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  • Forestry taxation for sustainability: theoretical ideals and empirical realities
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-22
    Christian P Hansen, Jens F Lund

    We review the literature linking taxation and sustainable forest management (SFM) in humid tropical forests. This literature broadly falls in two strands. One emphasizes economic theoretical ideals and seeks to define optimal taxation designs with incentives for SFM. The other strand documents political-economic empirical realities that fall far from the theoretical ideals and which may help explaining why taxation reforms for SFM have had mixed outcomes. We conclude that future research could benefit from further integration and interaction between the two strands and argue for dynamic forest taxation policies that can respond to changing market demands, technologies, and context conditions to provide the right incentives and signals for SFM.

  • Scenarios for adaptation and mitigation in urban Africa under 1.5 °C global warming
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-17
    Shuaib Lwasa, Kareem Buyana, Peter Kasaija, Job Mutyaba

    Cities are considered to be at the frontline of the global climate change response, both from mitigation and adaptation perspectives. But many cities are engulfed in infrastructure deficits, carbon intensive development while urban poverty adds to this complexity in Africa. Africa's rapid urbanisation is coming with opportunities and challenges but the contribution of this urbanization to limit global warming at 1.5 degrees requires new knowledge on the interactions between adaptation and mitigation. Climate impacts on African cities are growing, with spatially differentiated warming of between 0.3 and 0.7 degrees. Rainfall redistribution and excessive rainstorms have impacted African cities in various ways. Many of the African cities are, however responding to the challenges through the formulation of adaptation plans, mitigation strategies with a strong focus on resilience and sustainable development — as outlined in the African Union's Agenda 2063. Given that most cities in Africa are low emitting cities, this paper discusses how adaptation and mitigation can be coupled using three scenarios in the context of 1.5-degree warming. It is also recognized that the different ecologies of Africa offer multiple possible pathways of adaptation and mitigation for increased African urban resilience.

  • Monitoring biodiversity change through effective global coordination
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-19
    Laetitia M Navarro, Néstor Fernández, Carlos Guerra, Rob Guralnick, W Daniel Kissling, Maria Cecilia Londoño, Frank Muller-Karger, Eren Turak, Patricia Balvanera, Mark J Costello, Aurelie Delavaud, GY El Serafy, Simon Ferrier, Ilse Geijzendorffer, Gary N Geller, Walter Jetz, Eun-Shik Kim, HyeJin Kim, Corinne S Martin, Melodie A McGeoch, Tuyeni H Mwampamba, Jeanne L Nel, Emily Nicholson, Nathalie Pettorelli, Michael E Schaepman, Andrew Skidmore, Isabel Sousa Pinto, Sheila Vergara, Petteri Vihervaara, Haigen Xu, Tetsukazu Yahara, Mike Gill, Henrique M Pereira

    The ability to monitor changes in biodiversity, and their societal impact, is critical to conserving species and managing ecosystems. While emerging technologies increase the breadth and reach of data acquisition, monitoring efforts are still spatially and temporally fragmented, and taxonomically biased. Appropriate long-term information remains therefore limited. The Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) aims to provide a general framework for biodiversity monitoring to support decision-makers. Here, we discuss the coordinated observing system adopted by GEO BON, and review challenges and advances in its implementation, focusing on two interconnected core components — the Essential Biodiversity Variables as a standard framework for biodiversity monitoring, and the Biodiversity Observation Networks that support harmonized observation systems — while highlighting their societal relevance.

  • Investing for rapid decarbonization in cities
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-15
    Luis Gomez Echeverri

    Cities offer some of the best opportunities for decarbonization. And a few sectors such as buildings, transport, water, and waste have the greatest potential for high impact decarbonization investments. Creating an enabling environment for cities to invest heavily to achieve systemic transformations in these sectors is essential for meeting the less than 2 °C target of the Paris Agreement in view of an urban population growing by approximately 1.4 million weekly. Unfortunately, significant barriers exist for these investments to grow at the required pace. The good news is that there are many initiatives such as the alliance of cities that have committed to achieving 80 percent reductions of GHG emissions by 2050, networks such as the C 40 network of city mayors from around the world that connect leaders and undertake research and programs to help cities implement low carbon and climate resilience strategies, and those of major private and institutional investors committed to ramp up their low carbon investments. Furthermore some 110 Paris Agreement country commitments include actions in cities with a focus exactly on those sectors with the greatest potential for decarbonization.

