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EEA experts challenge current methods in the environmental sciences

A new report just published by the European Environment Agency challenges the way we solve environmental problems.

'Stakeholder involvement ' is key to dealing with environmental problems, according to the authors of the report entitled 'Information tools for environmental po...
A new report just published by the European Environment Agency challenges the way we solve environmental problems.

'Stakeholder involvement ' is key to dealing with environmental problems, according to the authors of the report entitled 'Information tools for environmental policy conditions of complexity'.

From getting rid of oil platforms to climate change, facts are uncertain, values are disputed, stakes are high and decisions urgent, say the researchers.

'Experts cannot arrive at environmental solutions by dealing with them in a traditional problem-solving manner, due to the complexity of these problems.'

Someone trying to broker an agreement between a number of parties with quite different interests 'should understand that diversity and possible conflict are not an unfortunate accident which could be eliminated by better natural or social science, but rather are inherent to the character of the complex system', the authors continue.

They critique traditional academic theories that environmental problems can be solved only by the accredited expertise and argue that 'most problems in practice have more than one plausible answer, and many have no answer at all'.

As an alternative, the authors advocate a number of alternative approaches to framing and solving problems. These include a diversity of aspects and indicators, the use of multiple criteria and stakeholder involvement.

'As sustainability is not a purely physical property of simple technological systems, work is now needed to bring into practise the perspectives of this report', says the European Environment Agency.
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