Category Archives: [SDG11]

Defensive approaches to extreme weather

The problem:
Extreme weather such as floods, droughts and heatwaves has huge human and economic costs at present. The problem is set to get worse not only due to climate change but also because of projected demographic changes such as a growing and aging global population, increasingly located in areas exposed to extreme weather.

Key facts/ messages:
– Combining scenarios of demographic change with predicted climate change demonstrates that people and their assets will be increasingly exposed to extreme weather over coming decades.
– There are a range of defensive options that can reduce the impact of extreme weather on people.
– While engineering options such as sea walls tend to be the most effective, ecosystem-based options can be more affordable and have positive additional benefits. Hybrid options can combine the advantages of both.

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Disaster risk reduction: a cross-cutting necessity in the SDGs

The year 2015 presents an unparalleled opportunity to align landmark UN agreements through the convergence of three global policy frameworks: the post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (March 2015), The Sustainable Development Goals (September 2015; SDGs) and the Climate Change Agreements (December 2015: COP21). These major global policy instruments need to align urgently to facilitate and encourage better participation in disaster risk reduction (DRR), sustainable development and climate-change mitigation and adaptation from the science and technology communities.

Implicit in the SDGs, is the conviction that health is not just a matter of biology but also a product of societal architecture and is, therefore, amenable to human intervention – an approach with a large body of evidence behind it. Similarly, disasters are not natural events. They are endogenous to society and disaster risk arises when hazards interact with the environmental, social, physical and economic vulnerabilities and exposure of populations. Thus, the overall focus of disaster risk management has to shift from shielding social and economic development against what are seen as external events and shocks, to one of transforming development in order to accept and manage risks, as well as to strengthen resilience, thereby enabling development that is sustainable.

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Disaster Risk Governance: The essential linkage between DRR and SDGs

The issue of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is intimately linked to Governance model used by states to implement a comprehensive strategy to manage such risks and undertake integrated management. Depending on the chosen Governance model, the DRR circle can be either virtuous or vicious. At this moment when decennial appraisal of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) is taking place and looking for better strategies, the first results are mixed about the effectiveness of selected governance. Fortunately, as we shall see below, interesting and successful examples exist.

The Governance concept has undergone some trends in the last years and knows some nuances according to different authors. However, a more comprehensive approach of this concept can be stated. For the Canadian Institute on Governance (IOG), “Governance is a straightforward process, akin to a steersman in a boat. (…) Governance is complicated by the fact that it involves multiple actors, not a single helmsman. These multiple actors are the organization’s stakeholders (…) Decision makers are then accountable to those same stakeholders for the organization’s output and the process of producing it.” (IOG, 20151)

The same philosophy is included within the UNDP definition, which states “Governance is the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management of a country’s affairs at all levels. It comprises mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences.
Governance encompasses, but also transcends, government. It encompasses all relevant groups, including the private sector and civil society organizations.” (UNDP, 2010)

This more comprehensive approach to governance is found particularly in the field of Disaster Risk Governance.

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Loss Data Underpinning Disaster Risk Reduction

At present, our understanding of appropriate long-term disaster risk management is limited by the lack of in-depth knowledge on the impacts of disasters. In this regard, recording disaster impacts at detailed level is crucial for informed decision making, using methodologies that allow aggregation over space and in time. Scientific approaches for record disaster losses consistently and accurately are essential to move from undependable evidence driven mainly by media coverage to more systematic and proven datasets on disaster impacts. New partnerships between science and DRR actors are enabling just this.

Disaster loss data recording is the mechanism that links the science of risk assessment to the policy making for reducing disaster risks. Loss data collections are useful, for identifying trends and patterns in the data over time sand for tracking relationships between development and disaster risk (IFRC, 2005). As evidenced in the Global Assessment Report (GAR), loss data, recorded in national and global disaster databases are increasingly being used within risk modelling platforms to guide the decision-making processes of DRR (ISDR, 2013). When combined with ancillary data such as disaster risk
management expenditures or demographic information (Gall et al., 2015), disaster loss data are essential indicators on the relevance of DRR policies in a broader context of development and climate change.

This note discusses the relevance of disaster loss data for evidence based policy in DRR and the main application domains of loss data within the European Union (EU) Member States.

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Monitoring disaster risk reduction targets: the example of INFORM

Disaster risk consists of three elements: hazard, exposure and vulnerability. Risk can be reduced by controlling the frequency and intensity of hazards (e.g. flood protection, slope stabilization), reducing or limiting exposure (e.g. urban planning, urbanization policy, room for rivers to flood in unexposed areas) and reducing vulnerability (e.g. early warning, seismic building codes, contingency and response plans, evacuation). Further, to avoid disasters, society must build resilience to recover quickly after a hazard, mainly through effective response, reduced poverty, risk financing (public or private) and other coping mechanisms.

