From ecosystem integrity to ecosystem condition: a continuity of concepts supporting different aspects of ecosystem sustainability Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-01-11 Philip K Roche, C Sylvie Campagne
The current emphasis on sustainable development and ecosystem services promotes the need to better understand long-term ecosystem integrity and ecosystem functioning. This secures long-term provision of ecosystem services and ecosystem conservation. Ecosystem integrity or related notions are referred to in several national and international biodiversity and ecosystem policies that couples ecosystem integrity with human well-being. However, it is still poorly defined. The scientific literature has mobilized an array of terms and notions attempting to conceptualize and describe degrees of ecosystem intactness or alteration. Based on a review of papers proposing ecosystem integrity indicators, we identify five forms of ecosystem integrity which we define their specificities: ecosystem integrity of wilderness, ecosystem functional and structural integrity, ecosystem stability and reliance, ecosystem condition and ecosystem quality and value. These five forms gather into two main strands by the link to conservation ecology or to ecosystem services. Through this clarification, this work provides a platform for more streamlined and comprehensible development of policies and scientific agendas for sustainable development/conservation purposes.
‘Raising the temperature’: the arts in a warming planet ☆ Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-01-06 Diego Galafassi, Sacha Kagan, Manjana Milkoreit, María Heras, Chantal Bilodeau, Sadhbh Juarez Bourke, Andrew Merrie, Leonie Guerrero, Guðrún Pétursdóttir, Joan David Tàbara
The search for decisive actions to remain below 1.5 °C of global temperature rise will require profound cultural transformations. Yet our knowledge of how to promote and bring about such deep transformative changes in the minds and behaviours of individuals and societies is still limited. As climate change unravels and the planet becomes increasingly connected, societies will need to articulate a shared purpose that is both engaging and respectful of cultural diversity. Thus, there is a growing need to ‘raise the temperature’ of integration between multiple ways of knowing climate change. We have reviewed a range of literatures and synthesized them in order to draw out the perceived role of the arts in fostering climate transformations. Our analysis of climate-related art projects and initiatives shows increased engagement in recent years, particularly with the narrative, visual and performing arts. The arts are moving beyond raising awareness and entering the terrain of interdisciplinarity and knowledge co-creation. We conclude that climate-arts can contribute positively in fostering the imagination and emotional predisposition for the development and implementation of the transformations necessary to address the 1.5 °C challenge.
Complexity ethics and UNFCCC practices for 1.5 °C climate change Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-01-04 Christopher Lyon
Introducing a ‘complexity ethics’ frame would help society mitigate or adapt to climate warming within or exceeding the Paris Agreement 1.5 °C aim. A complexity ethics frame underlines existing facilitative multi-stakeholder methodologies used at subnational scales to build adaptive capacity and may be scaled-up in a transformed UNFCCC. Adopting such approaches at the international political level would permit non-state, non-Party stakeholders to more efficiently integrate their tremendous capacity for climate action into the global climate action process, leading to more substantial climate mitigation and adaptation for and over 1.5 °C warming. In turn, this would help satisfy critiques regarding the democratic legitimacy of polycentric moves to include non-state actors at this level, incorporate other global initiatives and problems like the SDGs and biodiversity loss, and meet high-level calls for more co-operative responses.
Culture and climate change scenarios: the role and potential of the arts and humanities in responding to the ‘1.5 degrees target’ Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-01-04 Renata Tyszczuk, Joe Smith
This paper critically assesses the role and potential of the arts and humanities in relation to the ‘1.5 degree target’ embedded within the Paris Agreement. Specifically, it considers the purpose of scenarios in inviting thinking about transformed futures. It includes a preliminary assessment of the Culture and Climate Change: Scenarios project, an example of arts and humanities engagement with a ‘1.5 °C future’. The paper argues that integrating more culturally rooted contributions into the creation and deliberation of climate change scenarios would enrich processes of future-thinking beyond climate model outputs. It would also test and extend some established practices of climate research and policy in anticipating and making futures. The paper suggests that the key characteristics of scenarios as a cultural form are that they provide space for collective, improvisational and reflexive modes of acting on and thinking about uncertain futures.
Smart home technologies in everyday life: do they address key energy challenges in households? Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-01-04 Sergio Tirado Herrero, Larissa Nicholls, Yolande Strengers
A review of recent developments in ecosystem assessment and its role in policy evolution Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-12-27 Hilary Allison, Claire Brown
As ecosystem assessments represent syntheses of knowledge on ecosystem status created to answer key policy questions, it is important to identify whether the dialogue between assessment practitioners and policy makers is delivering the goals which ecosystem assessment practitioners seek. A number of global and national ecosystem assessment processes are underway between now and 2020, and best practice in creating assessments which have stakeholder buy in and policy relevance is subject to continuing refinement. While there are few unequivocal examples of assessments driving policy change (due to political decision-making processes being affected by a multiplicity of considerations beyond the availability of evidence), building a strong case around which assessments have informed policy development will enhance future legitimacy of ecosystem assessments in political dialogue.
Community resilience for a 1.5 °C world Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-12-16 I Fazey, E Carmen, FS Chapin III, H Ross, J Rao-Williams, C Lyon, ILC Connon, BA Searle, K Knox
Ten essentials are presented for community resilience initiatives in the context of achieving a 1.5 °C world: enhance adaptability; take account of shocks and stresses; work horizontally across issues; work vertically across social scales; aggressively reduce carbon emissions; build narratives about climate change; engage directly with futures; focus on climate disadvantage; focus on processes and pathways; and encourage transformations for resilience. Together the essentials highlight that resilience initiatives seeking to retain the status quo will be detrimental when they enable societies to cling to unsustainable activities. Instead, climate resilience initiatives need to be viewed more as a process of transformative social change, where learning, power, inequities and relationships matter. Finally, there is an urgent need for researchers to shift focus away from examining the nature of resilience to accelerating learning about fostering resilience in practice.
