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Special Issue "Advances in Sustainability: Selected Papers from 1st World Sustainability Forum"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2012)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Marc A. Rosen (Website)

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, 2000 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa, Ontario, L1H 7K4, Canada
Fax: +1 905 721 3370
Interests: sustainable development; energy; exergy; efficiency; environmental impact; economics; ecology; sustainable engineering and design

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This special issue comprises selected papers from the Proceedings of the 1st World Sustainability Forum, an electronic conference that was held on sciforum in November 2011. Sustainability and sustainable development cover environmental, social and economic dimensions and require a multi-disciplinary approach in order to examine, explore and critically engage with issues and advances in these and related areas. The 1st World Sustainability Forum facilitated debates on theoretical and practical investigations, and allowed participants to "make a difference" through on-line discussions. Besides covering the three pillars of sustainable development, other areas were covered including renewable energy self-sufficiency, energy return-on-investment, governance and sustainability, sustainability assessment and policies, and remote sensing for sustainable management of land and biodiversity. Papers selected for this special issue were subject to a rigorous peer review procedure with the aim of rapid and wide dissemination of research results, developments and applications.

Prof. Dr. Marc A. Rosen
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Economical Sustainability
  • Social Sustainability
  • Renewable Energy Self-Sufficiency
  • Energy Return-on-Investment
  • Governance and Sustainability
  • Sustainability Assessment and Policies
  • Remote Sensing for Sustainable Management of Land and Biodiversity General and Related Topics

Published Papers (22 papers)

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Open AccessArticle Sustainability, Health and Environmental Metrics: Impact on Ranking and Associations with Socioeconomic Measures for 50 U.S. Cities
Sustainability 2013, 5(2), 789-804; doi:10.3390/su5020789
Received: 11 January 2013 / Revised: 5 February 2013 / Accepted: 6 February 2013 / Published: 22 February 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1331 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Waste and materials management, land use planning, transportation and infrastructure including water and energy can have indirect or direct beneficial impacts on the environment and public health. The potential for impact, however, is rarely viewed in an integrated fashion. To facilitate such [...] Read more.
Waste and materials management, land use planning, transportation and infrastructure including water and energy can have indirect or direct beneficial impacts on the environment and public health. The potential for impact, however, is rarely viewed in an integrated fashion. To facilitate such an integrated view in support of community-based policy decision making, we catalogued and evaluated associations between common, publically available, Environmental (e), Health (h), and Sustainability (s) metrics and sociodemographic measurements (n = 10) for 50 populous U.S. cities. E, H, S indices combined from two sources were derived from component (e) (h) (s) metrics for each city. A composite EHS Index was derived to reflect the integration across the E, H, and S indices. Rank order of high performing cities was highly dependent on the E, H and S indices considered. When viewed together with sociodemographic measurements, our analyses further the understanding of the interplay between these broad categories and reveal significant sociodemographic disparities (e.g., race, education, income) associated with low performing cities. Our analyses demonstrate how publically available environmental, health, sustainability and socioeconomic data sets can be used to better understand interconnections between these diverse domains for more holistic community assessments. Full article
Open AccessArticle Governance, Sustainability and Decision Making in Water and Sanitation Management Systems
Sustainability 2012, 4(11), 2922-2945; doi:10.3390/su4112922
Received: 14 September 2012 / Revised: 30 October 2012 / Accepted: 30 October 2012 / Published: 5 November 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (302 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
We explore the connections between the concepts of governance and sustainability and discuss their possible roles in water and sanitation management systems (WSMS). We see governance as a decision-making process that drives the relationship between social institutions and the public affairs of [...] Read more.
