Flexibility for intergenerational justice in climate resilience decision-making: an application on sea-level rise in the Netherlands

Jose D. Teodoro*, N. Doorn, J. Kwakkel, T. Comes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

To adapt to a changing climate, decision-makers design, evaluate, and implement measures that have an implication of justice on citizens in the present and well into the future. Decision-makers are often required to make decisions without certainty of the consequences and understanding their effects on intergenerational justice. Thus, managing the impacts of climate change requires novel decision-aiding approaches that consider climate impacts’ temporal and spatial heterogeneity and the uncertainty in climate predictions, preferences, and values. We reviewed the literature on the extent to which principles of intergenerational justice—conservation of options and resources for future generations—have been integrated to traditional approaches in climate resilience decision-making. We explore the extent to which flexibility, i.e., the conservation and expansion of options in subsequent decision periods, can contribute to upholding the principles of intergenerational justice under uncertainty. We illustrate the approach in the case of the Delta Programme in the Netherlands, a complex system designed to protect against sea-level rise (SLR). Designing adaptation strategies to SLR with flexibility as a core concept brings significant advantages in circumstances of uncertainty. The conservation of options in flexible pathways, in this case, contributes to the principles of intergenerational justice. Our civilization’s long-term sustainability and survival may depend on the extent to which individuals can see beyond their gains and toward the gains of the collective society at an intergenerational scale.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainability Science
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Adaptive pathways
  • Climate change
  • Decision-aiding approaches
  • Sea-level rise

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