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Value-oriented impact assessment: the economics of a new approach to impact assessment

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Environmental Impact Assessment has gained a prominent position as a tool to evaluate the environmental effects of economic activities. However, all approaches proposed so far use a burden-oriented logic. They concentrate on the different environmental impacts in order to ascertain the overall environmental damage caused by economic activity. This paper argues that such a burden-oriented view is (a) hampered by a series of methodological shortcomings which hinders its widespread use in practice; and (b) is analytically incomplete. The paper proposes a value-oriented approach to impact assessment. For this purpose an economic analysis of the optimal use of environmental and social resources is conducted from both a burden-oriented and a value-oriented standpoint. The basic logic of a value-oriented impact assessment is explained, as well as the resulting economic conditions for an optimal use of resources. In addition, it is shown that value- and burden-oriented approaches are complementary to achieve optimality. Finally, the paper discusses the conditions under which the use of burden- or value-oriented impact assessments is appropriate, respectively.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment (IZT) Berlin Germany

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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