Making better environmental decisions


In recent decades, with the increase awareness of environmental issue, making better environmental decisions is important to achieve the sustainable development of environment and society. It is apparent that environmental decisions are complex decisions because environment comprises many components, numerous processes and complex interconnections and feedback mechanisms. Therefore, there are many types of risks will appear when doing the environmental decision.

According to the pollard et al (2008), the good environmental decision making is more than being risk-informed and evidence-based. it means different aspects need to be considered, and uncertainty exists when there is the possibility of adverse outcomes. Decisions affecting the natural and social environment are characterized by uncertainty. Recent work has developed this taxonomy:

  1. Risk: where system behavior is essentially known and outcomes can be assigned a probabilistic value;
  2. Scientific uncertainty: where significant systems parameters are known, but not probabilistic distributions;
  3. Ignorance: regarding what is unknown;
  4. Indeterminacy: where causal links, networks and/or processes are open and defy prediction.

Furthermore, Environmental risk is not simply risk to the natural environment. New Zealand’s Resource Management Act (NZRMA) defines “environment” as including people and their social and cultural beliefs, as well as the natural environment. Environmental risk, therefore, includes ecological risk, human health risk, social, and cultural risk. Therefore, a modern culture of risk governance; a government’s responsibilities for managing risks are shared with its stakeholders, its regulated communities, its partner departments in government and with citizens. Modern environmental policies need to be evidence-based and risk-informed, so that prioritized, high quality and implementable decisions can be made with the confidence of stakeholders.

Reference list:

Pollard, S., Davies, G., Coley, F. and Lemon, M. (2008). Better environmental decision making — Recent progress and future trends. Science of The Total Environment, 400(1-3), pp.20-31. (2016). The Risk Management Process – Risk Management – SCU. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Sep. 2016].

Harding, R. (1998). Environmental decision-making. Leichhardt, N.S.W.: Federation Press.

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