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Future Generations: economic, legal and institutional aspects

Hubacek, K. and Volker, M. (2008) Future Generations: economic, legal and institutional aspects. Futures, 40 (5). pp. 413-423. ISSN 0016-3287

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In economics, the issue of ‘future generations’ is mainly related to the environmental problems of resource consumption and pollution and their distribution over long time horizons. This paper critically discusses fundamental concepts in economics, such as efficiency and optimality, in relation to the incorporation of future generations in present day decision-making. Cost–benefit analysis (CBA) and discounting are used as a starting point and criticized for its inherent flaws such as incommensurability of values and its tendency to hide rather than reveal underlying values which are assumed to be fixed. We then investigate alternative approaches, in which, unlike in CBA, the preferences are not assumed to be a priori but must be constructed. Thus, interest groups or individuals must sit down together and figure out what things seem to be worth. The aim is to involve all interested parties in planning for the future. Similarly, on a national and regional level, increasingly stakeholder processes, deliberative and interest group procedures are used to develop strategies and visions for resource management and conservation. A similar case can be made for institutions at the international level. The legal examples provided in this paper show that rather than only installing an institution such as the guardian for the future on the global level, more ‘democratized’ bottom up approaches might be more appropriate.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Futures. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self archiving policy.
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Earth and Environment (Leeds) > Sustainability Research Institute (Leeds)
Depositing User: Sherpa Assistant
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2008 15:30
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 17:06
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2007.10.001
Status: Published
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd.
Identification Number: 10.1016/j.futures.2007.10.001
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4807

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