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Francois Bousquet
Cirad Tera, Campus de Baillarguet, Montpellier, France

Tim Lynam
Tropical Resource Ecology Program, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe

P. d'Aquino
Cirad Tera, Saint Louis, Senegal

Multi-agent simulation models in applied, natural resource use decision-making in developing countries

During the last twenty years new computer tools have been developed for the simulation of complex systems. Cellular automata, Artificial Life, multi-agent systems sometimes used on parallel architecture are new methodologies to study the dynamics of ecological and environmental systems from the bottom-up. These new tools and methodologies have been used mainly for theoretical purposes. Most papers on this field are interested in developing new understanding of theories in ecology or in social science. Few has been done on the application of the results for the decision making process on the "real world". In this paper we propose a methodology for the use of CAS in the context of management of natural and renewable resources. We present two different experiences on the field.

The first experiment was conducted in Senegal. After the government's decentralization process, local communities are in charge of organizing the management of their natural resources. For that they have to solve the problem of access to the land and to the resources by multiple stakeholders for multiple use. Multi-agent models have been created with the actors. They are used to create a common representation of the problem and to simulate various scenarios.

The second experiment was carried out in Zimbabwe. Multi-agent models were developed for use with local communities and local administrators involved in developing management plans for the vegetation resources in some semi-arid areas of Zimbabwe. The problems associated with using these complex models with local people are discussed and used to highlight issues needing resolution for the successful use of these models in applied circumstances.

The paper closes with a discussion in which these two experiences are compared to present a framework for the use of CAS for applied decision making at the local community and policy levels.


Roger Bradbury
Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra

Futures, prediction and other foolishness

The (political) economist, V I Lenin, captured the essence of public policy in his famous ejaculation What is to be done? Now what is to be done depends not only what sort of critter you happen to be the system but also on what has been done to you in the past the history and on the sort of place you find yourself in the environment. For many simple physical systems, such as the solar system, the dynamics are simple and linear, and both history and environment may be known. Thus the trajectory may be predicted. For systems that pretend to be simple, such as economics neo-classical synthesis, complex dynamics may be forced into a straightjacket of simplicity, and neither history nor environment may be adequately known. This results in islands of prediction scattered through a sea of uncertainty. The navigation that is public policy is terribly hazardous in such waters. When the pretence can no longer be sustained when the complexity is in your face such as when economics lifts its gaze and acknowledges ecology, then some remarkable science may happen. Such science accepts the contingent complexity of the system, the history and the environment. It also accepts that the existence of complex adaptive systems such as ecosystems and economies colours the notion of public policy with the notion of where such systems might want to go the notion of a universe of possibilities. It thus rejects the idea of prediction as a feasible goal for complex adaptive systems, and replaces it with a wholly new idea of the future. And this in turn transforms the idea of public policy.

The text of the paper will be published at


Neil Byron
Productivity Commission, Melbourne, Australia

What policy makers want from research and why researchers rarely provide it

The world is moving towards knowledge-based societies. Economies are globalising. The global public goods value of the environment is being increasingly recognised at the same time that the traditional role of state environmental agencies is changing. Emerging technologies are greatly enhancing our ability to assess and monitor environmental attributes, to process and disseminate information and to enhance environmental management.

All of these changes have an impact on how environmental policy research is organised, what is done, who does it and who pays for it. Finding resources for research in support of public goods, at local, national and global levels, is going to be a major challenge.

Convincing policymakers that researchers can come up with sensible, useable answers (not necessarily "optimal solutions") will be crucial. The paper argues that policy-makers and their key advisers have been deficient in explaining what they need, while research has frequently been "curiosity driven" rather than focussed on solving problem priority problems. Suggestions to achieve closer communication between researchers and policymakers are proposed, along with priority-setting mechanisms, particularly for developing countries.


Kanchan Chopra
Institute of Economic Growth, University Enclave, Delhi, India

Making a difference in developing countries: getting prices and institutions right in South Asia

The current situation in South Asia seems to be marked by a dilemma with respect to natural resource and environmental issues. The macro picture relegates such issues to the background. At the local levels, natural resource quantity and quality is critically important from the viewpoint of their contribution to consumption and livelihoods and quality of life. Ecosystem health and sustenance are central to the quality of life, both in rural and urban areas. However, they attract attention only when thresholds of resilience of natural systems are crossed and disasters occur as a consequence of mismanagement, lack of property right specification and/ or over population. Most of the time, linkages between sustainable natural resource management and development are not understood or integrated into development policy.

