Third International Conference on Environmental Economics and Investment Assessment
3 - 5 May 2010
The third International Conference on Environmental Economics and Investment Assessment has recently taken place in Cyprus, organised by the National Technical University of Athens and the Wessex Institute of Technology. The Chairmen were Professors Konstantinos Aravossis of the National Technical University of Athens and Carlos A Brebbia of the Wessex Institute of Technology.
The current emphasis on sustainable development is a consequence of the general awareness of the need to solve numerous environmental problems resulting from our modern society. This has resulted in the need to assess the impact of economic investments on the environment. The conference addressed the topic of Investment Assessment and Environmental Economics in an integrated way, in accordance with the principles of sustainability, considering the social and environmental impacts of our new investments.
The usual assumption is that it is difficult to achieve the growth of enterprise in an environmental friendly manner. This paradigm usually associated with developed countries is now affecting all regions of the world. The main question is if the development of enterprise is compatible with environmental protection.
The roots of financial development are financial growth, which in conventional terms requires an increase in production and the use of some resources. Overuse of those resources can result in ecological devastation and a large release of waste and pollution into the environment.
The conference addressed these problems of primary importance to society, discussing and proposing a more constructive and progressive approach to ensure sustainability.
Professor Brebbia gave a short presentation regarding the role of the Wessex Institute of Technology and in particular its objective of acting as a medium for transfer of knowledge amongst different partners, including academics and professionals. He stressed the future applications of many research ideas developed at the Institute, which are reflected in the growth of its Industrial Research Division. The work of WIT – Professor Brebbia said – does not attempt to replace or compete with those of other institutions but the Institute sees itself as complimentary to many different organisations around the world. The conferences and publications programme of the Institute provides an important mechanism to achieve this objective.
Many new initiatives at the Institute reflect its commitment to advanced research dissemination. All WIT Publications, including Journals and books, are now offered in digital format, aiming to reach an even wider audience.
Professor Brebbia also pointed out the importance of the Journals launched by WIT, particularly those in the field of Development and Planning which have already published a special issue of the previous conference. Outstanding papers, as well as new books are always valued by WIT.
Following these remarks, Professor Konstantinos Aravossis gave a special opening address on the topic of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Investments’. Professor Aravossis discussed the importance of CSR which refers to the obligation of a party, beyond that required by law or economics, to pursue long-term goals that are good for society.
The number of organisations engaging in social behaviour and activities have increased markedly in recent years with large international companies being the first to adopt CSR. They found that CSR increases customer loyalty, results in more supportive communities, helps to recruit and retain talented employees, improves quality and productivity and avoids potential public relations risks which may arise from environmental incidents.
Companies are finding that CSR activities have business returns, it forms part of the corporate philosophy and helps to influence particular stakeholder groups.
The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) concept coined by John Elkington and now common currency, recognises that corporations not only add economic values, but do impact on social and environmental values. These concepts correspond to the three problems of sustainable development, which have often been interpreted by economists in terms of economics, society and environmental capital.
In conclusion – Professor Aravossis said – CSR is important and should be taken into consideration in any new development plans. Potential benefits are;
- Risk management: Ability to protect a company’s brand, intellectual property and good will
- Brand differentiation: Ability to exploit new opportunities, differentiation from rivals, and real competitive advantage by being ‘green’
- Good reputation: Opportunity to improve company reputation, to attract, recruit and retain employees and achieve public recognition
There were also a series of invited presentations during the conferences;
‘Infrastructure and Ecology; ‘limited’ costs may hide substantial impacts’ by J M Vleugel, Technical University of Delft, The Netherlands
‘The Impact of the Emissions Trading system on companies’ profitability: the case of Greece’ by K Aravossis, National Technical University of Athens, Greece
‘Cost-benefit risk of renewable energy’ by K J Hsu, Leader University, Taiwan
‘Implementation of the polluter pays principle – example of planning for decommissioning’ by R Sjoblom, Tekedo AB, Sweden
‘Estimating the economic benefits of redeveloping the former Athens International Airport’ by D Damingos, National Technical University of Athens, Greece
‘Payments for Environmental Services (PES): contribution to indigenous livelihoods’ by R Greiner, Charles Darwin University, Australia
The rest of the papers were divided into the following sessions;
- Environmental policies, planning and management
- Environmental policies
- Cost-benefit analysis
- Public safety and health
- Social issues and environmental policies
- Natural resources management
The conference offered the delegates ample opportunity for interaction through a series of social functions and during lunch and coffee breaks.
The conference dinner took place in the best fish restaurant in Limassol, accompanied by excellent local white wines. The fresh fish served was caught by local fishermen in the nearby port. The building itself was a beautifully restored ancient fishermans’s port warehouse. The occasion was most enjoyable.
The Wessex Institute of Technology organised a visit to Limassol’s historic centre, which included the well-known Kourion site with its Roman settlement remains, including unique mosaics and a theatre with beautiful views of the seashore. The delegates also visited the ancient castle in the centre of Limassol which is now a museum that bears witness to the rich history of the city during the time of the Crusaders.
The visit finished with a typical Cypriot dinner at a well-known restaurant where the delegates had occasion to taste a wide variety of local specialities, washed down with fine wines for which the island has been renowned since antiquity.
This and other social functions helped to cement the links between the participants and provided a friendly atmosphere in which to discuss opportunities for further research collaboration.
The conference was highly successful, and will be reconvened in the near future in a location and date to be decided soon.
Publication of Papers
Papers from the conference will also be hosted online in the WIT eLibrary as Volume 131 of WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment (ISSN: 1743-3541). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at http://library.witpress.com