We explore the connections between the concepts of governance and sustainability and discuss their possible roles in water and sanitation management systems (WSMS). We see governance as a decision-making process that drives the relationship between social institutions and the public affairs of a given society. We understand sustainability as a combination of spatial, temporal, and personal aspects, and we argue that this definition is more comprehensive than the traditional triple bottom line of economy, environment, and society. We combined these two concepts into a new conceptual framework of “governance for sustainability” that is theoretically sound and arguably appropriate to understand local WSMS. To illustrate this framework, we developed and estimated a Sustainable Water Governance Index (SWGI) for the city of Salta, Argentina. This aggregated index was calculated with data from literature, information from the city’s water company and other local institutions, field visits, and interviews. The SWGI for Salta obtained an overall score of 49 on a 0–100 scale, which fell into the “danger” range. We discuss the advantages and limitations of the method and conclude that aggregated indices such as the SWGI, complemented with contextual information, can be a helpful decision-making tool to promote more sustainable WSMS. Full article
Open AccessArticle Amazon Rainforest Deforestation Daily Detection Tool Using Artificial Neural Networks and Satellite Images
Sustainability 2012, 4(10), 2566-2573; doi:10.3390/su4102566
Received: 7 August 2012 / Revised: 9 September 2012 / Accepted: 12 September 2012 / Published: 4 October 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (316 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The main purpose of this work was the development of a tool to detect daily deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, using satellite images from the MODIS/TERRA [1] sensor and Artificial Neural Networks. The developed tool provides the parameterization of the configuration for the neural network training to enable us to find the best neural architecture to address the problem. The tool makes use of confusion matrixes to determine the degree of success of the network. Part of the municipality of Porto Velho, in Rondônia state, is located inside the tile H11V09 of the MODIS/TERRA sensor, which was used as the study area. A spectrum-temporal analysis of this area was made on 57 images from 20 of May to 15 of July 2003 using the trained neural network. This analysis allowed us to verify the quality of the implemented neural network classification as well as helping our understanding of the dynamics of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. The great potential of neural networks for image classification was perceived with this work. However, the generation of consistent alarms, in other words, detecting predatory actions at the beginning; instead of firing false alarms is a complex task that has not yet been solved. Therefore, the major contribution of this paper is to provide a theoretical basis and practical use of neural networks and satellite images to combat illegal deforestation. Full article
Open AccessArticle Nutrient Management in Support of Environmental and Agricultural Sustainability
Sustainability 2012, 4(10), 2513-2524; doi:10.3390/su4102513
Received: 9 July 2012 / Revised: 12 September 2012 / Accepted: 24 September 2012 / Published: 2 October 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (215 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Given that we must farm land in order to eat, the total environmental burden imposed by farming a crop, such as winter wheat in the UK, appears to be close to the minimum given current production techniques. The value of the services [...] Read more.
Given that we must farm land in order to eat, the total environmental burden imposed by farming a crop, such as winter wheat in the UK, appears to be close to the minimum given current production techniques. The value of the services other than food production, such as flood water buffering, pollination, carbon storage and so on, that land can provide is relatively large compared with the value in reducing environmental burdens from pesticide use, nutrient pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that might arise by farming less intensively. More land will need to be brought into cultivation in order to provide the same amount of food if the intensity of farming is reduced and the resultant loss of ecosystem services (ES) outweighs the reduction in other burdens. Nevertheless, losses of nutrients, especially nitrogen (N), from agriculture are a serious concern and the current cost of the environmental footprint of agriculture is significant compared with the value of the food it produces. This article examines nutrient burdens and analyses the means by which the total environmental burden might be reduced relative to productivity. These include increasing the efficiency of farming, removing constraints to yield, and establishing multiple uses for land at the same time as farming. It concludes that agronomic measures which improve nutrient capture and which obtain more yield per unit area are valuable means to avoid degradation of environmental quality because both nutrient pollution and land consumption can be avoided. Full article
Open AccessArticle Identifying Social Impacts in Product Supply Chains:Overview and Application of the Social Hotspot Database
Sustainability 2012, 4(9), 1946-1965; doi:10.3390/su4091946
Received: 9 July 2012 / Revised: 13 August 2012 / Accepted: 15 August 2012 / Published: 24 August 2012
Cited by 43 | PDF Full-text (523 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
One emerging tool to measure the social-related impacts in supply chains is Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA), a derivative of the well-established environmental LCA technique. LCA has recently started to gain popularity among large corporations and initiatives, such as The Sustainability Consortium [...] Read more.
