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Interregional sustainability: governance and policy in an ecologically interdependent world
- Kissinger, Meidad, Rees, William E., Timmer, Vanessa
- Environmental science & policy 2011 v.14 no.8 pp. 965-976
- ecosystems, energy, environmental science, governance, human population, humans, issues and policy, leadership, society
- This paper develops a theoretical interregional approach to sustainability in an interconnected world. We make the case that achieving sustainability – living equitably within the limits of living systems – requires the recognition of our ecological interdependence and interconnectedness across regions and the resultant need for supra-regional 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 supra-regional ecological linkages and discuss the types of interregional feedback and policy responses needed. We highlight how such an quasi-global focus 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.