In this context, this paper attempts to address the following questions: What are the lessons learnt from this mismanagement of natural resources and the environment in developing countries and what form of intervention is most likely to succeed?

Natural resources and the environment constitute perhaps the most significant instance of the failure of the centralised top-down paradigm of management. Water and forest resources and urban environments in developing countries are all full of instances of failure of command and control mechanisms. A new paradigm for environmental management is in order. This paper explores the possibility and the limits to the framing of an alternative paradigm for sustainable management of land and water in South Asia. Such a paradigm encompasses selective use of market instruments ( in the context of urban water supply and power supply to agriculture) investment in technologies leading to sustainable development, together with appropriate institutions that ensure that the investments are viable to operate institutional change by way of collective action that ensures the viability of investment in natural capital Examples from sectors as diverse as urban water supply, treatment of industrial effluent, forest management and provision of irrigation water both surface and ground , are used to substantiate the above hypothesis. Studies carried out in these sectors in this region are drawn upon to highlight the possibilities and constraints.


Mick Common
Graduate School of Environmental Studies, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK

Fundamental questions that ecological economics still needs to address governance and the media

Two questions that I would like to see high on the ecological economics agenda are:

Is universal suffrage representation the form of nation state governance that best promotes sustainability?

Given universal suffrage representation, can the provision of information to electors be left as a, largely un-regulated, branch of the entertainment industry?

Within ecological economics there seems to be wide agreement about the nature of threats to sustainability, and that one important way to address the threats is by re-structuring economic incentives. We also observe in most developed economies, however, that rather little, relative to the scale and urgency of the problems, gets done about such re-structuring. Given that it is government that must act to re-structure incentives, this suggests considering alternative systems of governance against sustainability criteria. While this is interesting and important, as a practical matter we are probably have to take 'democracy' as universal suffrage elective representation as a given, in which case the question is whether it could be made to perform better. This naturally leads to thinking about informational inputs to electors' behaviour, and hence to the second question above. To which it would seem that the answer is fairly obviously 'no'. So then the operative question becomes: can 'the media' be regulated so as to better perform the function of informing voters? While raised here in the context of sustainability, this question is fundamental to the general problem of the democratic control of large complex societies. I offer only first thoughts about answers to it. The main aim of the paper is to stimulate consideration of this question, and the related issues, particularly by ecological economists.


André Heinz
The Natural Step, Stockholm, Sweden

Karl-Henrik Robèrt
The Natural Step, Stockholm, Sweden and Physical Resource Theory, Chalmers University of Technology and Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden

Building movements to proliferate sustaining corporations

The history of how today's broad based support for sustainable development in Sweden and it's spread to other countries has to do with how social movements are created and sustained. By examining the experiences of The Natural Step, one of the early voices in Swedish society seeking to communicate how sustainability can be defined, observations, trends and feedback are distilled to describe in basic terms some of the contributing success factors. The ability to communicate in a "clear voice" the rationale for and the methodologies behind sustainable development, along with using various communication techniques to diffuse tension and spur creativity, are keys to creating an "attractive dialogue" that can propel society towards a sustainable future.


Robert Hill
Australian Commonwealth Minister for the Environment

Managing Australias environment

We expect the Minister to talk on Australian approaches to Biodiversity Conservation and Environmental Protection, the role of tradeable property rights in resource management, evolution of the notion of duty of care in Australia and the potential of tax policy as a means to improve environmental outcomes.


Judith Innes
Professor of City and Regional Planning, Director Institute of Urban and Regional Development, University of California, Berkeley, USA

Collaborative Planning as Ecological Policy Making

One of the most significant challenges for ecological economics is that the policy systems we now have are not grounded in ecological thinking. Professor Innes will make the case that collaborative planning is an emerging paradigm around the world for environmental policy making which responds to this need for ecological practice in public decisions. This collaborative planning brings diverse, interdependent stakeholders together in authentic dialogues, out of which emerge innovations, adaptiveness and sustainable systems. She will support this argument with findings from her research on leading edge examples in California, ranging across water policy, transportation, habitat conservation and growth management.