One emerging tool to measure the social-related impacts in supply chains is Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA), a derivative of the well-established environmental LCA technique. LCA has recently started to gain popularity among large corporations and initiatives, such as The Sustainability Consortium or the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. Both have made the technique a cornerstone of their applied-research program. The Social Hotspots Database (SHDB) is an overarching, global database that eases the data collection burden in S-LCA studies. Proposed “hotspots” are production activities or unit processes (also defined as country-specific sectors) in the supply chain that may be at risk for social issues to be present. The SHDB enables efficient application of S-LCA by allowing users to prioritize production activities for which site-specific data collection is most desirable. Data for three criteria are used to inform prioritization: (1) labor intensity in worker hours per unit process and (2) risk for, or opportunity to affect, relevant social themes or sub-categories related to Human Rights, Labor Rights and Decent Work, Governance and Access to Community Services (3) gravity of a social issue. The Worker Hours Model was developed using a global input/output economic model and wage rate data. Nearly 200 reputable sources of statistical data have been used to develop 20 Social Theme Tables by country and sector. This paper presents an overview of the SHDB development and features, as well as results from a pilot study conducted on strawberry yogurt. This study, one of seven Social Scoping Assessments mandated by The Sustainability Consortium, identifies the potential social hotspots existing in the supply chain of strawberry yogurt. With this knowledge, companies that manufacture or sell yogurt can refine their data collection efforts in order to put their social responsibility performance in perspective and effectively set up programs and initiatives to improve the social conditions of production along their product supply chain. Full article
Open AccessArticle Sustainability Indicators for the Use of Resources—The Exergy Approach
Sustainability 2012, 4(8), 1867-1878; doi:10.3390/su4081867
Received: 17 July 2012 / Revised: 25 July 2012 / Accepted: 2 August 2012 / Published: 20 August 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (245 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reached an all-time high in 2010, rising 45% in the past 20 years. The rise of peoples’ concerns regarding environmental problems such as global warming and waste management problem has led to a movement to convert the [...] Read more.
Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reached an all-time high in 2010, rising 45% in the past 20 years. The rise of peoples’ concerns regarding environmental problems such as global warming and waste management problem has led to a movement to convert the current mass-production, mass-consumption, and mass-disposal type economic society into a sustainable society. The Rio Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, and other similar environmental milestone activities and happenings, documented the need for better and more detailed knowledge and information about environmental conditions, trends, and impacts. New thinking and research with regard to indicator frameworks, methodologies, and actual indicators are also needed. The value of the overall indicators depends on the production procedure of each material, and indicates their environmental impact. The use of “exergy indicators” based on the exergy content of materials and the use of the second law of thermodynamics in this work presents the relationship between exergy content and environmental impact. Full article
Open AccessArticle On Thermally Interacting Multiple Boreholes with Variable Heating Strength: Comparison between Analytical and Numerical Approaches
Sustainability 2012, 4(8), 1848-1866; doi:10.3390/su4081848
Received: 20 July 2012 / Revised: 31 July 2012 / Accepted: 9 August 2012 / Published: 16 August 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1329 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The temperature response in the soil surrounding multiple boreholes is evaluated analytically and numerically. The assumption of constant heat flux along the borehole wall is examined by coupling the problem to the heat transfer problem inside the borehole and presenting a model [...] Read more.
The temperature response in the soil surrounding multiple boreholes is evaluated analytically and numerically. The assumption of constant heat flux along the borehole wall is examined by coupling the problem to the heat transfer problem inside the borehole and presenting a model with variable heat flux along the borehole length. In the analytical approach, a line source of heat with a finite length is used to model the conduction of heat in the soil surrounding the boreholes. In the numerical method, a finite volume method in a three dimensional meshed domain is used. In order to determine the heat flux boundary condition, the analytical quasi-three-dimensional solution to the heat transfer problem of the U-tube configuration inside the borehole is used. This solution takes into account the variation in heating strength along the borehole length due to the temperature variation of the fluid running in the U-tube. Thus, critical depths at which thermal interaction occurs can be determined. Finally, in order to examine the validity of the numerical method, a comparison is made with the results of line source method. Full article
Open AccessArticle In Transition towards Sustainability: Bridging the Business and Education Sectors of Regional Centre of Expertise Greater Sendai Using Education for Sustainable Development-Based Social Learning
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1619-1644; doi:10.3390/su4071619
Received: 22 May 2012 / Revised: 26 June 2012 / Accepted: 5 July 2012 / Published: 17 July 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (321 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article discusses a business-school collaborative learning partnership in the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Greater Sendai. This partnership is further linked to a broader context of multi-stakeholder public participation in the RCE that was [...] Read more.
