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Sustainability 2016, 8(6), 504; doi:10.3390/su8060504

Four Sustainability Paradigms for Environmental Management: A Methodological Analysis and an Empirical Study Based on 30 Italian Industries

Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche, Università di Bologna, via Angherà 22, Rimini 47900, Italy
Academic Editor: Vincenzo Torretta
Received: 17 March 2016 / Revised: 3 May 2016 / Accepted: 12 May 2016 / Published: 28 May 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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Abstract

This paper develops an empirical methodology to consistently compare alternative sustainability paradigms (weak sustainability (WS), strong sustainability (SS), a-growth (AG), and de-growth (DG)) and different assessment approaches (LCA, CBA, and MCA) within alternative relationship frameworks (economic general equilibrium (EGE) and ecosystem services (ESS)). The goal is to suggest different environmental interventions (e.g., projects vs. policies) for environmental management at national, regional, or local levels. The top-down methodology is then applied to 30 interdependent industries in Italy for three pollutants and four resources during two periods. The industries were prioritized in terms of interventions to be taken to diminish pollution damage and resource depletion, whereas sustainability paradigms were compared in terms of their likelihood (i.e., WS > AG = DG > SS), robustness (i.e., AG > SS > DG > WS), effectiveness (i.e., SS > AG > DG > WS), and feasibility (i.e., SS > DG > WS > AG). Proper assessment approaches for projects are finally identified for situations when policies are infeasible (e.g., LCA in WS and SS, MCA in DG and SS within ESS, CBA in WS, and AG within EGE), by suggesting MCA in WS within ESS once ecological services are linked to sustainability criteria. View Full-Text
Keywords: weak/strong sustainability; a-growth/de-growth; cost-benefit analysis; multi-criteria analysis; life-cycle assessment weak/strong sustainability; a-growth/de-growth; cost-benefit analysis; multi-criteria analysis; life-cycle assessment
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Zagonari, F. Four Sustainability Paradigms for Environmental Management: A Methodological Analysis and an Empirical Study Based on 30 Italian Industries. Sustainability 2016, 8, 504.

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