Accurate measurement of a complex phenomenon as risk is a non-trivial task. Because of its many dimensions, different stakeholders can perceive risk differently. One person’s loss can be another ones gain. Some communities express risk in terms of loss of life and others in financial numbers. Besides this conceptual uncertainty, the various components are not easy to quantify and involve scientific disciplines ranging from natural sciences to social sciences. Due to their nature, some risks can’t be compared on the same scale (e.g. earthquake risk versus droughts).

Nevertheless, there is a need to create multi-hazard risk metrics based on scientific evidence to inform disaster risk reduction policy. One tool that has been used to integrate information from different disciplines and communities is a composite indicator.

This note discusses the opportunities, challenges and strengths of composite indicators to measure progress in disaster risk reduction, and in particular the experience of a recently developed Index for Risk Management – INFORM.

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Towards diverse and sustainable governance ? Assessment of biocultural diversity (BCD) in European cities

Today more than half of the global population lives in urban regions and by 2030 the proportion is expected to have increased to 60 % (Elmqvist et al., 2013). To meet the needs of future generation, to support social cohesion within and among different socio-cultural groups, and to enable healthy living environments, cities are the main arena where sustainable solutions have to be developed. Especially urban green spaces (e.g. parks, forests, gardens, meadows, seashores) can support to meet these challenges. Urban green areas have been found to support citizen’s physical and mental wellbeing and social cohesion (Peters et al., 2010; Tzoulas and Green, 2011).

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Inclusive Green Affordable Housing for All

Affordable Housing (AH) is deemed affordable depending on family’s income and particular country’s housing status. AH can address all three dimensions of sustainability and it can influence 13 goals set in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) out of 17 goals directly and indirectly (United Nations, 2014). SDGs are designed as action-oriented goal in 2012 to realize 8 Millennium Development Goals set in the year back in 2000. It is envisaged that AH would result in financial and social inclusion of Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and Low Income Group (LIG). AH can offer them an opportunity to prosper economically and to enjoy basic urban services (Sen, 1998). It will address the Goal 11 of SDGs i.e. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

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Reframing Social Housing as an Infrastructure of Production and Consumption

In the classical triangular model of sustainability, the 3-Es (Economic development, Environmental protection, and social Equity), are given equal weight (Campbell 1996). However, in climate change research related to the built environment—the sector of the economy that contributes most to GHG emissions—social equity is rarely considered (Oden 2010). In the context of the built environment, equity is typically understood to mean the provision of housing for the poor by government, and is generally perceived as a social issue separate from the more technical problems of designing low-entropy buildings. In technical terms, equity is generally placed outside the system boundaries of sustainable building technology (Odum 1994 [1983]), creating a large gap between the science and social policy of climate change in the built environment.

Being thus marginalized by building science, housing the poor is viewed by society as an unfortunate, yet necessary, public entitlement required to keep the poor from becoming
further burdens (either through unemployment, ill-health or political unrest) to the more affluent citizens who pay taxes (Mueller 2013). Research demonstrates this to be a shortsighted and ideological way to understand the opportunities inherent in social equity generally, and social housing in particular (Benner et al 2013).

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Evaluación de la sustentabilidad de sistemas productivos locales: Una propuesta basada en la participación colaborativa y en la resiliencia de los sistemas socio-ecológicos

La sustentabilidad y la resiliencia son consideradas condiciones básicas para alcanzar un funcionamiento armónico de los sistemas socio-ecológicos frente a condiciones internas cambiantes y a shocks externos. Sin embargo, no existe consenso en cuanto a la medición de ambos conceptos, como contribución al manejo de los sistemas productivos locales en esa dirección. Consecuente con estas ideas, en este trabajo se presenta una metodología para evaluar la sustentabilidad de sistemas productivos primarios, como resultado de dos años de investigación interdisciplinaria. La posibilidad de aplicar esta metodología descansa en un proceso colaborativo entre ciencia y política para mejorar la resiliencia y por lo tanto la sustentabilidad de los sistemas productivos locales.

Sustainable Urban Environment in Delhi Mega City: Emerging Problems and Prospects for Innovative Solutions

Cities are the engines of growth and indicators of progress. Besides, they have widespread implications on environment and human society. There is large scale incidence of urban
poverty and slums in cities of developing countries. This has resulted in mismatch between infrastructure, resources and population, leading to degraded and unsustainable urban environments. The unprecedented urban growth is also referred as pseudo-urbanization for the reason that this growth is exceptionally unbalanced. The footprints of urbanization, concretization and land use conversion are visible in the form of urban heat island (UHI) formation that poses threat to human health and wellbeing. The study addresses above issues in national capital – Delhi.