This article discusses a business-school collaborative learning partnership in the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Greater Sendai. This partnership is further linked to a broader context of multi-stakeholder public participation in the RCE that was set up to advance the ESD agenda in the region. The authors propose a conceptual framework for multi-stakeholder, ESD-based social learning within the RCE with the aim of enabling the creation of a sustainability-literate society. This proposal is based on the results of students’ prior experience in ESD activities, optimal age for ESD learning and future job choices presented in this paper, together with a reported article that the levels of sustainability of the two sectoral organizations were mixed and hence need improvement. The paper argues that it will be good to focus on bridging the business and education sectors by building ESD capacity of the children and youth in the formal education sector. It contends this could be done through collaborative learning using the government-mandated “Period of Integrated Studies” (PIS) in the Japanese primary and secondary school curriculum. Additionally, it will be appropriate for the RCE Greater Sendai Steering Committee to facilitate and coordinate the learning processes and also promote networking and cooperative interactions among the actors and stakeholders in the region. Recommendations for improvement of the learning partnerships in RCE Greater Sendai are made for consideration at the local and national policy levels. Full article
Open AccessArticle Material Footprint of Low-Income Households in Finland—Consequences for the Sustainability Debate
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1426-1447; doi:10.3390/su4071426
Received: 2 April 2012 / Revised: 18 June 2012 / Accepted: 19 June 2012 / Published: 29 June 2012
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (1635 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The article assesses the material footprints of households living on a minimum amount of social benefits in Finland and discusses the consequences in terms of ecological and social sustainability. The data were collected using interviews and a questionnaire on the consumption patterns [...] Read more.
The article assesses the material footprints of households living on a minimum amount of social benefits in Finland and discusses the consequences in terms of ecological and social sustainability. The data were collected using interviews and a questionnaire on the consumption patterns of 18 single households. The results are compared to a study on households with varying income levels, to average consumption patterns and to decent minimum reference budgets. The low-income households have lower material footprints than average and most of the material footprints are below the socially sustainable level of consumption, which is based on decent minimum reference budgets. However, the amount of resources used by most of the households studied here is still at least double that required for ecological sustainability. The simultaneous existence of both deprivation and overconsumption requires measures from both politicians and companies to make consumption sustainable. For example, both adequate housing and economic mobility need to be addressed. Measures to improve the social sustainability of low-income households should target reducing the material footprints of more affluent households. Furthermore, the concept of what constitutes a decent life should be understood more universally than on the basis of standards of material consumption. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication Research Needs and Challenges from Science to Decision Support. Lesson Learnt from the Development of the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Recommendations for Life Cycle Impact Assessment
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1412-1425; doi:10.3390/su4071412
Received: 14 May 2012 / Revised: 22 June 2012 / Accepted: 22 June 2012 / Published: 27 June 2012
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (366 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Environmental implications of the whole supply-chain of products, both goods and services, their use, and waste management, i.e., their entire life cycle from “cradle to grave” have to be considered to achieve more sustainable production and consumption patterns. Progress toward environmental [...] Read more.
Environmental implications of the whole supply-chain of products, both goods and services, their use, and waste management, i.e., their entire life cycle from “cradle to grave” have to be considered to achieve more sustainable production and consumption patterns. Progress toward environmental sustainability requires enhancing the methodologies for quantitative, integrated environmental assessment and promoting the use of these methodologies in different domains. In the context of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of products, in recent years, several methodologies have been developed for Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA). The Joint Research Center of the European Commission (EC-JRC) led a “science to decision support” process which resulted in the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook, providing guidelines to the decision and application of methods for LCIA. The Handbook is the result of a comprehensive process of evaluation and selection of existing methods based on a set of scientific and stakeholder acceptance criteria and involving review and consultation by experts, advisory groups and the public. In this study, we report the main features of the ILCD LCIA recommendation development highlighting relevant issues emerged from this “from science to decision support” process in terms of research needs and challenges for LCIA. Comprehensiveness of the assessment, as well as acceptability and applicability of the scientific developments by the stakeholders, are key elements for the design of new methods and to guarantee the mainstreaming of the sustainability concept. Full article
Open AccessArticle Using Sustainability Engineering to Gain Universal Sustainability Efficiency
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1135-1153; doi:10.3390/su4061135
Received: 2 April 2012 / Revised: 3 May 2012 / Accepted: 9 May 2012 / Published: 30 May 2012
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (427 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The present article is an attempt to perceive the universal sustainability observable in an individual country or region, where the religious, political, social-demographic, economic, environmental, creative, technological and investment subsystems are revealed not only through the vitality of spiritual and material existence [...] Read more.