Jack L. Knetsch
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Environmental, ecological, and behavioural economics: still getting some things wrong

There are various reasons for disparities between the promise of a more inclusive ecological economics and present practice and results. One is ecological economics, like environmental and other forms of economics, has not taken much account of important findings of fields such as behavioural decision-making behavioural economics and economic psychology.

The behavioural findings are frequently at odds with common assumptions and often lead to very different conclusions. For example, contrary to standard theory and current practice, people commonly take losses much more seriously than otherwise fully commensurate gains, and value them differently. Similarly, individuals weigh the value of future losses more than future gains, and appear to have different discount rates for longer and shorter terms. The seriousness of risks is only in part determined by expected values, such perceptions are also dependent on other characteristics of particular risks. Individuals often do not exhibit stable preferences, as assumed, but their pecuniary and non-pecuniary valuations commonly vary depending on the context of the valuation. The findings point to serious problems with valuation methods such as contingent valuation surveys. There are often consistent rules of fairness that influence choices.

Such findings have been reported in every leading economics journal as well as those of other decision science fields. However, the incentives that encourage environmental and other economists to ignore this behavioural evidence appear to influence others with near equal effect.


Stephen E. G. Lea
School of Psychology, University of Exeter, UK

Psychology and ecological economics

Ecological economics is non-standard economics. Standard economics is what got us into this mess in the first place, by (a) treating the natural world as an open system, which can be extracted from and dumped into without limit and without consequences and (b) assuming that people are interested only in maximising the goods and services they consume.

Ecological economics, in contrast, has to ask hard questions about the external consequences of economic activity, and what people actually want them to be. This creates natural common ground with psychologists looking at economic behaviour who also have to take a non-standard approach, recognizing individual constraints and multiple motivations. Can anything useful be built on this common ground? An obvious possibility is to look at "green motivation". We know that people will, as consumers or producers, sometimes make choices that (they hope) will produce environmental benefits, and will sacrifice some narrowly "economic" gains to do so. But are such green choices significant enough to have any real ecological impact? And what kind of economic and ecological institutions will make them more likely to happen, and maximise their impact?


Amory Lovins
CEO (Research) Rocky Mountain Institute, USA

Natural capitalism: winning in business by behaving as if nature were properly valued

The first Industrial Revolution made people 100 times more productive when the relative scarcity of people was limiting progress in exploiting seemingly boundless nature. Now that the pattern of scarcity has reversed -- we have abundant people and scarce nature -- it's necessary to use natural resources 1-2 orders of magnitude more productively. This is also highly profitable, partly because advanced resource productivity can now often yield expanding rather than diminishing returns -- "tunneling through the cost barrier" to make very large resource savings cost less than small or no savings.

Adding the other three operational principles of "Natural Capitalism" -- closed-loop production with no waste or toxicity, a "Solutions Economy" business model that rewards the first two steps, and reinvestment in natural capital -- and exploiting their synergies yields striking profitability and competitive advantage, even with no further internalization. Several hundred diverse business cases ( are revealing a rapidly expanding scope for this "next industrial revolution" across a wide range of societies.


Manfred Max-Neef
Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile

Consumerism, sustainability, and the good society

Much has been written, reported and discussed about consumerism and its impact on sustainability. In all cases consumerism is understood as a concept, having to do with the human appropriation of things and objects that result from the manipulation of matter. This is what I shall call "open consumerism", as opposed to a "hidden consumerism", that has to do with the human appropriation of ideas and assumptions that result from the manipulation of language and communication on the part of the power and/or economic interests establishment. This latter kind of consumerism, through its language, has a direct effect on the former. Considering that language influences perception, which in turn determines behaviour, concepts such as development, progress, efficiency, etc., as promoted by the establishment, are analysed in the presentation. The role and responsibility of science as an increasingly no longer independent endeavour is also discussed. Examples are given of possible scientific and technological evils, adequately disguised as social blessings.

