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Environmental impact assessments in a telecoupled world

  • 1 March, 2018
  • VU University Amsterdam, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)
  • Prof. Peter Verburg
  • Dr Peter Messerli

Environmental impact assessments are an important means to assess the potential sustainability consequences of products, investments, spatial planning or policy decisions. Current methods for environmental impact assessments have limitations in accounting for distant and indirect impacts. Either a focus is on the local impacts only, or distant impacts are accounted for but not in a location specific manner. The inability to properly evaluate distant versus local impacts has given rise to a general tendency to believe that distant impacts are always a problem allegedly ‘local products’ are more sustainable than products sourced from distant places. Yet, it may rather be the lack of good assessment methods that prevent us from understanding the various distant impacts. For this reason, innovative assessment methods are needed to understand the environmental and social cost across increasingly globalised commodity networks and provide guidance to consumers, investors, and policy makers taking decisions in light of sustainable development.

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Claudia Parra Paitan

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