The present article is an attempt to perceive the universal sustainability observable in an individual country or region, where the religious, political, social-demographic, economic, environmental, creative, technological and investment subsystems are revealed not only through the vitality of spiritual and material existence media, but rather through the signs of the development of these subsystems as self-assembled units through the erosion of their interaction. The problem of optimal allocation of investment resources among the separate sustainability’s subsystems was addressed by means of expert methods and techniques of portfolio methodology which will enable the achievement of the enshrined universal sustainability standards. A country-specific index composition of sustainability subsystems’ indices was chosen as the universal sustainability index for the specific country. The index in its dynamics is perceived as a random process. While projecting its state and evaluating its power, i.e., the impact of the subsystem efficiency in a particular moment, this power is measured by the level of the index and the reliability or guarantee of an appropriate level. To solve the problem of investment resources allocation, the idea of Markowitz Random Field was invoked in order to reach the maximum power of sustainability index while applying the technical solution—the so-called “GoldSim” system. Engineering is a methodology that aspires to reveal the core attributes of complex systems and instruments in order to manage the possibility to influence these properties for the systems. Experimental expert evaluation and case study is performed on Lithuanian data. Full article
Open AccessArticle Noise Pollution Prevention in Wind Turbines: Status and Recent Advances
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1104-1117; doi:10.3390/su4061104
Received: 29 March 2012 / Revised: 17 April 2012 / Accepted: 9 May 2012 / Published: 29 May 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (596 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The global push towards sustainability has led to increased interest in alternative power sources other than coal and fossil fuels. One of these sustainable sources is to harness energy from the wind through wind turbines. However, a significant hindrance preventing the widespread [...] Read more.
The global push towards sustainability has led to increased interest in alternative power sources other than coal and fossil fuels. One of these sustainable sources is to harness energy from the wind through wind turbines. However, a significant hindrance preventing the widespread use of wind turbines is the noise they produce. This study reviews recent advances in the area of noise pollution from wind turbines. To date, there have been many different noise control studies. While there are many different sources of noise, the main one is aerodynamic noise. The largest contributor to aerodynamic noise comes from the trailing edge of wind turbine blades. The aim of this paper is to critically analyse and compare the different methods currently being implemented and investigated to reduce noise production from wind turbines, with a focus on the noise generated from the trailing edge. Full article
Open AccessArticle Remote Sensing Images to Detect Soy Plantations in the Amazon Biome—The Soy Moratorium Initiative
Sustainability 2012, 4(5), 1074-1088; doi:10.3390/su4051074
Received: 20 February 2012 / Revised: 15 May 2012 / Accepted: 16 May 2012 / Published: 23 May 2012
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (1942 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Soy Moratorium is an initiative to reduce deforestation rates in the Amazon biome based on the hypothesis that soy is a deforestation driver. Soy planted in opened areas after July 24th, 2006 cannot be commercialized by the associated companies to the [...] Read more.
The Soy Moratorium is an initiative to reduce deforestation rates in the Amazon biome based on the hypothesis that soy is a deforestation driver. Soy planted in opened areas after July 24th, 2006 cannot be commercialized by the associated companies to the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries (ABIOVE) and the National Association of Cereal Exporters (ANEC), which represent about 90% of the Brazilian soy market. The objective of this work is to present the evaluation of the fourth year of monitoring new soy plantations within the Soy Moratorium context. With the use of satellite images from the MODIS sensor, together with aerial survey, it was possible to identify 147 polygons with new soy plantations on 11,698 ha. This soy area represents 0.39% of the of the total deforested area during the moratorium, in the three soy producing states of the Amazon biome, and 0.6% of the cultivated soy area in the Amazon biome, indicating that soy is currently a minor deforestation driver. The quantitative geospatial information provided by an effective monitoring approach is paramount to the implementation of a governance process required to establish an equitable balance between environmental protection and agricultural production. Full article
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Open AccessArticle When Should We Care About Sustainability? Applying Human Security as the Decisive Criterion
Sustainability 2012, 4(5), 1059-1073; doi:10.3390/su4051059
Received: 14 February 2012 / Revised: 12 April 2012 / Accepted: 12 May 2012 / Published: 22 May 2012
PDF Full-text (202 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
It seems intuitively clear that not all human endeavours warrant equal concern over the extent of their sustainability. This raises the question about what criteria might best serve for their prioritisation. We refute, on empirical and theoretical grounds, the counterclaim that sustainability [...] Read more.
It seems intuitively clear that not all human endeavours warrant equal concern over the extent of their sustainability. This raises the question about what criteria might best serve for their prioritisation. We refute, on empirical and theoretical grounds, the counterclaim that sustainability should be of no concern regardless of the circumstances. Human security can serve as a source of criteria that are both widely shared and can be assessed in a reasonably objective manner. Using established classifications, we explore how four forms of sustainability (environmental, economic, social, and cultural) relate to the four pillars of human security (environmental, economic, sociopolitical, and health-related). Our findings, based on probable correlations, suggest that the criteria of human security allow for a reliable discrimination between relatively trivial incidences of unsustainable behavior and those that warrant widely shared serious concern. They also confirm that certain sources of human insecurity, such as poverty or violent conflict, tend to perpetuate unsustainable behavior, a useful consideration for the design of development initiatives. Considering that human security enjoys wide and increasing political support among the international community, it is to be hoped that by publicizing the close correlation between human security and sustainability greater attention will be paid to the latter and to its careful definition. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Transformation of an Industrial Brownfield into an Ecological Buffer for Michigan’s Only Ramsar Wetland of International Importance
Sustainability 2012, 4(5), 1043-1058; doi:10.3390/su4051043
Received: 29 March 2012 / Revised: 24 April 2012 / Accepted: 9 May 2012 / Published: 18 May 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1069 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge spans 77 km along the Detroit River and western Lake Erie, and is the only unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System that is international. A key unit of the refuge is the 166-ha Humbug Marsh [...] Read more.
