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.
Photo: Antonina Baygusheva
Exploring the transmission of values in the Human-Geosphere relationship
by Dr. Francesc Bellaubi, South Ural State University, Chelyavinks, Russia
Is climate change a technological challenge or an ethical issue? To what extent do we morally and legitimately act on environmental issues of this scale without interfering in geodynamic processes? How do we set environmental preservation limits and according to which values? How can we save the planet when social injustice persists?
The intrinsic value of nature
These are just a few of the provoking questions that make it evident that the global social and environmental challenges we are facing are not separate crises but (Francis, 2015), rather, comprise a ecological crisis (Boff, 2016) that is both social and environmental; it is a “crisis of values” as referred to by the Iranian-American philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr (1997) whilst a “justice” value-based approach to governance has been largely ignored (Glenna, 2010), ecological problems involve Human-Nature value relationships (Bellaubi, 2018).
In the Anthropocene, environmental and social challenges rely on technocratic instruments, highly specialized technology and scientific progress, but the fact that challenges persist suggest these approaches are not enough to tackle ecological problems (Daily, 1987;) and it is imperative to overcome the current ecological crisis by considering the intrinsic value of nature rather what we do with it (value of use or value of exchange) (Kovel, 1993). The current way of dealing with natural resources (governance and management) that sustain our cultural and production model lies with the Technopoly development paradigm (Postman, 1993) which is based on the fallacy of scientism, a myth, disguised as a range of technocratic artifacts: sophisticated social-ecological modeling, refined participatory Habermasian deliberation-consensus approaches, institutional reform processes and power struggles to access natural resources (Boelens et al., 2018). Thus, the scientism fallacy, sustained by the political and economic status quo that relies on the existing education system (Robinson, n.d.) where nature is seen as a resource “to profit from” (or, apparently less damaging, “to make sustainable use of”), makes us believe that technology is the solution to Human-Nature challenges.
Our relationship with the Geosphere
Of particular interest is the relationship between Humans and the Geosphere (the abiotic entity of Nature) when referring to the management of natural resources and their governance, as these resources sustain our current lifestyles and development patterns. The concept of the Geosphere introduces a “semantic” change where the Geosphere refers to the geodynamic processes of water, soil and subsoil and the expression of their multiple manifestations in terms of rivers, lakes and mountains as common beings, rather than considering water, soil and subsoil simply as natural resources. This view represents a shift focusing on the value of our relationship (value relationship) with the Geosphere instead of the utilitarian value of our choices regarding natural resources (Bellaubi & Bustamante, 2018). Geoethics (Peppoloni and Di Capua, 2015), sets the moral foundation for the relationship between Humans and the Geosphere, whilst geoethical dilemmas confront values expressed in normative rules or social norms with individual or collective values that form the Human-Geosphere relationship. Geoethical dilemmas reveal the importance of our values as a basis for our relationship with the Geosphere, by considering how our values affect other humans, e.g. in terms of geological risks on vulnerable populations as a result of flooding or as anthropic impacts on landscapes. In other words, the values that underpin how we relate to each other are at the core of our relationship with the Geosphere. Leadership and credibility play a key role in rethinking in our relationship with the Geosphere (McInstosh and Carmichael, 2015; Bellaubi, 2018) and fostering cultural change (Knott et al., 2008). This change can be understood as a pedagogic process that creates value (Freire, 1970; Kumagai, 2000; Taylor, 1995) challenging the current development paradigm of Technopoly.
Transmitting values through time and space
There is broad spectrum of literature on how values are embedded in and transmitted through education (Camps, 2013), religion (Chuvieco, 2012), family (Brighouse & Swift, 2014), and arts and folklores (Stathopoulou, n.d.), to name a few. However, a fundamental question is why values are transmitted through time and space?
Concepts such as morphic resonance (Sheldrake, 2015), meaning inheriting an evolutionary biological memory and Noosphere (Levit, 2000; Vernadsky, 2005; Galleni, and Scalfari, 2005), understood as the last evolutionary stage of the Geosphere, deserves to be further explored to understand why values may be transmitted over time. The Geosphere carries the memories of our ancestors to future generations as a kind of morphic resonance soul where the ancestors live (e.g. as “Apos” in the Andean cosmology, or the “The Dreamtime” aboriginal beliefs in Australia). In that way, Humans and Geosphere become spiritually connected redefining the concept of Noosphere: our spiritual connection with the Geosphere.
Values are founded upon human self-spiritual experiences and perceptions of reality, a gnosic knowledge according to Tarkovsky (n.d.). The concept of the “triune brain” proposed by MacLean (1990) suggest it is possible to distinguish between scientific rational knowledge that may explain the choices we make, how we act upon these choices based on moral and ethical values, and the natural instincts that explain why we make specific choices. Ideologies somehow adopt this brain structure and consequently evolve; born from instincts, ideologies find an ethical-philosophical justification towards more structured expressions to communicate and express behaviors, thus sustaining and challenging paradigms as a way to understand the world and our relations with others.
