Purpose – The purpose of this paper, which is the first of a two-part series, is to build upon the established research on environmental economics and sustainability theory developed by Ramsey (1928), Weitzman (2007) and Gollier (2010). The Ramsey-Weitzman-Gollier model, with the contribution of Howarth (2009) and Nordhaus (2007a, b), focuses on discount rate development for environmental and long-term assets, linking discounted utility analysis embedded in the CCAPM model of Lucas (1978) to the policy concerns associated with the valuation of public and sustainable resources. This paper further investigates these issues to the rates structure appropriate for exhaustible resources with a particular emphasis on urban land, based upon the differentiation of strong and weak form sustainability concepts constrained by the objectives of the sustainable criterion of Daly and Cobb (1994). Design/methodology/approach – The paper integrates the concepts of discount rate development for environmental and long-term assets and discounted utility analysis to the policy concerns associated with the valuation of public and sustainable resources. It develops new theoretical insight in order to allow the theoretical formulation of discount and capitalization rates that can be empirically applied and tested. Findings – The paper provides theoretical support for a new approach concerned with the development of capitalization and discount rates in the valuation of non-renewable resources. A key concern of valuing non-renewable or limited resource endowments (in space or time) is the problem of irreversible investment or irrevocable decision implementation as suggested by Arrow-Fisher (1974), Krautkraemer (1985) and Daly and Cobb (1994). It investigates the challenge with developing capitalization rates and valuation of depleting resources temporally, within the constraints of sustainability. To achieve this, an optimal control discounting procedure subject to a sustainable objective statement is employed – in this context it suggests that sustainability should be treated as an alternative to traditional growth and the maximization of near-term returns. Originality/value – This paper extends the construct of developing rates structures appropriate for the valuation of exhaustible resources. It places a conceptual emphasis on urban land development. The measures developed and the insights gained may serve as a basis for future research on the optimal levels of sustainable development appropriate for different nations.
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- Capitalization rate
- Discount factor
- Exhaustible resources
- Strong and weak form sustainability