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Critical natural capital and the implications of a strong sustainability criterion.

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Environmental management becomes specialised

It is common knowledge that environmental sustainability is based on a delicate and often perilous balance between the natural resources and energy capacities inherent to the environment and the amount of stress and strain human activities inflict upon ecosystems. Fortunately, this fragile equilibrium has been quantified by a group of European researchers that devised a specialised environmental methodology and framework to precisely manage the logistics of the environment.

Climate Change and Environment

The CRITINC Methodology operates with the underlying knowledge that the environment must retain its viability not only to preserve its own vital functions, but also to support and promote human well-being. Specifically, environmental functions maintain human health, avoid threats, and promote economic sustainability. In response to this crucial reality, this group of researchers have formulated the CRITINC Methodology as a management framework that precisely quantifies environmental functions and resources and the amount of depletion they can withstand without harming human and ecological welfare. Thus, the notion of environmental sustainability works very much like any good corporate accounting plan and the CRITINC Methodology will, in the future, serve to guide European environmental policy. Firstly, the Methodology delineates the working definition of environmental sustainability as the maintenance of those environmental functions which play an important role in sustaining major ecosystems or natural processes, or which make a substantial contribution to human welfare. As a result, the logistics of environmental sustainability suggest that in order for these vital environmental functions to be maintained, certain crucial resources, also called critical components of natural capital, must be conserved. Without these critical components of natural capital, the environmental functions that lead to human and environmental well-being cannot operate properly. Furthermore, as a part of the Methodology, researchers defined natural capital as forms of energy and matter and the climate conditions and ecosystem features that this energy and matter create. It is this natural capital that fuels vital environmental functions. Of course, some environmental functions are more important, and at greater risk, than others in terms of human health maintenance, such as threat avoidance and economic sustenance, and it is these that researchers focused on. The research group defined the resources needed to preserve these important environmental functions as critical natural capital (CNC). Consequently, the preservation of environmental sustainability relies on the limitation of human stresses and actions that cause ecological depletion. As a next step to constructing the CRITINC Methodology, the researchers came to the conclusion that it is necessary to quantify the CNC and the stresses that deplete it, and use these measurements as indicators of whether or not environmental sustainability is attained. These indicators are then utilised as sustainability standards to successfully manage the environment. Furthermore, the researchers sorted natural capital into four categories: land/soil, air, water, and habitats (ecosystems, flora, and fauna). A framework matrix was then devised for assessing natural capital by creating two classification systems, one for natural capital characteristics, and another for environmental functions. This framework works in conjunction with the sustainability standards as a way of tabulating the deficiency between the current situation and environmental sustainability. This step concludes the CRITINC Methodology. Market applications for the CRITINC Methodology are vast. Countries can utilise it to assess domestic environmental situations, while it can be used to guide environmental regulations throughout Europe. With the CRITINC Methodology, environmental management can have a critical impact on policies and regulation.

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