Narrative matters for sustainability: the transformative role of storytelling in realizing 1.5°C futures Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-12-16 S Veland, M Scoville-Simonds, I Gram-Hanssen, AK Schorre, A El Khoury, MJ Nordbø, AH Lynch, G Hochachka, M Bjørkan
Narratives structure human comprehension, and shape our ability to imagine and achieve transformed futures within the 1.5 degree threshold. Examining tensions between narrative as a communication technique and as a spatial-temporal cognitive structure, this paper brings these different understandings together in a conversation for transformative global change. We suggest that filling the ‘information deficit’ with improved communication of a single, unifying and global narrative about Earth systems is necessary but insufficient: filling the ‘narrative deficit’ requires engagement with the protagonists, timelines, and places that provide situated agency in identifying and navigating uncertainty and risk. Transformations to sustainability will require recognizing and engaging multiple, diverse experiences of agency, a process that attention to narrative can help facilitate.
The politics of rapid urban transformation Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-12-15 Jakob Grandin, Håvard Haarstad, Kristin Kjærås, Stefan Bouzarovski
This paper addresses the potential for urban change in relation to rapid transitions and the 1.5 °C target. Interventions to achieve rapid urban transformation are typically framed in technical and economic terms. This means that the social and political conditions for rapid urban transformations may be overlooked. We address this gap by highlighting recent insights from sociology, human geography and urban studies that consider how the transformative potential of technical interventions is conditioned by social and political dynamics. The paper highlights three dimensions of such dynamics — the politics of governance, infrastructure and everyday practice — and proposes six areas where the understanding of the politics of rapid urban transformation can be improved.
Local governments as drivers for societal transformation: towards the 1.5 °C ambition Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-12-15 Helene Amundsen, Grete K Hovelsrud, Carlo Aall, Marianne Karlsson, Hege Westskog
The political ambition of curbing global average temperatures to 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels requires significant and profound changes to societal organisation, energy use and consumption. It will not be sufficient to maintain or incrementally change status quo, rather it will require radical and paradigmatic transformative changes. Local governments have dual roles in social transformation: to transform within their own organisation, and to act as a catalyst for transformation locally. We find that key factors for transformation include pursuing and institutionalising a long-term sustainable development agenda; and building networks established between different parts of the municipal organisation, and between the municipalities and local businesses, civil society groups and other relevant actors.
Political feasibility of 1.5°C societal transformations: the role of social justice Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-12-09 James J Patterson, Thomas Thaler, Matthew Hoffmann, Sara Hughes, Angela Oels, Eric Chu, Aysem Mert, Dave Huitema, Sarah Burch, Andy Jordan
Constraining global climate change to 1.5°C is commonly understood to require urgent and deep societal transformations. Yet such transformations are not always viewed as politically feasible; finding ways to enhance the political feasibility of ambitious decarbonization trajectories is needed. This paper reviews the role of social justice as an organizing principle for politically feasible 1.5°C transformations. A social justice lens usefully focuses attention on first, protecting vulnerable people from climate change impacts, second, protecting people from disruptions of transformation, and finally, enhancing the process of envisioning and implementing an equitable post-carbon society. However, justice-focused arguments could also have unintended consequences, such as being deployed against climate action. Hence proactively engaging with social justice is critical in navigating 1.5°C societal transformations.
Africa's urban adaptation transition under a 1.5° climate Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-12-09 Mark Pelling, Hayley Leck, Lorena Pasquini, Idowu Ajibade, Emanuel Osuteye, Susan Parnell, Shuaib Lwasa, Cassidy Johnson, Arabella Fraser, Alejandro Barcena, Soumana Boubacar
For cities in sub-Saharan Africa a 1.5 °C increase in global temperature will bring forward the urgency of meeting basic needs in sanitation, drinking water and land-tenure, and underlying governance weaknesses. The challenges of climate sensitive management are exacerbated by rapid population growth, deep and persistent poverty, a trend for resolving risk through relocation (often forced), and emerging new risks, often multi-hazard, for example heat stroke made worse by air pollution. Orienting risk management towards a developmental agenda can help. Transition is constrained by fragmented governance, donor priorities and inadequate monitoring of hazards, vulnerability and impacts. Opportunities arise where data and forecasting is present and through multi-level governance where civil society collaborates with city government.
The role of cities in multi-level climate governance: local climate policies and the 1.5 °C target Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-11-22 Harald Fuhr, Thomas Hickmann, Kristine Kern
The past two decades have witnessed widespread scholarly interest in the role of cities in climate policy-making. This research has considerably improved our understanding of the local level in the global response to climate change. The present article synthesizes the literature on local climate policies with respect to the 1.5 °C target. While most studies have focused on pioneering cities and networks, we contend that the broader impacts of local climate actions and their relationship to regional, national, and international policy frameworks have not been studied in enough detail. Against this backdrop, we introduce the concept of upscaling and contend that local climate initiatives must go hand in hand with higher-level policies and be better integrated into the multi-level governance system.
Interconnected place-based social–ecological research can inform global sustainability Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-12-05 Patricia Balvanera, Rafael Calderón-Contreras, Antonio J Castro, María R Felipe-Lucia, Ilse R Geijzendorffer, Sander Jacobs, Berta Martín-López, Ugo Arbieu, Chinwe Ifejika Speranza, Bruno Locatelli, Natalia Pérez Harguindeguy, Ilse Ruiz Mercado, Marja J Spierenburg, Améline Vallet, Laura Lynes, Lindsey Gillson
Pathways of transformation in global food and agricultural systems: implications from a large systems change theory perspective Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-12-05 Domenico Dentoni, Steve Waddell, Sandra Waddock
A recent strand of the literature bridging across sustainability, complexity, environmental and governance science (developed under the umbrella of Transition Management, TM) has advanced a theory on how transitions towards sustainability gain scale from niche to mainstream. Though widely applied both in global food and agricultural systems and other economic sectors, this strand of the literature has been subject to debate in the way it conceives its pathways of transformation. One of the main criticisms to TM theory points at its focus on co-creation processes among stakeholders in the transition arena, yet paying insufficient attention to the role of conflict and antagonistic forces in achieving a transformation through power dynamics. Large systems change (LSC) theory, recently introduced, presents a way to address this shortcoming with a more comprehensive understanding of the multiple pathways needed for transformation towards sustainability. In addition to co-creating change, LSC argues that supporting, doing and forcing change strategies are also needed. The perspective of LSC theory on the transformative turn towards sustainability is illustrated using the change strategies taking place in global food and agricultural systems between 2000 and 2015.
