Inderscience Publishers

Sustainable development and climate change: applying the sustainomics transdisciplinary meta-framework

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This paper analyses key issues linking sustainable development and climate change. It describes sustainomics as "a transdisciplinary, integrative, balanced, heuristic and practical meta-framework for making development more sustainable". The environmental, social and economic criteria for sustainability play an important role in the sustainomics framework. Environmental sustainability focuses on the overall performance or health of ecological systems. Social sustainability seeks to reduce the vulnerability and maintain the health of social and cultural systems, and their ability to withstand shocks. Economic sustainability aims to maximize the flow of income that could be generated while at least maintaining the stock of assets (or capital) which yields these beneficial outputs. The paper seeks to integrate these concepts through two broad approaches involving optimality and durability, and applies these ideas to climate change analysis. This framework helps decision makers focus on the structure of development, rather than just the magnitude of economic growth (conventionally measured). Sustainomics helps to incorporate ecological and social concerns into the decision making framework of human society. Operationally, it plays this bridging role by helping to map the results of environmental and social impact assessments (EIA and SIA) onto the framework of conventional economic analysis of projects. Sustainable development policies must take into account, the powerful economy-wide reforms in common use - including both sectoral and macroeconomic adjustment policies which have widespread effects throughout the economy. The highest priority needs to be given to finding "win-win policies", which promote all three elements of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental). Measures which advance one objective at the expense of another need to be analysed within a framework that facilitates trade-offs. Economy-wide policies that successfully induce growth, could also lead to environmental and social harm, unless the macro-reforms are complemented by additional environmental and social measures. The sustainomics approach helps to identify and analyse economic-environmental-social interactions, and formulate effective sustainable development policies, by linking and articulating these activities explicitly through the AIM framework.

Keywords: sustainable development, climate change, sustainomics

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