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TIAS Quarterly

No. 01/2020 (June)
The Newsletter of
The Integrated Assessment Society (TIAS)

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In this Issue

Feature: Ecological civilization: A new development paradigm, by PAN Jiahua
TIAS News: MEDUWA-Vecht(e) project
IA News: AfriAlliance Hub

Photo: U. Meissner

The Society

The Integrated Assessment Society is a not-for-profit entity created to promote the community of inter-disciplinary and disciplinary scientists, analysts and practitioners who develop and use Integrated Assessment (IA). The goals of the society are to nurture this community, to promote the development of IA and to encourage its wise application.

Integrated Assessment can be defined as the interdisciplinary process of integrating knowledge from various disciplines and stakeholder groups in order to evaluate a problem situation from a variety of perspectives and provide support for its solution. IA supports learning and decision processes and helps to identify desirable and possible options for addressing the problem. It therefore builds on two major methodological pillars: approaches to integrating knowledge about a problem domain, and understanding policy and decision making processes. IA has been developed to address issues of acid rain, climate change, land degradation, water and air quality management, forest and fisheries management and public health.



Ecological civilization: A new development paradigm
PAN Jiahua, Professor of Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences University
With technical assistance from YANG Xinran

Almost every strategic study on environment and development solicited by the Chinese government refers to ‘ecological civilization’. Successive presidents have connected their names to it. The simplest interpretation of this term has been as the Chinese equivalent of sustainable development in China. But beyond that, what does ‘ecological civilization’ mean? PAN Jiahua explains here. Professor Pan organized the annual conference of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences at the end of 2019, which was entirely devoted to this concept.

Ecological civilization as a new development paradigm has been practised in China in an attempt to remedy inherent vices such as social inequality and environmental unsustainability associated with industrial civilization. The characteristics of this new paradigm are in essence different from the industrial civilization. The Chinese experiences demonstrate that this new development paradigm has the potential to lead us to global sustainability.

Key Elements of Ecological Civilization

Literally speaking, ecology and civilization are a combination of natural and cultural attributes with the relationship between humans and nature at the nucleus. The reason that the definition of ecological civilization is traced back to the ancient Chinese philosophy of “nature and Man as one” is the need to understand and define the relationship between humans and nature.

At a direct and fundamental level, the relationship between humans and nature is a matter of values: the approach to nature. The philosophy of “nature and Man as one” by Oriental saints underscores the unity between humans and nature, where humans are part of nature and must respect and follow nature. Humans are not the master of nature and cannot attempt to transform and conquer nature. Humans and nature are equal and shall live in harmony; humans must be rational and adjust their approach to nature. What huans pursue is not the limitless accumulation of material wealth but the recognition and respect of the values of nature. If respecting and following nature represents ecological justice, the values of “nature and Man as one” also include social justice, i.e. respect for human rights and the fair sharing of the return from natural resources. Ecological justice and social justice go hand in hand and jointly create the foundation of values for ecological civilization. Human beings are a part of nature and ideologically they must respect nature and treat nature fairly; in terms of a code of conduct, all human activities must fully respect the laws of nature and seek harmony between humans and nature.

Ecological civilization in a broad sense includes not only respecting nature and sharing the values of common prosperity with nature but also encompasses the method of production, economic foundation and superstructure, i.e. the institutional system developed under the
guidance of such values, which create a form of social civilization characterized by the progress of humans and nature in harmony, highly advanced productivity, all-round development of culture, and sustained social prosperity.

The method of production in ecological civilization is not a linear model of natural resources going through the production process of becoming products and wastes but pursues the efficiency of material output on the premise of ecological rationalism rather than the maximization of output. This approach requires forsaking inefficient, extensive, predatory and destructive methods of production and embracing the most resource-efficient methods of production at a minimum cost to the environment and a circular production model in which raw materials are processed into products which, after use, will be recycled back into raw materials. Our ways of consuming cannot aim at possession, extravagance and waste but should focus on green, conserving, healthy and rational ways of life that emphasize quality. Supplies of essential materials are limited but human desires are infinite. Instead of calling for a frugal life and returning to an agrarian civilization, ecological civilization requires that the desire for unnecessary material possessions and consumption be restrained and instead be focused on the basis of securing basic material needs. Given that the demand for these is determined by a way of life is also reflected in the methods of production, ecologically-civilized ways of life and consumption are a reflection of the ethical values of ecological civilization.