Best practice for the use of scenarios for restoration planning Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : Jean Paul Metzger, Karen Esler, Cornelia Krug, Melissa Arias, Leandro Tambosi, Renato Crouzeilles, André Luis Acosta, Pedro HS Brancalion, Francisco D’Albertas, Gabriela Teixeira Duarte, Letícia Couto Garcia, John-Arvid Grytnes, Dagmar Hagen, André Vitor Fleuri Jardim, Chiho Kamiyama, Agnieszka Ewa Latawiec, Ricardo Ribeiro Rodrigues, Patricia GC Ruggiero, Carlos Joly
The role of knowledge in climate transition and transformation literatures Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-11-23 Mattias Hjerpe, Erik Glaas, Paul Fenton
Rooted in different theories and focusing on different elements of the socio-ecological fabric, climate transitions and transformations are conceived to have various forms. Although these literatures recognize the significance of learning and boundary spanning, systematic reviews of the role of knowledge in climate transitions are lacking. We review how targets of transformation, functions, types, and intermediaries of knowledge are conceptualized in five types of literature. We highlight that knowledge has a role as: the motor of transition in Transition Management literature, a consultant supporting transition in Transformational Climate Adaptation literature, an emancipator of transition in Transform Political and Economic Systems literature, the beacon guiding transition in Social–Ecological Transformation literature, and an Ad Hoc Committee motivating transition in Grassroots Transitions literature.
Principles to gain a social licence to operate for green initiatives and biodiversity projects Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-12-07 Frank Vanclay
Green initiatives — for example, biodiversity offsets, carbon schemes, protected areas, nature reserves, payments for environmental services, and UN-REDD/REDD+ — have caused negative social impacts to local communities, especially Indigenous peoples. The typical impacts include economic displacement, physical displacement, livelihood impacts, impoverishment, disruption to everyday life and to ecosystem services, and human rights impacts. Community resistance is reflected in various labels: green-washing, green grabbing, green greed, green colonialism, greenshit, carbon cowboys and paper parks. Rather than the protection paradigm of fortress conservation, a different approach is needed in the parks and people discourse. Social impact assessment — the processes of managing the social issues associated with projects — can help green initiatives gain a social license to operate. By effectively managing the social issues, green initiatives will gain acceptability, legitimacy and trust.
Shifting roles of urban green space in the context of urban development and global change Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-12-05 Marthe L Derkzen, Astrid JA van Teeffelen, Harini Nagendra, Peter H Verburg
Opportunities for research on mountain biodiversity under global change Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-12-01 Davnah Payne, Eva M Spehn, Mark Snethlage, Markus Fischer
Mountains worldwide host very rich biodiversity, are home to hundreds of millions of people, and provide billions of upland and lowland inhabitants with vital ecosystem services. By altering mountain ecosystems and their biodiversity, global change modifies this picture substantially. We concisely review current knowledge and knowledge gaps on mountain biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human well-being under global change. We argue that our ability to understand, predict, and sustainably manage mountain biodiversity and to support human well-being requires concerted research efforts in natural and social sciences and comparative analyses of biological and social–ecological systems within and across mountain ranges. Specific examples illustrate how the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment will continue to support these efforts in the future.
Sustainability of bitcoin and blockchains Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-05-29 Harald Vranken
Bitcoin is an electronic currency that has become increasingly popular since its introduction in 2008. Transactions in the bitcoin system are stored in a public transaction ledger (‘the blockchain’), which is stored in a decentralized, peer-to-peer network. Bitcoin provides decentralized currency issuance and transaction clearance. The security of the blockchain depends on a compute-intensive algorithm for bitcoin mining, which prevents double spending of bitcoins and tampering with confirmed transactions. This ‘proof-of-work’ algorithm is energy demanding. How much energy is actually consumed, is subject of debate. We argue that this energy consumption currently is in the range of 100–500 MW. We discuss the developments in bitcoin mining hardware. We also briefly outline alternative schemes that are less energy demanding. We finally look at other blockchain applications, and argue that also here energy consumption is not of primary concern.
Governing for resilience: the role of institutional work Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-05-30 Raoul Beunen, James Patterson, Kristof Van Assche
Resilience has become a key concept in the sciences and practices of environmental governance. Yet governing for resilience is a major challenge because it requires governance systems to be both stable and flexible at the same time. The concept of ‘institutional work’ is a promising lens for analysing the dynamic tension between stability and flexibility in governance systems. It refers to actions through which actors create, maintain, or disrupt institutions. The paper explains the concept of institutional work and shows how it usefully integrates several emerging lines of study regarding agency in governance. Overall, the concept of institutional work opens up novel opportunities for analysing the interactions between actors and institutional structures that produce stability and flexibility in governance systems.
A multifocal framework for developing Intentionally Sustainable Organizations Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-08-01 Jonathan Pinto
This paper briefly reviews recent interesting work in the field of sustainable organizations research, encompassing domains such as institutional theory, resource-based view, stakeholder theory, framing, and paradox theory. Drawing on these it develops a Multifocal framework for developing Intentionally Sustainable Organizations (ISO), which, inter alia, incorporates and applies new concepts such as balanced bifocal stakeholder management and paradox approach to organization design to this field. It makes the case that the Icehotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden, is an ISO and presents evidence that it manifests all aspects of the theorizing in this paper.
A diverse and resilient financial system for investments in the energy transition Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-08-01 Friedemann Polzin, Mark Sanders, Florian Täube
Diversity makes the financial system more resilient. In addition, there is a diverse investment demand to make the transition to a more sustainable energy system. We need, among others, investment in energy transition, circular resource use, better water management and reducing air pollution. The two are linked. Making the financial system more diverse implies more equity, less debt, more non-bank intermediation and more specialized niche banks giving more relation-based credit. This will arguably also increase the flow of funds and resources to innovative, small-scale, or experimental firms that will drive the sustainability transition. Higher diversity and resilience in financial markets is thus complementary and perhaps even instrumental to engineer the transition to clean energy in the real economy.
