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1 - Global change and sustainable development

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 July 2010

Jan Rotmans
Affiliation:
National Institute of Public Health and Environment (RIVM), The Netherlands
Bert de Vries
Affiliation:
National Institute of Public Health and Environment (RIVM), The Netherlands
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Summary

This chapter provides an introduction to the theme of the book by explaining the importance of the three central concepts global change, sustainable development and integrated assessment. The book focuses on five areas: population and human health, energy, water, land and food, and global biogeochemical cycles. The idea of using multiple definitions of sustainable development in an integrated approach to global change is put forward. The construction and use of the TARGETS integrated assessment model (Tool to Assess Regional and Global Environmental and health Targets for Sustainability) is justified in terms of providing a platform for communication within the scientific community that can inform policy debates about likely trends over the next 100 years or so.

Introduction

With the approach of a new millennium, global change and sustainable development are evolving as key concepts for assessing the future of the planet and of humankind. Over the last few decades, we have become used to the idea that our activities may have serious and irreversible impacts on the environment. Human-induced changes are recognised as having the potential to significantly modify the structure and functioning of the Earth system as a whole. Furthermore, activities at one place on Earth can affect the lives of people around the globe and even jeopardise those of future generations. The use of land, water, minerals and other natural resources by humans has increased more than tenfold during the past two centuries.

Type
Chapter
Information
Perspectives on Global Change
The TARGETS Approach
, pp. 1 - 14
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1997

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