Ecological civilization pursues all-round human development and quality of life. In contrast to passive deference to nature advocated by ancient philosophers more than 2,000 years ago, the contemporary concept of ecological civilization represents unity between humans and nature on the basis of applying modern science and technology and an advanced understanding of nature. The tranquility and grandeur of  nature is not only the cradle of thought but also an indispensable element of a high quality of life. Economic prosperity and social stability are essential to maintaining the beauty of nature. Unity between nature and humans supported by modern science, technology and economic development is an ideal condition of harmony between humans and nature, humans and humans, and humans and society.

Regarding the creation of an institutional system, there is a set of effective mechanisms to respect and protect nature, promote social justice, regulate our ways of life and work, and secure cultural development. Systematic institutions and mechanisms must be in place to check and guide the fostering and development of ecologically-civilized ways of life and work. Human development and quality of life also require an architecture of relevant standards, rules and legal systems. The creation of capitalist systems is not only an outcome of the industrialization process but  assures the successful implementation of the industrialization process. Without the creation of market systems and the improvement of the rule of law, capitalism cannot have developed and evolved in such an efficient and orderly manner.

It can be seen from the above discussions that the key elements of ecological civilization as a development paradigm are justice, efficiency, harmony, and cultural development. Justice means respecting natural rights, achieving ecological justice and safeguarding human rights to achieve social justice. Efficiency, in this case, means the identification of: i) ecological efficiency defined by the equilibrium and productivity of the natural ecosystem; ii) economic efficiency defined by low input, zero pollution and high output of economic production; and iii) social efficiency with complete and well-functioning social systems. Harmony means mutual tolerance and benefit between humans and nature, humans and humans, and humans and society, as well as the balance and coordination between production and consumption, between economy and society, and between regions including cities and rural areas. Cultural development refers to the dignity, equality, and healthiness of life. These factors are interconnected: justice is the necessary foundation of ecological civilization, efficiency is the means to realizing ecological civilization, harmony is the external reflection of ecological civilization, and cultural development is the ultimate objective of ecological civilization.

A Comparison with Industrial Civilization

Industrial civilization originated from the Industrial Revolution and came into being in the context of agrarian civilization. Thanks to tremendous progress in science and technology, utilization of fossil fuels, and sophisticated means of production, industrial civilization put an end to the “realm of necessity” of agrarian civilization defined by awe of and submission to nature. The industrialization process driven by fossil fuels dramatically enhanced social productivity, created immense material wealth needed by human society, and transformed the social development paradigm. Agrarian civilization characterized by low productivity, self-sufficiency, and frugality gave way to industrial civilization defined by utilitarian values, leadership by technology innovation, conquering of nature, exploitation of natural resources, high consumption, and corresponding ways of life, work and social structure.

If industrial civilization and ecological civilization are two different development paradigms, then what is the differences between the two? The first difference is the values or ethical foundation. In A Treatise of Human Nature, leading philosopher of Scottish Enlightenment movement in the early period of British Industrial Revolution, David Hume[1] created utilitarianism from moral and emotional levels. Convinced by his theory of utilitarianism, English philosopher Jeremy Bentham argued for the greatest happiness principle - “the greatest happiness of the greatest number”. In Utilitarianism (1861) written by philosopher and economist John Muir[2] in his late years, it was proposed that a person had the ability to sacrifice his/her own maximum welfare in exchange for the welfare of others and that any sacrifice that could not or did not contribute to the growth of aggregate happiness would be in vain. He stressed that happiness based on utilitarianism was not the happiness of an actor alone but the happiness of all people associated with him or her. When you treat others the way you expect others to treat you and when you love your neighbors in the the way that you care for yourself, the utilitarian concept of morality will reach a state of perfection. Obviously, happiness is materialistic and realistic and if certain elements of the environment or natural resources cannot bring about happiness, it will be to no avail. In addition, utility is realized through the market. Without market value or if market value is relatively small, it has to give way to useful or more useful purposes. The ethical foundation of ecological civilization is the successor of Chinese ancient philosophies and seeks ecological justice and social justice. Humans are a part of nature and cannot destroy nature for their own happiness. Although utilitarianism calls for the maximum happiness of the society, it does not put a premium on equality among people and between people and society. Some scientific philosophies such as the Darwinian Origin of Species proposed the theory of survival of the fittest, yet social Darwinism not only neglects the interests of vulnerable groups but has been used by racists to implement policies of racial discrimination.