  • Early-career experts essential for planetary sustainability
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-14
    Michelle Lim, Abigail J Lynch, Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares, Lenke Balint, Zeenatul Basher, Ivis Chan, Pedro Jaureguiberry, AAA Mohamed, Tuyeni H Mwampamba, Ignacio Palomo, Patricio Pliscoff, Rashad A Salimov, Aibek Samakov, Odirilwe Selomane, Uttam B Shrestha, Anna A Sidorovich

    Early-career experts can play a fundamental role in achieving planetary sustainability by bridging generational divides and developing novel solutions to complex problems. We argue that intergenerational partnerships and interdisciplinary collaboration among early-career experts will enable emerging sustainability leaders to contribute fully to a sustainable future. We review 16 international, interdisciplinary, and sustainability-focused early-career capacity building programs. We conclude that such programs are vital to developing sustainability leaders of the future and that decision-making for sustainability is likely to be best served by strong institutional cultures that promote intergenerational learning and involvement.

  • Silent transformation to 1.5°C — with China's encumbered leading
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-13
    Paul Shrivastava, Sybille Persson

    The US has voluntarily ceded global leadership on climate action by withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement. China now leads the world in carbon emissions producing almost 30% of the world total. Yet it can play a key, albeit encumbered, leadership role in limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. This essay reviews the literature on the traditional Chinese concept of silent transformations articulated by philosopher François Jullien and others. It encourages a deep intercultural dialogue about the role of China, its culture and large population, to aid silent transformations for shaping the course of the world climate. Two kinds of levers are highlighted, firstly using ordinary people's situational potential through ordinary actions, and secondly helping to induce the Chinese dream of natural regulation.

  • City-networks, global climate governance, and the road to 1.5 °C
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-14
    David J Gordon, Craig A Johnson

    This article reviews existing scholarship on the ability of transnational city-networks to contribute to achieving a global 1.5 °C target. Its principal observation is that city-networks have become increasingly involved in pooling resources, setting agendas, sharing policies, and reporting emissions reductions, but more needs to be known about how precisely transnational city-networks are achieving verifiable emissions reductions at the urban scale. The article identifies a focus in contemporary research on direct and indirect pathways through which city-networks can potentially effect transformative change, and highlights four key issues in need of further research: burden-sharing within and across city-networks; the suite of possible policy options they are embracing and endorsing; the role and voice of marginal cities and vulnerable urban populations, and; the governance challenges related to moving from experimentation to collective global effect.

  • The literature landscape on 1.5 °C climate change and cities
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-08
    William F Lamb, Max W Callaghan, Felix Creutzig, Radhika Khosla, Jan C Minx
  • Household time use, carbon footprints, and urban form: a review of the potential contributions of everyday living to the 1.5 °C climate target
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-05
    Dominik Wiedenhofer, Barbara Smetschka, Lewis Akenji, Mikko Jalas, Helmut Haberl
  • Keeping global climate change within 1.5 °C through net negative electric cities
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-06
    Chris Kennedy, Iain D Stewart, Michael I Westphal, Angelo Facchini, Renata Mele

    The development of net negative electric cities encompasses the three strategies of decarbonizing power supply, energy efficiency and electrification. There is potential to pursue these combined strategies rapidly to hold climate change to within 1.5 °C. Recent work has identified many cities in developing countries that are ideal for electrification today based on carbon intensity and high access to electricity. Net negative electric cities could be achieved by following a comprehensive policy framework for low carbon investment.

