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Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 4 (April 2011), Pages 562-719

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Integration of Social Aspects in Decision Support, Based on Life Cycle Thinking
Sustainability 2011, 3(4), 562-577; doi:10.3390/su3040562
Received: 17 January 2011 / Revised: 27 February 2011 / Accepted: 14 March 2011 / Published: 30 March 2011
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (266 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Recently increasing attention has been paid to complementing environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) with social aspects. The paper discusses the selection of social impacts and indicators from existing frameworks like Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA). Two ongoing case
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Recently increasing attention has been paid to complementing environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) with social aspects. The paper discusses the selection of social impacts and indicators from existing frameworks like Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA). Two ongoing case studies, addressing sustainability assessment within decision support, were considered: (1) Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Indonesia; and (2) Integrated Packaging Waste Management in Spain and Portugal (FENIX). The focus was put on social impacts occurring due to decisions within these systems, such as choice of technologies, practices or suppliers. Thus, decision makers—here understood as intended users of the studies’ results—are not consumers that buy (or do not buy) a product, such as in recent SLCA case-studies, but mainly institutions that decide about the design of the water or packaging waste management system. Therefore, in the FENIX project, a list of social impacts identified from literature was sent to the intended users to be ranked according to their priorities. Finally, the paper discusses to what extent the entire life cycle is reflected in SLCA impact categories and indicators, and explains how both life-cycle and on-site-related social impacts were chosen to be assessed. However, not all indicators in the two projects will assess all stages of the life cycle, because of their varying relevance in the different stages, data availability and practical interest of decision makers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment)
Open AccessArticle Understanding the Future of Change Agency in Sustainability Through Cellular Automata Scenarios: The Role of Timing
Sustainability 2011, 3(4), 578-595; doi:10.3390/su3040578
Received: 15 February 2011 / Accepted: 15 March 2011 / Published: 30 March 2011
PDF Full-text (1957 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
One of the main interdisciplinary challenges today is to understand and change the dominant social perceptions and values that support and perpetuate unsustainable practices. Social computational simulations have been conceived in recent years to understand emergent results from complex systems. These dynamic social
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One of the main interdisciplinary challenges today is to understand and change the dominant social perceptions and values that support and perpetuate unsustainable practices. Social computational simulations have been conceived in recent years to understand emergent results from complex systems. These dynamic social models are of interest to sustainability researchers because they provide a means to implement hypotheses and explore scenarios that could help extend our understanding of the future role of change agency in society. Change agents are individuals who directly or indirectly enable sustainable behaviors or inhibit practices that damage the environment and large social groups. Evidence-based strategies, guidelines and methods are necessary in order to manage creative change agency more effectively. This paper presents work with computational simulations, known as cellular automata, in order to explore the role of timing in triggering social change through uncoordinated, autonomous individual action. The paper identifies a number of issues related to creative change agency and proposes associated guidelines for practitioners. As a means of early validation, these findings are portrayed against empirical studies in the literature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
Open AccessCommunication Optimizing the Physical, Mechanical and Hygrothermal Performance of Compressed Earth Bricks
Sustainability 2011, 3(4), 596-604; doi:10.3390/su3040596
Received: 13 February 2011 / Accepted: 25 March 2011 / Published: 30 March 2011
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1498 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The paper is based on findings from research that assesses the potential for enhancing the performance of compressed earth bricks. A set of experiments was carried out to assess the potential for enhancing the bricks’ physical, mechanical and hygrothermal performance through the design
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The paper is based on findings from research that assesses the potential for enhancing the performance of compressed earth bricks. A set of experiments was carried out to assess the potential for enhancing the bricks’ physical, mechanical and hygrothermal performance through the design of an optimal stabilization strategy. Three different types of bricks were fabricated: soil-cement, soil-cement-lime, and soil-cement-fiber. The different types of bricks did not exhibit significant differences in performances when assessed on the basis of porosity, density, water absorption, and compressive strength. However, upon exposure to elevated moisture and temperature conditions, the soil-cement-fiber bricks had the highest residual strength (87%). The soil-cement and soil-cement-lime bricks had residual strength values of 48.19 and 46.20% respectively. These results suggest that, like any other cement-based material, compressed earth brick properties are affected by hydration-triggered chemical and structural changes occurring in the matrix that would be difficult to isolate using tests that focus on “bulk” changes. The discussion in this paper presents findings from a research effort directed at quantifying the specific changes through an analysis of the microstructure. Full article
Open AccessArticle Scotland’s Food and Drink Policy Discussion: Sustainability Issues in the Food Supply Chain
Sustainability 2011, 3(4), 605-631; doi:10.3390/su3040605
Received: 23 February 2011 / Accepted: 29 March 2011 / Published: 31 March 2011
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (398 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The purpose of the paper is two-fold. First, to identify the main sustainability issues that Scottish food supply chain actors are concerned with and any differences that exist between primary producers, processors and distributors and consumers; and second, to explore the implications of
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The purpose of the paper is two-fold. First, to identify the main sustainability issues that Scottish food supply chain actors are concerned with and any differences that exist between primary producers, processors and distributors and consumers; and second, to explore the implications of respondents’ views for the direction of food and drink policy in Scotland. The analysis was based on a dataset assembled from the written responses to the National Food Policy discussion in Scotland, which contains opinions on the different dimensions of sustainability (economic, environmental and social) from a broad range of individuals and organizations representing different segments of the Scottish population. The empirical analyses involved comparing the responses according to two criteria: by food supply chain stakeholder and by geographical region. The results indicated that whilst there were differences among the studied groups, the importance of social and economic sustainability were strongly evident in the foregoing analysis, highlighting issues such as diet and nutrition, the importance of local food, building sustainability on sound economic performance, the market power of supermarkets, and regulation and support in building human and technical capabilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Security and Environmental Sustainability)
Figures

