An interregional ecological approach for modelling sustainability in a globalizing world-Reviewing existing approaches and emerging directions

Meidad Kissinger, William E. Rees

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

In recent decades international trade has become a major source of supplying the need and wants of billions of people around the world. Virtually everyone now consumes resource commodities and manufactured products imported from 'elsewhere'. In effect, globalization and trade enable consuming populations to support themselves on the output of distant ecosystems half a world away. However, while economic integration implies greater 'connectivity' within the global village, the spatial separation of material production (including resource extraction) from consumption eliminates some of the signals i.e., the negative feedbacks coming from supporting eco-systems from reaching those who depend on these ecosystems for their sustainability. At present, despite increasing global connectedness, most environmental studies and models apply to a single spatial scale: local, national or global; analysing diverse pressures on human well-being and ecosystems integrity. This paper argues that both economic globalization and global ecological change should force us to add an interregional scale for quantifying and modelling sustainability. Such an approach recognizes that, in a globalizing world, the sustainability of any given region increasingly depends, directly and indirectly, on the sustainability of many other regions. The following pages describe the interregional approach and illustrate some existing and emerging methods for quantifying, analysing and modelling interregional linkages. It then identifies some of what is still missing, and discusses some of the implications in a changing world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2615-2623
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Modelling
Volume221
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2010

Keywords

  • Ecological footprint analysis (EFA)
  • Environmental input-output analysis (EIOA)
  • International trade
  • Life cycle assessment (LCA)
  • Material flows analysis (MFA)
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling

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