The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge spans 77 km along the Detroit River and western Lake Erie, and is the only unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System that is international. A key unit of the refuge is the 166-ha Humbug Marsh that represents the last kilometer of natural shoreline on the U.S. mainland of the river and Michigan’s only “Wetland of International Importance” designated under the 1971 International Ramsar Convention. Adjacent to Humbug Marsh is an 18-ha former industrial manufacturing site (now called the Refuge Gateway) that is being remediated and restored as an ecological buffer for Humbug Marsh and the future home of the refuge’s visitor center. Restoration and redevelopment activities have included: cleanup and capping of contaminated lands; daylighting a creek (i.e., deliberately exposing the flow of a creek that was historically placed underground in a culvert) and constructing a retention pond and emergent wetland to treat storm water prior to discharge to the Detroit River; restoring coastal wetland, riparian buffer, and upland habitats; and constructing two roads, hiking/biking trails, and a kayak/canoe landing to offer wildlife-compatible public uses that allow visitors to experience this internationally-recognized natural resource. This project has been described as transformational for the region by restoring an industrial brownfield into high quality wildlife habitat that expands the ecological buffer of a Ramsar site. Specific restoration targets for the site include: achieving a net gain of 6.5 ha of wetlands in a river that has lost 97% of its coastal wetlands to development; restoring 10.1 ha of upland buffer habitat; treating invasive Phragmites along 4 km of shoreline; and treatment of invasive plant species in 20.2 ha of upland habitats in Humbug Marsh. Further, the Refuge Gateway is being restored as a model of environmental sustainability for nearly seven million residents within a 45-minute drive. Key lessons learned include: reach broad-based agreement on a sustainability vision; identify and involve a key champion; establish core project delivery team; ensure up-front involvement of regulatory agencies; recruit and meaningfully involve many partners; expect the unexpected; practice adaptive management; place a priority on sound science-based decision making; ensure decision-making transparency; measure and celebrate successes, including benefits; and place a high priority on education and outreach. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Land Reforms and the Tragedy of the Anticommons—A Case Study from Cambodia
Sustainability 2012, 4(4), 773-793; doi:10.3390/su4040773
Received: 14 March 2012 / Revised: 5 April 2012 / Accepted: 12 April 2012 / Published: 23 April 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (232 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Most of the land reforms of recent decades have followed an approach of “formalization and capitalization” of individual land titles (de Soto 2000). However, within the privatization agenda, benefits of unimproved land (such as land rents and value capture) are reaped privately [...] Read more.
Most of the land reforms of recent decades have followed an approach of “formalization and capitalization” of individual land titles (de Soto 2000). However, within the privatization agenda, benefits of unimproved land (such as land rents and value capture) are reaped privately by well-organized actors, whereas the costs of valorization (e.g., infrastructure) or opportunity costs of land use changes are shifted onto poorly organized groups. Consequences of capitalization and formalization include rent seeking and land grabbing. In developing countries, formal law often transpires to work in favor of the winners of the titling process and is opposed by the customary rights of the losers. This causes a lack of general acknowledgement of formalized law (which is made responsible for deprivation of livelihoods of vulnerable groups) and often leads to a clash of formal and customary norms. Countries may fall into a state of de facto anarchy and “de facto open access”. Encroachment and destruction of natural resources may spread. A reframing of development policy is necessary in order to fight these aberrations. Examples and evidence are provided from Cambodia, which has many features in common with other countries in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa in this respect. Full article
Open AccessArticle Scenario Archetypes: Converging Rather than Diverging Themes
Sustainability 2012, 4(4), 740-772; doi:10.3390/su4040740
Received: 8 March 2012 / Revised: 26 March 2012 / Accepted: 30 March 2012 / Published: 20 April 2012
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (481 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Future scenarios provide challenging, plausible and relevant stories about how the future could unfold. Urban Futures (UF) research has identified a substantial set (>450) of seemingly disparate scenarios published over the period 1997–2011 and within this research, a sub-set of >160 scenarios [...] Read more.
