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Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 6 (June 2011), Pages 789-936

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Research

Open AccessArticle Behaviour Change in the UK Climate Debate: An Assessment of Responsibility, Agency and Political Dimensions
Sustainability 2011, 3(6), 789-808; doi:10.3390/su3060789
Received: 20 April 2011 / Revised: 16 May 2011 / Accepted: 23 May 2011 / Published: 7 June 2011
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (325 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper explores the politics around the role of agency in the UK climate change debate. Government interventions on the demand side of consumption have increasingly involved attempts to obtain greater traction with the values, attitudes and beliefs of citizens in relation [...] Read more.
This paper explores the politics around the role of agency in the UK climate change debate. Government interventions on the demand side of consumption have increasingly involved attempts to obtain greater traction with the values, attitudes and beliefs of citizens in relation to climate change and also in terms of influencing consumer behaviour at an individual level. With figures showing that approximately 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions are attributable to household and transport behaviour, policy initiatives have progressively focused on the facilitation of “sustainable behaviours”. Evidence suggests however, that mobilisation of pro-environmental attitudes in addressing the perceived “value-action gap” has so far had limited success. Research in this field suggests that there is a more significant and nuanced “gap” between context and behaviour; a relationship that perhaps provides a more adroit reflection of reasons why people do not necessarily react in the way that policy-makers anticipate. Tracing the development of the UK Government’s behaviour change agenda over the last decade, we posit that a core reason for the limitations of this programme relates to an excessively narrow focus on the individual. This has served to obscure some of the wider political and economic aspects of the debate in favour of a more simplified discussion. The second part of the paper reports findings from a series of focus groups exploring some of the wider political views that people hold around household energy habits, purchase and use of domestic appliances, and transport behaviour-and discusses these insights in relation to the literature on the agenda’s apparent limitations. The paper concludes by considering whether the aims of the Big Society approach (recently established by the UK’s Coalition Government) hold the potential to engage more directly with some of these issues or whether they merely constitute a “repackaging” of the individualism agenda. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
Open AccessArticle Modern Biotechnology—Potential Contribution and Challenges for Sustainable Food Production in Sub-Saharan Africa
Sustainability 2011, 3(6), 809-822; doi:10.3390/su3060809
Received: 26 March 2011 / Revised: 26 May 2011 / Accepted: 31 May 2011 / Published: 8 June 2011
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (221 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Modern biotechnology, including the application of transgenic techniques to produce Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), can play a significant role in increasing agricultural production in a sustainable way, but its products need to be tailored for the developing world. In sub-Saharan Africa, the [...] Read more.
Modern biotechnology, including the application of transgenic techniques to produce Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), can play a significant role in increasing agricultural production in a sustainable way, but its products need to be tailored for the developing world. In sub-Saharan Africa, the capacity to develop GMOs and ensure they meet stringent regulatory requirements is somewhat limited. Most African governments contribute little to science and technology either financially or through strong policies. This leaves the determination of research and development priorities in the hands of international funding agencies. Whereas funding from the United States is generally supportive of GM technology, the opposite is true of funding from European sources. African countries are thus pulled in two different directions. One alternative to this dilemma might be for countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region to develop stronger South-South collaborations, but these need to be supported with adequate funding. African governments as well as external funding agencies are urged to consider the important role that biotechnology, including GM technology, can play in contributing to sustainable development in Africa, and to provide adequate support to the development of capacity to research, develop and commercialize GMOs in the region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biotechnology and Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Coping Strategies to Deal with Environmental Variability and Extreme Climatic Events in the Peruvian Anchovy Fishery
Sustainability 2011, 3(6), 823-846; doi:10.3390/su3060823
Received: 1 May 2011 / Revised: 25 May 2011 / Accepted: 1 June 2011 / Published: 16 June 2011
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (774 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Peruvian anchovy fishery is the largest worldwide in terms of catches. The fishery started during the mid 1950s, and since then it has been highly dependent on natural stock fluctuations, due to the sensitivity of anchovy stocks to ocean-climate variability. The [...] Read more.
The Peruvian anchovy fishery is the largest worldwide in terms of catches. The fishery started during the mid 1950s, and since then it has been highly dependent on natural stock fluctuations, due to the sensitivity of anchovy stocks to ocean-climate variability. The main driver of anchovy stock variability is the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and three extreme ENSO warm events were recorded in 1972–1973, 1983–1984 and 1997–1998. This study investigates the evolution of coping strategies developed by the anchovy fisheries to deal with climate variability and extreme ENSO events. Results showed eight coping strategies to reduce impacts on the fishery. These included: decentralized installation of anchovy processing factories; simultaneous ownership of fishing fleet and processing factories; use of low-cost unloading facilities; opportunistic utilization of invading fish populations; low cost intensive monitoring; rapid flexible management; reduction of fishmeal price uncertainty through controlled production based on market demand; and decoupling of fishmeal prices from those of other protein-rich feed substitutes like soybean. This research shows that there are concrete lessons to be learned from successful adaptations to cope with climate change-related extreme climatic events that impact the supply of natural resources. The lessons can contribute to improved policies for coping with climate change in the commercial fishery sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Planning for Climate Change)
Open AccessArticle The Theory and Practice of Genetically Engineered Crops and Agricultural Sustainability
Sustainability 2011, 3(6), 847-874; doi:10.3390/su3060847
Received: 2 May 2011 / Revised: 7 June 2011 / Accepted: 7 June 2011 / Published: 17 June 2011
