Department of Water Resources Engineering
Lund Institute of Technology - Lund University

Peder Hjorth's Page

Name: Peder Hjorth, born 1940 in Stockholm, Sweden
Title and Occupation: PhD in Water Resources Engineering, Senior lecturer.
Phone: +46 46 222 4871
Fax: +46 46 222 4435
Mailing Address:P.O. Box 118, S-221 00 Lund, Sweden
Visiting Address: John Ericssons väg 1, Lund, Sweden

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Short description of scientific profile

I have a strong interest in interdisciplinary approaches to management problems related to water, natural resources, and the environment. Presently, I am trying to find ways to implement a number of planning and management principles suggested in Agenda 21. This work relates to industrialised as well as developing countries.Systems analysis is my starting point in the development of the holistic view called for in Agenda 21

Strategic management, dealing with uncertainty, with complexity, and with competition are major areas of concern. This means that I try to account for the evolutionary aspects of development, which means that the predominant concepts of equilibrium and optimization become rather meaningless.

Interpretation of the concept of sustainability, and the application of such interpretations in environmental assessments and in strategic environmental assessment are issues of high priority in my research agenda. Hereby, I have found that sustainability should not be interpreted as some precise state or condition, that could be scientifically defined. It is rather to be seen as a qualitative concept like e.g. freedom or justice. Thus, to me it seems more reasonable to develop some kind of instruments for direction analysis, which could tell us whether we are moving towards less or more sustainability.

The requirements for integration, coordination, and consultations put forward in the Agenda imply a need for improved communication skills and tools in planning and management. Thus, I am working with the development of simple macroscopic systems models, which could facilitate a common understanding of complex problems.

Present projects

An Integrated Approach to Environmental Problems in Poor Countries- The Case of Water Supply and Sanitation in Selected Asian Countries. A joint project with Alia Ahmad Dept. of Economics, Göran Djurfeldt Dept. of Sociology, and Ole Elgström Dept. of Political Science, all at Lund University.

The purpose of this project is to develop a multidisciplinary approach for integrated management of water supply and sanitation in poor countries. The rationale and the strategic think ing behind our are briefly:

One of our starting points was that Rio Conference made it sufficiently clear that environmental protection and poverty alleviation go hand in hand. Adequate amounts of food, clean house, air, water are basic needs, which can be supplied only through proper care of the environmental base. Hence, when it comes to poor countries, there is an impelling argument for protecting the environment, because the welfare of millions of individuals is at stake. However, our progress in understanding the links between poverty, environment and population growth is not matched by integrated research on the management of specific environmental problems. For example, with respect to water supply and sanitation economists, engineers, sociologists and political scientists have worked separately and identified problems in their respective fields. Among economists, for instance, it is always taken for granted that there are indivisibilities, and lumpy investments are needed. They tend to overlook that the role of democratic institutions at the grassroots level is important as is the problem of inequalities and the existence of consumers with different abilities to pay. There is also a lacking appreciation of supply of clean water and sanitation as basic needs, and of the fact that improved access for poor people would benefit the whole population.


IAHS/ICWRS  Project team

Sponsored by  The river environment foundation of Japan

	Kuni Takeuchi		Yamanashi PI

	Peder Hjorth	     	Lund University

	Shuichi Ikebuchi	Kyoto University

	Toshihari Kojiri	Gifu University

	Lev. Kuchment		Moscow University

	Zbigniew Kundzewicz	WMO	

	Norio Okada	        Kyoto University

	Dan Rosbjerg 	        Technical University of Denmark

	Slobodan Simonowic 	University of Manitoba
The rationale behind this project is as follows:

We need adequate information, that is tailored to environmental objectives. Adequate means information that:

In measurement theory, the term indicator is used for the empirical specification of concepts, that cannot be fully operationalised on the basis of generally accepted rules.

Indicators are a compromise between scientific accuracy and a demand for concise information. They can be used for two intertwined purposes:

There should be two kinds of indicators; one dealing with the pressure from society on nature, and the other dealing with the state of nature itself.