  • Small-scale farmers in a 1.5°C future: The importance of local social dynamics as an enabling factor for implementation and scaling of climate-smart agriculture
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-03
    Deissy Martinez-Baron, Guillermo Orjuela, Giampiero Renzoni, Ana María Loboguerrero Rodríguez, Steven D Prager

    Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) has the potential to help farmers implement both adaptation and mitigation practices. The mitigation aspect of CSA is often not considered by farmers due to a high discount rate and, as such, adaptation is usually the priority concern. This review article offers perspective on this issue and highlights two key gaps in the literature: (i) understanding of factors related to the uptake of adaptation practices with co-benefits for mitigation and, (ii) the role of social networks to better enable rapid, widespread implementation of CSA, the latter being critical to bringing CSA to scale. The systematic review treated literature on synergies between adaptation, mitigation and social networks in the rural sector, as well as case studies illustrating the importance of social networks in climate change interventions when addressing synergies in adaptation and mitigation. We find that additional research is required that explicitly focuses on how social networks and social capital may be harnessed to hasten the adoption and uptake of highly synergistic CSA practices. This will facilitate both adaptation in the near term and contribute to mitigation at scale, allowing small-scale farmers to both benefit from and contribute to a 1.5°C future.

  • Positive tipping points in a rapidly warming world
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-03
    J David Tàbara, Niki Frantzeskaki, Katharina Hölscher, Simona Pedde, Kasper Kok, Francesco Lamperti, Jens H Christensen, Jill Jäger, Pam Berry

    The challenge of meeting the UNFCCC CoP21 goal of keeping global warming ‘well below 2 °C and to pursue efforts towards 1.5 °C’ (‘the 2–1.5 °C target’) calls for research efforts to better understand the opportunities and constraints for fundamental transformations in global systems dynamics which currently drive the unsustainable and inequitable use of the Earth's resources. To this end, this research reviews and introduces the notion of positive tipping points as emergent properties of systems–including both human capacities and structural conditions — which would allow the fast deployment of evolutionary-like transformative solutions to successfully tackle the present socio-climate quandary. Our research provides a simple procedural synthesis to help identify and coordinate the required agents’ capacities to implement transformative solutions aligned with such climate goal in different contexts. Our research shows how to identify the required capacities, conditions and potential policy interventions which could eventually lead to the emergence of positive tipping points in various social–ecological systems to address the 2–1.5 °C policy target. Our insights are based on the participatory downscaling of global Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) to Europe, the formulation of pathways of solutions within these scenarios and the results from an agent-based economic modelling.

  • Ontology and integrative research on Global Environmental Change: towards a critical GEC science
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-02
    Rony Emmenegger, Rory Rowan, Debra Zuppinger-Dingley, Cornelia Krug, Maria Alejandra Parreño, Benedikt Korf

    This paper addresses ‘integration’ at the level of ontology to reflect on the conception and conduct of integrative research in Global Environmental Change (GEC) science. First, it outlines how the Earth system has become the dominant conceptual framework within which to approach GEC, marginalizing other ways of understanding the world. The paper argues that in order to grasp GEC and develop more effective responses to it, it is necessary to move beyond the singular ontology offered by the Earth system and engage with plural ontologies. Second, the paper highlights that scientific knowledge is inherently situated within networks of social and institutional power and oriented towards various social ends, and that as a consequences GEC science needs to reflect more deeply on the politics of its own knowledge production and its relationship to the policy sphere. In conclusion the paper calls for a more critical GEC science that builds these reflections into its scientific practices, and provides some leading questions that integrative research initiatives can use to guide self-reflexive research practices.

  • How can global conventions for biodiversity and ecosystem services guide local conservation actions?
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-03
    Ilse R Geijzendorffer, Astrid JA van Teeffelen, Hilary Allison, Daniela Braun, Katherine Horgan, Maitane Iturrate-Garcia, Maria João Santos, Loïc Pellissier, Anne-Hélène Prieur-Richard, Simone Quatrini, Shoko Sakai, Debra Zuppinger-Dingley

    With global science-policy conventions for biodiversity and ecosystem services in place, much effort goes into monitoring and reporting on the progress toward policy targets. As conservation actions happen locally, can such global monitoring and reporting efforts effectively guide conservation actions at subnational level? In this paper we explore three different perspectives: policy reporting for policy implementation; scientific knowledge for empowerment and actions; and from past trends to influencing the future. Using these three perspectives, we identify ways forward for both decision makers and scientists on how to engage, inform and empower a larger diversity of actors who make decisions on the future of biodiversity and ecosystem services at multiple scales.