Open AccessArticle A Turbo Drive for the Global Reduction of Energy-Related CO2 Emissions
Sustainability 2011, 3(4), 632-648; doi:10.3390/su3040632
Received: 25 October 2010 / Revised: 19 March 2011 / Accepted: 28 March 2011 / Published: 7 April 2011
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (307 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Copenhagen Accord performed a seizure in the COP ungainly crawl. The Accord’s urgent combat against climate change and deep cuts in emissions require a policy reversal, ending the zero sum games on pledged caps, creating clarity on immediate marching directions and eliciting
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The Copenhagen Accord performed a seizure in the COP ungainly crawl. The Accord’s urgent combat against climate change and deep cuts in emissions require a policy reversal, ending the zero sum games on pledged caps, creating clarity on immediate marching directions and eliciting worldwide action by today’s operational institutes at all levels. For reducing energy-related CO2 emissions, all turbo drive components are available. First the global 2 °C ceiling needs translation into, by country, marching directions and indicative future paths of their national average CO2 emissions per person. The latter intensity indicator is the product of three driving intensities: wealth per person, energy used for wealth production, and CO2 emissions of energy use, all observed annually for virtually all countries in the world. Second, parties should commit to nearby year improvements on the three driving intensities. Third, transfers from rich to poor countries depend on ability to pay and on ability to spend, and on countries’ mitigation progress. The approach dissolves main barriers to mitigation progress, like: outdated emissions baselines; illusory global instruments; bureaucratic MRV (monitoring, reporting and verification) concepts; blocked graduation of parties; unclear transfer mechanisms. In revamping the jammed COP rituals, UNFCCC now leaves operations to established global institutes and mainly to the parties acting in common resolve, stimulated and verified by a lightweight, transparent global framework. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Policy on Climate Equity)
Open AccessArticle Development of Ecological Footprint to an Essential Economic and Political Tool
Sustainability 2011, 3(4), 649-665; doi:10.3390/su3040649
Received: 19 January 2011 / Revised: 22 March 2011 / Accepted: 1 April 2011 / Published: 12 April 2011
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (619 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper shows how the concept of the Ecological Footprint can be developed by incorporating the six procedures listed below, to create a single indicator of just distribution of the limited natural resources, between and within generations, and become a benchmark for decision-making
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This paper shows how the concept of the Ecological Footprint can be developed by incorporating the six procedures listed below, to create a single indicator of just distribution of the limited natural resources, between and within generations, and become a benchmark for decision-making between alternatives of consumption, life-styles and economic policies. Using this new tool, it should be possible to label every commodity, service and natural resource with the share it claims of the Earth’s surface. This, in turn, can enable the integration of natural limits into the economy through the complete internalization of costs within market prices, while also reducing resource throughput fairly and quickly without an undue loss in GNP. The six procedures are as follows: First, operating within the boundaries of the sustainable local yields of the biologically productive soil and water areas, without any input of non-renewable resources, particularly fossil fuels; Second, taking spatial variations of this yield into account; Third, considering only sustainable CO2-sinks; Fourth, including every exploitation of nature, for instance all material flows; Fifth, taking care of intertemporal effects and depletion; and sixth, preserving the natural habitats necessary for the survival of biodiversity, bearing the species/area relationship in mind. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Indicator)
Open AccessArticle A Three Level Framework for Closed-Loop Supply Chain Management—Linking Society, Chain and Actor Level
Sustainability 2011, 3(4), 678-691; doi:10.3390/su3040678
Received: 8 March 2011 / Revised: 13 April 2011 / Accepted: 18 April 2011 / Published: 19 April 2011
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (238 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Supply chain management and closed-loop supply chain management (CLSCM) have developed into established concepts in recent years. The related material cycles and product returns form an important part of all related processes with high potential for reducing environmental burden. The paper proposes a
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Supply chain management and closed-loop supply chain management (CLSCM) have developed into established concepts in recent years. The related material cycles and product returns form an important part of all related processes with high potential for reducing environmental burden. The paper proposes a framework for (environmentally triggered) closed-loop supply chain management, spanning three different levels: the societal or governance, the chain and the actor level. Within each level, a set of activities or processes can be identified. Taken together, the levels allow a comprehensive analysis of a closed-loop supply chain system. This is illustrated building on two case studies in the textile and apparel industry, where closed-loop supply chains have been designed to take specific apparel products back. The case studies are analyzed against all three levels and allow exemplification of related challenges and interrelations among the three levels. The three levels contribute to the further comprehension of the multiple issues having to be taken into account for successfully implementing closed-loop supply chains. Full article
Open AccessArticle Food Relocalization for Environmental Sustainability in Cumbria
Sustainability 2011, 3(4), 692-719; doi:10.3390/su3040692
Received: 14 February 2011 / Accepted: 10 March 2011 / Published: 20 April 2011
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (407 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the past decade, many European farmers have adopted less-intensive production methods replacing external inputs with local resources and farmers’ skills. Some have developed closer relations with consumers, also known as short food-supply chains or agro-food relocalization. Through both these means, farmers can
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In the past decade, many European farmers have adopted less-intensive production methods replacing external inputs with local resources and farmers’ skills. Some have developed closer relations with consumers, also known as short food-supply chains or agro-food relocalization. Through both these means, farmers can gain more of the value that they have added to food production, as well as greater incentives for more sustainable methods and/or quality products, thus linking environmental and economic sustainability. These systemic changes encounter difficulties indicating two generic needs—for state support measures, and for larger intermediaries to expand local markets. The UK rural county of Cumbria provides a case study for exploring those two needs. Cumbria farmers have developed greater proximity to consumers, as a means to gain their support for organic, territorially branded and/or simply ‘local’ food. This opportunity has been an incentive for practices which reduce transport distances, energy costs and other inputs. Regional authorities have provided various support measures for more closely linking producers with each other and with consumers, together developing a Cumbrian food culture. Going beyond the capacity of individual producers, farmer-led intermediaries have maintained distinctive product identities in larger markets including supermarket chains. Although Cumbria’s agro-food relocalization initiatives remain marginal, they counteract the 1990s trend towards delocalization, while also indicating potential for expansion elsewhere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Security and Environmental Sustainability)