Ideology is understood as an imaginary of spiritual ideas that unfold in an array of values that form our perception of the World (Žižek, 1989, modified by the author). An ideology is the machine of the soul. An interesting point is that ideologies, in contrast to theories or concepts, do not need justification but justify themselves (Tischner, 2005) through narratives, making others believe what we believe.
The role of eco-ideologies
Ideologies develop within a historic substrate — to use the term of Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno — to tell the “intra-story” of history. This substrate is represented by the narratives relations of of the past generations with Geosphere. Thus eco-ideologies become an internal and silent exercise of evoking and awakening spiritual feelings of identity which, by connecting us to past generations, our ancestors, and their environments projects into the future a hope towards the generations to come, and frames communities that carry an utopic ideal: A Dream.
Theories of ‘sustainability’ and nature protection in 19th Century Russia
The research undertaken by the author is placed in the ongoing ecological debate in Russia. This vast country has extensive folklore and spirituality based on Nature and, in the late nineteenth century, Russian scientists were among the pioneers of theories of ‘sustainability’ and the protection of nature. The contemporary Russian environmental movement is a type of protest against the government’s lack of attention to solving ecological problems (Haliy, 2001). The movement encompasses a collective concern about the challenging ecological situation at both local and national levels. The research explores new elements in eco-politics,such as the role of ecological spirituality (McIntosh & Carmichael, 2015) in creating political power), from theory to practice and find a way forward to inform theory using a case study approach, and that means in great measure the researcher “must” drop away their aseptic and neutral position and play their role in the political arena standing in front geoethics (Bellaubi 2019). Hence, volunteer-based
for the protection of nature such as the Land Stewardship Network in Catalonia (Spain) (http://www.custodiaterritori.org/ca/english.html), practitioners associations (Silene.ong) and scientific initiatives (https://sacrednaturalsites.org/about/), to name three examples, should be further considered in the important role of dissemination and promotion of the spiritual and intangible cultural heritage values inherent in Nature.
Bellaubi, F. (2019). Why do we need more geoethicc in research?. Publised in the International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG) Blog. Retrieved from https://iapgeoethics.blogspot.com/2019/02/why-do-we-need-more-geoethics-in.html
Bellaubi, F. (2018). Teaching Geoethics as a Form of Eco-political Resistance. Published in the International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG) Blog. Retrieved from https://iapgeoethics.blogspot.com/2018/11/teaching-geoethics-as-form-of-eco.html
Bellaubi, F., & Bustamante, R. (2018). Towards a New Paradigm in Water Management: Cochabamba’s Water Agenda from an Ethical Approach. Geosciences, 8, 177.
Boelens, R., Vos, J., & Perreault, T. (2018). Introduction: The Multiple Challenges and Layers of Water Justice Struggles. In R. Boelens, T. Perreault, & J. Vos (Eds.). Water Justice (pp. 1-32). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Leonardo Boff, “Liberation Ecology,” interview by Allen White, Great Transition Initiative (August 2016), www.greattransition.org/publication/liberation-ecology.
Brighouse, H. & Swift, A. (2014). Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationships. Princeton, US: Princeton University Press.
Camps, V. (2013). Breve Historia de la Etica. Barcelona, Spain: RBA Libros.
Chuvieco, E. (2012). Religious approaches to water management and environmental conservation. Water Policy, 14, 9–20.
Daly, H. E. (1987). The Economic Growth Debate: What Some Economists Have Learned But Many Have Not. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management , 14, 323- 336.
Francis, 2015, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home [Encyclical Letter, The Vatican Rome],, Rome, The Vatican.
Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc.
Galleni, L., & Scalfari, F. (2005). Teilhard de Chardin's Engagement with the Relationship between Science and Theology in Light of Discussions about Environmental Ethics. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, Ecotheology, 10(2).
Glenna, L. (2010). Value-Laden Technocratic Management and Environmental Conflicts: The Case of the New York City Watershed Controversy. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 35(1).
Haliy, I. A. (2001). History of the Development of Ecological Nongovernmental Organizations in Russia. Proceedings of a Workshop: The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges, American Lessons. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Retrieved from https://www.nap.edu/read/10240/chapter/4
Knott, D., Muers, S., & Aldridge, S. (2008). Achieving Culture Change: A Policy Framework. London: Cabinet Office.
Kortetmäki, T., 2017, Justice in and to Nature: An Application of the Broad Framework of Environmental and Ecological Justice. PhD thesis. The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
Kovel, J. (2007). The Enemy of Nature—The End of Capitalism or the End of the World. London: Zed Books.
