Sustained risks: A Lasting Phenomenon

Estimating environmental risks objectively or uniformly is not scientifically possible. To translate the concept of sustainability into an operative policy concept it is therefore necessary to make explicit normative choices in relation to identified risks and uncertainties, is one of the WRR’s findings in its report Sustained Risks: a Lasting Phenomenon (Report no. 44, 1994).

Environmental utilisation space is not fixed

Depending on one’s view of nature and society, the risks relating to the environment are estimated to be greater or smaller. The choices that have to be made in environmental policy are normative, not objective. There is no fixed environmental utilisation space, but an entire spectrum of possibilities. These arise from a public debate about objectives and risks, both for the environment and for socio-economic development.

Four scenarios

In the report the WRR fleshes out four scenarios based on the action perspectives 'utilising’ 'managing', ‘saving’ and 'preserving' for developments relating to the food supply, the energy supply, nature protection, raw materials and drinking water. On that basis, the WRR finds that serious problems will arise in the sectors that were studied if trends are allowed to continue on their present course.

The WRR published this report at the request of the government, as a follow-up to its earlier report on the environment, the economy and governance (Report no. 41, 1992).