  • From basic research to applied solutions: are two approaches to sustainability science emerging?
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-03-02
    Elizabeth MB Doran, Jay S Golden, BL Turner II

    Despite its widespread emergence and adoption, sustainability science continues to suffer from definitional ambiguity within the academe. A review of efforts to provide direction and structure to the science reveal a continuum of approaches anchored at either end by differing visions of how the science interfaces with practice (solutions). At one end, basic science of societally defined problems informs decisions about possible solutions and their application. At the other end, applied research directly affects the options available to decision makers. While clear from the literature, we also point to survey data that suggests the dichotomy does not appear to be as apparent in the minds of practitioners.

  • Trends in research on forestry decentralization policies
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-02-27
    Jens Friis Lund, Rebecca Leigh Rutt, Jesse Ribot

    We identify and describe four strands in the literature on forestry decentralization policies: studies that assess impacts of forestry sector decentralization policies on forests and livelihoods; studies that examine whether forestry decentralization empowers public and democratic local institutions; studies focusing on power and the role of elites in forestry decentralization, and; studies that historicize and contextualize forestry decentralization as reflective of broader societal phenomena. We argue that these strands reflect disciplinary differences in values, epistemologies, and methods preferences, and that they individually provide only partial representations of forestry decentralization policies. Accordingly, we conclude that a comprehensive understanding of these policies cannot rest solely on any of these strands, but should be informed by all of them.

  • Towards transformative social learning on the path to 1.5 degrees
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-02-26
    Thomas Macintyre, Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Arjen Wals, Coleen Vogel, Valentina Tassone

    This paper provides insights into learning orientations and approaches that encourage change and transformation on the path to achieving the 1.5 degree C target. This literature review of the climate change and education/learning interface positions relevant literature in a heuristic tool, and reveals different learning approaches to addressing climate change. We highlight that although traditional lines of departure for achieving climate targets are usually technocratic in nature, especially if a zero emissions pathway is aimed for, there is an increasing realisation that climate issues are complex, deeply intertwined with unsustainable development and cultural change, and require collective engagement. Through considering the 1.5 degree C target as a metaphor for the fundamental changes needed in society, we argue that a wide range of learning orientations, including more inclusive and transformative social learning approaches, are needed to address the colossal challenges facing society.

  • Can we meet the Target? Status and future trends for fisheries sustainability
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-02-27
    Louise SL Teh, William WL Cheung, Villy Christensen, UR Sumaila

    We assess progress towards Aichi Biodiversity Target 6, which aims to achieve global fisheries sustainability by 2020. Current trends suggest that the proportion of fish stocks within safe ecological limits is likely to decline until 2020. While model projections show a considerable reduction in overexploited stocks by 2050 if climate change is not considered, there will be a substantial increase in the risk of overexploited fish stocks if climate change is taken into account. Overall, although there is progress toward rebuilding fisheries in some developed nations, this improvement is insufficient to meet the Aichi Target by 2020; there is a need for substantial changes to current fisheries policy and management if Target 6 is to be met.

  • Anticipating climate futures in a 1.5 °C era: the link between foresight and governance
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-02-21
    Joost Vervoort, Aarti Gupta

    The Paris Agreement's aspirational 1.5 degree temperature target has given further impetus to efforts to imagine (and seek to govern) transformative and uncertain climate futures. This brings to the fore multiple challenges in the search for anticipatory governance and the role herein for climate foresight. Foresight entails processes to envision challenging futures and question limiting assumptions about what futures are possible, but these processes also impact upon present-day politics. While foresight-related activities are proliferating in sustainability research and planning, critical social science scrutiny of such processes remains minimal. Two key gaps in understanding are: (a) the link between foresight, planning and policy change; and (b) the very prospects of relying on foresight in the present to steer largely unknowable futures. In addressing these gaps, we review the field of climate foresight research here, situating it within a broader interdisciplinary body of literature relating to anticipation and anticipatory governance. In doing so, we identify a conceptual lens through which to analyze the political implications of foresight processes, and apply it to the case of two ongoing foresight initiatives. We conclude with noting the urgent need for further research on the role of foresight within anticipatory climate governance in a post-Paris era.

