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Interregional Interdependence: A Framework and Policy Prescriptions for Sustainability

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This chapter develops and analyzes a theoretical interregional approach to sustainability in an interconnected world. We make the case that achieving ecological sustainability – living equitably within the limits of supporting ecosystems – requires the recognition of our material interdependence and interconnectedness across regions and the attendant need for interregional policy to shape local resilience and global sustainability. Approaching sustainability conscious of interregional connections reveals that: 1) virtually every significant human population or country lives, in part, on energy/material flows to and from distant places elsewhere around the world; 2) production, consumption and policy decisions in any given locale have the potential to create unseen unsustainable burdens on connected productive ecosystems in distant locales; 3) ecological change in one region has the potential to jeopardize the sustainability of other regions; and 4) society in almost any region has interests in sustaining the vitality of ecosystems in other regions. We highlight a range of interregional ecological linkages and discuss the kinds of interregional feedback and policy responses they require. This reveals how an interregional perspective not only provides further insight into the social and ecological challenges global society is facing, but also reveals places for positive human intervention and leadership in the name of sustainability and resilience.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

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