Future scenarios provide challenging, plausible and relevant stories about how the future could unfold. Urban Futures (UF) research has identified a substantial set (>450) of seemingly disparate scenarios published over the period 1997–2011 and within this research, a sub-set of >160 scenarios has been identified (and categorized) based on their narratives according to the structure first proposed by the Global Scenario Group (GSG) in 1997; three world types (Business as Usual, Barbarization, and Great Transitions) and six scenarios, two for each world type (Policy Reform—PR, Market Forces—MF, Breakdown—B, Fortress World—FW, Eco-Communalism—EC and New Sustainability Paradigm—NSP). It is suggested that four of these scenario archetypes (MF, PR, NSP and FW) are sufficiently distinct to facilitate active stakeholder engagement in futures thinking. Moreover they are accompanied by a well-established, internally consistent set of narratives that provide a deeper understanding of the key fundamental drivers (e.g., STEEP—Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental and Political) that could bring about realistic world changes through a push or a pull effect. This is testament to the original concept of the GSG scenarios and their development and refinement over a 16 year period. Full article
Open AccessArticle Sustainable Business: Are We Heading in the Right Direction?
Sustainability 2012, 4(4), 586-603; doi:10.3390/su4040586
Received: 21 February 2012 / Revised: 19 March 2012 / Accepted: 27 March 2012 / Published: 11 April 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (309 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper questions why, despite the sustainable development concept having been prominent at an international level for well over 20 years, there is little to show by way of a transition to a sustainable world. Instead, in many ways, the situation is [...] Read more.
This paper questions why, despite the sustainable development concept having been prominent at an international level for well over 20 years, there is little to show by way of a transition to a sustainable world. Instead, in many ways, the situation is deteriorating. The paper critiques the mainstream sustainable development approach as advocated by business, and as is prominent in the political sphere, to consider if this is itself a key problem. The paper concludes that it is. Rather than helping society achieve needed change, this approach can create a false sense of progress that acts as a barrier to the more decisive action that is necessary to address the underlying drivers of humanity's unsustainable behaviours. Further, the paper proposes that the very act of pursuing mainstream sustainable development makes a sustainable world harder to achieve. A way forward for the business sector is proposed by it embracing a more transformational sustainable world approach in both its internal activities and in its advocacy in the broader public and political space. Full article
Open AccessArticle Remote Sensing Time Series to Evaluate Direct Land Use Change of Recent Expanded Sugarcane Crop in Brazil
Sustainability 2012, 4(4), 574-585; doi:10.3390/su4040574
Received: 22 February 2012 / Revised: 23 March 2012 / Accepted: 26 March 2012 / Published: 2 April 2012
Cited by 31 | PDF Full-text (1202 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The use of biofuels to mitigate global carbon emissions is highly dependent on direct and indirect land use changes (LUC). The direct LUC (dLUC) can be accurately evaluated using remote sensing images. In this work we evaluated the dLUC of about 4 million [...] Read more.
The use of biofuels to mitigate global carbon emissions is highly dependent on direct and indirect land use changes (LUC). The direct LUC (dLUC) can be accurately evaluated using remote sensing images. In this work we evaluated the dLUC of about 4 million hectares of sugarcane expanded from 2005 to 2010 in the South-central region of Brazil. This region has a favorable climate for rain-fed sugarcane, a great potential for agriculture expansion without deforestation, and is currently responsible for almost 90% of Brazilian’s sugarcane production. An available thematic map of sugarcane along with MODIS and Landast images, acquired from 2000 to 2009, were used to evaluate the land use prior to the conversion to sugarcane. A systematic sampling procedure was adopted and the land use identification prior to sugarcane, for each sample, was performed using a web tool developed to visualize both the MODIS time series and the multitemporal Landsat images. Considering 2000 as reference year, it was observed that sugarcane expanded: 69.7% on pasture land; 25.0% on annual crops; 0.6% on forest; while 3.4% was sugarcane land under crop rotation. The results clearly show that the dLUC of recent sugarcane expansion has occurred on more than 99% of either pasture or agriculture land. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle Approaching Resonant Absorption of Environmental Xenobiotics Harmonic Oscillation by Linear Structures
Sustainability 2012, 4(4), 561-573; doi:10.3390/su4040561
Received: 1 February 2012 / Revised: 20 March 2012 / Accepted: 21 March 2012 / Published: 30 March 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (275 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Over the last several decades, it has become increasingly accepted that the term xenobiotic relates to environmental impact, since environmental xenobiotics are understood to be substances foreign to a biological system, which did not exist in nature before their synthesis by humans. [...] Read more.
