Title: Multi-scale integrated analysis of sustainability: a methodological tool to improve the quality of narratives

Authors: Mario Giampietro, Jesus Ramos-Martin

Addresses: Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione, Roma, Italy. ' Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione, Roma, Italy

Abstract: The goal of this paper is to illustrate an innovative methodology, multi-scale integrated analysis, developed for dealing with the new challenges implied by multi-criteria analysis of sustainability: an integrated assessment of sustainability requires a multi-dimensional and multi-scale analysis (technical incommensurability); when comparing human values, it is not possible to define, in substantive terms, |the best course of action| (social incommensurability); it is not possible to generate accurate and relevant scenarios when forecasting the future of adaptive systems evolving across scales. Part 1 introduces the epistemological challenges implied by analyses of sustainability. Part 2 uses a simple example of application to illustrate the basic rationale of the MSIA approach and the type of results that it can provide.

Keywords: multi-scale integrated analysis; integrated assessment; multi-criteria analysis; science for governance; impredicative loop analysis; mosaic effect; complex systems; MSIA; narratives; sustainability; post-normal science; sustainable development; complexity.

DOI: 10.1504/IJGENVI.2005.007989

International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, 2005 Vol.5 No.3/4, pp.119 - 141

Available online: 24 Oct 2005

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