In the search for indicators of sustainability, one could seek help from an ecological metaphor. Within such a metaphor, stable systems are characterized by a number of qualities, i.a.:

Just like Nature itself, designers of stable systems tend to follow certain principles such as; make it simple, don't fix what is not broken, don't put all eggs in one basket, or assume that anything may go wrong and plan accordingly. Stability means locally appropriate, resource-saving, culturally appropriate and technically elegant solutions, that will not harm much in case of a potential malfunctioning.

Keeping the above observations in mind, a conceptual framework for the development of indicators for sustainable reservoir development and management could be derived from the economic basic income concept and from Swedish ideas about directional analysis of income/expenditure. El Serafy (1991) argues that:

If properly measured, income is sustainable by definition. From an environmental angle, errors in measuring income can be viewed as coming largely from wrongly mix ing in income certain elements of natural capital, and from confusion of inventory liquidation with depreciation of fixed assets. A person or a nation cannot continue to live at the same material level if present enjoyment is obtained at the cost of liquidating capital. As capital is eroded, the ability to maintain the same level of consumption in the future is undermined. That is why, from its inception, the accounting profession has insisted that for profit and loss calculations, whether for individuals or corporations, capital must be kept intact. To the accountant, keeping capital intact never meant that capital should be preserved in its initial state (the preservationist argument), but only that allowance be made out of current income in order to restore capital to the extent it has eroded.
In Sweden, there are currently two different proposals on how to make an analysis of whether a certain project is contribut- ing towards a more sustainable future or not. These methodol- ogies have been named "Direction Analyses". The first one has been proposed by a group which names itself "The Natural Step" (Holmberg,1995). They propose the following principles, from which indicators can be derived:
  1. Substances extracted from the lithosphere must not systematically accumulate in the ecosphere.
  2. Society produced substances must not systematically accumulate in the ecosphere.
  3. The physical conditions for production and diversity within the ecosphere must not systematically be deteriorated.
  4. The use of resources must be efficient and just with respect to meeting human needs.
The other set of criteria has been developed by Eva Grundelius (1994):
  1. Is the use of energy diminished, Do we shift to renewable energy resources?
  2. Does the ability of Nature to create resources increase?
  3. Does the biological diversity increase?
  4. Are we creating closed cycles for material resources?
  5. Do we stay within the limits of what the ecosphere and human beings can stand?
  6. Are we solving several problems with the same action within a holistic framework, without enation of new problems?
  7. Are we applying the precautionary principle? Everything cannot be predicted accurately.
These two sets of principles imply accounting of income and expenditure within a framework, which is predominantly influenced by natural sciences. As indicated above, we will, how- ever, also need to have some indicators related to the institutional structure that is responsible for the development and operation of reservoir projects. Furthermore, there need to be some indicators related to the democratic quality of the evaluation, planning, and operation of reservoir projects.

Development of a platform for strategic environmental impact assessment. The case of the K„vlinge River Basin. (Draws heavily on what has been done for the Thames River Basin within the Thames 21-project).
Sponsor: The Swedish Committee for Planning and Coordination of Research (FRN).
Some of the starting points for this project are:

Although there are different views on how it should be done, there is now a global consensus, that we need to redirect our development efforts towards sustainable development. This means that concerns about natural resources and the environment should be an integral part of all decision-making related to development strategy.

Sustainability offers a new paradigm and a new language in an age where general expectations as well as scientific and technical complexity render decision-making a) increasingly open to criticism and b) increasingly intricate.

More often than not, water has been considered either as an ubiquitous free good or as a commodity to be exploited, marketed, and profited upon. As stated in the Dublin Statement (ICWE, 1992), this has resulted in seriously inadequate water resources management practices. Unless a radical rethinking takes place, humankind is facing a bleak future, according to the statement.

According to the dominant planning paradigm, water is managed within an economic framework, where economic efficiency is the ultimate criterion, i.e. decisions are based on abstractions, which have limited relevance relative to the living, material world. However, stewardship becomes the main focus in sustainable development. This could be taken as the management of a 'territorial concern', which is a multi-dimensional, 'total' concern for all those creatures which make up the community, Instead of production and growth, the territorial concern must direct its attention to re-production and healing - caring for the survival of community life.

