Sustainability is the objective that many disciplines indicate as being essential to the resolution of environmental degradation, although there is no agreement about what this term exactly means. This study defines environmental problems as externalities, most of these occurring between different generations. We analyze the reasons why traditional solutions for externalities do not work in the intergenerational context. Our conclusions are, on the one hand, that traditional methods for evaluating the costs and benefits affecting different generations should be improved. Secondly, an intergenerational redistribution of natural resource property rights is essential to guarantee equality of opportunities for all generations, and therefore to ensure sustainability. Adequate redistribution of property rights will depend on the type of resource, as well as on other factors such as the rate of return on its exploitation and the current generations' propensity to consume. In all cases, however, sustainability is sufficiently guaranteed by conceding property rights, as a whole, to the future. © 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
- Environmental management
- Intergenerational equity