Review

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Open AccessReview Hard Times in Higher Education: The Closure of Subject Centres and the Implications for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
Sustainability 2011, 3(4), 666-677; doi:10.3390/su3040666
Received: 28 February 2011 / Revised: 8 April 2011 / Accepted: 15 April 2011 / Published: 18 April 2011
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (147 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Within many British Universities and, indeed, across higher education internationally, how best to provide education for sustainable development (ESD) has become an increasingly important issue. There is now a widespread view that higher education sectors have a key part to play in preparing
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Within many British Universities and, indeed, across higher education internationally, how best to provide education for sustainable development (ESD) has become an increasingly important issue. There is now a widespread view that higher education sectors have a key part to play in preparing societies for the transition to a low carbon economy and the shift towards more sustainable ways of living and working. In the UK, a leading role in this field has been played by the Higher Education Academy and especially its network of 24 Subject Centres, each of which promotes curriculum enhancement in a particular discipline area. The mission of the Higher Education Academy has been to help raise the overall quality of the student learning experience across all disciplines and all Higher Education institutions (HEIs). As part of promoting and supporting many kinds of curriculum innovation and staff development, the HE Academy has championed the cause of ESD. Now, however, as a result of government spending cuts, the Academy is facing severe budget reductions and all its Subject Centres are soon to close. At this pivotal moment, the purpose of this paper is, therefore, to review the HE Academy’s past contribution to ESD and to explore the likely future implications of the demise of its Subject Centres. The paper ends by outlining some ideas as to how the ESD agenda might be advanced in the post-Subject Centre era, in the light of the Academy’s intention to support subject communities under its new structure. The paper has been developed through participation in key committees, engagement with Academy and Subject Centre staff, as well as through a literature review. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Education)

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