  • Bringing it all together: linking measures to secure nations’ food supply
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-02-22
    Matti Kummu, Marianela Fader, Dieter Gerten, Joseph HA Guillaume, Mika Jalava, Jonas Jägermeyr, Stephan Pfister, Miina Porkka, Stefan Siebert, Olli Varis
  • Designing sustainable landuse in a 1.5 °C world: the complexities of projecting multiple ecosystem services from land
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-02-21
    TG Benton, R Bailey, A Froggatt, R King, B Lee, L Wellesley

    Land provides a range of critical services for humanity (including the provision of food, water and energy). It also provides many services that are often socially valuable but may not have a market value. Demand projections for land-based services, accounting for the significant requirement for negative emissions needed to meet a 1.5 °C pathway, may exceed what can be sustainably supplied. It is therefore critical to explore how to optimise land use (and if necessary, limit demand), so societies can continue to benefit from all services into the future. Unlike the energy or the transport sectors, however, there is limited understanding or consensus over what ‘optimal’ land use might look like (from a science perspective), or how to bring it about (from a governance perspective).

  • Collaborative governance for sustainable forestry in the emerging bio-based economy in Europe
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-02-20
    Johanna Johansson

    In recent years, a common theme in social science research, natural resource policies and practical management has been the increasing emphasis on partnerships and other forms of collaborative efforts as effective means to reach tangible and sustainable outcomes. Another significant trend is the increasing focus on the role of the forestry sector in managing the challenges of climate change, and the push towards a bio-based, low-carbon economy is at the epicenter of the public debate in several EU countries. Drawing on research on collaborative processes as well as research on policy design, this paper reviews the current trend to rely increasingly on collaborative efforts to improve sustainability, using forest governance in northern Europe as an illustrative case. It pays particular attention to efforts to balance concerned stakeholders through National Forest Programmes (NFPs), and considers these efforts in an international context. It concludes by elaborating on future research directions and policy recommendations that are critical to achieve intended outcomes in forest governance systems characterized by state-initiated collaborative processes as well as various forms of voluntary initiatives.

  • Where is the hope? Blending modern urban lifestyle with cultural practices in India
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-02-20
    Joyashree Roy, Debalina Chakravarty, Shyamasree Dasgupta, Debrupa Chakraborty, Shamik Pal, Duke Ghosh

    Driving economic growth through a low carbon trajectory will be a challenge as well as an opportunity for India in next three decades with a billion plus population. Cities are going to play a major role in this rapidly urbanising India. The scope of this article is to focus on some of the ongoing city-scale actions, which clearly indicate that India can strengthen its response by going beyond its NDCs. A combination of technology penetration, individual behaviour, community actions and policy interventions is driving such experiments. Ongoing investments in infrastructure are targeted towards creation of new facilities as well as modernisation of existing, and traditionally sustainable practices such as public transport, shared mobility, walking, cycling and rickshaw rides. Policies, supplemented by statutory mandates, are trying to command and regulate, nudge and incentivise climate responsive actions. Shifting public preferences towards star-rated household appliances is emerging as a social norm. Increased concern towards local air pollution is also driving changes. Large construction projects are being mandated to comply with building codes. Urban rooftops are facing competing demand from solar panels, organic gardens. Participation in the process of change is thus defining a new urban lifestyle, efficiently and sufficiently, energised by modern energy forms, and is thus paving the way to a new low emission future for India with global mitigation benefits.