In a study of coordinated management of land and water resources (AACM and Centre for Water Policy Research, 1995), it was concluded that the philosophy and products of integrated approaches were well understood. However, there remain significant process problems in implementing integrated approaches. Several process issues were highlighted, including:

According to the study, it is well known that agencies may state a number of reasons for not employing concerted approaches to water management, including:
Obviously, disciplinary scientific perspectives and professional sector-specific attitudes have to be merged into a holistic framework. The reality is neither organised in terms of disciplines nor according to the sectorization of institutions.

The fragmented system for decision-making has "organised knowledge away from the decision-making". It has to be organised back into the process again:

Obviously, the left hand has to know what the right hand does, and preferably, they should both point in the same direction.

In Agenda 21., it is pointed out that there needs to be better communication and trust between the scientific and technological community (including engineers, architects, industrial designers, urban planners, and other professionals and decision-makers), and the public. The public need to appreciate the role and contributions of specialists; but in turn they should be receptive of public 'sentiments' about how science and technology should be used. There are many kinds of models that are used to guide decision-making. Maps are frequently used in that sense. Thus, some characteristics of maps and map-making could be taken as a starting point for a discussion of principles:

A pertinent observation in this context is that It is increasingly recognised that cartography is a contested practice, embedded within particular sets of power relations (Pinder, 1996). A critical appraisal of maps has long been hindered by "an illusion of cartographic objectivity". Rules of geometry and cartographic projection are used to transform a complex reality into a fixed graph representation. Much of the power and authority of maps comes from this "knowing" perspective, and from its grounding in a rhetoric of scientific accuracy and truth. It is difficult to appreciate that the maps presents a particular view, constructed with particular interests in mind. As Wood (1993) puts it: "Soon enough we have forgotten this is a picture someone has arranged for us (chopped and manipulated, selected and encoded). Soon enough ... it is the world, it is real, it is ... reality". Wood concludes that maps construct visions of the world which "embody the interests of their authors, indeed are the interests of their authors in map form".

To overcome the problems associated with this "ideological filtering" of maps and other models, complementary mapping procedures are needed, which are able to convey different visions of reality in order to reveal and unveil hidden aspects and to bring them out in the open. Thus, rather than substituting precision for relevance, we must try to comprehend the reality, however imperfectly and provisionally, and to communicate that knowledge to others for political ends. We must search for methods that release different meanings and contribute to a sense of possibility rather than to present models that can be judged in universal terms of "truth" and "error".

Some of the experiences from the Thames 21 project that this study draws on are i.a.:

Water utilities now produce "asset management plans" (AMP) to progress the effective and efficient exploitation of water for human use. A further dimension is now being facilitated through the structured approach of catchment planning: conservation of the water environment is being integrated with development planning and control.

In rural areas, where planning has little influence over agricultural land use, the introduction of countryside stewardship and long-term set-aside schemes, together with exten- sion of environmentally sensitive area designation, offers farmers cash incentives to farm in ways which are environmentally more benign.

The lesson that prevention is better than cure, is nowhere better learned than in dealing with the water environment.

Actions taken piecemeal and locally in response to the appear- ance of the first symptoms of a catchment (i.e. systemic) problem may prove to be uneconomic if the causes of change remain unaddressed.

The impact of highways (stormwater) and urban drainage are key issues for many catchments.

In London, 51% of designated "main" river is unprotected by any planning designation, and the results are disastrous for the welfare of both humans and their natural environment. Not only have rivers often been encased in concrete and steel, they have been shunned by the designers of housing estates as being potentially dangerous, obnoxious and expensive to maintain. The NRA and local authorities now share an opportunity to dispel this long-standing prejudice, working together to achieve common objectives which involve land-use strategy and on-site design throughout the catchment.

Public perception as a baseline survey, and full consultation in both appraisal (or feasibility) and design phases, was recognized not only as basic to the EA, but vital to ensure sustainability so far as possible through promoting public 'ownership' of the process and the result.

The Catchment Management Plan seeks to integrate and give expression to the policies and strategies of all the agencies who influence the water environment. It therefore identifies management strategies and investment opportunities, and there is clearly a need for monitoring and review within an interorganisational liaison framework. Final plans which seek a partnership between organisations will define activities where other organisations can lead or be highly involved. Involving the Water Supply and Sanitation Sector in the preparation of a 'Local Agenda 21.'.

