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  • Paula Ins Cosme Teixeira

    Licenciada em Cincias de Engenharia do Ambiente

    Assessing sustainability on a degrowth perspective

    Dissertao para obteno do Grau de Mestre em Engenharia do Ambiente,

    perfil de Gesto e Sistemas Ambientais

    Orientador: Prof. Doutor Rui Ferreira dos Santos, Professor Associado, FCT/UNL

    Jri:

    Presidente: Prof. Doutora Maria Paula Baptista da Costa Antunes

    Arguente: Prof. Doutor Nuno Miguel Ribeiro Videira Costa

    Vogal: Prof. Doutor Rui Jorge Ferreira dos Santos

    Maro de 2012

  • Assessing sustainability on a degrowth perspective

    Copyright Paula Ins Cosme Teixeira

    Faculdade de Cincias e Tecnologia

    Universidade Nova de Lisboa

    2012

    A Faculdade de Cincias e Tecnologia e a Universidade Nova de Lisboa tm o direito,

    perptuo e sem limites geogrficos, de arquivar e publicar esta dissertao atravs de

    exemplares impressos reproduzidos em papel ou de forma digital, ou por qualquer outro

    meio conhecido ou que venha a ser inventado, e de a divulgar atravs de repositrios

    cientficos e de admitir a sua cpia e distribuio com objectivos educacionais ou de

    investigao, no comerciais, desde que seja dado crdito ao autor e editor.

  • v

    Acknowledgments

    This dissertation represents an important step towards a transition phase in my life and there are

    several people to whom I have to say thank you for all the help and support given.

    On top of all, I want to thank my mother, Isabel. There are no words to describe how your love and

    support was important to me through all my life and during this particularly hard period. You made

    all of this possible, and I have to thank you for that. I also want to thank my sister Ana for always

    being there for me and for being so supportive, and to my brother-in-law, Joo, for his help too. A

    very special thank you to my grandparents, Maria Jos and Jos, who also made my education

    possible and always strived to give me the best support they could.

    A special word to all my close friends for your patience when I was more upset or simply without

    time to pay you more attention, and also for all your help!

    The last thank you in this section, however one of the most important ones, goes to Filipe. Thank

    you for your endless support and for the strength you gave me, without you this would have been

    much harder to accomplish.

    Now in the academic field, I have to thank all my university teachers, you were the ones who

    guided me through this path and all of you gave a special contribution to my knowledge. A very

    special thank you to Rui Santos, the teacher who guided me through this dissertation and gave me

    all the help that I could ask for, it was a pleasure to work with you.

    I would like to thank Giorgio Kallis, since he was the one who, without knowing, inspired me to work

    on this theme and afterwards also gave a little help on choosing the specific field for my

    dissertation. I would also like to thank Gualter Baptista for the bibliography that he provided me

    and, finally, a big thank you to my cousin, Lus Malcato, for taking the time to read and review my

    work.

  • vii

    Agradecimentos

    Esta dissertao representa um passo importante para uma fase de transio na minha vida e h

    vrias pessoas s quais tenho de dizer obrigada por todo a ajuda e apoio dado.

    Acima de tudo, queria agradecer minha me, Isabel. No h palavras para descrever como o teu

    amor e apoio foram importantes para mim durante toda a minha vida e durante este perodo

    particularmente difcil. Fizeste com que tudo isto fosse possvel, e tenho que te agradecer por isso.

    Quero tambm agradecer minha irm Ana por estar sempre presente para mim e me dar tanto

    apoio, assim como ao meu cunhado, Joo, tambm pela sua ajuda. Um agradecimento muito

    especial tambm para os meus avs, Maria Jos e Jos, que tambm possibilitaram a minha

    educao e sempre lutaram para me dar o melhor apoio que puderam.

    Uma palavra especial para todos os meus amigos mais prximos pela vossa pacincia quando

    estava mais chateada ou simplesmente sem tempo para vos dar mais ateno, e tambm por toda

    a vossa ajuda!

    O ltimo agradecimento nesta seco, porm um dos mais importantes, vai para o Filipe. Obrigada

    pelo teu apoio inesgotvel e por toda a fora que me deste, sem ti este trabalho teria sido muito

    mais difcil de concretizar.