The presentation concludes that while open consumerismhas an adverse effect on ecological sustainability, hidden consumerism has an adverse effect on social sustainability. The implication being that little can be expected about reducing the former, if we don't manage to overcome the heavy influence of the latter. Finally, the Good Society, can only be achieved if natural, social and economic metabolism synchronize.


Peter May
Executive Director, Instituto Pró-Natura, Brazil

Engaging communities in research and management: sustainable enterprise in the Amazon Basin

Private financial flows supplanted public development investment as a source of external capital toward emerging markets in the 1990s. Natural resource development in the tropics has long been criticized in its emphasis on immediate financial gain over long-term societal benefits. This view is changing as corporations and the financial sector increasingly view their competitive advantage as being linked both to proactive relations with host communities and to adequate protection of fragile ecosystems. In the past, due to neglect by both government and companies, forest communities that lie in the path of major projects in the tropics often remained powerless, dependent, exposed to environmental risks and poverty stricken. What was once "sustainable" may then become "unsustainable".

Recent advances toward adoption of sustainable business-community relations in the Amazon basin, with case studies from the oil and gas, pulp and paper and timber industries, based on experience of the Brazilian NGO Pro-Natura, will be discussed. Pre-investment consultations with stakeholder groups lay the groundwork for longer-term strategies toward social capital and sustainable development through partnerships involving corporate management, government and NGOs. Initial participatory diagnoses involve stakeholders in identifying opportunities for local investment in income generating activities, health and educational needs, which can then be mobilised initially with corporate financing. This corporate role in initial financing is gradually relinquished, as local organizations build channels to external technical and financial assistance, and are empowered to impose demands on government. Community members are also engaged in monitoring of corporate practices, in collaboration with national and international research institutions and NGOs, both to avert negative impacts and to identify local resource potentials. A governance structure involving representatives of all stakeholders is charged with reviewing corporate responsibility and identifying investment priorities. These strategies can strengthen local capacity to improve social welfare and to ensure conservation and wise use of biodiversity, while nourishing positive corporate-community relations.


Dick Norgaard, President ISEE
Energy and Resources Group, University of California at Berkeley, USA

Value systems and environmental systems: toward a richer coevolution again

This talk will argue that a historically rich complex of value systems across cultures was "crashed" by utilitarianism with considerable help from economics, that utilitarianism is incapable of adequately addressing the types of value questions we now face, and that a richer understanding of values would help foster a richer coevolution of values to handle issues in the future.


Martin O'Connor
Professor in Economic Sciences, C3ED, Université de Versailles-St Quentin en Yvelines, France.

Discourses of hospitality? Discourses of rationality -- Old problematics of domination and (self-)control for new practices in Ecological Economics

Departing from a reflection around the distinction between 'weak' and 'strong' sustainability, the question of ethics (and epistemologies) for a co-existence is posed. This existential reflection then becomes, in the context of largely discredited mechanical practices of cost-benefit analysis, the basis for understanding, and justifying, notions of stakeholder concertation and dialogue-based evaluation and scenario-creation procedures in application to (e.g.) common property resource management problems. In synthesis, and as a way out of domination epistemologies, a new dialogic 'reduced form' for a (socio-)ecological
economics is proposed, where the interfacing of systems science (engaging economy and ecologics) with social significance (engaging problematics of local knowledge and political coordination), replaces the time-honoured (but time- and axiom-bound) notions of supply and demand.


John Proops, ISEE President Elect
School of Politics, International Relations and the Environment, Keele University, UK

Research Challenges for Ecological Economics in the 21st Century

In any overview, it is customary to point to where one thinks a discipline is going. Here are my suggestions for issues ripe for development in ecological economics.

1. Ecosystem pricing independent of human agency (e.g. the value of a rabbit to a fox).

2. The integration of the entropy principle with production theory, via the theory of joint production.

3. The emergence of a teleological approach, to inform sustainability theory.

4. The integration of evolutionary principles into environmental policy analysis.

5. The formulation of the principles of environmental policy-making on a sound epistemological basis.

6. The emergence of the philosophical tradition of phenomenology as a new approach to conceptualising human-nature interactions.