The objectives under the development paradigm of industrial civilization, namely of pursuing the maximization of profits, wealth accumulation, and utility have led to a worship of GDP and the single-minded pursuit of interests among society at large. As a new development paradigm, ecological civilization underscores the harmony between humans and nature, environmental sustainability and social prosperity over monetary return and the accumulation of material assets. As a matter of fact, ecological civilization attaches greater importance to natural assets and the appreciation of their natural value while human-made assets require tremendous expenditures for maintenance and depreciate over time.

In terms of the energy foundation, industrial civilization relies upon fossil fuels while ecological civilization advocates sustainability and sustainable energy transformation. Of course, energy production and consumption under the development paradigm of ecological civilization will not return to the inefficient and low-quality utilization of renewable energy sources typical of agrarian societies but will adopt highly efficient and high-quality commodity energy services. Industrial civilization does not recognize the boundary of development and may expand continuously disregarding resource constraints. The paradigm of ecological civilization unequivocally recognizes the limits of nature and follows its boundaries.

In terms of the ways of life and work, the extensive linear model of collecting raw materials for manufacturing that leads to products and waste under industrial civilization stands in sharp contrast to the circular model of reusing and recycling used products and their parts and waste materials. Consumption under industrial civilization is typically possessive, wasteful and extravagant, while consumption under ecological civilization is low carbon, quality-oriented, healthy and rational consumption.

These differences between ecological civilization and industrial civilization represent areas in which industrial civilization needs to be modified and improved. Many advantages of industrial civilization must not only be succeeded by ecological civilization but also further developed. For instance, innovation and technology as a driver of industrial civilization is also needed in ecological civilization. On the other hand, technologies that are conducive to sustainable development must be encouraged and technologies that damage the environment and waste resources must be checked and even prohibited. Utilitarian principles such as democracy, the rule of law, and the market mechanism from the institutional system of industrial civilization can be directly grafted to the development paradigm of ecological civilization. Nevertheless, the paradigm of ecological civilization also has its unique elements such as ecological compensation, ecological red line and the evaluation of natural resource assets and liabilities.

 The ecological compensation is a payment either by the government or the beneficiary for the ecological services to people who conserve or maintain the natural environment in an ecologically healthy condition. This term “red line” is adopted from physical urban planning, meaning the strict boundary for development. Therefore it is understood as zoning for nature protection spatially and something that is strictly forbidden such as hunting and trading protected wild animals.

A New Development Paradigm with Implications for Global Sustainability

Given that the environment and sustainability concern the common future of humankind and that a clear correlation between the environment and development does exist, sustainability becomes an increasingly important item on the agenda of international politics, such as the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and Paris Climate Agreement concluded in 2015.

In the context of increasing global awareness of green growth and sustainable development China, as a responsible stakeholder, should not only ensure sustainability in China but contribute to global sustainable development as well. In light of the current levels of industrialization and urbanization, and in light of global movements for sustainability, the grave challenges of “uneven, uncoordinated and unsustainable” economic and social development in China stand in the way of achieving a green transformation of China’s economy and society based on the values of ecological civilization and sustainable development.

The development of ecological civilization aims at securing clean air and water, fertile soil and a healthy environment for the people; promote balanced, sound and real economic development; safeguard human rights and interests and social justice; optimize the income distribution pattern, reduce the gaps between the rich and the poor, and promote balanced regional development. The new development paradigm under ecological civilization is taking shape internationally and the global community is making efforts to accelerate the process of transformation towards sustainability. The 5 P’s (People focused, economic Prosperity, Planetary boundary, Peace and Partnership) are consistent with and reflect the basic principles of ecological civilization. The setting of sustainable development goals and climate targets provides technical measures for transformation towards a new development paradigm under ecological civilization
1. David Hume (1711-1776), a Scottish philosopher, economist and historian. He was regarded as one of the most important figures in the Scottish Enlightenment movement and the history of Western philosophy.
2. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), British jurisprudent, utilitarian philosopher, economist and social reformer.

For a more indepth analysis, see PAN Jiahua (2015) China's Environmental Governing and Ecological Civilization. Springer and China Social Sciences Press.