Adaptive organizational resilience: an evolutionary perspective Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-09-01 Ian P McCarthy, Mark Collard, Michael Johnson
In this paper, we introduce a novel way of understanding organizational resilience. We suggest that organizational resilience can be profitably viewed as an evolutionary process in which organizations adapt their configurations in response to changes in two external conditions — disturbance and munificence. Focusing on the contexts of manufacturing and operations management, we begin by explaining the concepts of organizational configuration and resilience. We then present a framework that views resilience-driven configuration change as an evolutionary process of variation, selection, and retention for a population of firms. The final component of this framework is the use of the cladistic method of classification to develop a hypothesis of the branching order of configuration change. We conclude the paper by presenting a typology that shows how different levels of munificence and disturbance combine to produce two types of adaptive resilience (cladogenetic and anagenetic) and one type of non-adaptive resilience (inertia). We also explain how phylograms can be used to indicate the amount of time separating different organizational configurations.
Current thinking on contemporary careers: the key roles of sustainable HRM and sustainability of careers Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-08-11 Ans De Vos, Beatrice IJM Van der Heijden
This paper approaches the sustainability of careers, departing from contemporary views on sustainable Human Resource Management (HRM) and key concepts in the current career literature. Recently, the notion of sustainable careers has gained attention as a key perspective on contemporary careers and is assumed to be critical for the resilience of individuals in an increasingly complex and unpredictable career environment. Viewing careers as an ecosystem in which several actors (individual, organization, labor market) are involved, this paper reviews current thinking on sustainable HRM to elaborate our thinking on sustainable careers. We highlight pertinent challenges for realizing continuity in careers that are: Firstly, becoming increasingly longer and less predictable; secondly, in general, less bounded to one organizational context and characterized by new ways of working; thirdly, putting an increased responsibility on the individual career actor; and finally, that have moved from a socially shared view on the meaning of career success as steady progression to a focus on personal meaning. We conclude that further research is important for understanding how different actors within the career ecosystem can help to ensure that the conditions for sustainability are met in view of creating a more resilient career system.
Agile learning strategies for sustainable careers: a review and integrated model of feedback-seeking behavior and reflection Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-09-01 Frederik Anseel
Learning agility has been identified as one of the most important 21st century skills for sustainable careers. In recent years, research findings on reflection and feedback-seeking behavior, two closely related behavioral strategies driving learning agility have quickly accumulated. We summarize our current knowledge on these two agile learning strategies, identify ways how organizations can support them and explain how they work as two sides of the same coin. Our review shows that both reflection and feedback-seeking behavior are instrumental in enhancing learning, performance, adaptability, and well-being. However, to fully benefit from their potential, we need to better understand how these two strategies work in concert. To this end, we provide a model that may help integrate reflection and feedback-seeking behavior research in the future.
The sustainability skew Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-09-03 Christine Parkin Hughes, Judith Semeijn, Marjolein Caniëls
Sustainability is an emerging field, defining organisational success beyond profit. However, in current business and organisations, social sustainability — particularly human sustainability within the workplace, is less prominent than environmental sustainability in terms of research and public and business interest. This is significant, as theoretical exploration and research informs discussion, organisational management and policy debate. In this review, we explore why the physical environment is put centre stage, and seemingly considered to be more important than people. Explanations for the current disparity are attributed to a lack of shared meaning, engagement with reality, visibility and ideology. Addressing these drivers for disparity can also pave the way for a more fundamental paradigm shift when it comes to sustainability for business.
Explaining through causal mechanisms: resilience and governance of social–ecological systems Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-09-09 Robbert Biesbroek, Johann Dupuis, Adam Wellstead
This paper synthesizes and builds on recent critiques of the resilience literature; namely that the field has largely been unsuccessful in capturing the complexity of governance processes, in particular cause–effects relationships. We demonstrate that absence of a causal model is reflected in the black-boxing of governance processes which is problematic for resilience studies with explanatory ambitions. We introduce mechanism-based thinking as alternative research perspective that offers more analytical rigour and elaborate the key principles of this approach. Mechanism-based approaches are aligned to the ways of thinking in systems theory and complexity sciences and can be used to advance scientific inquiry and policy practice to govern complex sustainability issues.
Driving organizational sustainability-oriented innovation capabilities: a complex adaptive systems perspective Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-09-15 Rogier van de Wetering, Patrick Mikalef, Remko Helms
Innovation capabilities are considered a crucial ingredient for organizations in order to drive sustainable organizational transformations in turbulent business environments. The impact of information technology (IT) as a force of sustainability and innovation received a renewed interest as a means of achieving boundary-spanning arrangements. This interplay between the changing competitive landscape, collaboration forms with partners, and IT as a facilitator, are considered the cornerstones of sustainability in organizations. The aim of this study is to understand how IT flexibility, partner collaborations, and environmental business factors lead to enhanced sustainability-oriented innovation capabilities. Outcomes suggest that IT should be approached as an adaptive vehicle in the process of creating social and economic value to relevant stakeholders in the business ecosystem.
Pros and cons of online education as a measure to reduce carbon emissions in higher education in the Netherlands Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-11-22 Marieke Versteijlen, Francisca Perez Salgado, Marleen Janssen Groesbeek, Anda Counotte
Dutch institutions of higher education have to meet stringent requirements for energy efficiency and reduction of carbon emissions imposed by the national government and through voluntary agreements on energy-efficiency. This exploratory study reports the relative contribution of student (and staff) travel to the carbon emissions of Dutch higher education institutions (HEIs) and examines the arguments for and against online education as a means to reduce the carbon impact of student travel. Data on carbon emissions using the greenhouse gas (GHG) protocol, published by HEIs, were gathered and analysed. A comparison with data from other countries is presented. It was found that the contribution of the so-called scope three emissions (travel related) to the total carbon footprint of the HEIs is between 40 and 90 percent at the Dutch HEIs that were investigated. Online education (80 percent or more digitalisation of the educational processes) greatly decreases the carbon impact of student and staff travel. A series of interviews was held with HEI professionals of online education and ICT/sustainability. The interviews were analysed using the grounded theory approach. The professionals report as pros of online education its flexibility and power to personalise educational needs of individual students and the possibility to extend the learning environment with digital media. As an argument against online education professionals mention the non-committal behaviour of students. Only a few HEI professionals recognize the connection between online education and its potential for strongly reducing carbon emissions.
