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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A--Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2014. Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making: Tools and Approaches for the US Environmental Protection Agency. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18949.
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Appendix A

Statement of Task

The Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (BEST) will convene an ad hoc committee to examine applications of numerous scientific tools and approaches for incorporating sustainability concepts into assessments used to support EPA decision making. Using specific case studies it develops (e.g., environmental media and sector-based), the committee will consider the application of analytic and scientific tools, methods, and approaches in the Sustainability Assessment and Management (SAM) process presented in the 2011 NRC report Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. The recommended process is intended to assess options for optimizing environmental, social (including health), and economic outcomes in EPA decisions. The committee will focus on analytic and scientific tools, methods, and approaches and will not recommend specific policy choices.

In carrying out its task, the committee will consider key aspects of advancing sustainability such as the following:

• Currently available and emerging tools, methods, and approaches most appropriate for assessing and/or evaluating potential economic, social and environmental outcomes within an EPA decision context.

• Data needs, major assumptions, strengths, and limitations associated with currently available and emerging analytic and scientific tools, methods, approaches, and practices for incorporating sustainability concepts into assessments supporting EPA decision making.

• Analytical and scientific tools, methods, metrics and approaches to assess and/or evaluate potential environmental, social, and economic effects of EPA actions (compared to pre-existing conditions) across geographic locations (including international), population subgroups, material lifecycles, environmental media, and future generations.

• Scientific and analytic approaches for initial screening to evaluate whether or not more in-depth analyses are warranted.

• Uncertainty in scientific results obtained from the application of analytical and scientific tools, methods, and approaches within environmental, economic, and social (including health) contexts.

• Post-decision evaluation of outcomes on dimensions of sustainability.

• Key research and development needs for improving the scientific and technical capabilities of current and emerging tools, methods, and approaches and assessing synergies and tradeoffs in order to incorporate sustainability concepts into assessments supporting EPA decision making.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A--Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2014. Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making: Tools and Approaches for the US Environmental Protection Agency. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18949.
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In its current strategic plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes a cross-agency strategy to advance sustainable environmental outcomes and optimize economic and social outcomes through Agency decisions and actions. Sustainability has evolved from an aspiration to a growing body of practices. The evolution includes a transition from the development of broad goals toward the implementation of specific policies and programs for achieving them and the use of indicators and metrics for measuring progress. Without losing focus on implementing its existing regulatory mandates, EPA's incorporation of sustainability considerations into its decision-making about potential environmental, social, and economic outcomes involves shifting from a focus on specific pollutants in an environmental medium (air, water, or land) to a broader assessment of interactions among human, natural, and manufactured systems. EPA has indicated that it will need to consider the use of a variety of analytic tools and approaches to assess the potential sustainability-related effects of its decisions and actions in response to complex environmental challenges.

Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making: Tools and Approaches for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency examines scientific tools and approaches for incorporating sustainability concepts into assessments used to support EPA decision making. Using specific case studies, this report considers the application of analytic and scientific tools, methods, and approaches presented in the 2011 NRC report Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. This report examines both currently available and emerging tools, methods, and approaches to find those most appropriate for assessing and/or evaluating potential economic, social and environmental outcomes within an EPA decision context. Sustainability Concepts in Decision Making also discusses data needs and post-decision evaluation of outcomes on dimensions of sustainability. A broad array of sustainability tools and approaches are suitable for assessing potential environmental, social, and economic outcomes in EPA's decision-making context. The recommendations of this report will assist the agency to optimize environmental, social, and economic outcomes in EPA decisions.

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