This book is the result of some years of research carried out at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam and at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. The awareness of actual and potential conflicts between economic progress in production, consumption, and technology and the environment has led to the concept of "sustainable development", implying that economic and ecological values are well balanced in evaluation and decision making. The linkages between ecosystems and economic systems are the focus of ecological economics. In ecological economics, a multidimensional approach to economic and policy-making is emphasised. In this book, the introduction of multicriteria decision aid techniques in the framework of ecological economics is widely discussed. Since such techniques are based on a "constructive" rationality and allow one to take into account conflictual, multidimensional, incommensurable and uncertain effects of decisions, they can be considered perfectly consistent with the methodological foundations of ecological economics. Since here the assumption is accepted that efficiency, equity and sustainability are the three conflictual values of economics, a mathematical procedure able to deal with these issues in an operational framework is developed, with a particular view on imprecise information in a practical environmental planning context. Given the problem of the differences in the measurement levels of the variables used for economic-ecological modelling, multicriteria methods able to deal with mixed information (both qualitative and quantitative measurements) can be considered particularly useful. Another problem related to the available information concerns the uncertainty (stochastic and/or fuzzy) contained in this information.
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