Solutions for global marine litter pollution Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-09-28 Ansje Löhr, Heidi Savelli, Raoul Beunen, Marco Kalz, Ad Ragas, Frank Van Belleghem
Since the 1950s the amount of plastics in the marine environment has increased dramatically. Worldwide there is a growing concern about the risks and possible adverse effects of (micro)plastics. This paper reflects on the sources and effects of marine litter and the effects of policies and other actions taken worldwide. Current knowledge offers a solid basis for effective action. Yet, so far the effects of policies and other initiatives are still largely insufficient. The search for appropriate responses could be based on possible interventions and profound understanding of the context specific factors for success. Moreover, the scope, timeframe and dynamics of all initiatives are distinctly different and orchestration at all levels, in close cooperation with one another is currently lacking.
Social learning for resilience in social–ecological systems Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-09-29 Joop de Kraker
Fostering of social learning is generally considered an important governance instrument to build resilience in social–ecological systems. Empirical studies addressing the contribution of social learning to resilience are scarce however, and do not provide direct evidence but infer this contribution from the impacts of social learning on system governance and management. These impacts are found more frequently at the local level than at higher, regional or national levels, probably depending on the overlap between participants in social learning and actors in governance and management. Recent studies have shown that at higher levels a connection between social learning and policy can be achieved through bridging actors or organizations, and vertical linkages between governance levels. Conceptually and methodologically the study of social learning and its relation with resilience has advanced sufficiently to enable more rigorous and detailed empirical research. This should focus on how attempts to foster social learning within social–ecological governance systems can be made more effective and efficient, for example, through the use of new technologies to support the learning process or through the creation of permanent, informal multi-stakeholder learning spaces within formal policy structures.
How to conceptualize and operationalize resilience in socio-ecological systems? Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-10-11 Marjolein Sterk, Ingrid A van de Leemput, Edwin THM Peeters
In various scientific disciplines resilience has become a key concept for theoretical frameworks and more practical goals. The growing interest resulted in multiple definitions of resilience. This paper highlights how and why resilience has become a meaningful concept guiding multiple disciplines to understand and govern social–ecological systems. Moreover, the concept of resilience can be operationalized in complex social–ecological systems that are inherent to change and unpredictable outcomes.
Stakeholder diversity and the comprehensiveness of sustainability decisions: the role of collaboration and conflict Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-10-16 Petru Lucian Curșeu, Sandra GL Schruijer
We review the literature (2007–2016) on the quality of sustainability decisions and we introduce an integrative conceptual framework that distinguishes between a beneficial and a detrimental path that explain the influence of stakeholder diversity on the comprehensiveness of sustainability decisions. We argue that decision quality increases when stakeholder interest diversity is expressed through task conflict (extensive information sharing and exploration). Decision quality is compromised if stakeholder diversity is suppressed and false consensus occurs, that is, when task conflict is not tolerated or when decision makers fail to acknowledge and work with their differences. We conclude by discussing three generic recommendations that focus on inclusive stakeholder selection, norms for engagement and process consultation as ways of developing constructive collaboration in multiparty systems.
As a lock to a key? Why science is more than just an instrument to pay for nature’s services Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-02-21 Vijay Kolinjivadi, Gert Van Hecken, Jean Carlo Rodríguez de Francisco, Jérôme Pelenc, Nicolás Kosoy
Scholars have argued that the success of conservation instruments depends on improved scientific knowledge in linking ecosystem functioning with value-reflecting prices to optimize the production and delivery of ecosystem services (ES). However, these scholars assume that greater sophistication of scientific inquiry rests on ES thinking, without recognizing that the ES framework represents one social rationality in articulating human–nature relationships. Here, we discuss why a singular focus on ‘getting the science right’ for environmental policy oversimplifies the many socio-political consequences underlying the use of ES as an ‘objective’ science. We argue that the process of doing science through reflection on social diversity and power dimensions better reveals the extent to which PES interventions are perceived, debated, negotiated and strategically adapted.
Valuing nature’s contributions to people: the IPBES approach Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : Unai Pascual, Patricia Balvanera, Sandra Díaz, György Pataki, Eva Roth, Marie Stenseke, Robert T Watson, Esra Başak Dessane, Mine Islar, Eszter Kelemen, Virginie Maris, Martin Quaas, Suneetha M Subramanian, Heidi Wittmer, Asia Adlan, SoEun Ahn, Yousef S Al-Hafedh, Edward Amankwah, Noboyuki Yagi
Nature is perceived and valued in starkly different and often conflicting ways. This paper presents the rationale for the inclusive valuation of nature’s contributions to people (NCP) in decision making, as well as broad methodological steps for doing so. While developed within the context of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), this approach is more widely applicable to initiatives at the knowledge–policy interface, which require a pluralistic approach to recognizing the diversity of values. We argue that transformative practices aiming at sustainable futures would benefit from embracing such diversity, which require recognizing and addressing power relationships across stakeholder groups that hold different values on human nature-relations and NCP.
Weaving knowledge systems in IPBES, CBD and beyond—lessons learned for sustainability Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-02-23 Maria Tengö, Rosemary Hill, Pernilla Malmer, Christopher M Raymond, Marja Spierenburg, Finn Danielsen, Thomas Elmqvist, Carl Folke
Indigenous peoples and local communities live in, manage and own vast areas often rich in biodiversity and critical for ecosystem services. Bridging indigenous and local knowledge systems with scientific knowledge systems is vital to enhance knowledge, practice, and ethics to move towards sustainability at multiple scales. We focus on international science-policy processes and present a framework for evidence-based guidance on how tasks to mobilise, translate, negotiate, synthesise and apply multiple forms of evidence can bridge knowledge systems. Effective engagement of actors, institutions and knowledge-sharing processes is crucial in each of these tasks. We use examples from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to illustrate and discuss our framework.