David J. Rapport
University of Guelph, Canada and University of Western Ontario, Canada

Biospheric collapse and global paralysis

There is little question that the earth is now in critical condition. Its life-support systems are in collapse, locally, regionally and globally. As a consequence, ecological services are in decline and there are increased risks to human health, community wellbeing and sustainable livelihoods. The "body politic" appears to be looking the other way, and there are few signs of self-correcting mechanisms called into play. Rather, self-interests, corruption, globalization, and ignorance all play into what appears to be a 'self-destruct' scenario. Efforts to intervene appear half-hearted and rely on reductionist, piece-meal, technological fixes that have proven counterproductive. Examples of failures to stem deterioration in ecosystem health are ubiquitous: they include losing ground on preventing climate change, deforestation, desertification, coastal eutrophication, unprecedented losses of biodiversity, and a host of other threats to human futures. These maladaptive complex systems are as characteristic of economically privileged and information technology rich countries as they are of the impoverished uneducated parts of the world. Case studies from Mexico, India, New Mexico and Australia are illustrative of the failure of humankind to mount an adaptive response to these life-threatening developments. If this complex system is to become adaptive rather than maladaptive it will require further enlightenment as to the nature of the interactions between humans and their environment. More importantly, it will require a fundamental restructuring of human values that recognises ecosystem health as a primary societal goal.


Hartmut Stiller
Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Germany

Christa Liedtke
Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Germany

Redesigning commerce, reframing the market

Eco-Efficiency and Factor 4/10 are the most promising strategies to meet the global environmental challenge. However, in the past the well-known potential for improving energy efficiency has not been realised in spite of plenty of state regulations and funding. Therefore, implementation strategies should make better use of market mechanisms introducing agents to the market.

Within companies, environmental management systems will help to enhance resource productivity systematically using information tools and appropriate indicators for benchmarking. The Wuppertal Institute has developed and successfully implemented its COMPASS tool (COMPanies And Sectors path to Sustainability). It integrates ecological, economic and social key indicators which allow a multi-target benchmarking, thus integrating environmental and social factors into a business strategy which strengthens innovation by participation in selforganising processes.

Surprisingly, financial markets welcome an offensive strategy towards sustainable development. The success of such a market-based approach depends on how relevant information is passed on to investors and consumers. Here falling information and transaction costs by Internet will allow far more ecologically relevant information to be spread.

Nevertheless, the state continues to play a role in environmental policy by defining a clear sustainability vision, negotiating global environmental agreements and in setting the appropriate dynamic framework e.g. by distributing tradable permits.


Meg Taylor
International Finance Corporation, Washington DC, USA

Kathy Whimp
Legal Policy Consultant. Australia

Resource owners, development and environmental decision-making: lessons from the Pacific'

A set of unique social, political and environmental conditions in Pacific nations mean that resource developments which take place there are cannot disengage from the social context in which they operate. Over the last ten years, the capacity of the state to effectively regulate the use of resources in remote areas has declined substantially. In place of the State, rural-dwelling resource owners now exercise defacto, if not legal, control.

Traditional distinctions between environmental and social impacts mean little in a PNG context. Instead, developers have been forced to reckon with the day to day reality of negotiating relationships with host communities. These relationships have given rise to a range of innovative ways of engaging with communities and sharing the benefits of resource development.

At a national level, the greater focus on local communities means that there is a greater imperative to consider the needs and aspirations of the whole country more carefully. The social ramifications of disputes generated by the wealth from resource development reverberate in national politics and can sometimes obscure long-term goals.

Effective decision-making for the future requires national policy makers in developing countries to envision a future for themselves. At the moment, the only models available are those of developed countries. Even the most well-endowed of developing countries probably cannot hope to achieve the level of 'development' present in Western countries unless the rest of the world takes a big pay-cut. The evidence at the beginning of the third millenium is that the industrial economies of the world today show little sign of reducing their consumption. Developing country governments thus face difficult choices of a kind not faced in the North: natural resources remain for some the only avenue to mobilise their human capital, but in the medium to long-term these natural resources are also likely to be the subsistence safety-net on which most of their populations depend.