MEDUWA-Vecht(e) project on emissions of human and veterinary pharmaceuticals and multi-resistant bacteria holds its final stakeholder-partner meeting

MEDUWA-Vecht(e) - MEDicines Unwanted in Water - is a collaborative project of 27 Dutch and German companies, universities, hospitals, and governmental and non-governmental organizations. This coalition develops products and services that reduce the emissions of human and veterinary pharmaceuticals and multi-resistant bacteria in soil, food, water and air, and, at the same, support the regional economy. The project is funded by the European Commission's INTERREG VA program.

In February 2020, INTERREG-VA MEDUWA-Vecht(e) Project, in which TIAS is a partner, held its final stakeholder-partner meeting in Zwolle at the mouth of the Vechte River in the Netherlands. The two-day meeting, attended by more than 60 participants from diverse sectors in the Netherlands and Germany, provided an opportunity to share the latest developments in reducing medicines and multi-resistant bacteria in water. Partners and stakeholders shared what has been learned in the MEDUWA project and, in particular, the status of the innovations under development which are directed at the animal and human health sectors as well as the water provision and sewage treatment sector.

Special sessions examined emerging issues including the effects of the rapid pace of climate change and variability on water quality and the risk of infection associated with recreation in uncontrolled surface water as well as the new threat of multi-resistant fungi. The implications for policy and adaptation are far-reaching.

MEDUWA stakeholders and partners on excursion to the Vechte River, Zwolle 13 Feb. 2020

MEDUWA stakeholders have played an invaluable role in shaping the innovations and supporting the project partners in tailoring their products and preparing them for the market. In order to sustain collaboration on reducing human and veterinary medicines in the environment, follow-up initiatives for the post-MEDUWA period were also discussed. This includes, for example, further research on understanding how medicinal contaminants interact with each other and with other anthropogenic contaminants of biological and chemical origin, like pathogens, pesticides, nano-materials, and so forth. Specifically, there was interest in measuring  and modelling micropollutants in groundwater and soil. Other questions that that were identified as important are the effect on the quality of drinking water and whether recreation in uncontrolled surface waters can still take place. In addition to the MEDUWA source-based measures to reduce or prevent the entry of medicines in the environment, further measures that are also cost-effective.

In addition, all project partners and stakeholders were invited to sign the MEDUWA Joint Declaration on the Emission of Human and Veterinary Medicines. The community of The Integrated Assessment Society are also invited to sign the document. For this, an email with name and affiliation can be sent to Alfons Uijtewaal

The minutes of the stakeholder-partner meeting are being reviewed by participants and will soon be accessible on the MEDUWA website.  As the project approaches an end in October, more results will be made available on this project site.

IA News

Launch of the AfriAlliance Needs & Solutions Hub

The AfriAlliance Needs & Solutions Hub has compiled water-related needs of African stakeholders and matched them with potential solutions. Users can search for specific needs, and find out what solutions there are. The N&S Hub features a Landing Page ( from where the individual hubs can be accessed, listing the Needs and Solutions identified by AA so far. Users are also invited to submit their specific needs (via email) and solutions (via a dedicated tool on the Hub). To join the Community: Researchers and practitioners are invited to register on the AfriAlliance website and join the AA community - and to encourage their networks to do the same: AfriAlliance ‘Join the Community’ page.

Quotable quotes:
Olaf Sleijpen, Executive Board member, The Dutch Central Bank

"Compare the corona crisis with a meteorite that has struck the earth. An external shock that we didn't see coming quickly enough. Climate change has an even greater impact. It's more of a collision with another planet, but with the advantage that we see it coming."
Translated from the NRC Online, 19 June 2020 (accessed)
Link to full article in Dutch


Adapted from photo by Aleksi Tappura on Unsplash


Recent Publications of our members

Bellaubí, F. and Mallarach, J.M. 2020. A geoethical approach to the territory: the case of the lower Tordera river and Delta, Catalonia, Spain. Published on the Blog of The International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG)

Nouri, H., Stokvis, B., Borujeni, S.C., Galindo, A., Brugnach, M., Blatchford, M.L., Alaghmand, S. and Hoekstra, A.Y., 2020. “Reduce blue water scarcity and increase nutritional and economic water productivity through changing the cropping pattern in a catchment”. Journal of Hydrology, p.125086.

Marschütz, B., S. Bremer, H. Runhaar, D. Hegger, H. Mees, J. Vervoort, A. Wardekker (2020). “Local narratives of change as an entry point for building urban climate resilience”. Climate Risk Management, 28, 100223.