Global governance by goal-setting: the novel approach of the UN Sustainable Development Goals Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-03-10 Frank Biermann, Norichika Kanie, Rakhyun E Kim
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations present a novel approach to global governance where goal-setting features as a key strategy. ‘Governance through goals’, as exemplified by the SDGs, is new and unique for a number of characteristics such as the inclusive goal-setting process, the non-binding nature of the goals, the reliance on weak institutional arrangements, and the extensive leeway that states enjoy. While the SDGs hold a great potential, their collective success will depend on a number of institutional factors such as the extent to which states formalize their commitments, strengthen related global governance arrangements, translate the global ambitions into national contexts, integrate sectoral policies, and maintain flexibility in governance mechanisms. Research communities also have an important role to play, especially with regard to measuring genuine progress, aligning the goals with existing governance arrangements, and integrating the economic, social, and environmental dimensions.
Drivers of society-nature relations in the Anthropocene and their implications for sustainability transformations Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-03-11 Melanie Pichler, Anke Schaffartzik, Helmut Haberl, Christoph Görg
Human impacts on the Earth system mark the dawn of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. This claim has triggered a debate in science, media, and politics in which ‘humanity’ as a whole is commonly identified as the driving force of epochal environmental change. The historically and geographically specific expansion of capitalist society-nature relations and the associated social differentiation have led to persistent social inequalities, challenging the assumption of humanity as a homogenous driver. Based on a review of social and political ecology literature, we propose a differentiated research agenda focusing on drivers of accelerating resource use in the Anthropocene. As many current governance instruments replicate and reinforce these drivers, such a research agenda can offer crucial insights for sustainability transformations.
Land system science in Latin America: challenges and perspectives Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-03-11 Sébastien Boillat, Fabiano M Scarpa, James P Robson, Ignácio Gasparri, T Mitchell Aide, Ana Paula Dutra Aguiar, Liana O Anderson, Mateus Batistella, Marisa Gesteira Fonseca, Célia Futemma, H Ricardo Grau, Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel, Jean Paul Metzger, Jean Pierre Henry Balbaud Ometto, Marcos Antonio Pedlowski, Stephen G Perz, Valentina Robiglio, Luciana Soler, Eduardo S Brondizio
This article reviews the current status, trends and challenges of land system science in Latin America. We highlight the advances in the conceptualization, analysis and monitoring of land systems. These advances shift from a focus on the relationships between forests and other land uses to include a greater diversity of land cover and land-use types and the processes and interactions that link them. We then provide a biome-level typology of social-ecological land systems (SELS) as an approach to help connect local-level realities to regional processes and we discuss how this approach can help to design more socially inclusive land systems. We also discuss the increased role of distant socio-economic and ecological interactions that connect these SELS to global processes. Combined, these insights support a research agenda for land system science in the region that can develop more accurate and integrative monitoring of land change and their social and ecological consequences, better understand different stakeholder perspectives within a context of livelihood diversification, and encourage institutional feedbacks to govern land systems influenced by distant drivers.
Societal addiction therapy: from motivational interviewing to Community Engaged Scenario Planning Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-03-16 Robert Costanza, Paul WB Atkins, Mitzi Bolton, Steve Cork, Nicola J Grigg, Tim Kasser, Ida Kubiszewski
Societies, like individuals, can become addicted to patterns of detrimental and unsustainable behavior. We can learn from one of the most successful therapies at the individual scale, motivational interviewing (MI). MI is based on engaging addicts in a positive discussion of their goals, motives, and futures. One analogy to MI at the societal level is community engaged scenario planning, which can engage entire communities in building consensus about preferred alternative futures via public opinion surveys and forums. Effective therapies for societal addictions are possible, but require re-balancing effort away from only pointing out the dire consequences of current behavior and toward also building a truly shared vision of a positive future and ways to get there.
When less is more: innovations for tracking progress toward global targets Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-03-17 Todd S Rosenstock, Christine Lamanna, Sabrina Chesterman, James Hammond, Suneetha Kadiyala, Eike Luedeling, Keith Shepherd, Brian DeRenzi, Mark T van Wijk
Accountability and adaptive management of recent global agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement, will in part rely on the ability to track progress toward the social and environmental targets they set. Current metrics and monitoring systems, however, are not yet up to the task. We argue that there is an imperative to consider principles of coherence (what to measure), standardization (how to measure) and decision-relevance (why to measure) when designing monitoring schemes if they are to be practical and useful. New approaches that have the potential to match the necessary scale of monitoring, with sufficient accuracy and at reasonable cost, are emerging; although, they represent a significant departure from the historical norm in some cases. Iterative review and adaptation of analytical approaches and available technology will certainly be needed to continuously design ways to best track our progress.
The Mexican National Biodiversity and Ecosystem Degradation Monitoring System Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-03-16 Nashieli Garcia-Alaniz, Miguel Equihua, Octavio Pérez-Maqueo, Julián Equihua Benítez, Pedro Maeda, Fernando Pardo Urrutia, José J Flores Martínez, Sergio A Villela Gaytán, Michael Schmidt
The UN sustainable development goals urge to achieve sustainable development in its economic, social and environmental dimensions. This international agenda advocates sustainable use of ecosystems and arresting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss. The lack of relevant, standardized and up-to-date data to monitor ecosystem change challenges to achieve this. Thus, an integrated, comprehensive resource-efficient approach is crucial to monitor ecosystems change. We introduce the recently initiated Mexican National Biodiversity and Ecosystem Degradation Monitoring System and examine three essential components to establish this national system. These components are: (i) a common scientific framework embracing the system's structure; (ii) a set of inter-institutional agreements and arrangements based on financial, technical and field capacities; and (iii) a cost-efficient working plan to ensure continuous national data gathering. The system will support data and information driven decision-making for national and international needs.
