chapter  9
31 Pages

A sustainable quality of life for Europeans in 2031: A framework for shaping policies to address major changes in the global operating environment

WithSIMON MILES

Figure 9.1 presents the development process in schematic form. The intent is to understand how the development process works and how policy goals and objectives can be realized through appropriate strategic policy interventions by national governments. These strategic policy interventions are expected to influence major forces bearing on the central concern. Although our central interest is the condition of, say, the biophysical environment, our central concern is the behaviour of people as it affects the biophysical environment. The forces bearing on their behaviour emanate from the developmental setting. This setting has been broken down conceptually into the ‘developmental environments’. They have local and global dimensions and are listed in the lower part of the schema. They include human resources, which, in turn, include motivating forces, although these have been separated out as needs, values and demands because of their importance to the development process. Also separated out, because of its importance to us here and because it has not had sufficient attention in the past, is the consideration of ligatures. For example, the attachment to land felt by farmers is a major factor in their remaining in farming even though it may have a bearing on the economic viability of the farms in question. The central point in the schema is making a choice. Here, demands are adjusted to options perceived to be open while consideration is given to the quality of one’s ligatures or associations and ties with people, places and things that might be affected by the choice of behaviour. The intent of any choice made is to improve the fit between demands and the actual responses from the surrounding developmental environments. However, this intent is difficult to realize since the information on the options is likely to be far from perfect. Thus, the fit that is eventually realized is not necessarily to be equated with the adjustment or fit initially perceived to be realizable between the demands and the options at the time of making the choice. The reasons for any difference go beyond the quality of the information to the quality of the judgements made and the degree of realism in the expectations. Thus, in exercising the choice, there may well be adverse effects on one or more of the developmental environments (such as the biophysical environment) and, to the extent that this is obvious to the individual or group in question, some dissatisfaction may be registered. This would affect the quality of life. Indeed, this is exactly what has happened with the demands made on the biophysical environment as a resource base. Aware people feel that the quality of life has been adversely affected because of the qualitative and quantitative losses they have observed. Information on the actual response of the developmental environments and the ways they are changing often takes time to be registered and contribute to our sense of our quality of life. This registering of our quality of life is shown on the right lower corner of the scheme. This register is important because it incorporates values (in the context of demands). Those who are concerned about sustainability register their perceptions about sustainability here. Feedback about the degree of satisfaction with life may result in new priorities accorded to certain needs. This feedback loop is shown on the right side. This is to be

distinguished from the more specific information on the actual condition of the developmental environments and the constraints and opportunities open that will become part of the feedback shown on the left side of the schema. This more specific feedback is of two types. The feedback based on an awareness of adjustments in options begins to affect both the priorities accorded to needs (e.g. with water pollution or the loss of the best agricultural soils, the message is eventually received that basic survival may be at stake) and values (e.g. regarding attitudes to the biophysical environment). There is also feedback on what is happening in the world around us, whether we are talking only of our neighbours or the world at large. This information will also affect our values and our preferences for the way in which we satisfy our needs, but it will not affect the priorities we accord our needs until it has worked its way through our value system. What the schema does offer is a checklist of strategically important activities that can be undertaken to influence choices made by various key actors relative to the maintenance and enhancement of conditions in the various developmental environments. The model supports the previous statement that the central concern of policymakers has to be with the behaviour of people as it affects any one developmental environment. It also makes clear that because this behaviour is a product of the forces emanating from the various developmental environments, one has to comprehend what is going on in these developmental environments if, say, the biophysical environment is to be successfully managed. What the model provides, visually in a schema, is an aid in compiling a checklist of strategically important activities that can be undertaken in order to influence the critical choices made by key decision-makers directly or indirectly affecting the biophysical environment.3 And, of course, the same can be said of any other developmental environment with which one is concerned, such as the economic, socio-cultural and politico-administrative environments. The key decision-makers referred to above fall into three groups: persons directly affecting the biophysical environment; central government policymakers; and intermediaries, both in and outside of government. The strategically important activities can be identified by tracing back from the desired choice of action to those variables that are manoeuvrable. In essence, there are three broad strategic thrusts through which behaviour, and thus the condition of the biophysical environment, can be modified. One can modify the demands that various groups place on the natural environment; one can modify the options arising from the combination of political, economic, social, technological and other constraints and opportunities; and one can improve the ability of the individual or group in question to manage or cope with the forces bearing on the biophysical environment. This suggests that European policy-makers should be interested in activities that are supportive of one or more of the above strategic thrusts. The pursuit of these thrusts will involve, among other things, more attention to four initial areas of activity:

• Improved information on and analysis of factors relating to the selection of the appropriate strategic thrust or thrusts and supportive instruments, which implies improvements in capabilities for research and information management for strategic planning and policy-making purposes.