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Health and wellbeing in sustainable urban development

Human futures are urban futures. During the last decade, the number of people living in cities exceeded the number living in rural areas for the first time in human history (Ash et al 2008). For the foreseeable future, most human lives will be urban lives. Yet, if anything, these figures underestimate the influence of the global urban transition on humanity and the planet. While urban areas occupy just 3% of land surface, they are responsible for perhaps three-quarters of carbon emissions and natural resource utilization (UNEP 2012b).

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Design and diffusion of smart energy monitors for sustainable household consumption

The synthesis report of the Secretary-General on the post- 2015 sustainable development agenda acknowledges that “new technologies can open up more sustainable approaches and more efficient practices” (§ 31). Contemporary research and development efforts have led to the emergence of energy measurement technologies for residential use. However, the deployment of smart energy feedback systems has been limited thus far to just a handful of countries. The following summary of “lessons learned” from energy monitoring studies provides a basis for global expansion of smart energy feedback systems.

The supply consequences of unbridled energy use on the environment have long attracted the attention of planners and policymakers whose decisions ultimately thrust consumers into a central role through household-based sustainable energy consumption policies (OECD, 2008). These policy strategies may be said to have three parts: the design of user-centered energy monitoring tools to inform household decisions; attention to social and cultural factors that influence household energy practices even with the availability of smart energy monitors; and the expansion of household-level collection of energy use patterns within the system of national accounts to permit within-country and international comparisons for sustainable consumption.

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Managing water variability, from floods to droughts

If people are prepared, they are much more resilient to natural disasters. Knowing the global hotspots of flood and drought risk, and quantifying the level of risk for individual locations, can ensure local inhabitants are as well equipped as possible to handle the worst climate-related events that come their way.

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El derecho a la vivienda es universal y se encuentra plasmado en la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos de 1948, en su artículo 25.1: "Toda persona tiene derecho a un nivel de vida adecuado que le asegure, así como a su familia, la salud y el bienestar, y en especial la alimentación, el vestido, la vivienda, la asistencia médica y los servicios sociales necesarios; tiene asimismo derecho a los seguros en caso de desempleo, enfermedad, invalidez, viudez, vejez u otros casos de pérdida de sus medios de subsistencia por circunstancias independientes de su voluntad". En 2000, en la Cumbre del Milenio de Naciones Unidas se asumió el alcanzar los 8 objetivos del milenio, uno de ellos es la Meta 11 (7.D) que remite hacia la concepción de una vivienda digna: Se espera que en 2020 se hayan mejorado las condiciones de vida de al menos 100 millones de habitantes de asentamientos precarios.

Vulnerability of Nearshore Ecosystems from Rapid Intensive Coastal Development

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment pointed out that coastal systems are among the most productive systems in the world and are experiencing acute pressures from growing population and exploitation. It found that the greatest threat is development-related loss of habitats and services, while degradation from other exploitation also poses severe problems.

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This brief was submitted in both English and Portuguese. Click the below link to access the brief and share your comments.,%20GEST%C3%83O%20P%C3%9ABLICA%20E%20GERENCIAMENTO%20DE%20RISCOS.pdf

An Application of NASA MODIS Remote Sensing Images to A Comprehensive Estimation of Ecological Impacts of Urban Development

United Nations (2014) predicts that the share of global urban population will increase from 50 % today to approximately 70 % by 2050. Alongside with this rapid urbanization of the human society, it is estimated that, by 2030, cities will physically expand by 1.2 million km2, which is almost same size as the Republic of South Africa (Seto, Güneralp, and Hutyra 2012). While this outstanding growth of cities can contribute to more economic growth as well as mitigation of
global warming by promoting law-carbon, sustainable, and climate-resilient city development (Grimm et al 2008; Rosenzweig et al 2010; Hodson & Marvin 2010; Ho et al 2013), rapid physical expansions of cities at the expense of vegetation will not only decrease CO2 absorption capacity of the planet but also vitiate global ecosystem services (Seto, Güneralp, and Hutyra 2012).

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RegenVillages – Integrated village designs for thriving regenerative communities

The U.N. (UNCTAD Report, 2013) outlines the urgent necessity for hyper-local, self-reliant village designs to prepare for 2+ billion additional people joining the planet by 2050.

The RegenVillages initiative is a model blueprint for industry, government, and academic action. The partnership seeks to accelerate the proliferation of affordable, integrated village designs that power and feed self-reliant communities thus tackling the challenges expected from climate change and overpopulation from an economic, social and environmental perspective.

“Regen” is a short form of “Regenerative” that defines sustainability through the lens and metrics of strong, self-reliant communities. This concept for modern village design is aspirational, heralding a refreshing and revitalized perspective on the development of “landed strata” by integrating proven technologies in innovative
ways, such as built-environment energy positive dwellings, renewable power and micro-grid distribution, living machines for water and waste management, and organic aquaponic food production at scale, all combined in a total community management system.