The integration of empirical, remote sensing and modelling approaches enhances insight in the role of biodiversity in climate change mitigation by tropical forests Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-03-17 Masha T van der Sande, Lourens Poorter, Patricia Balvanera, Lammert Kooistra, Kirsten Thonicke, Alice Boit, Loïc P Dutrieux, Julian Equihua, France Gerard, Martin Herold, Melanie Kolb, Margareth Simões, Marielos Peña-Claros
Tropical forests store and sequester high amounts of carbon and are the most diverse terrestrial ecosystem. A complete understanding of the relationship between biodiversity and carbon storage and sequestration across spatiotemporal scales relevant for climate change mitigation needs three approaches: empirical, remote sensing and ecosystem modelling. We review individual approaches and show that biodiversity has short-term and long-term benefits across spatial scales. We argue that enhanced understanding is obtained by combining approaches and, especially, integrating approaches through using ‘boundary objects’ that can be understood and measured by all approaches, such as diversity of leaf traits of the upper canopy. This will lead to better understanding of biodiversity effects on climate change mitigation, which is crucial for making sound policy decisions.
Development paradigms contributing to the transformation of the Brazilian Amazon: do people matter? Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-03-18 Peter Mann de Toledo, Eloi Dalla-Nora, Ima Célia Guimarães Vieira, Ana Paula Dutra Aguiar, Roberto Araújo
The Brazilian Amazon is being affected by the new worldwide geopolitical transformation that is tending towards an integrated global economy. In the region environmental considerations have not been adequately incorporated into long-term land use planning and this failure has partly been due to the complexities of the country’s existing inter-sectorial institutional arrangements. In this paper, we briefly explore two distinct economic development phases that have been reshaping Amazonian landscapes since the 1990s. We first focus on the role of traditional populations in conservation and land use planning (socio-environmental model). We contrast this with the ‘post-environmental’ development model that currently dominates the land use dynamics of Amazonia and which is in stark contrasts with previous advances in environmental protection, whose basis was sustainable use of resources and social participation. The future of the socio-environmental model appears uncertain and its recovery and long-term maintenance to underpin sustainable development will depend on the strengthening the participation of the civil societal sectors that are able to reestablish balance to the sustainability agenda in the region.
Leadership for moving the climate change adaptation agenda from planning to action Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-04-21 Raffaele Vignola, Gregoire Leclerc, Mariela Morales, Julian Gonzalez
An increasing number of initiatives for adaptation to climate change are occurring at multiple scales and decision focuses (e.g., impact assessment, policy design, technology development, planning management and implementation of adaptation measures etc.) but concrete action is lagging. The complex problems (characterized by deep uncertainties, multiple interests and knowledge references) as well as correspondent solutions of many adaptation initiatives are often addressed through technical analysis (e.g., observed and foreseen impacts of climate change) and a limited consideration of the importance of adopting an adequate leadership styles. Increasingly, authors and practitioners consider that for moving the adaptation agenda forward, leadership should be adapted to the socio-institutional context and informed by behavioral and process-design aspects. We find that different leadership styles might be needed to mobilize social action from one phase of the adaptation cycle to another.
Implementing the “Sustainable Development Goals”: towards addressing three key governance challenges—collective action, trade-offs, and accountability Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-06-13 Kathryn J Bowen, Nicholas A Cradock-Henry, Florian Koch, James Patterson, Tiina Häyhä, Jess Vogt, Fabiana Barbi
Realising the aspirations of the “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) to reduce inequality, limit ecological damage, and secure resilient livelihoods is a grand challenge for sustainability science, civil society and government. We identify three key governance challenges that are central for implementing the SDGs: (i) cultivating collective action by creating inclusive decision spaces for stakeholder interaction across multiple sectors and scales; (ii) making difficult trade-offs, focusing on equity, justice and fairness; and (iii) ensuring mechanisms exist to hold societal actors to account regarding decision-making, investment, action, and outcomes. The paper explains each of these three governance challenges, identifying possible avenues for addressing them, and highlights the importance of interlinkages between the three challenges.
Essential Variables help to focus Sustainable Development Goals monitoring Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-06-15 Belinda Reyers, Mark Stafford-Smith, Karl-Heinz Erb, Robert J Scholes, Odirilwe Selomane
The imperative to measure progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has resulted in a proliferation of targets and indicators fed by an ever-expanding set of observations. This proliferation undermines one principal purpose of the SDGs: to provide a framework for coordinated action across policy domains. Systems approaches to defining Essential Variables have focused monitoring of climate, biodiversity and oceans and offer opportunities to coordinate SDG monitoring. We propose four criteria and a process to identify Essential SDG Variables (ESDGVs), which will highlight interactions and gaps in current monitoring. The ESDGV criteria suggest a research agenda to: develop and test interdisciplinary system models; test transformations theory for sustainable development; analyse policy interactions; and formulate models to support further refinements of ESDGVs and SDG monitoring.
Human–nature connection: a multidisciplinary review Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-06-26 Christopher D Ives, Matteo Giusti, Joern Fischer, David J Abson, Kathleen Klaniecki, Christian Dorninger, Josefine Laudan, Stephan Barthel, Paivi Abernethy, Berta Martín-López, Christopher M Raymond, Dave Kendal, Henrik von Wehrden
In sustainability science calls are increasing for humanity to (re-)connect with nature, yet no systematic synthesis of the empirical literature on human–nature connection (HNC) exists. We reviewed 475 publications on HNC and found that most research has concentrated on individuals at local scales, often leaving ‘nature’ undefined. Cluster analysis identified three subgroups of publications: first, HNC as mind, dominated by the use of psychometric scales, second, HNC as experience, characterised by observation and qualitative analysis; and third, HNC as place, emphasising place attachment and reserve visitation. To address the challenge of connecting humanity with nature, future HNC scholarship must pursue cross-fertilization of methods and approaches, extend research beyond individuals, local scales, and Western societies, and increase guidance for sustainability transformations.