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (293 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Correction | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The development of genetically engineered (GE) crops has focused predominantly on enhancing conventional pest control approaches. Scientific assessments show that these GE crops generally deliver significant economic and some environmental benefits over their conventional crop alternatives. However, emerging evidence indicates that current GE crops will not foster sustainable cropping systems unless the negative environmental and social feedback effects are properly addressed. Moreover, GE crop innovations that promote more sustainable agricultural systems will receive underinvestment by seed and chemical companies that must understandably focus on private returns for major crops. Opportunities to promote crops that convey multi-faceted benefits for the environment and the poor are foundational to a sustainable food system and should not be neglected because they also represent global public goods. In this paper, we develop a set of criteria that can guide the development of GE crops consistent with contemporary sustainable agriculture theory and practice. Based on those principles, we offer policy options and recommendations for reforming public and private R&D and commercialization processes to further the potential contributions of GE crops to sustainable agriculture. Two strategies that would help achieve this goal would be to restore the centrality of the public sector in agricultural R&D and to open the technology development process to more democratic participation by farmers and other stakeholders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biotechnology and Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Moving Universities: A Case Study on the Use of Unconferencing for Facilitating Sustainability Learning in a Swiss University
Sustainability 2011, 3(6), 875-896; doi:10.3390/su3060875
Received: 29 March 2011 / Revised: 30 May 2011 / Accepted: 14 June 2011 / Published: 17 June 2011
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (368 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Unconferencing is a method for organizing social learning which could be suitable to trigger sustainability learning processes. An unconference is defined as participant-driven meeting that tries to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as top-down organization, one-way communication [...] Read more.
Unconferencing is a method for organizing social learning which could be suitable to trigger sustainability learning processes. An unconference is defined as participant-driven meeting that tries to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as top-down organization, one-way communication and power-relationships based on titles, formal hierarchies and status. This paper presents a case study on the application of unconferencing in a large Swiss university (ETH Zurich) where an unconference was conducted to engage students, academics, staff and external experts in a mutual learning process aimed at the development of project ideas for reducing its CO2 emissions. The study analyzes how the unconferencing format initiated and promoted sustainability oriented group processes during the unconference, and in how far the projects which were developed contributed to a reduction of the university’s CO2 emissions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Group Processes and Mutual Learning for Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Low Discounting Behavior among Small-Scale Fishers in Fiji and Sabah, Malaysia
Sustainability 2011, 3(6), 897-913; doi:10.3390/su3060897
Received: 9 May 2011 / Revised: 2 June 2011 / Accepted: 6 June 2011 / Published: 20 June 2011
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (331 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Understanding the socio-economic factors that are associated with fishers’ willingness to delay gratification may be useful for designing appropriate fisheries management and conservation policies. We aim to identify the predictors of low discounting behaviour among fishers, which is analogous to having a [...] Read more.
Understanding the socio-economic factors that are associated with fishers’ willingness to delay gratification may be useful for designing appropriate fisheries management and conservation policies. We aim to identify the predictors of low discounting behaviour among fishers, which is analogous to having a longer-term outlook. We base our empirical study on two small-scale tropical reef fisheries in Sabah, Malaysia, and Fiji. We use an experimental approach to identify fishers with low discount rates, and then use a logistic regression model to identify predictors of low discount rates. We find that 42% of the respondents have low discount rates, and that site and village level variables are significant predictors of low discount rates. Within Sabah and Fiji, boat ownership and relative catch differentiate low discounting from non-low discounting fishers, but these variables have contradictory effects in Sabah and Fiji. Overall, our results imply that a substantial proportion of reef fishers may be willing to engage in conservation initiatives; however, local socio-cultural, economic, and ecological conditions have to be considered first during the process of designing management interventions. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Dynamics of Brownfield Redevelopment
Sustainability 2011, 3(6), 914-936; doi:10.3390/su3060914
Received: 11 February 2011 / Revised: 17 June 2011 / Accepted: 20 June 2011 / Published: 23 June 2011
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (712 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Negligence of former industrial sites (“brownfields”) has adversely impacted urban landscapes throughout the industrialized world. Brownfield redevelopment has recently emerged as a sustainable land use strategy and impetus for urban revitalization. This study presents a system dynamics model of the redevelopment process [...] Read more.
Negligence of former industrial sites (“brownfields”) has adversely impacted urban landscapes throughout the industrialized world. Brownfield redevelopment has recently emerged as a sustainable land use strategy and impetus for urban revitalization. This study presents a system dynamics model of the redevelopment process that illustrates how delays compound before realizing financial benefits from investment in these core urban areas. We construct a dynamic hypothesis, in which brownfield redevelopment activities are dependent upon funding and in turn bolster tax base through job creation. Drawing on previous studies, barriers to brownfield redevelopment are explored, including fear of liability, regulatory concerns, and uncertain cleanup standards and funding mechanisms. We model a case study of redevelopment in the State of Michigan (USA), which is informed by data from the Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and U.S. Conference of Mayors brownfield surveys. Stock-flow structures represent phases of redevelopment, with diverted streams for sites in which no contamination was found (false alarms) and those with excess contamination level. The model is used to examine the point at which cumulative tax revenues from redeveloped areas exceed cumulative expenditures on brownfield redevelopment under different levels of funding availability. Full article

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