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International Comparisons of Environmental Hazards: Development and Evaluation of a Method for Linking Environmental Data with the Strategic Debate Management Priorities for Risk Management

Discussion Paper 92-09, Center for Science and International Affairs (CSIA)

October 1992

Authors: Vicki Norberg-Bohm, William Clark, Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy, and Human Development; Co-director, Sustainability Science Program; Faculty Chair, ENRP

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Energy Technology Innovation Policy; Environment and Natural Resources

 

This paper describes and evaluates a method for comparing environmental hazards within and between countries. The method is intended for use by international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and governments and that are involved in setting national environmental agendas or developing environmental programs that require international coordination. The core of the method is a common set of indicators that can be used to characterize any environmental problem. The indicators are designed to reflect both causes and consequences of environmental problems, and to pose realistic demands on available data. We show that by analyzing indicator data in various ways, the method can help to identify sets of "similar" hazards, to flag unusual or outlier hazards that might otherwise be ignored, to show which countries have common environmental problems, and to assign management priorities among hazards. We recognize the central role of values in structuring such analyses. Because the method addresses the value question directly, it can be used to illuminate the implications of preferences that (for example) emphasize present as opposed to future impacts, health as opposed to ecosystem effects, or pollution emissions as opposed to their consequences. Application of the method is demonstrated and evaluated through country studies of India, Kenya, the Netherlands, and the United States.

A similar version of this paper will appear under the same title in R. Kasperson and J. Kasperson, eds. 1993. Risk Assessment for Global Environmental Change. (New York: United Nations Press).

This research was supported in part by the Stockholm Environment Institute, the United Nations University, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund

 

For Academic Citation:

Vicki Norberg-Bohm and William Clark. "International Comparisons of Environmental Hazards: Development and Evaluation of a Method for Linking Environmental Data with the Strategic Debate Management Priorities for Risk Management." Discussion Paper 92-09, Center for Science and International Affairs (CSIA), October 1992.

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