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Transforming disaster risk reduction for more inclusive, equitable and sustainable development

This article highlights three key areas in which efforts to reduce the underlying causes of vulnerability and drivers of risk to environmental hazards need to be improved in order to create more inclusive, equitable and sustainable development: 1) the role of context and culture in creating risk, 2) the need to better link disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate change adaptation (adaptation) and development, and 3) the enabling of transformative change.

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日照市国家可持续发展先进示范区生态效率评价 (Ecological efficiency in the State-level Sustainable Development Demo Zone in Rizhao)

This brief is submitted in the Chinese language. The full brief could be accessed through the below link. Your comments could be in either English or Chinese.


特大城市应走的可持续之路:以北京为例 (Sustainable development in mega-cities: the case of Beijing)

This brief is submitted in the Chinese language. The full brief could be accessed through the below link. Your comments could be in either English or Chinese.

摘 要
认清不可持续发展的现况,把握正确的城市功能,调整产业结构,全力整治城市病,走出一条特大城市可持续发展新 路:存量发展、升级发展、创新发展、完善发展。

盐城国家可持续发展实验区建设路径的实践与探索 (The experience and way forward for Yancheng Sustainable Development Experimental Zone)

This brief is submitted in the Chinese language. The full brief could be accessed through the below link. Your comments could be in either English or Chinese.

摘 要
“十二五”以来,盐城经济得到快速发展,总量已跃升到全省第七位,成为江苏中等发达地区。如何避免先发达地区资 源消耗、环境污染、生态破坏等问题,如何在现代科学技术的引领和支撑下实现全面协调可持续发展已经成为盐城迫切需要解决的核 心问题之一。2013 年 4 月盐城获批国家可持续发展实验区以来,我们通过一年多的创建工作实践,不断探索思考,通过基层调研、专 家走访、理论学习,对盐城创建国家可持续实验区工作进行了较为深入的研究,分析了存在的问题,提出建设性的意见和建议,对实 验区建设工作具有一定的借鉴意义。

重庆市武隆县自然生态资产价值评估研究 (The evaluation of ecological assets in the Wulong County, Chongqing)

This brief is submitted in the Chinese language. The full brief could be accessed through the below link. Your comments could be in either English or Chinese.

摘 要
生态资产是区域生命支持系统对人类生产生活贡献的总体度量,是容易被人忽视的隐性资产,也是经济资产存在的前 提。因此,核算清楚区域的生态资产对区域发展政策制定有重要参考意义。得天独厚的自然条件赋予了武隆县丰厚的生态资产,是武 隆实现绿色崛起的重要物资基础。经测算,2011 年武隆全县的生态资产达到 57.26 亿元,相当于同时期全县生产总值(GDP)的 66.14%。本研究共了核算 9 大类型生态资产,其中气候调节、气体调节、水源涵养、土壤形成与保护以及生物多样性保护的功能价值 数量较大,但整体上各种类型生态服务功能都比较充裕,没有明显短板。从土地利用类型来看,森林生态系统对武隆全县的生态资产 贡献量最大,占到总量的 84.74%;农田生态系统次之,占到总量 9.45%,其余土地利用类型贡献均不明显。总之,武隆县的生态资产 总量是较为丰富的,为全县发展绿色经济提供了优良的物质基础,但是也提出了如何准确处理开发与保护关系的难题。另外,本文使 用的核算方法和数据仍存在一定的问题,需要进一步改进。

贵州省城镇化进程中水资源保障与供水能力问题研究 (Urbanization Process in Guizhou Province and the analysis of supply capacity of water security issues)

This brief is submitted in the Chinese language. The full brief could be accessed through the below link. Your comments could be in either English or Chinese.

突破制约贵州省发展的工程性缺水战略瓶颈,保障城镇化带动战略和工业强省战略实施,支撑“后发赶超、跨越发 展、同步小康建设”用水需求的重大战略举措。本文从保障城镇化健康发展要求出发,以贵州省统计年鉴、贵州省水资源公报 (2000~2012)、中国城乡建设统计年鉴等相关资料为基础,结合国家有关城镇化、资源环境政策,采用定性与定量分析、目标分析 与需求预测分析的方法。在贵州水资源利用与城镇供水建设现状的基础上,针对水资源供应不适应城镇化发展的要求,推进新型城镇 化面临严峻挑战;贵州城市供水能力建设滞后于人口城市化,用水供需矛盾问题突出;现有水厂设计供水能力高,但实际供水能力低 等主要问题。提出了强力推进水利建设三大会战,全面提升水资源供给保障能力;加强水源建设,提高城镇供水水质应急能力;加强 水质检测与监测体系建设,提高供水安全保障能力;进一步提高用水效率加快节水型城镇建设等建议。