Contributions of the urban metabolism concept and approach to cost assessments of environmental decisions
The concept of urban ecology is linked to the concept of urban metabolism that tries to estimate the interference of urban sys- tems in the stability of ows of materials and energy historical- ly established in the biosphere. Both concepts originated in the mid-twentieth century and spread internationally. A literature review on more than 20 scienti c articles, written over the past decade identi ed the metabolic approach being applied to cities, municipalities and metropolitan areas. The growing number of re- search is due to the consolidation of international action plans for sustainable development. It was also identi ed that most of the researches were developed in the European context, where a stan- dard method begins to be established. The absence of such type of studies in Latin America fomented the doctoral dissertation of the rst author of this article, in which the rst characterization of ma- terial ows associated to the metabolism of a Brazilian municipality was carried out (municipality of Feliz, State of Rio Grande do Sul). An extensive search led to data identi cation and collection, as well as to the development of speci c methodological procedures for their treatment. From the results obtained and methodological procedures developed, this article aims to discuss potential con- tributions of the urban metabolism concept and approach to the assessment of the costs of environmental decisions in Brazilian settings. Contributions are made by: a) an analysis of the relation- ship between urban ecology, urban metabolism and assessment of environmental costs; b) the identi cation of the decision-mak- ing activities whose results it could support; c) the analyses of the possibilities and limitations to characterizing the metabolism of Brazilian cities and d) a discussion on future developments in this area of research.