their source and processing)
The types and quantities of discharges (including wastewater)
Basic steps in LCA:
: decide the purpose and conduct of the study and the product/service/policy to be analysed
: Identify the systems or stages in the life cycle to be analysed and all inputs from, and outputs to, the environment.
: Convert the inputs and outputs into their contributions to environmental problems, which gives you an environmental profile of the product/service/policy
: Evaluate alternative strategies that could reduce lifetime environmental impact.
• sustainability principles: intergenerational equity, intragenerational equity; conservation of biodiversity and ecological integrity; user pays principle; efficiency of resource use; precautionary principle
• response to change: impact minimisation, risk management, and application of new technologies.