  • Assessing the changing biodiversity of exploited marine ecosystems
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-02-20
    Lynne Shannon, Marta Coll

    Marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning have changed and are continuing to change in marine ecosystems across the world. These changes are driven by human interactions with the environment and ecosystems, as well as by natural environmental change, both locally (at the ecosystem level) and globally. This paper draws on published research, in particular that using ecosystem indicators to identify, assess and compare changes in biodiversity of exploited marine ecosystems across the globe. We use our results to reflect on the sustainability of our changing exploited marine ecosystems and consider ways forward to incorporate this information in decision making processes.

  • The environmental and social impacts of protected areas and conservation concessions in South America
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-02-13
    Judith Schleicher

    While the main conservation strategy has been the establishment of government-controlled protected areas (PAs), approaches have diversified over the last decades, including devolving management rights to non-government actors, such as through conservation concessions (CCs). This review assesses the environmental and social impacts of PAs and CCs in South America. Recent studies show positive environmental impacts overall, especially in terms of avoided deforestation. Meanwhile social impacts are more diverse and contested, yet remain less studied. Whilst CCs address some social shortcomings of PAs, they exhibit their own institutional and political challenges. This review highlights a need to broaden the measures of effectiveness and pay more attention to the diverse impacts of PAs and CCs and the factors influencing them, including governance and political aspects.

  • Investments to reverse biodiversity loss are economically beneficial
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-02-13
    U Rashid Sumaila, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Maria Schultz, Ravi Sharma, Tristan D Tyrrell, Hillary Masundire, A Damodaran, Mariana Bellot-Rojas, Rina Maria P Rosales, Tae Yong Jung, Valerie Hickey, Tone Solhaug, James Vause, Jamison Ervin, Sarah Smith, Matt Rayment

    Reversing biodiversity loss by 2020 is the objective of the 193 countries that are party to the global Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In this context, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets 2020 were agreed upon by the CBD in Nagoya, Japan in 2010 and this was followed by asking a high-level panel to make an assessment of the financial resources needed to achieve these targets globally. First, we review the literature on the costs and benefits of meeting the Aichi Targets. Second, we provide a summary of the main conclusions of the CBD High-Level Panel (HLP) 1 and 2 on the Global Assessment of the Resources for Implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020. A key conclusion of the HLP is that the monetary and non-monetary benefits of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use to be achieved by implementing the Aichi Targets would significantly outweigh the amount of investments required.

  • How to quantify biodiversity footprints of consumption? A review of multi-regional input–output analysis and life cycle assessment
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-02-07
    Alexandra Marques, Francesca Verones, Marcel TJ Kok, Mark AJ Huijbregts, Henrique M Pereira

    Reducing direct pressures on biodiversity will only be possible once the consumption drivers behind them are identified. Target 4 of the Convention on Biological Diversity highlights the importance of moving towards sustainable patterns of production and consumption. However, linking consumption patterns to impacts on biodiversity is a complex task, especially in today's globalized world. Here, we review how environmentally extended multi-regional input–output analysis and life cycle assessment have been used to analyze the impacts of consumption on biodiversity, as well as the main challenges in doing so. Finally we discuss how these methods can provide new indicators to measure the progress towards policy goals.

  • The role of political economy in framing and producing transformative adaptation
    Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain (IF 3.954) Pub Date : 2018-02-03
    Benjamin P Warner, Christopher P Kuzdas

    We show how transformative adaptation research can reproduce existing political-economic structures and processes. We review research on transformative adaptation to illustrate the need for a systematic understanding of the role of political-economic structures and processes in transformative adaptation. We argue that it is necessary for two reasons. First, we must be cognizant of the relationship between economic hegemony and efforts to understand and initiate transformative adaptation. We show that transformative adaptation should consider this economic backdrop because it may undermine the normative goals of transformation. Second, transformative adaptation should be conceptualized as a challenge to specific social structures and processes that support economic hegemony. If the goal of this research is to allow groups to adapt and overcome systematic inequity and marginalization, we must incorporate human agency in transformative adaptation to allow people to determine their own transformations.

  • 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.

Some contents have been Reproduced with permission of the American Chemical Society.
Some contents have been Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.
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