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Word Watch Glossary

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Issue Index



affluenza n. the affliction that results from confusing a standard of living with a quality of life.

alternative futures n. model-generated scenarios of different development paths

APEC Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation n. a fora for the promotion of trade and investment among several Pacific Rim states.

AP mines (anti-personnel land mines) n. victim activated mines which do not discriminate between civilians and combatants and cause unnecessary suffering.

appropriate technology n. a flexible and participatory approach to developing economically viable, regionally applicable and sustainable technology

artificial society n. a computer model consisting of a 'population' of independent agents, each following a clearly defined set of decision-making rules within a wider 'environment'

ASEAN-Association of South East Asian Nations n. joint cooperative effort of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand & Vietnam to promote peace & prosperity in the region.

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barometer of sustainability n. a two-coordinate measure of the well-being of communities, including values for both human (read socio-economic) and ecosystem well-being

biocide n. death within the ecosphere comes from human activity.

bio-colonization or bio-imperialism n. external domination over biological resources; often associated with the trend toward economic 'globalization'

biological complexity n. the idea that there is a fundamental order underlying natural selection leading to fairly stable patterns of evolution

bio-prospecting n. ecological mining activity

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carbon tax n. tax by governments on the use of carbon-containing fuels

civil society n. voluntary associations, organizations, movements and networks that live and work in the social space outside the state and the private sector

Cleaner production n. manufacturing process which conserves materials, eliminates toxic substances and reduces waste and pollution.

climate change n.a somewhat more flexible interpretation that foresees extreme weather fluctuations in all directions

Code of conduct n. set of rules to guide behaviour and decisions

co-management n. a broad term for the shared management of natural resources between government agencies and local communities, including joint research projects with groups like the Society.

Comfort scale n. an earlier misnomer for the ISO 'trauma scale' before it was concluded that traps hold little comfort.

common security n. a more cooperative alternative to the militaristic security ideas of the past, encompassing both environmental and social dimensions

communications guerillas n. artistic terrorists in a media-dominated world

community forestry n. forestry management that includes local people in planning and implementing forestry activities

complexologists n. the new gurus of the emerging science of complexity

contraction and convergence n. cutting of carbon emissions by some to the point that they converge with future entitlements to emit carbon dioxide so that they are equalized globally per capita

corporate governance n. the debate on redefining corporate management processes, including social and environmental responsibilities

cradle-to-cradle system n. a manufacturing process in which the wastes of one system become the raw materials of another.

creative diversity n. the idea that societal strength derives from respecting human differences, and that cultural and social diversity should be celebrated and protected

cultural creatives n. the fast-growing segment of society determined to find new, more sustain-able ways of communicating and relating to nature and other people half-adults n. people who refuse to accept the responsibilities normally associated with growing up

cyber-challenged n. the 80% who can't 'plug-in' (and those of us still having trouble)

cyber-Luddites n. rebels against an electronic futur e cyber-privileged n. the 20% of the world's population that can 'plug-in'

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debt-service flow n. monies being paid on loans by debtor nations to banks and governments of developed countries

De-materialization n.smarter materials management for making do with less

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Earth commercials n. TV ads which promote messages of sustainability rather than the usual pro-consumerist fare.

Earth ethics n.values which extend beyond people to the planet as a whole.

earth-shares n. ecological space expressed in per capita terms

eco-brewery n.a brewery that plans to eliminate waste and minimize energy use in its manufacturing process

Eco-imperialism n. when rich countries use trade sanctions to force poor exporters to manufacture products according to importer preferences.

ecological footprint n. the total ecosystem area that is essential to the maintenance of a given human settlement

ecological space n. the pool of ecological resources upon which human beings depend

ecological rucksack n. volume of material throughput required to maintain a consumption level. Associated with Germany's Wuppertal Institute and the idea of ecological modernization to reduce material flows.

eco-justice n. the promotion of equal environmental rights, often with a litigious American spin

Economic Instruments n. government policies for environmental protection that make use of fiscal incentives (subsidies) and deterrents (taxes), as well as market measures (like tradeable emissions permits), rather than regulating specific outcomes.