Wardekker, A., B. Wilk, V. Brown, C. Uittenbroek, H. Mees, P. Driessen, M. Wassen, A. Molenaar, J. Walda, H. Runhaar (2020). “A diagnostic tool for supporting policymaking on urban resilience”. Cities, 101, 102691.

The Special Issue on Learning in Transitions, a spin-off of the learning community and International Sustainability Transitions conference sessions, is published.  Several TIAS members are co-authors including the opening editorial: van Mierlo, B., Halbe, J., Beers, P.J., Scholz, G. and Vinke-de Kruijf, J., 2020. “Learning about learning in sustainability transitions”.


8 -21 August 2020 – IST 2020 Conference ONLINE
Registration is now open for the International Sustainability Transitions conference now taking place online.  Registration closes August 10th. Registrants will receive further instructions per email and login data a few days before the conference starts. Registration here.

26-28 August 2020 "Advances in Water Governance originally planned as part of the the ECPR General Conference in Innsbruck, Austria, will be held virtually. Registration here.
14-18 September 2020, IEMSS 2020 Brussels (new dates)
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and its consequences, the conference will now be organized as a partial on-site – partial on-line conference on September 14-18,  2020. The Organizing Committee is working hard to reschedule the conference and to shift the various milestones and kindly requests patience. An announcement will be made when additional information is available on the iEMSs website.
QOS2020 has been postponed to 2021
The Quadrennial Ozone Symposium (QOS) has been postponed to Oct 3rd-9th, 2021 due to the Covid-19 issues around the globe. More information will be made available on the conference website in due course.
Digital journey to Postnormal Science Community PNS 2021 symposium in Florence” replaces PNS 5 Symposium planned for September 2020 in Florence
In light of the distancing measures in place in Italy, the Local Organising Committee & Scientific Committee of Postnormal Science Community 2020 in Florence has decided go digital, postpone meeting in person, and create a “Digital journey to PNS 2021 symposium in Florence”. The event will include webinars and online panels on selected topics. The new dates in 2021 have not yet been announced. Developments can be followed on the PNS website. Representing TIAS, vice-president Marcela Brugnach and Caroline van Bers are preparing a dialogue session: Addressing ambiguity in participatory processes for sustainable resources management to support Integrated Assessment.



Project Manager Climate Adaptation Report and Data Platform, Global Center on Adaptation

The Project Manager will work as part of a core team member to promote the ambitions of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) and its role as a knowledge provider in the field of climate change adaptation. The Project Manager will report to the Chief Scientist while working closely with senior and junior members of the Knowledge and Education Hub of the GCA, located in the city of Groningen, the Netherlands. The successful candidate will drive forward GCA’s knowledge work program and will play a key role in positioning the GCA as the foremost international organization specialising in climate change adaptation while managing a set of advanced and complex science projects.
Application deadline: 28 June 2020. Further Information.

Research Assistant/Associate in Energy and Integrated Assessment Modelling, Imperial College London - Chemical Engineering

The Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London, is seeking an engineer or scientist to  work at the forefront of energy systems modelling, building and applying the analytical tools that underpin the key technology, policy and regulatory decisions related to climate change mitigation. They will work within a project that has partners from across the EU and worldwide. This position is designed to provide this evidence via computer modelling of global whole energy system transitions using Imperial College’s MUSE integrated assessment agent-based modelling framework.  
Application deadline: 1 July 2020.  Further information.

Programme Management Officer, Ecosystems Division, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi, Kenya

The Ecosystems Division at UNEP works with international and national partners, providing technical assistance and advisory services for the implementation of environmental policy, and strengthening the environmental management capacity of developing countries and countries with economies in transition. This post is located in the Ecosystems Division, at the Nairobi duty station. Under the direct supervision of the UN-REDD Team Leader and in close cooperation with the Director, Africa Office,
Application deadline: 1 July 2020. Further information.


TIAS Quarterly Newsletter

TIAS Quarterly is the newsletter of The Integrated Assessment Society.
ISSN: 2077-2130
Editor: Caroline van Bers
Associate editors: Caroline Lumosi, Anna-Lena Guske
Photos: Ulli Meissner 
© ( (unless otherwise indicated)
Layout: Worldshaper design - Fabian Heitmann, Caroline van Bers
TIAS President: Klaus Jacob
TIAS Vice-presidents: Jan Bakkes, Marcela Brugnach

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