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The DPSIR approach applied to marine eutrophication in LCIA as a learning tool

  • Cosme, Nuno Miguel Dias
  • Olsen, Stig Irving
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
Online Research Database In Technology
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The Drivers-Pressures-State-Impacts-Responses (DPSIR) is an adaptive environmental management approach that integrates environmental, social and economic aspects into a common framework. It deals with the Drivers (D) that generate the Pressures (P) e.g. from human interventions, that modify the State (S) of the ecosystem, causing the Impacts (I) on these, and contributing to the management strategies and Responses ®. The latter are designed to modify the drivers, minimise the pressures and restore the state of the receiving ecosystem. In our opinion the DPSIR provides a good conceptual understanding that is well suited for sustainability teaching and communication purposes. Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) indicators aim at modelling the P-S-I parts and provide a good background for understanding D and R. As an example, the DPSIR approach was applied to the LCIA indicator marine eutrophication. The goal is to promote an educational example of environmental impacts assessment through science-based tools to predict the impacts, communicate knowledge and support decisions. The example builds on the (D) high demand for fixation of reactive nitrogen that supports several socio-economic secondary drivers. The nitrogen exported to marine coastal ecosystems (P), after point and nonpoint source emissions, promote changes in the environmental conditions (S) such as low dissolved oxygen levels that cause the (I) effects on biota. These, stimulate society into designing actions ® to modify D, reduce P, and restore S. Concrete responses can be technical (e.g. increasing sewage treatment coverage), regulatory (e.g. EC Nitrate Directive) or guidance (e.g. fertilisers formulation or best practices for application). These should consider six basic tenets for environmental management: environmentally sustainable, technologically feasible, economically viable, socially desirable, legally permissible, and administratively achievable. Specific LCIA indicators may provide preliminary information to support a precautionary approach to act earlier on D-P and contribute to sustainability. Impacts assessment and response design ultimately benefit from spatial differentiation in the results. DPSIR based on LCIA seems a useful tool to improve communication and learning, as it bridges science and management while promoting the basic elements of sustainable development in a practical educational application. Other LCIA indicators can also be adapted to fit similar purposes.<br/>

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