alexa No perfect tools: trade-offs of sustainability principles and user requirements in designing support tools for land-use decisions between greenfields and brownfields.
Geology & Earth Science

Geology & Earth Science

Journal of Earth Science & Climatic Change

Author(s): Bartke S, Schwarze R

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Abstract The EU Soil Thematic Strategy calls for the application of sustainability concepts and methods as part of an integrated policy to prevent soil degradation and to increase the re-use of brownfields. Although certain general principles have been proposed for the evaluation of sustainable development, the practical application of sustainability assessment tools (SATs) is contingent on the actual requirements of tool users, e.g. planners or investors, to pick up such instruments in actual decision making. We examine the normative sustainability principles that need to be taken into account in order to make sound land-use decisions between new development on greenfield sites and the regeneration of brownfields - and relate these principles to empirically observed user requirements and the properties of available SATs. In this way we provide an overview of approaches to sustainability assessment. Three stylized approaches, represented in each case by a typical tool selected from the literature, are presented and contrasted with (1) the norm-oriented Bellagio sustainability principles and (2) the requirements of three different stakeholder groups: decision makers, scientists/experts and representatives of the general public. The paper disentangles some of the inevitable trade-offs involved in seeking to implement sustainable land-use planning, i.e. between norm orientation and holism, broad participation and effective communication. It concludes with the controversial assessment that there are no perfect tools and that to be meaningful the user requirements of decision makers must take precedence over those of other interest groups in the design of SATs. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This article was published in J Environ Manage and referenced in Journal of Earth Science & Climatic Change

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