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Glossary H-1 Appendix H Glossary Biogeophysical Sustainability Biogeophysical sustainability is the maintenance and/or improvement of the integrity of the life-support systems on Earth. Earth's Life Support Systems Natural systems that support life on Earth; the atmosphere, the waters, the soils; ecosystems that provide essential services, such as food, energy, waste decomposition, and pollination of plants. Eco-Efficiency World Business Council for Sustainable Development describes eco-efficiency as a management strategy of doing more with less (Schmidheiny and the Business Council for Sustainable Development, 1992). In practice, eco-efficiency is achieved through the pursuit of three core objectives: increasing product or service value, optimizing the use of resources, and reducing environmental impact. Eco-efficiency is only a relative measure, seen by some as a necessary but not sufficient condition for achieving sustainability, since in some cases absolute reductions in some environmental pressures are needed. Ecological Economics Ecological economics is a transdisciplinary field of study that combines economics and technology with ecology. It studies the relationships between ecosystems and economic systems, encompassing both biological and cultural change. Ecological Modernization Ecological modernization refers to the transformation or adaption of industrial systems to reduce their environmental impacts. The concept focuses on material and energy productivity gains through actions such as product and process innovations, supply chain management improvements, and the replacement of hazardous chemicals with nontoxic substitutes. Equity/Equitable Distribution Among Population Groups Equity concerns the distribution of access to facilities (e.g., jobs and leisure), benefits from investment decisions, and exposure to the negative externalities generated by transport. Equitable policies are those that both promote social progress and lead to a narrowing of the gap between groups that have the best and worst of current conditions. Progressive policies close the gap between the true marginal social cost of journeys and the prices paid by travelers. Human Needs (Basic) Basic human needs can be grouped into four general areas that can be used to consider the motivation, functioning, and well-being of humans. These areas are (1) safety, security, and sustenance; (2) competence, efficacy, and self-esteem; (3) autonomy and authenticity; and (4) connectedness. The satisfiers to these needs are defined by economic, social, and political systems. Thus, they differ across cultures and change over time. Impact (Cost/Benefit) The effect or consequence of something. Impact is the effects (desirable or undesirable) of some activity or influence on entities of human concern. Impact is often seen as the terminal point of a causal chain, following intermediate steps such as pressure on and change in the state of a system or entity. For example, a disturbance (pressure) on a traffic flow may change the average speed (state), leading to time losses (impact). Impacts are therefore the ultimate concern for policy or project assessment. Impacts can be positive or negative. Impacts are sometimes aggregated into categories depending on the domain in which they occur (e.g., environmental impacts, economics impacts) or on their value to human society (costs or benefits).
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H-2 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies Indicators Indicators are measurable entities or variables that can be used to evaluate progress toward achievement of a goal or objective. While often used interchangeably with "performance measures," indicators typically provide an idea of general direction of performance, without the introduction of specific units or benchmarks. Industrial Ecology Industrial ecology is the study of material and energy uses and flows in products, processes, and industrial systems. It focuses on ways to reduce negative environmental impacts from industrial activity using techniques such as life-cycle analysis. Livability Livability captures the degree to which integrated transport and land-use planning initiatives contribute to communities with high environmental quality, which promote walking, cycling, and public transport use and easy access to local amenities. Management of Resources Management of resources refers to the prudent use of nonrenewable resources that are currently used as inputs to the transport system (e.g., construction materials and fuels). The general direction of change is to use fewer nonrenewable resources and to use them at rates no greater than that at which they can be replaced. Natural Capital Natural capital is the stock of all environmental and natural resource assets. It consists of three main categories: (1) nonrenewable resources, (2) renewable resources, and (3) the capacity of natural systems to absorb emissions and pollutants from human activity. Performance Measure s Performance measures are quantifiable indicators of performance that can be used to evaluate progress toward achievement of a goal or objective. While often used interchangeably with "indicator," performance measures generally denote the presence of specific quantification mechanisms, units, and implied targets/benchmarks. Quality of Life Quality of life at the community level or individual level encompasses aspects that go beyond basic human needs for survival--for example, health, comfort and convenience, safety, security, and quality of community and social interactions. Indicators for quality of life are highly context specific and are typically defined by a significant community engagement exercise. Steady-State Economy A steady-state economy is one where the throughputs of all raw materials and wastes are kept to levels within the regenerative and assimilative capacity of the ecosystem. Within the steady-state economy, technology, knowledge, the distribution of income, and the allocation of resources are fluid. Since a fixed amount of resources will yield a constant flow of goods and services (all else being equal), technological progress is one way in which more (or more highly valued) goods and services can be produced. Strong Sustainability Strong sustainability means assuming that environmental resources and systems, or the "natural capital," cannot be replaced by artificial systems and resources, or "man- made capital," without detriment to sustainability. To ensure sustainable development, it is necessary to preserve the natural capital and therefore to measure it in natural rather than economic units. Sustainability Sustainability emphasizes the need to balance human needs with consideration of the natural environment and equity issues, in both a present (intragenerational) and future (intergenerational) context. Sustainability is generally discussed in terms of three dimensions: economic, environmental, and social (equity). The distinction between sustainability and
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Glossary H-3 sustainable development is usually made by considering sustainability to be an idealized end state and sustainable development as the process of moving toward it. Sustainable Development Sustainable development can be viewed as a process of working toward achievement of sustainability, with a particular focus on human needs. Traditionally, it is defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Weak Sustainability Weak sustainability means assuming that man-made capital (machines, technology, etc.) in principle can replace natural capital when the latter is consumed or depleted, provided the former is able to produce an equivalent economic value to society over time. According to this assumption, it is not the natural resources or systems per se that matter for sustainable development, but the welfare they are able to produce for society.