Consensus as the measure of sustainability

  • Bender M
  • Simonovic S
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Sustainable development is the new water resources paradigm of the
1990s. Yet its practical implications seem to be elusive. Metrics for
measuring the level of sustainability are eagerly sought. It is very
difficult to capture the important features, and maintain many of the
valued details, of environmental and social systems when complete or
appropriate economic accounting is attempted. A much more transcendent
and flexible metric may be consensus. Consensus as a sustainability
metric describes the level in which stakeholders are satisfied with a
solution to a question. Consensus assumes that an appropriate group of
stakeholders is able to collaborate in assessing proposed solutions to
environmental problems or development initiatives. It also assumes that
the collective best which a group of stakeholders has to offer
implicitly provides insight to the needs of future generations. This
paper describes an approach for assessing a level of consensus. The
benefits are: estimation of areas of common understanding; and
clarification of conflicting values.

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  • M. J. Bender

  • S. P. Simonovic

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