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


15 Working Papers were completed, the extra one being a supplementary paper on the analytical framework, which was developed. The other WPs were delivered broadly as envisaged. Agreement in principle has been reached to turn them into Special Issues of two academic issues, work on which is now underway.

National Workshops were organized, or are forthcoming, in all but one of the partner countries. A wide range of policy makers and other academics attended the workshops.
The overall goal of the project is to gain insights and understanding that are relevant to environmental policy concerning the application of the strong sustainability criterion to the use of the environment and its resources. In this project, environmental sustainability is defined 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. The concept of strong sustainability derives from a perception that certain 'critical' components of natural capital make a unique contribution to welfare and must therefore be preserved if their functions are to be sustained
The objectives of this project which will contribute to the attainment of its goal are:
1. To construct a theoretical framework for the identification of critical natural capital (CNC), the maintenance of which is required for strong sustainability to be achieved.
2. To classify the CNC of each of the countries represented in the project consistently with the theoretical framework of Objective 1, though also clearly reflecting each country's different environmental endowments and capacities.
3. To choose a particularly significant example of CNC in each country, and investigate the socioeconomic implications of applying a strong sustainability criterion that requires its maintenance.
4. To draw conclusions about the overall economic and social implications of a country maintaining a commitment to strong sustainability.
Together the participating institutes will create a framework for the identification of CNC, which they will apply to their own country, working towards the creation of a national inventory of CNC, based on a common classification. These research efforts will be compared, the framework will be modified as found to be necessary, and the research results will then be presented in an integrated way.
Each participating institute will then identify an element of CNC in its country that is under particular threat: river system Sites of Special Scientific Interest in UK; urban air quality in IT; urban ecosystems in SE; coastal and riverine wetlands in NL; forests in DE; and agricultural land and water resources in FR Each institute will analyse the way in which this CNC has been used in the past, and any economic and social benefits to which this use has given rise. It will explore in detail the current situation with regard to this CNC, in particular the benefits which exploitation of this CNC is yielding or might be expected to yield, the nature of the damage to the CNC which is in prospect or being incurred and the extent to which this impairs the important environmental function which gives the CNC its status. Each institute will then examine the economic and social implications of imposing the strong sustainability criterion on this element of CNC, requiring that the CNC should be preserved. These implications will cover such areas as economic growth, employment, competitiveness and the appropriate mix of environmental policy instruments to implement the strong sustainability criterion.
Each participating institute will review the specific CNC analysis of each othe institute, relating it to the state of the art in that area in its own country, enabling conclusions to be drawn as to the relevance of each institute's work i all the participating countries, and permitting discussion as to the extent to which the conclusions of each institute's work may be applied more generally. This will produce a broad assessment for each country of the application of the strong sustainability criterion in six different environmental issue areas. The project will be brought to a close with a synthesis of these broad assessments for each country.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


University of Keele

ST5 5BG Keele - Staffordshire
United Kingdom

Participants (5)

Corso Magenta 63
20123 Milano
Landbouwuniversiteit Wageningen
18,Diedenweg 18
6700 HB Wageningen
Svante Arrhenius Vaeg 21 A
106 91 Stockholm
47,Boulevard Vauban 47, Collège Vauban
78047 Guyancourt
19,Doeppersberg 19
42103 Wuppertal