The Virtues of Mundane Science
By Daniel M. Kammen and Michael R. Dove
Sustainable resource management has become the most hotly debated and challenging concept in environmental research and development policy. Based largely on a notion defined by the Brundtland Commission a decade ago, calls for attention to sustainability have become de rigueur in the academic, conservation, and international development communities.
Discussion of the issues involved have led to general agreement on four key points:Nonetheless, one key element seems to be missing from the discussions about sustainable resource management: the scope those discussions ought to have. Unless that scope is broadened to include pressing but often overlooked problems – what one may call “the mundane” – research on sustainability and the policies conducive to it will continue to have only limited impact.
- policy action is often required in the face of uncertainty and prior to attaining a full scientific consensus;
- environmental policy must confront and address the political economy of resource exploitation;
- current economic theory provides an inadequate foundation for the validation and management of many ecosystems and natural resources;
- and interdisciplinary research is fundamental to understanding sustainability.