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Thresholds of Environmental Sustainability
www.thresholds-eu.org

More:  Institutes | Project 
Acronym: THRESHOLDS
Period: January 2005 till December 2009
Status: Completed

Institutes (18)  Top | Project 
  • Universitat de les Illes Balears; Instituto Mediterraneo de Estudios Avanzados (IMEDEA), more, co-ordinator
  • Institute of Studies for the Integration of Systems (ISIS), more, co-ordinator
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles; École Interfacultaire de Bioingénieurs; Laboratoire d'Écologie des Systèmes Aquatiques (ESA), more
  • Association for Research and Development of Industrial Methods and Processes (ARMINES), more
  • Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), more
  • Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; Institute of Oceanology (IO-Bas), more
  • European Commission Joint Research Center (JRC), more
  • University of Aarhus; National Environmental Research Institute (NERI), more
  • Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), more
  • Finnish Environment Institute (FEI/SYKE), more
  • University of Bath, more
  • Universitat de les Illes Balears, more
  • University of Kalmar (HIK), more
  • Marine Biological Station (Universitetets Marinbiologiske stasjon i Drøbak); University of Oslo (UiO), more
  • Pierre & Marie Curie University (UPMC), more
  • University of Southern Denmark; Institute of Biology, more
  • University of Tartu (UTEE), more
  • Uppsala University, more

Child project  Top | Institutes 
  • Nutrient-driven thresholds of environmental sustainability - Conceptual Model of the planktonic food-web, more

Abstract:
Tresholds carries out innovative crosscutting research to develop, improve and integrate research tools and methods supporting the formulation of sustainable strategies.
THRESHOLDS’ original support to the progress of Sustainability Science and of its role in support of Sustainable Development, consists in the establishment and testing of an innovative policy formulation mechanism based on the integration of:

  • A target setting process driven by novel scientific knowledge on environmental sustainability indicator Thresholds and Points of No Return;

  • The assessment of socio-economic costs and impacts associated to such targets;

  • Evaluations incorporating both external and abatement costs into an integrated assessment model system leading to the identification of the most cost-effective abatement measures.


    The THRESHOLDS IP will develop an innovative target-setting procedure, encompassing both the environmental and the socio-economic dimensions required to formulate robust policies ensuring sustainable development.
    Research on sustainability thresholds is still in its pioneering phase. In fact the assumption that ecosystem responses to pressures are often non-linear, while conceptually recognised as plausible, has not so far been validated on a sufficiently large scale to trigger a change of attitude in policy making. The study of ecological discontinuities and thresholds effects as the consequence of human perturbations on ecological systems will be at the core of this Integrated Project. THRESHOLDS will provide theoretical framework and operational definitions to the concepts of Threshold and Point of No Return, together with scientific evidence to critically examine complex behaviour of ecosystems and non-linearities.
    Methodologies for evaluating environmental pressures and impacts must be adapted to the complexity of the ecosystems and the non-linearity of its responses: within THRESHOLDS, externalities valuation will take account of non linear phenomena and discontinuity in valuation functions, so as to allow for the accurate estimation of the socio-economic costs of exceeding sustainability thresholds.
    Policy strategies aimed at avoiding the trespassing of thresholds or the achievement of a point of no return will be identified and the costs and benefits of their implementation assessed against those of thresholds exceeding.
    The benefits of the innovative integrated scientific approach will be tangible through a wide array of case studies in coastal areas at scales ranging from local to pan-European. Coastal areas meet a complex convergence of socio-economic interests and environmental pressures (land-ocean-atmosphere) together with intense population growth and welfare accumulation with a pressing need for policy formulation at the European scale, thereby providing a challenging test bench for THRESHOLDS.
    In addition to 'traditional', one-way dissemination of results, a dialogue with potential users will be initiated and actively pursued during the whole project. In fat detailed research questions can be guided by the needs of the users, whose observations also become part of the data collection and analysis.

    THRESHOLDS is structured along 7 Research Streams:

    • Stream 1
      Theoretical Formulation of Externality Valuation and Non-linear Cost-Pressure Relationships

      (Stream leader: Anil Markandya, University of Bath, United Kingdom)

    • Stream 2
      Thresholds and Points of no return: Threshold definition, theory and identification

      (Stream leader: Lars Håkanson, University of Uppsala, Finland)

    • Stream 3
      Nutrient-driven thresholds of environmental sustainability

      (Stream leader: Daniel Conley, National Environmental Research Institute, Denmark)

    • Stream 4
      Thresholds and drivers of contaminants

      (Stream leader: José-Manuel Zaldivar Comenges , JRC, INT)

    • Stream 5
      Definition of thresholds of key indicators of biodiversity and ecosystem function

      (Stream leader: Timo Tamminen, SYKE, Finland)

    • Stream 6
      Integration and application of thresholds methodologies on case studies

      (Stream leader: Rainer Friedrich, IER, Germany)

    • Stream 7
      Synthesis and Integration

      (Stream leader: Andrea Ricci, ISIS, Italy)

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