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Title: Environmental Principles and Policies: An interdisciplinary introduction
Author(s): Sharon Beder
Date of Publication: 2006 Publisher: Earthscan
Pages:viii + 304 ISBN: 1 84407 404 8
Price: Format:Paperback
Target Readership Educator







Content: Introduction; 1 - The sustainability principle; 2 - The polluter pays principle; 3 - The precautionary principle; 4 - The equity principle; 5 - Human rights principles; 6 - The participation principle; 7 - Measuring economic value; 8 - Is monetary valuation principled?; 9 - Prices and pollution rights; 10 - The sustainability principle and economic instruments; 11 - The polluter pays and precautionary principles added; 12 - Rights, equity and participation principles added; 13- Quotas, trades, offsets and banks; 14 - The sustainability and conservation markets; 15 - The equity, participation and precautionary principles applied; 16 - Conclusion.

Review: The growth of environmental issues has thrown up a series of concepts over the years. Often these are taken "as-given" without seemingly any need for a more critical approach. The rise of econometric models of ecology and environment have also grown and have in many cases overtaken, in the popular mind, these more basic and fundamental ideas. However, with EU legislation increasing and a more mature approach to environmental policies there has been a return to some of the earlier key ideas. What is needed therefore is a text to describe and evaluate these in concepts in the context of current debates about the environment - which is where this text starts.

The basic thesis of this book is very simple - describe 6 key ideas and then see how they work in the context of a range of currently important issues. However, this is far from straightforward and there are many interesting points along the way. The six concepts are divided into two groups which together form the first 6 chapters and two parts of the text. The first three come under the aegis of environmental protection and are: the sustainability principle, the polluter pays principle and the precautionary principle. The first of these has a modern history going back to the early 70s with the first UN environment conference. It is the basic idea that there is a limit to what we can do - initially described as the idea of 'spaceship earth' but later in the useful idea of carrying capacity and currently in the more common guise of ecofootprint. The second is the polluter pays principle - the notion that the person who creates the mess cleans it up. Again, an early idea which was linked to the 3M company's idea of 'pollution prevention pays' but which gained more currency with EU legislation on pollution. The third one is the precautionary principle which again has an EU pollution basis although the fundamental notion of 'looking before you leap' is far older than that! All three suggest that there are limits to actions and all three suggest theories that might be useful in determining those limits but sadly, as we see here, there are real problems in quantifying them. The second three ideas come from a slightly earlier origin linked to the United Nations - equity, human rights and participation. Equity, both inter and intra generational has received a lot of press since the Brundtland Report and is one of the key ideas in conservation discussions currently. Human rights, the common ideals of people to justice and fairness are best seen today in the less developed world where there is a daily struggle for basic resources. It's this demand which is fuelling such ideas as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Programme. Participation is obviously voting but is also more with the demand that people have a right to determine their own lives. Against these basic principles there are the cases against which they are used to evaluate quality. To do this, the text is divided into three more parts. The first (actually part three) evaluates economic valuation against these 6 ideas. Chapter seven examines cost-benefit analysis against other measures such as sustainability whilst chapter 8 discusses the extent to which any monetary arrangement looks at items other than money. Part four focusses on an older and more fundamental use of these concepts in terms of pollution control. Chapter 9 provides an overview of the way in which pollution might be given a value and the way its treatment can be objectified in an environmental perspective. It remains for the next three chapters to discuss the same 6 concepts and how they can add to the debate about pollution control. Part five looks at the broader ideas of conservation. Taking a lead from part four, these three chapters examine the current basic ideas of dealing with wildlife scarcity e.g. rights, quotas and offsets etc. and then highlighting the way in which these change our understanding. A final chapter acts as a summary of the book's key ideas.

This is a very useful reference for the educator. It deals with some of the current issues but blends them with the ideas, well developed in the past, that provide a more equitable distribution of resources. The book is, in effect, a critique of current views but using a framework of the older, more developed principles. As such it provides us with a very good reference and critique of these often-neglected areas.





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