Ecological economic policy for sustainable development – Potentials and domains for intervention for delinking approaches

Femia, A., Hinterberger, F. & Luks, F. (1999)

Due to the increasing environmental problems, conventional environmental policy will not suffice to secure a development path that can be sustainable on a global scale. The greenhouse effect, holes in the ozone layer and losses in biodiversity are only some of the most striking damages that have increased in the past decades. This article explores general strategies to reach the goals of ecological sustainability and individual well-being. The linkages between environmental impact, material input, income/production, the amount of services utilised, and well-being are analysed and explained in simple terms. It is clear that current environmental policies, based on a rather narrow, reductionist view of the man-nature relationship, will not suffice. We investigate under which conditions a dramatic dematerialisation of the industrialised economies – which is often claimed as being a necessary condition for reducing global environmental threats – can be achieved without decreasing the individual wellbeing by de-linking material flows from individual well-being. Dematerialisation aims at such a delinking and is therefore a practical approach to the reconciliation of the goals of ecological sustainability and individual well-being.

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