Feedbacks as a bridging concept for advancing transdisciplinary sustainability research Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-08-11 Jessica Blythe, Kirsty Nash, Julian Yates, Graeme Cumming
The emergence of transformation as a core component in sustainability science and practice has opened an exciting space for transdisciplinary research. Yet, the mainstreaming of transformation has also exposed epistemological rifts between diverse research perspectives, presenting significant challenges for transdisciplinary teams. Using coral reef social–ecological systems as an example, we explore how these points of tension may be addressed using a three stage process: Firstly, promoting epistemological transparency, where different kinds of knowledge framings are made explicit; secondly, employing feedbacks as a bridging concept to effectively engage with complex system dynamics from multiple perspectives; and finally, encouraging plurality, rather than the unification of epistemologies, to foster innovative, diverse, and sustainable pathways during this formative moment for global environmental sustainability.
Threats to sustainable development posed by land and water grabbing Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-08-18 Jampel Dell’Angelo, Paolo D’Odorico, Maria Cristina Rulli
Since small-scale farmers manage most of the cultivated land worldwide, the ongoing shift in systems of production associated with large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) may dramatically reshape the world's agrarian landscape, significantly impacting rural populations and their livelihoods. The societal, hydrological and environmental implications resulting from the expansion of large-scale agricultural production, through LSLAs, make their ultimate sustainability questionable. This study, through a literature review, analyses the negative impacts of LSLAs, their hydrological dimension and how they may affect the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The core literature on land and water grabbing is reviewed and systematized using the 17 SDGs as a framework, in order to highlight the relationship between LSLAs and the sustainable development agenda. The magnitude of the global land rush phenomenon and the criticism raised in scholarly research highlight the controversial role that transnational land acquisitions may be playing in the global development agenda.
Moving from high-level words to local action — governance for urban sustainability in municipalities Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-09-09 Paul Fenton, Sara Gustafsson
The sustainable development goals emphasize the need for multi-level governance to stimulate actions across many levels and involving actors from multiple sectors. Cities and human settlements are critical sites for implementation of these universal objectives, indicating the need for local action that serves global and local interests. This paper reviews recent literature on this theme, illustrating challenges and opportunities influencing local action, with particular focus on municipalities. The partial implementation and limited evaluation of previous initiatives such as Local Agenda 21 are highlighted, suggesting past experiences offer insights into how the SDGs may be implemented. The review suggests research may support municipal action by illustrating how and in what ways municipalities can integrate the SDGs in strategy, policy and practice.
The scientific motivation of the internationally agreed ‘well below 2 °C’ climate protection target: a historical perspective Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-09-12 Rik Leemans, Pier Vellinga
The UNFCCC parties in their last 2015-meeting in Paris agreed to hold the increase in the global average temperature well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. However, how this target came about is rarely substantiated in the scientific literature. We review and document the history of this target and the rapidly emerging scientific evidence to support it. The target was initially proposed after evaluating observed ranges of climate variation over the last 1000 and 1 000 000 years by an US economist, Nordhaus, in 1975. His conclusion was supported in 1980 by paleo-ecologists, who, on basis of the recolonizing vegetation after the retreat of the ice-sheets after the last glaciation, calculated that tree species could cope with a 2 °C temperature increase per century. A more elaborated target including tolerable rates of temperature and sea-level change was presented by Vellinga and Swart at the Second World Climate Conference in 1990. The target was illustrated by means of a traffic light: 1 °C global temperature rise meets an orange light, 2 °C meets red. These notions led first to the 1989 Noordwijk Ministerial Declaration and later to the UNFCCC's 1992 objective to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Although the scientific evidence was limited, the European environment ministers in 1996 endorsed the 2 °C target politically, after which it surfaced again in UNFCCC's 2009 Copenhagen summit. The ‘well below 2 °C’ target was scientifically further analysed in 2000 and motivated as part of the IPCC's third assessment report in its synthesis chapter, which assessed dangerous climate change. The resulting ‘burning ember’ diagram indicated that beyond 2 °C warming adaptation possibilities rapidly deteriorated and vulnerabilities increased, especially for unique ecosystems and extreme events. The evidence that emerged since this assessment report, on observed climate-change impacts show that vulnerabilities nowadays likely are larger. Recently, accelerated and higher levels of sea-level rise and more frequent extreme events are reported. All these insights were likely considered in the wording (i.e. ‘well below 2 °C’) of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Water, equity and resilience in Southern Africa: future directions for research and practice Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-10-10 Lucy Rodina, Lawrence A Baker, Mary Galvin, Jaqueline Goldin, Leila M Harris, Thomani Manungufala, Muchaparara Musemwa, Catherine Sutherland, Gina Ziervogel
Drawing from the proceedings of an expert workshop with academics, researchers, government and NGO participants working in diverse countries in southern Africa and beyond, this paper reviews the discourse on resilience, both conceptually and in practice. We highlight opportunities to develop and apply a more situated, equity-sensitive and context-relevant understanding of resilience, particularly in the water sector. To pursue more just and resilient water futures in highly unequal and water stressed regions, we propose that researchers and practitioners (1) place greater emphasis on the transformative potential of resilience, (2) broaden the social dimensions of resilience to account more fully for intangible and other social factors, (3) engage critically with the decision-making processes and practices of building resilience, (4) contribute to the development of indicators and guidelines for building just and resilient water futures, (5) strengthen the role of situated knowledges, (6) critically engage with scale and boundaries in complex adaptive systems, and (7) strengthen the policy–science–civil society interface.
Commuting, energy consumption, and the challenge of sustainable urban development Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-03-19 Ali Modarres
This paper will provide an overview of the current state of knowledge regarding commute-related energy consumption patterns. Drawing from urban transportation and built environment literature, I will suggest the degree to which the job-housing imbalance, the geography of housing affordability, and the transportation infrastructure investment have produced heightened levels of energy consumption and inequitable urban environments.
Walking, neighbourhood environment and quality of life among older people Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2017-03-19 Becky PY Loo, Rathi Mahendran, Keiko Katagiri, Winnie WY Lam
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