Category Archives: [SDG12]

Recommendation to consider the crucial impacts of trends in smaller household size on sustainable development goals

The Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation on sustainable consumption and production, and the Rio+20 Declaration have consistently emphasized the essentiality of promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production to realize objectives of and requirements for sustainable development. To support these goals, this brief makes a recommendation to consider the crucial impacts of trends in smaller household size.

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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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Weak Sustainability versus Strong Sustainability

The fundamental debate regarding sustainable development is whether we choose to adopt a strong or a weak conception of sustainability. Weak sustainability postulates the full substitutability of natural capital whereas the strong conception demonstrates that this substitutability should be severely seriously limited due to the existence of critical elements that natural capital provides for human existence and well-being. The following science digest provides an overview of scientific findings to support informed debate among decision-makers regarding the need to adopt a strong sustainability position for the discussion and implementation of the post-2015 sustainable development policies.

Sustainability and economic de-growth

A major problem that permeates human development today are the limits that the Earth’s ecosystem imposes on efforts to persist in an increasing economic growth. With the end of the Cold War the
environmental issue gained relevance but the economic interests still speak louder. The pattern of development based on the model of the Industrial Revolution still remains and is structured as unsustainable. But this unbridled growth resulted in speculative bubbles and crises which further harm the ecosystem and do not cooperate in a sustainable and more equitable society. Michael Renner of World Watch Institute says: "In general, environmental governance was relegated to the sidelines in search of economic globalization driven by corporate interests – a process that has been marked by
deregulation and privatization and the relative weakening of political institutions national "(Renner, 2012).

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Pathways to Deep Decarbonization, a Problem Solving Approach for a 2°C Society

The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)[IPCC, 2013 & 2014] underscores the dangers to human well-being of a business-as-usual scenario where average global temperatures rise by 4°C or more. Governments around the world have adopted the target of keeping the global rise in mean surface temperature below 2°C compared with the preindustrial average [UNFCCC,
2010]. This target translates into a limitation on global cumulative emissions of approximately 1,000 GtCO2 during the transition to a net-zero emission economy. Yet, current voluntary pledges – even if fully implemented – fall short of what is needed. According to the UNEP Emission Gap Report, existing commitments to reduce emissions are 8 to 10 GtCO2e below the minimum needed in 2020 to retain a 66% chance of staying within 2°C [UNEP, 2014].

As a benchmark for the transition to be implemented, global per capita emissions will need to fall to less than 2 tCO2e by 2050, where developed nations currently range from approximately 10 to 20 tCO2e per capita today [DDPP, 2014]. Realizing such a reduction in emissions requires unprecedented problem solving on all fronts: technological diffusion and innovation, infrastructure building, financing mechanisms, policy frameworks, institutional arrangements, business models, and consumer behavior. This problem solving is best organized around coherent visions of the required transformation, which take the form of deep decarbonization pathways (DDPs) to 2050.

To make a strong and convincing case for action at the national level, DDPs must be country-specific and developed by local experts. They need to fit within countries’ development strategies and align with their socioeconomic and environmental goals. They need to demonstrate that the short- and long-term challenges countries face, such as economic development, poverty eradication and job creation can be addressed in parallel to deep decarbonization. However, few countries have created such pathways. The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) offers an approach to develop such analysis.

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Relación entre Sustentabilidad, Responsabilidad Social y Responsabilidad Extendida al Productor

Este resumen se respalda en el marco teórico del trabajo de tesis doctoral que se encuentra realizando la autora para la carrera de Doctorado en Ciencias Económicas de la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Córdoba-Argentina. El objetivo del presente es mostrar la relación existente entre los aspectos señalados teniendo como base los tres principios de la sustentabilidad: económico, social y ambiental.

Decoupling Growth from Resource Generation

Global economic and social development over the last two centuries has been largely achieved through intensive, inefficient and unsustainable use of the earth’s finite resources. Over the course of the 20th century global resource extraction and use increased by around a factor of 89. Global population grew around half as fast and GDP grew at a significantly higher rate (by a factor of 23). Given a world population that grows by 200,000 people each day and especially a rapidly growing global “middle class” associated with resource-intensive consumption patterns, the demand for natural resources will continue to increase. According to the Global Footprint Network, if current economic and production trends persist, we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us by 2030.

The global challenge today is to lift one billion people out of absolute poverty and to set the pathway for meeting the needs of nine billion people in 2050 while keeping climate change, biodiversity loss and health threats within acceptable limits (“planetary boundaries”). For present and future well-being, there is a need to achieve sustainable resource management by decoupling natural resource use and environmental impacts from human well-being.

