Inderscience Publishers

The sustainomics trans-disciplinary meta-framework for making development more sustainable: applications to energy issues

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This paper describes sustainomics as "a transdisciplinary, integrative, balanced, heuristic and practical meta-framework for making development more sustainable". The neologism helps to focus attention explicitly on sustainable development, and avoid the implication of any disciplinary bias or hegemony. The paper sets out some key constituent elements of sustainomics and how they might fit together. Sustainability criteria, applicable to the interlinked panarchy of economic and environmental systems, play an important role in the sustainomics framework. Environmental and social sustainability focus on the overall health of ecological and social systems, with emphasis on increasing resilience to withstand shocks and reduce vulnerability. Economic sustainability aims to maximize the flow of income that could be generated while at least maintaining the stock of assets (or capital) that yield these beneficial outputs. Equity and poverty are also key issues. All these concepts are integrated through two broad approaches involving optimality and durability. Sustainomics helps decision-makers to focus on the structure of development, rather than just the magnitude of economic growth (conventionally measured). The framework facilitates the incorporation of ecological and social concerns into the decision-making process of human society. Operationally, it plays this bridging role by enabling implementation of sustainability assessments, especially through the mapping of the results of environmental and social assessments onto the framework of conventional economic analysis. These concepts are illustrated through case studies involving energy problems across a full range of spatial scales. At the global transnational level, the first case study examines the interplay of optimality and durability in determining appropriate global GHG emission target levels, and the second explores methods of combining efficiency and equity to facilitate South-North cooperation for climate change mitigation. At the national economy level, the third study describes how the action impact matrix may be used for policy analysis, and the fourth sets out approaches for restructuring growth to make long-term development more sustainable. On the subnational-sectoral scale, the fifth case outlines methods for achieving sustainable energy development in Sri Lanka, and the sixth examines rainforest management in Madagascar. Finally, at the project-local level, multi-criteria analysis is applied to a fuel-wood stove project, and to compare small hydropower projects, using relevant economic, social and environmental indicators.

Keywords: sustainable development, sustainable energy, sustainomics

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