eco-romanticization n.a brand of historical revisionism that stereotypes groups like 'Indians' and 'forest dwellers' with overly rosy, and often unchanging, behaviour toward the environment

ecosystem services n. processes and functions of natural ecosystems that sustain life and are critical to human welfare

elements of development n.the sixteen points of the Native American Circle of Development

EMS n. environmental management systems for corporations, the success of which requires strong management buy-in

environmental injustice n. the unfair distribution of the costs of ecological dam-age and inequitable access to ecological benefits

ethnobiological endemism n.geographically localized and unique species-language combinations, underscoring both the local nature of traditional knowledge (see DID Issue 4) and its associated vulnerability

extreme event n. the earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions etc. which trigger human disasters, and especially extremes of weather (droughts, hurricanes, floods etc) linked to climate change.

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Factor 4 n. the idea that doubling wealth and halving resource use is quite possible right now in many industries and economic sectors

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geocide n. the destruction of the planet by the same means.

GIS n. geographical information systems

global change n.a still more inclusive concept that sees broad changes in climate, vegetation cover and other geographical phenomena as inter-linked

Global Governance n. the debate on boosting the effectiveness, democracy and accountability of international decision-making; not necessarily a plot to create a world government

global overlays n. templates for incorporating unintended environmental impacts into economic analyses

global warming n. the idea that temperatures will rise across the planet

grassroots indicators n. measures of environmental well-being unique to different systems of traditional knowledge

greenhouse gases n. gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour, nitrous oxide, ozone and halocarbons in the atmosphere that trap heat from the sun and warm the earth

Green-produced goods n. goods produced by non-polluting and conserving processes.

green productivity n. increases in economic productivity that are compatible with the environment and SD

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Hannover Principles n. nine principles of sustainable design for Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany.

Hard regimes n. governments that adopt strong-arm tactics in a desperate attempt to relieve environmental and social insecurity.

harmonization n. integration of environmental standards across jurisdictional boundaries thus making them uniform.

helplessness myth - The concept still popular among the more traditional relief agencies, that after a natural disaster thousands of shocked people sit around waiting for help. Used to justify TV fundraising, airlifts of inappropriate housing and presidential morale-raising photo-ops.

housing rights n. the right to housing as a public entitlement living rights n. the right to access to the means of housing oneself

hubris n. arrogant ambition, ultimately leading to downfall the revenge of the gods, the ancient Greeks said, when mortals got above themselves.) Maybe synonymous with the concept of flood prevention.

Human security n. the social side of common security's social-ecological equation, strongly promoted by the UNDP.

Human world order n. a new framework for 'global governance' (see DI Issue 2) involving fairer institutional, economic and political relations.

hyper-reality n. the postmodern social situation in which real living and leisure are replaced by prepackaged experiences and media-created events

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IEW n. Indicator of Ecological Well-being, the first dimension of the barometer of sustainability

IHW n. Indicator of Human Well-being, the second dimension of the barometer of sustainability

Incremental Costing n. the additional development costs required to pay for global - as opposed to strictly national - environmental benefits.

Industrial/materialistic paradigm n. the mechanistic/reductionist way of perceiving the world.

Information democracy n. the idea that equal access to information will empower all people, including the non-cyber-privilege

Information famine n. lack of access to electronic and other forms of knowledge, particularly acute in Sub-Saharan African.

integrated basin management n. the planning and management of water resources, surface and underground, for a whole river or lake basin.

Integrated coastal management n. management strategy for coastal areas based on well thought-out plans that are future-orientated and involve all sectors of society.

intergovernmental processes n. negotiations between more than two national governments whereby voting power remains with the governments involved, though others who are not official government representatives may take part in the negotiations

Internet accountability n. on-line electronic reporting that increases the transparency of decision-making.

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Joint implementation n. financial cooperation between donor and recipient countries to counter climate change.

joint fora n. meetings which include governments as well as CSOs and business.