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How New Metrics for Sustainable Agriculture Can Align the Roles of Government and Business

In three decades the potential for the private sector to make a positive difference in development has garnered increasing credence and support (Schmidheiny 1992; Porter, Ketels,
& Delgado 2007). This aligns with increasing acceptance that being sustainability-oriented can also benefit a firm’s market performance (Eccles et al. 2011). It is clear that the private sector will have to be an important part of any effort to attain the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). It has likewise become clear that for agricultural producers merely participating in markets or trade is not sufficient to ensure poverty reduction and increase sustainability (Hopkins 2007; Jaffee et al. 2011).

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Industrial Policy and Sustainable Development

Industrial Development can be driven by policies in countries of origin, countries of destination, corporations own initiatives and by international institutions. In this note we focus on the role of industrial agencies and policy within nations. The latter, particularly if implemented widely across nations, is the most direct pathway to sustainable industrial development.

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Planning and Implementing Action for Sustainable Agriculture

For global agriculture systems to produce enough food to sustainably feed nine or ten billion people by 2050, there will have to be a shift in consumer and producer behavior and a structural change toward more sophisticated technologies, information and knowledge management systems, and policies that promote market-based incentives for growth.

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Transformative changes of agriculture and food systems

It is hard to exaggerate the role that agriculture plays in human development. From providing basic sustenance to employing millions of farmers worldwide, agriculture is a fundamental part of almost all societies and economies. Yet, agricultural systems must adapt, even transform, to meet a growing number of challenges and constraints. This transformation is crucial for achieving many of the post-2015 SDGs.

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Synergies between healthy and sustainable diets

In its efforts to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets, international policy has focused almost exclusively on the energy sector. Yet, as the global population and per capita demand for food both increase, emissions from agricultural sources risk jeopardising the achievement of those climate targets, as they already account for over a quarter of all anthropogenic emissions. The risk is heightened if the increasing demand for food causes further agricultural expansion and land cover change. Furthermore, increasing per capita food consumption, and also the share of livestock products, can have adverse effects on human health. There is accordingly a close interdependence between consumption patterns, human health and the sustainability of the earth system. Well-designed policies targeting the demand for particular foods could simultaneously improve the health of the global population, and restrict greenhouse gas emissions along with the impacts of land cover change. This briefing paper reviews and summarises evidence for this claim, and urges the need for policies that seek to achieve both better human health and environmental sustainability.

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Achieving Sustainable Energy Consumption in Tanzania

The synthesis report of the Secretary-General on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda states that “innovation and investment in sustainable and resilient infrastructure, cities and settlements, industrialization, small and medium-sized enterprises, energy and technology can both generate employment and remedy negative environmental trends” (§ 73). The reform of Tanzania’s science, technology, and innovation (STI) system that got underway in 2008 under UNESCO leadership places this country in an excellent position to strengthen the energy and technology system as part of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

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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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Fostering sustainable economic growth by redefining competitiveness and industrial policy: Towards a systemic policy approach aligned with beyond-GDP goals

Industrial policy is back on the agenda and the consensus is that it must be different ‘this time’ from the past. Following Aiginger et al. (2013) we redefine industrial policy for industrialised countries as a strategy to promote ‘high-road competitiveness’, understood as the ability of an economy to achieve ‘Beyond-GDP’ Goals. ‘Highroad strategies’ are based on advanced skills, innovation, supporting institutions, ecological ambition and an activating social policy. This ‘new industrial policy’ is systemic, working in alignment with other policy strands and supporting social and environmental goals; it affects the structure of the economy as the whole not only the manufacturing sector. Shortterm actions, such as protecting employment in unviable companies, low prices for fossil fuels, or reducing wages in high-income economies are counterproductive. To pursue an industrial policy that targets society’s ultimate goals without public micromanagement will be challenging. It could be achieved (i) by setting incentives, particularly those impacting on technical progress (e.g. to make it less labour-saving and more energy-saving), (ii) by the use of the important role governments have in the education and research sectors, (iii) by greater public awareness and (iv) if consumer preferences will call for socio-ecological transition.

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Towards an energy efficient oil and gas sector

Hydrocarbons have played one of the most crucial roles in economic history by fuelling globalisation and industrialisation. Today, oil and natural gas form a key lifeline of the global economy, contributing to a 56.6% share in global energy consumption (BP, 2014). Further, in spite of the recent worldwide thrust provided to the renewable sector, International Energy Agency’s (IEA) (2014) World Economic Outlook for 2040 projects that oil and gas will remain the single largest energy source throughout the projection period (see Figure 1), as developing countries experience growth. In particular, transport, heating, and cooking energy requirements will largely continue to be powered by oil and natural gas. The continued dominance of hydrocarbons in the energy mix can be explained by the presence of a lock-in of fossil fuel energy systems. This carbon lock-in has occurred globally through the systemic co-evolution of technology and institutions, thus creating a Techno-Institutional Complex of high fossil fuel intensity (Unruh, 2000). Such a lock-in is among the biggest barriers to climate change mitigation and sustainability.

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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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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.