Joint project with the municipality of Hässleholm, Scania, Sweden. (Project still in planning stage).

To create a Local Agenda 21.-process, is a very challenging task, which requires knowledge, political will, and political clout. The experience that we hitherto have in Sweden, shows the importance of commitment to the work, within as well the political as the administrative leadership in the municipality. Water is, in many ways, an integrating factor and, consequently, the water supply and sewerage organisations ought to play an important role in the Agenda-process. The technical municipal authorities generally have more human and other resources than e.g. the environmental unit. Therefore, a technical authority will provide a better platform for the take-off of the Agenda-process than most other authorities will be able to provide. Thus, people responsible for the water supply and sewerage should make sure that their sector becomes fully integrated into the Agenda-process, at an early stage. However, many Swedish municipalities seem to be at a loss when it comes to the question of how to create a willingness to change attitudes among politicians and professionals. This project will try to help the municipality of H„ssleholm to achieve such a change, and to make a careful documentation of this process, thereby creating inspiration, advice, and guidelines for other municipalities working on their local Agenda 21.:s.

Selected publications

Hjorth P., Wallin E. and Wes‚n C. The Societal Metabolism -

Studies of Nature and Culture in Evolutionary Interaction.

(In Swedish). Report to FRN. Lund 1986.

Hjorth P., Wallin E. and Wesén C. Closing of the Cycles - 

A Communication Problem. (In Swedish). In Hjorth P. (ed) 

Samhällets ämnesomsättning. Forskningsrådsnämnden. 

Rapport 88:2, Stockholm 1988.

Hjorth P. Development and Management of Wastewater Reuse

Systems. Paper presented at IFS workshop "Management of Water

and Natural Resources to Increase Food Production in Africa.

Niamey, Niger 1987.

Hjorth P. and Lindh G. Planning, 

Construction, Use - An Eternal Cycle. (In Swedish). 

Väg- och vattenbyggaren No. 6, 1987.

Hjorth P. Urban Water Policy - A Conceptional Framework. 

Paper presented at UNESCO "International Workshop on Water Awareness

in Societal Planning and Decision-Making. 

27 June - 1 July 1988, Skokloster, Sweden.

Hjorth P. Ehn I., and Niemczynowicz J. The Sensitivity Model

Applied on the City of Lund. Department of Water Resources

Engineering. Discussion Paper from the Research Group 

on Urban Fluxes. Lund 1989.

Hjorth P. Urban Ecology - Critical Systems for the 

Sustainability of a City. (In Swedish). Paper Presented at 

FRN National Workshop on GIS and the Territorial Concern 

22-23 november 1989, Lund.

Hjorth P., Wallin E. and Wesén C. Modelling societal 

metabolism - a conceptional framework. Dept of Water Resources 

Engineering LTH/LU. Report No 3131, Lund 1989.

Hjorth P., Ehn I., Hammarlund K. and Niemczynowicz J. 

Development of a Sensitivity Model for the City of Lund. 

(In Swedish). Dept of Water Resources Engineering LTH/LU.

Report No 3133, Lund 1989.

Hjorth P. Some Principles for Sustainable Management of 

Natural Resources. In James W. (ed.) 

"Water Development and the Environment". Lewis Publishers, 

Chelsea, Michigan. 1989 (1992).

Hjorth P. & I. Ehn: Requirements on EIA for Sustainable 

Development - Using the Mufindi Pulp and Paper Plant 

as a Case - Example. EADI VIth General Conference. Oslo 1990.

Hjorth P. Application of the Sensitivity Model to the City of Lund.

Paper presented at the International Seminar :

Ecological Approaches to Urban Systems. Lund 1990.

Hjorth P. & E. Wallin. A Systems Approach to Social Economy.

Paper presented at the 1991 Annual Meeting of the ISSS, 

Östersund, Sweden 1991.

Hjorth P., H. Kobus, H. P. Nachtnebel, A. Nottage, 

and R. Robarts. Relating Hydraulics and Ecological Processes. 

