Development and Deployment of a Framework to Prioritize Environmental Contamination Issues

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MDPI (Basel, Switzerland)
(The Authors) CC BY 4.0
Management and regulatory agencies face a wide range of environmental issues globally. The challenge is to identify and select the issues to assist the allocation of research and policy resources to achieve maximum environmental gain. A framework was developed to prioritize environmental contamination issues in a sustainable management policy context using a nine-factor ranking model to rank the significance of diffuse sources of stressors. It focuses on contamination issues that involve large geographic scales (e.g., all pastoral soils), significant population exposures (e.g., urban air quality), and multiple outputs from same source on receiving environmental compartments comprising air, surface water, groundwater, and sediment. Factor scores are allocated using a scoring scale and weighted following defined rules. Results are ranked enabling the rational comparison of dissimilar and complex issues. Advantages of this model include flexibility, transparency, ability to prioritize new issues as they arise, and ability to identify which issues are comparatively trivial and which present a more serious challenge to sustainability policy goals. This model integrates well as a planning tool and has been used to inform regional policy development.
diffuse contamination, environmental management, priority ranking, local government, air pollution, stormwater, anthropogenic stressors, agricultural runoff, New Zealand, geothermal
SUSTAINABILITY, 2020, 12 (22)