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Kumagai, K. (2000). Value-creating pedagogy and Japanese education in the modern era. In Ideas and Influence of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (pp. 29-45). Tokyo: The Institute of Oriental Philosophy.
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McIntosh, A. and Carmichael, M. (2015). Spiritual Activism: Leadership as service. Cambridge, UK: Green Books.
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Postman, N. (1993). Technopoly the surrender of culture to technology. New York: Vintage Books.
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TIAS webinar on the findings and options for GEO and other assessments
The sixth edition of the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6) was launched in March of this year. In addition to providing a comprehensive assessment of the state of the environment, GEO-6 has taken a solution oriented approach presenting an evaluation of current environmental policies and exploring policy options for transformative change with the use of scenarios, which is considered to be necessary in order to achieve the SDGs.
In a TIAS webinar on June 14, Paul Ekins of University College London and Co-Chair of GEO-6 presented the Findings of the GEO-6
presented the findings of GEO. Jan Bakkes, TIAS vice-president and co-author of an upcoming book on the 25 year history of GEO, reflected on Lessons learned from past GEOs
Pierre Boileau, Head of the Global Environmental Outlook of UN Environment looked forward by Setting the scene for Future GEO. A panel including the three presenters together with
Martin Kowarsch, Head of the “Scientific Assessments, Ethics, and Public Policy” working group at Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change and Paul Lucas of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency reflected together on the findings of GEO 6 and provided recommendations for the set-up of future global environmental assessments. A recording of the webinar is available: go to webinar recording.
TIAS Mailing List/Listserv now available
TIAS members and others interested in Integrated Assessment are invited to subscribe to our recently established email list. The list can be used to post announcements to all subscribers. It is intended to share news on Integrated Assessment including relevant initiatives, funding opportunities, projects and publications, events, job offers (including internships), etc. We encourage its use and hope it will contribute to the mission of TIAS in building a community of researchers and practitioners in the field of Integrated Assessment. To subscribe go to: https://lists.fu-berlin.de/listinfo/tias-network#subscribe
. Registered users then receive the list address and can begin sharing news.
Newig, J., Jager, N.W., Kochskämper, E. and Challies, E. 2019. Learning in participatory environmental governance – its antecedents and effects. Findings from a case survey meta-analysis. Journal of Environmental Polic & Planning, pp.1-15.
Recent publications of our members
Ilgen, S., Sengers, F., Wardekker, A. 2019. City-to-City learning for urban resilience: The case of water squares in Rotterdam and Mexico City. Water, 11(5),983. https://doi.org(10.3390/w11050983
WEF Nexus Call for research papers, reports and books
The Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus focuses on the role of technology in water resource management, understanding the importance of traditional social norms and values, challenges posed by climate change and extreme weather patterns, and most importantly, the economic costs that hitherto are considered externalities.
The upcoming issue (Volume 7 Number 3, Autumn 2019) of Future of Food Journal
is dedicated to the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus dialog with a specific angle on food and nutritional security as well as socioeconomic development. Call for research papers, book or film reviews and special reports closes on 1st August 2019.
The Future of Food Journal is a collaborative journal of the University of Kassel, Germany, and the Federation of German Scientists (VDW).
For further information, contact email@example.com
21-23 September 2020. PNS 5 Symposium, Knowledge, Science Practices and Integrity: Quality through Post-Normal Science Lenses
. Palazzo Fenzi-Marucelli, University of Florence, Italy
25-30 August 2019 SIWI World Water Week
11-13 September 2019, Wageningen, Netherlands. BIOECON XXI.
This year the focus is on inequality and poverty – both in terms of human welfare and species richness – in biodiversity conservation and natural resource management.
16-18 Sept. 2019. Berlin. "Divergent values in sustainability assessments: love them, leave them, or change them?"
This interdisciplinary conference is organised by the MCC Berlin and co-funded by DKN Future Earth (Germany). Envisaged outputs include a joint article by the sphttps://pns5.biostatistica.net/index.php
eakers and/or a journal Special Issue. Contact:
Dr. Martin Kowarsch (firstname.lastname@example.org
21-25 October 2019, Hannover, Germany. Ecosystem Services Partnership
10th World Conference: “10 years advancing ecosystem services science, policy and practice for a sustainable future”
. For more information on hosting a session, renting an exhibit booth, proposing a workshop, and present work, visit the conference site
26-27 Nov. 2019. Brussels. EU Conference on Modelling for Policy support: Experiences, challenges and the way ahead
. Organised by the Competence Centre on Modelling of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. Conference registration will open on 6th
Fellowships at Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam for 3-12 months in 2020: https://www.iass-potsdam.de/en/news/iass-fellow-programme-2020-call-applications
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