Chichilnisky’s criterion for sustainability has the merit to be, so far, the unique explicit, complete and continuous social welfare criterion that combines successfully the requirement of efficiency with an instrumental notion of intergenerational equity (no dictatorship of the present and no dictatorship of the future). But it has one drawback: when applied in the context of renewable resources, and with a constant discount factor, there exists no exploitation path that maximizes this criterion. The present article suggests a way to cope with this problem. The idea is to restrict attention to the set of convex combinations between the optimal discounted utilitarian program and the stationary program leading to the green golden rule. It is shown that an optimal path in this set exists under rather weak sufficient conditions on the fundamentals of the problem. Some ethical properties of this approach are also discussed. In some cases, it turns out that the restricted solution implies no loss of efficiency and benefits intermediate and infinitely distant generations.
Sustainable exploitation of a natural resource: a satisfying use of Chichilnisky’s criterion
14 January 2014