    Agora no campo acadmico, tenho de agradecer a todos os meus professores universitrios,

    foram vocs que me guiaram ao longo deste caminho e todos deram uma contribuio especial

    para o meu conhecimento. Um agradecimento muito especial para Rui Santos, o professor que me

    guiou na elaborao desta dissertao e deu-me toda a ajuda que eu poderia pedir, foi um prazer

    trabalhar consigo.

    Gostaria tambm de agradecer a Giorgio Kallis, visto que foi ele que, sem saber, me inspirou a

    trabalhar neste tema e depois tambm deu uma pequena ajuda na escolha da rea especfica

    para a dissertao. Tambm quero agradecer a Gualter Baptista pela bibliografia que me

    dispensou e, finalmente, um grande obrigado para o meu primo, Lus Malcato, por se ter

    disponibilizado para ler e rever o meu trabalho.

  • ix

    Abstract

    It is not new that humanity has limits to its economic expansion. However, what to do if we already

    surpassed the ecological limits of the environmental systems? It is a great challenge to solve the

    environmental problems without compromising the social dimension. Degrowth is a strive for down-

    scaling societys throughput in a fair and sustainable way.

    The essential questions answered in this work were: what is the sustainable degrowth perspective

    and what does it entail? Are the existent sustainability assessment metrics able to capture the

    degrowth-related concerns?

    These questions were addressed first by doing a literature-based research and a posterior

    treatment and comparison of the results. The origin of the degrowth movement was delineated and

    afterwards the most updated publications gave the basis to understand in what way policy-making

    can be crucial to achieve degrowth goals.

    After knowing what were the policy goals, they were contrasted with existing sustainability

    assessment indicators, being them aggregated measures and sets of indicators. The economic

    aggregated metrics analysed were: Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Index of Sustainable

    Economic Welfare (ISEW) and Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), Adjusted Net Savings (ANS) and

    Genuine Savings (GS), Ecological Domestic Product (EDP) and Environmentally Sustainable

    National Income (eSNI). The biophysical and social aggregated measures analysed were:

    Environmental Performance Index (EPI), Living Planet Index (LPI), Human Appropriation of Net

    Primary Production (HANPP), Ecological Footprint (EF), Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI),

    Well-being Assessment Index (WI), Happy Planet Index (HPI), Human Development Index (HDI),

    Sustainable Society Index (SSI), Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI), and Canadian Index of

    Well-being (CIW). The sets of indicators analysed were: Core Set of Indicators of the European

    Environment Agency (CSI-EEA), European Union Set of Sustainable Development Indicators (EU-

    SDIs), Japan For Sustainability Indicators (JFI), Millennium Development Goals Indicators (MDGI)

    and System of Indicators of Sustainable Development for Portugal (SIDS-Portugal).

    The main results achieved were that neither existing aggregated metrics nor sets of indicators were

    able to capture all degrowth-related concerns. In spite of that fact, there are some metrics that can

    be very useful to assess some policy goals. Also, the goals that are less addressed open doors to

    new studies and new creation of metrics. It is discussed that the metrics that showed more

    connection points to degrowth goals were the more complete sets of indicators, since they are able

    to capture the different dimensions of sustainability assessment.

    Keywords: Degrowth, Indicators, Sustainability Assessment, Policy goals, Policy instruments.

  • xi

    Resumo

    No novidade que a expanso econmica da humanidade tem limites. No entanto, o que fazer

    se j tivermos ultrapassado os limites ecolgicos dos sistemas ambientais? um grande desafio

    resolver os problemas ambientais sem comprometer a dimenso social. O decrescimento uma

    iniciativa para diminuir a escala do fluxo de actividade da sociedade, de uma forma justa e

    sustentvel.

    As questes essenciais a que este trabalho deu uma resposta foram: qual a perspectiva do

    decrescimento sustentvel e o que que envolve? Sero as mtricas de avaliao de

    sustentabilidade capazes de apreender as preocupaes relativas ao decrescimento?

    Estas questes foram abordadas primeiramente fazendo uma pesquisa de literatura e um posterior

    tratamento e comparao de resultados. A origem do movimento do decrescimento foi traada e

    depois, as publicaes mais actualizadas serviram de base para perceber de que forma a

    construo de polticas pode ser crucial para atingir os objectivos do decrescimento.

    Aps saber quais os objectivos do decrescimento, estes foram contrastados com os indicadores

    de avaliao de sustentabilidade existentes, sendo estes medidas agregadas e grupos de

    indicadores. As medidas econmicas agregadas analisadas foram: Produt