In "Hydraulics and the Environment". J. Hydraulic Research 

Vol. 29 extra issue 1991.

Hjorth P., I. Bogardi, and R. Robarts. The Subsystems: Lakes. 

In "Hydraulics and the Environment". J. Hydraulic Research

Vol. 29 extra issue 1991.

Hjorth P.  On EIA and Sustainability. Paper presented at

"Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Workshop", 

Mekong Secretariat, Bangkok, 23 - 26 June, 1992.

Hjorth P. Urban Water Management Problems. In 

"Urban Water Resources Management". Water Resources 

Series No. 72. United Nations. New York. 1993.

Hjorth P. Environmental Impacts of Urban Water Management. 

In "Urban Water Resources Management". Water Resources 

Series No. 72. United Nations. New York. 1993.

Hjorth P. & Nguyen Thi Dan. Environmentally Sound Urban Water

Management - A Case Study of Hanoi. International Journal of

Water Resources Development Vol. 9, No. 4, 1993.

Hjorth P. & Nguyen Thi Dan. Water Management Options for Urban

Areas in Asia. Cities. Vol. 11, No. 2, April 1994.

Hjorth P. Coping with Water Management Challenges Incurred by

the Climate Change Debate. Paper to be presented at a

IAHR/IAHS/IWRA Special Session on "Water Resources Management

Under Increasing Uncertainty" (Planned for Cairo, November

1994, but presently postponed).

Hjorth P. The Development Process in Thailand - A Threat to

Water and the Environment (in Swedish). VATTEN, No. 1, 1995.

Hjorth P. An Ecological Approach to the Urban System. 

Proc. Ecotechnics 95, International Symposium on Ecological 

Engineering, Östersund, March 29 - 31, 1995.

Hjorth P. Impacts of Reservoir Development and Operation on

the Hydrology of Forest Lands (in Swedish). Paper presented at

the Annual Meeting of the Swedish Hydrological Council, 

Uppsala, March 22 - 23, 1995.

Hjorth P. The City as a Biotic System - The Case Example of

Lund, Sweden. Proc. The European City - Sustaining Urban

Quality. A Working Conference, Copenhagen April 24 - 28, 1995.

Ministry of the Environment, Copenhagen.

Hjorth P. Integration of environmental concern and economic

development in water resources management. Proc. HYDRA 2000,

the XXVIth IAHR Congress, London, 11-15 September 1995.

Hjorth P. Urban Water Management - Coping with the Complexity

of the Urban Environment. Proc. "Integrated Water Management

in Urban Areas. International UNESCO-IHP Symposium, 

Lund, September 26 - 30, 1995.

Hjorth P. Agenda 21. - A Challenge for the Water Supply and

Sanitation Sector (in Swedish). VATTEN No. 4, 1995.

Hjorth P. Coping with Complexity - Sustainability, 

Uncertainty, and Institutional Issues in Water Resources 

Management. Letter of interest, submitted to IIASA in 

January 1996, proposing an interdisciplinary and multi-national 

research agenda for the anticipated programme on 

"Sustainable Use of Water Resources in a Time of Global Change".

Hjorth P. A Systematic Assessment of Ecological, 

Socio-Cultural, and Economic Effects of Reservoir Development 

and Operation. Manuscript submitted as a contribution to 

Takeuchi K. (ed.): "Criteria of Sustainable Reservoir Development 

and Management", a report commissioned by The International 

Commission of Water Resources Systems of IAHS. 

To be published within the IAHS "Blue Book" Series. 

Hjorth P. Concurrent Urban Flows - An Agenda 21.-Approach to

Spatial Planning (in Swedish). Report to the Swedish Council

for Building Research. Department of Water Resources 

Engineering, University of Lund. Report No. 3196.

Hjorth P. Emerging Perceptions of Urban Quality. 

Paper submitted to IAPS 14, 14th conference of the 

International Association for People-Environment Studies.

"Evolving Environmental Ideals - Changing Ways of Life, 

Values and Design Practices." Stockholm, July 30 - August 3, 1996.

Hjorth P. Meeting basic needs for water. Paper submitted to

the EADI General Conference, Vienna 11-14 september, 1996.

By Peder Hjorth, June 1996