Jubilee 2000 n. campaign to cancel unpayable debts owed by world's poorest people

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Lean technology n.efficient production processes in terms of both production and consumption.

Local Agenda 21 n. sustainable development goals and strategies implemented at the local level.

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Magnifier effect n.when liberalizing trade multiplies the damaging impacts of weak environmental policy.

media-watching v. keeping a critical eye on the mass media

media-wrenching v. another term for culture jamming

movement for slow food n. the slow-down movement which began in Italy and has now gone international

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'new money' n.the extra community wealth created by local and green currencies and barter systems.

NGO (non-governmental organization) n. term used extensively in the United Nations system to describe organizations that seek to influence decision-making, are non states, and are frequently voluntary

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partner farmers n. people who share in some aspect of the production of their own food, without necessarily having to change their normal lifestyles or work.

Peace-building n. UN-ese for bolstering the chances for peace after violence, not the prevention of conflict to begin with.

perspective-dependent models n. simulations which vary with one's assumptions about sustainable development

Preventive diplomacy n. resolving disputes before violence breaks (a recently reincarnated idea receiving new currency).

political ecology n. environmental history from a political perspective

popular participation - n. involvement of the general public in activities which hold a particular resonance for them.

PPMs n.process and production methods, as distinct from product standards.

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Rio agreements n. multi-lateral agreements reached at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 known individually as the Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, Convention on Biological Diversity and Framework Convention on Climate Change.

re-insurance n.the international pooling of risks across many insurance companies to reduce exposure to specific large disasters like billion-dollar storms

reflective/living systems paradigm n. the new organic/ecological way of per-ceiving the world.

revenge effect n. the unforeseen and time-consuming demands of new, ostensibly time-saving technology

Rio+5 n. a global campaign by leading civil society and business organizations to assess and advance progress towards sustainable development in advance of the Rio+5 Forum to be held in Rio de Janiero March 13-19, 1997.

risk culture n. people and cultures perceive and manage risk differently. Differences often based on our beliefs about nature

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selective slowness n. the conscious slowing down of certain aspects of our lives, such as mealtimes, evenings or weekends

shareholder activism n. influencing corporate policy through shareholder pressure.

sin stocks n. term used by the Franklin Development Center meaning holdings in companies engaged in irresponsible business practices or the production of harmful products.

stakeholder reporting n.a report to all stakeholders, both stockholders and others, on an organization's performance including environmental and social aspects

stockholder or Shareholder reporting n.a report to stockholders on a company's financial performance

subsidy n. government financial support for activities deemed beneficial by government

sustainable design n. design which enhances ecological, social and economic well-being.

sustainable livelihoods n. lifestyles and workstyles that don't deplete the social and environmental capital of economies

Sustainable social system n. cultures, traditions and social institutions with 'staying power'

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Tiger economics n. fast growing economies that are rapidly closing the standard-of-living gap with developed countries (eg. South Korea).

Trauma scale n. an upcoming International Organization for Standardization (ISO) rating system establishing criteria for humaneness in trapping.

Triple bottom line n. an expanded baseline for measuring performance, adding social and environmental dimensions to the traditional monetary yardstick

trips n. trade related intellectual property rights, a hot theme in discussions of traditional biological knowledge

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urban tsunami n. - the effects of the extra 2.5 billion people expected over the next 30 years in Third World cities, mainly in Asia.

underlying causes n. a hot buzz-phrase in international environment and development circles signaling renewed recognition that sustainable solutions sometimes require difficult structural and political change.

usufruct rights n. right to enjoy and take advantage of local property that belongs to someone else. For example, the right of communities to use the local forest that is owned by the state.

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voluntary simplicity n. movement to simplify lifestyles and devote more time and energy to non-material aspects of life. Strong in Seattle& The Netherlands. Practitioners are sometimes called downshifters

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Water shock n. to the near future what the 'oil shock' was to the recent past?

well-being of nations n.a broader alternative to narrow economic 'wealth of nations' measures like GDP, incorporating values for both the 'human' and 'ecological' spheres

world ethos n. another term for 'global ethics'

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