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Optimizing economic welfare in environmental governance has been criticized for delivering short-term gains at the expense of long-term environmental degradation. Different from economic optimization, the concepts of sustainability and the more recent safe operating space have been used to derive policies in environmental governance. However, a formal comparison between these three policy paradigms is still missing, leaving policy makers uncertain which paradigm to apply. Here, we develop a better understanding of their interrelationships, using a stylized model of human-environment tipping elements. We find that no paradigm guarantees fulfilling requirements imposed by another paradigm and derive simple heuristics for the conditions under which these trade-offs occur. We show that the absence of such a master paradigm is of special relevance for governing real-world tipping systems such as climate, fisheries, and farming, which may reside in a parameter regime where economic optimization is neither sustainable nor safe.
Research news | 2018-09-18
Why the concept of stewardship offers a platform for collaboration and dialogue between actors, even with differing perspectives
Research news | 2018-09-14
The world needs a much more ambitious work plan to halt species loss and restore biodiversity. Here are three steps to get there
Research news | 2018-09-13
Digital revolution and market forces poised to drive economic transformation away from fossil fuels, but not without the right policy mix and bold climate leadership
Research news | 2018-09-12
Centre launches new online platform for resilience assessments, representing a major innovation in resilience practice
Research news | 2018-09-06
Water and land governance need to consider effects of distant land-use change, because local land-use decisions are not as local as we have always assumed
General news | 2018-09-06
Ten of the world’s largest seafood companies announce they will increase their efforts to strengthen sustainable practices in the seafood industry