Hardin Tibbs
Synthesys Strategic Consulting, Canberra, Australia and Global Business Network, Emeryville, USA

Sustainability as Metastrategy

The nature of the future sustainable corporation can only be fully understood in the context of developments happening at global scale. The basic dynamic which shapes the agenda of sustainability is exponential growth of both human population and materials flows through the industrial economy. These two set the stage for environmental pollution and degradation, since the scale of industrial mass flow is now reaching the same scale as the equivalent materials flows in the natural environment.

A deceleration of materials flows will be achieved by recasting the basic architecture of industry, converting it to a system of cyclic flows. As this happens, the mass intensity of industrial production can be expected to decline (dematerialization) and the carbon intensity of energy supply will complete its long run historical decline (decarbonization).

As these developments occur there will be parallel shifts in business logic. Business thinking will shift from the concept of the value chain, based on the traditional model of linear materials flows, to the concept of the value loop, based on the sustainable model of cyclic materials flows. Value will be created and recreated endlessly as the same materials flow in continuous loop, from manufacturing to consumption, then to reprocessing and back to manufacture. As firms become sustainable, they will have to relocate from the value chain to the value loop and many will have to redefine themselves in the process.

This set of changes, set in a prospective future context of continuing long-term, large-scale technological evolution, comprise the technology meta-strategy of the sustainable corporation.


Brian Walker
CSIRO Wildlife & Ecology, Australia

Marco Janssen
Department of Spatial Economics, Free University, The Netherlands

Nick Abel
CSIRO Wildlife & Ecology, Australia

Jenny Langridge
CSIRO Wildlife & Ecology, Australia

Managing the resilience of rangelands: an integrated modelling approach to a complex adaptive system

Rangelands evolved under a highly variable rainfall, originally exhibiting marked fluctuations in the relative amounts of grass, woody plants and herbivores. Fire played a major role in determining the relative amounts of grass and shrubs. Due to increasing grazing pressure of commercial livestock, grass cover and the frequency of fires have been reduced. This has led to a selection pressure for the increase of woody plants. Depending on management of the system, the rangeland can flip suddenly from a productive and sustainable state to an unproductive state.

This paper presents an analysis of the resilience of rangelands systems - that is, the probability that the systems will flip into an unproductive state due to an event such as a period of low rainfall.
We developed an adaptive agent model that includes behavioral and biological processes of pastoralists, regulators, livestock, grass and shrubs as well as the interactions between these components. The evolution of this rangeland system was studied under different policy and institutional regimes to construct management strategies and institutional designs for different types of rangelands.

The approach developed for this analysis is a promising way to develop integrated models of ecological-economic systems including relevant dynamics of social and ecological processes. It promises to be a fruitful way of analyzing ecosystem management in general.


J Morgan Williams
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, New Zealand

Ewan Gebbie
Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, New Zealand

Aotearoa - a land of great sailors but are they charting a sustainable course?

New Zealand, since 1984, has been a hot house of institutional and economic reform. Successive governments of the "left" and "right" have impacted on most elements of family and business life. We now have one of the most open and unregulated economies in the world. The overall goal has been to improve productivity through emphasis on growth, increased competition, reduced market rigidity and lower inflation. The reforms began in the financial sector, the labour and goods markets (i.e. tariff removals) and then moved to the public sector commencing with environmental administration. The focus has been predominantly on economic efficiency and mitigation of any resultant environmental and social effects.

Against this backdrop, our paper attempts to review the progress New Zealand is making towards becoming a more ecologically sustainable nation. We endeavour to look at all the mistakes and innovations that have emerged and draw some lessons from the picture we paint. Sustainability for us is in a Bruntland context "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

Ours is a snapshot that is built around an eclectic mix of what we consider to be sustainability indicators. They span resource, social and economic measures. Against this "picture", the legislative and policy drivers and shapers are examined in terms of their intent. We do not attempt to draw detailed conclusions about the specific contributions particular policies or legislation may have made. Instead we leave it to the readers (audience) to draw their own conclusions; the picture they see in the scene we "paint".

We conclude with some general lessons. These revolve around the limitations of legislation, the importance of education, the necessity for meaningful sustainability indicators (as distinct from environmental) and the need for vision, leadership and strategic planning that better integrates the social, environmental and economic realms that contribute the essential ingredients of a more sustainable New Zealand.


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Author: David Stern
Date Last Modified: 11 July 2000
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