It is clear that in an environment where resources are at a premium, or are absolutely constrained, creating other than Essential Value as perceived by a customer or society will lead to the demise of a business at the micro level or a society at the macro level. Recognising here that the availability of a local or global sink to dispose of the non-value byproducts of processes (Failure Demand) may also be constrained.
If resources are constrained, then the amount of Essential Value that can be created will depend on the amount of resources consumed in their creation. The Resource Intensity being the Resource use per unit of Essential Value created or retained.
Whilst this analysis is applicable to business and governance generally there are differences in emphasis and this post is concerned with the widely held view that the systems of governance globally are failing to grasp the situation facing mankind. The falling energy and resource intensity of societies. Coupled with the fact that the human intensity of societies is increasing globally, complicated by skewed age demographics.
Environmental Impact Assessment.
“Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account interrelated socioeconomic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.
UNEP defines Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a tool used to identify the environmental, social and economic impacts of a project prior to decision-making. It aims to predict environmental impacts at an early stage in project planning and design, find ways and means to reduce adverse impacts, shape projects to suit the local environment and present the predictions and options to decision-makers. By using EIA both environmental and economic benefits can be achieved, such as reduced cost and time of project implementation and design, avoided treatment/clean-up costs and impacts of laws and regulations.”
This is fine as it goes but it does not ask “if we have limited resources available, is the proposed project or development adding value to society that will help sustain or improve the Quality of Life of its citizens. Is the project or development adding Essential Value?‘
For example we can investigate the possible Environmental etc. impacts of a proposed Airport Development in the light of the above and design aircraft to be less carbon intense and generate less noise but it does not ask the question “is unlimited discretionary air travel desirable or even possible in a resource constrained future?
The Essential Value and Resource Intensity Impact Assessment.
It is proposed in other posts here that the the governance of a society should be an in-control improvement circle driven by the creativity and ingenuity liberated by all the stakeholders in society taking into account external environmental, social and economic factors. Political and other agents only have the ability to make process changes through a moderation process requiring the generation of an Essential Value and Resource Intensity Impact Assessment.
It is not suggested that this should be an extensive and complex document requiring the employment of professionals but something that can be deployed at all levels of governance from local to national. The object of the exercise is to make agents making proposals to change processes within governance think objectively about the probable benefits and demands over time the change would make.
Full EIA’s would still be appropriate for some forms of project or development once that, on a balance of probabilities, it was decided through moderation that they would add Essential Value to society at a Resource Intensity that was sustainable, and preferably decreasing over time through process learning and improvement.
Elements of an EVIA
In a world where resources are unconstrained, businesses and societies can go about creating goods and services which may be effective and efficient or not, try this and that which might or might not satisfy the needs or wants of a tiny minority or everyone. The amount of resources used in so doing are immaterial and the waste generated inconsequential.
In a world where resources, or even one resource or sink is constrained, this not longer is viable. Society then has to identify what it considers the Essential Value needed to ensure a satisfactory Quality of Life for its citizens and how it can maximise the creation and retention of this with the resources available and affordable, creating as little loss in the process as possible.
It must do this knowing
- Creativity and ingenuity are limited in society
- Human capital is plentiful
- People are resourceful, resilient and enterprising
- The most important forms of self actualization need not be resource intensive.
- Survival is not compulsory.
Here there is no intention of developing the concept of the EVIA in detail but only in general terms.
As stated above “Essential Value is that needed to ensure a satisfactory Quality of Life for all citizens and in a wider sense, the stakeholders of a society”. In light of this imperative it can be stated, government, its service provision and businesses must
- Satisfy emotional and spiritual need rather than gratuitous wants
- Satisfy essential needs in the lower orders of Maslow’s Pyramid
- Employ people rather than energy
- Create or use renewable energy and other resources
- Minimise water use or create the technologies that do
- Create and deploy climate stabilising and mitigation technologies
- Be increasingly local
- Provide a service rather than a product
- Practice life-cycle stewardship of their resources
- Manage value rather than cost
- Be able to operate at continually reducing resource intensity
The EVIA therefore must identify the Essential Value it is seeking to create and/or retain based on the above. Noting and justifying any trade offs required.
As stated, the EVIA is meant to qualitative rather than quantitative but must contain expected outcomes that can later be expressed quantitatively and tracked.
All process outcomes implemented as a result of an EVIA must be so tracked as to allow process learning and improvement or removal.
Resource Intensity has to be recognised as the equal of Essential Value in an EVIA as
Any process, product or service created in a resource constrained environment, that is other than Essential Value is total waste, as are the resources consumed; e.g. no matter how efficiently one digs a hole in the wrong place it still doesn’t create any Essential Value.
The First Law of Sustainability states that ‘In a resource constrained environment we cannot create growth faster than we can reduce Resource Intensity (RI)’
These are the cannot’s the Resource Intensity section of an EVIA must consider. We cannot
- Waste or ineffectively invest resources
- Freely transport resources or goods
- Use a linear system of creation, use and disposal
- Keep creating products and services that allow unlimited forms of self-actualization
- Invest in inflexible technology, infrastructure and buildings
- Design for obsolescence
- Use Energy, non-renewable resources and water ineffectively
As with the Essential Value section of the EVIA quantifiable outcomes must be identified and tracked for process improvement or elimination.
The Town Paper defines a Charrette
“A charrette is an intensive planning session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development. It provides a forum for ideas and offers the unique advantage of giving immediate feedback to the designers. More importantly, it allows everyone who participates to be a mutual author of the plan.“
As stated at the beginning of this post the aim of the EVIA is not the creation of excessive bureaucracy, but the effective generation of one might benefit from the Charrette process. Locally this may be self-organised but at regional and national level some element of professional input may prove appropriate.