Over the last several decades, it has become increasingly accepted that the term xenobiotic relates to environmental impact, since environmental xenobiotics are understood to be substances foreign to a biological system, which did not exist in nature before their synthesis by humans. In this context, xenobiotics are persistent pollutants such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls, as well as plastics and pesticides. Dangerous and unstable situations can result from the presence of environmental xenobiotics since their harmful effects on humans and ecosystems are often unpredictable. For instance, the immune system is extremely vulnerable and sensitive to modulation by environmental xenobitics. Various experimental assays could be performed to ascertain the immunotoxic potential of environmental xenobiotics, taking into account genetic factors, the route of xenobiotic penetration, and the amount and duration of exposure, as well as the wave shape of the xenobiotic. In this paper, we propose an approach for the analysis of xenobiotic metabolism using mathematical models and corresponding methods. This study focuses on a pattern depicting mathematically modeled processes of resonant absorption of a xenobiotic harmonic oscillation by an organism modulated as an absorbing oscillator structure. We represent the xenobiotic concentration degree through a spatial concentration vector, and we model and simulate the oscillating regime of environmental xenobiotic absorption. It is anticipated that the results could be used to facilitate the assessment of the processes of environmental xenobiotic absorption, distribution, biotransformation and removal within the framework of compartmental analysis, by establishing appropriate mathematical models and simulations. Full article

Review

Jump to: Research, Other

Open AccessReview Energy Costs of Energy Savings in Buildings: A Review
Sustainability 2012, 4(8), 1711-1732; doi:10.3390/su4081711
Received: 30 March 2012 / Revised: 4 July 2012 / Accepted: 19 July 2012 / Published: 9 August 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (324 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
It is often claimed that the cheapest energy is the one you do not need to produce. Nevertheless, this claim could somehow be unsubstantiated. In this article, the authors try to shed some light on this issue by using the concept of [...] Read more.
It is often claimed that the cheapest energy is the one you do not need to produce. Nevertheless, this claim could somehow be unsubstantiated. In this article, the authors try to shed some light on this issue by using the concept of energy return on investment (EROI) as a yardstick. This choice brings semantic issues because in this paper the EROI is used in a different context than that of energy production. Indeed, while watts and negawatts share the same physical unit, they are not the same object, which brings some ambiguities in the interpretation of EROI. These are cleared by a refined definition of EROI and an adapted nomenclature. This review studies the research in the energy efficiency of building operation, which is one of the most investigated topics in energy efficiency. This study focuses on the impact of insulation and high efficiency windows as means to exemplify the concepts that are introduced. These results were normalized for climate, life time of the building, and construction material. In many cases, energy efficiency measures imply a very high EROI. Nevertheless, in some circumstances, this is not the case and it might be more profitable to produce the required energy than to try to save it. Full article

Other

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Open AccessCommentary Renegotiation of the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement: From Confusion to Promise
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1239-1255; doi:10.3390/su4061239
Received: 21 March 2012 / Revised: 8 June 2012 / Accepted: 12 June 2012 / Published: 15 June 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (203 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
For nearly four decades, the Great Lakes regime has invoked the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as the mechanism for binational cooperation on programs and policies. Many advances in water quality have led to unquestionable improvements in ecosystem quality, habitat and biodiversity, [...] Read more.
For nearly four decades, the Great Lakes regime has invoked the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as the mechanism for binational cooperation on programs and policies. Many advances in water quality have led to unquestionable improvements in ecosystem quality, habitat and biodiversity, and water infrastructure. Still, Great Lakes scientists have issued compelling evidence that the ecological health of the basin ecosystem is at significant risk. In 2012, the Agreement will be revised for the first time in 25 years. The degree of engagement in a future Agreement, including scope, issues of significant importance, governance and collaboration will hinge on a thorough analytical process, so far seemingly absent, coupled with real consultation, so far marginally evident. Renegotiating the Agreement to generate a revitalized and sustainable future mandates that science inform contemporary public policy, and that inclusive discourse and public engagement be integral through the process. Many of these steps are still absent, and the analysis presented here strongly suggests that the constituents of the Great Lakes regime voice their views critically, emphatically, and often. If the negotiators listen, we can collectively make the Lakes Great. Full article

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