CONCERTED ACTION: Environmental Valuation in Europe (EVE)


Project Aims

Project Method

Interdisciplinary Focus

Methodological Themes

Workshops and Plenaries





Interdisciplinary Focus

Environmental valuation has been approached by different disciplines and in different ways. EVE recognised that there was much to be gained in bringing together these disciplines rather than allowing fragmentation. Due to the potential for conflicting advice, serious reflection is required upon the validity of different approaches to environmental valuation and the way in which environmental values enter individual and societal decisions.

The scientific necessity is then to identify the current interactions between different disciplines with regard to environmental valuation and create the circumstances in which productive reflection can occur. The partnership structure of EVE included key research groups in the areas of accountancy, economics, ecology, ethics, and sociology.

Interestingly, in the last decade the appeal for alternative decision-making criteria has grown along with the use of cost-benefit analysis. In this respect multi-criteria analysis has been regarded as a more inclusive approach avoiding the loss of information seen to occur when reducing information to monetary figures. An aspect of the criticism here has been that values may be non-commensurable and therefore by definition irreducible. Such values might include moral and ethical judgements or ecological functions.

The philosophical perspective raises methodological issues as a priority and shows the potential for rethinking economic problems. The journal Environmental Values has been established as an interdisciplinary debating centre for issues around environmental ethics and wider concepts of value. Notable and often controversial contributions have been made by philosophers directly addressing the economic problem.

Ecological economics, with a journal of the same name, appeared in the 1990s as a new force, but in some ways similar in its development to the roots of modern environmental economics. That is, ecological economics shows a primary concern for external criticisms of economics and how they can be addressed. Thus, for example, the re-emergence of thermodynamics as relevant to economics. Yet the new combination of ecologists with economists raises difficult issues previously neglected such as the importance of ecosystems functions, resilience, and far from equilibrium systems.

Overarching issues which touch upon various disciplines include: the nature of uncertainty and how to include ignorance as well as risk and uncertainty in the decision process; intergenerational equity, fairness and justice in the distribution of burdens and benefits over time; limits to substitutability in terms of natural capital and within this biodiversity maintenance; distributional issues relating to resource use in social and spatial terms.

These are problems which no one discipline can address successfully and which are essentially interdisciplinary but which have a bearing on the use and practice of environmental valuation whether carried out in the tradition of environmental economics or via some newer decision process, such as a citizens jury

Last update 22-Sep-2006 10:08:46
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