物质消费减量化: 物质消费减量化:一个可持续消费研究综述 一个可持续消费研究综述 (Reducing material consumption: a literature review on sustainable consumption)

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
源于环境保护的可持续消费研究,重点探讨在消费中如何减少物质、能源消耗,减少废弃物的排放即物质减量化。对 于物质消费减量化的影响因素,主要集中在三个研究领域:一是批判和扩展新古典经济学中的“经济人”假设。二是分析物质密集型 消费的驱动力。三是通过环境友好型消费行为模型讨论影响因素。物质消费的减量化途径主要有两条:一是通过技术进步、生产过程 的改进或环境友好型的设计,减少单位消费的资源消耗,这种不减少总消费量的消费也称为弱可持续消费。弱可持续消费可能对经济 增长具有促进作用,但依赖于环境友好型技术的出现。二是降低消费总量,也称为强可持续消费。由于消费的减少将会降低经济增长 速度,因而一个片面追求经济增长的社会,也必然不支持可持续消费。

生命周期评价与环境风险评价方法整合研究述评 (Integrated research on life-cycle analysis and environmental risk evaluation methods)

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
作为重要的环境管理工具,生命周期评价(LCA)和环境风险评价(ERA)具有各自的理论框架和方法体系,但在实际 应用中都存在一定的局限性,将二者整合可弥补各自缺陷从而更好地为面向可持续发展的环境管理提供支撑。本文从LCA与 ERA整合需求、整合方法、应用领域等方面对国内外相关研究进行了分析、总结与归纳,得到以下结论:LCA与ERA在方法 论本身及支持环境决策等方面具有整合的必要性;现有研究中有关LCA与ERA整合的探讨可分为评价方法的融合和评价结果 的综合两类,这两种方式各有优劣,适用不同目的的研究;此外,当前将两种方法整合已经在一些具体领域得到应用,但仍 存在诸多问题与挑战,为此展望了进一步研究的方向。

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。

基于因子分析的中美居民消费阶段划分及对比分析 (Comparative study of the consumption patterns of American and Chinese household using factor analysis)

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
美国作为消费水平较高的发达国家,我国作为最大的发展中国家将经历美国居民已经经历过的消费阶段,找出我国现阶 段的消费水平相当于美国了历史上的哪一时期对指导我国借鉴美国制定新的消费政策具有很强的现实意义。本文利用因子分析的方 法,将美国 1929-2001 年划分为三个消费阶段,将中国 1984-2011 年划分为三个消费阶段。结果显示,中国 2001-2011 年的消费水平 仅相当于美国 1950-1960 年的消费水平,虽然消费水平相当,但是两国居民的消费结构却存在着差异。中国居民食物支出占比较高, 导致恩格尔系数持续偏高,居民消费率不足依然是我国现阶段面临的重大难题。

基于扩展线性支出系统模型的中美居民消费 结构对比分析 (Comparative study of the consumption structure of American and Chinese households based on the Extended Linear Expenditure System Model (ELES) )

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
美国作为一个典型的靠消费拉动的发达国家,我国与其有着很大的差距,居民消费率严重不足始终是制约我国经济发展 的难题。 本文以 2011 年中美两国居民分等级的消费支出和收入数据为基础,利用扩展线性支出系统模型(ELES)对比分析了中美两 国居民在 2011 年的消费结构差异,并进一步对比分析了两国居民的基本消费支出、边际消费倾向、收入及价格弹性。结果表明,我 国居民消费支出水平仍然与美国居民存在一定的差距,我国居民用于满足基本生活的消费支出占比依然较高,对提高生活质量的消费 支出项依旧需求不足。

基于水资源生态足迹模型的山西省水资源可持续性研究 (Analysis of water sustainability issue on the basis of Water Ecological Footprint Model)

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
基于水资源生态足迹模型,结合水资源生态赤字、水资源生态压力指数、水资源利用效率指数,分析了山西省 2003~2012年水资源生态足迹变化趋势和水资源可持续利用状况。结果表明,(1)2003~2012年山西省人均水资源生态足迹 整体上呈缓慢增长趋势,人均水资源生态承载力总体上变化幅度比较平缓,导致人均水资源生态赤字的变化趋势与人均水资 源生态足迹的变化趋势基本相同;(2)2003~2012年山西省水资源开发利用效率虽逐年提高,但水资源的开发利用处于不安 全状态。

建筑生命周期评价研究热点探析 (Life-cycle analysis of buildings)

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
应用文献分析,综述了生命周期评价方法在建筑领域的应用。重点评述了建筑生命周期评价的近期研究热点,以期为 研究者选择评价方法和制定研究目标提供方向,推进建筑业可持续发展。研究认为应该结合案例的具体情况研究目的和生 命周期数据获取的难度选择合适的评价方法;建筑生命周期评价的未来应重点关注的领域:1)建筑拆除处理阶段,2)建筑 设计阶段,3)建筑的物化能及材料的循环和替代性,4)建筑的动态性。