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Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 3 (March 2014), Pages 1107-1642

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Sustainability in 2013
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1163-1170; doi:10.3390/su6031163
Received: 3 March 2014 / Accepted: 3 March 2014 / Published: 3 March 2014
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Abstract The editors of Sustainability would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013. [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle Multi-Criteria Indicator for Sustainability Rating in Suppliers of the Oil and Gas Industries in Brazil
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1107-1128; doi:10.3390/su6031107
Received: 25 April 2013 / Revised: 24 January 2014 / Accepted: 27 January 2014 / Published: 27 February 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (955 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The necessity of sustainability evaluation is rapidly growing alongside the expansion of civilization. Likewise, the supply chain suitability improvement is a need that has arisen in the petroleum industry, especially as it is responsible for the most part of CO2 emissions [...] Read more.
The necessity of sustainability evaluation is rapidly growing alongside the expansion of civilization. Likewise, the supply chain suitability improvement is a need that has arisen in the petroleum industry, especially as it is responsible for the most part of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. The modeling of this kind of problem deals with multiple criteria evaluations. This paper proposes an original multiple-criteria based approach to classifying the degree of organizational sustainability. This proposal was applied to evaluate a representative set of companies, which are suppliers of the Brazilian petroleum industry. The data collection was supported by a questionnaire. The results highlight that the studied companies have not yet reached an advanced level of maturity in the sustainability context. In a comprehensive vision of sustainability based on Triple Bottom Line (TBL), these companies are either in the initial stage or in the implementation phase of the sustainability practices. Full article
Open AccessArticle A Comparison of Energy Transition Governance in Germany, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1129-1152; doi:10.3390/su6031129
Received: 6 January 2014 / Revised: 12 February 2014 / Accepted: 20 February 2014 / Published: 27 February 2014
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (922 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper reviews and analyzes the challenges of energy transition governance towards a low-carbon society as a political achievement. The main research question is how specific “transition governance approaches” (as advocated by transition theory) can be embedded/anchored in the policy-making logics and [...] Read more.
This paper reviews and analyzes the challenges of energy transition governance towards a low-carbon society as a political achievement. The main research question is how specific “transition governance approaches” (as advocated by transition theory) can be embedded/anchored in the policy-making logics and practices. We analyze three country cases, known for their path-breaking efforts in the area: Germany (due to its pioneering role in the development and diffusion of renewable energy technologies), the Netherlands (due to its pioneering role in launching the transition management framework), and the United Kingdom (due to its pioneering role in adopting a long-term legislative commitment to a low-carbon future). The paper identifies best governance practices and remaining challenges in the following areas: (i) connecting long-term visions with short- and mid-term action; (ii) innovation (technological as well as social); (iii) integration (of multiple objectives and policy areas and levels); (iv) societal engagement; and (v) learning/reflexivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle Assessment of Rice Inbred Lines and Hybrids under Low Fertilizer Levels in Senegal
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1153-1162; doi:10.3390/su6031153
Received: 12 November 2013 / Revised: 14 February 2014 / Accepted: 18 February 2014 / Published: 28 February 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (893 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This research was conducted at the Africa Rice Sahel Regional Station (near Saint Louis, Senegal) during two wet seasons (i.e., July to November) in 2010 and 2011 with the aim of assessing the performances of introduced hybrid cultivars along with [...] Read more.
This research was conducted at the Africa Rice Sahel Regional Station (near Saint Louis, Senegal) during two wet seasons (i.e., July to November) in 2010 and 2011 with the aim of assessing the performances of introduced hybrid cultivars along with an inbred check cultivar under low input fertilizer levels. The five treatments used in this study were (a) the control (without any fertilizer application), (b) 37.5–4.4–8.3 kg N–P–K ha−1, (c) half of recommend application in Senegal (75–8.75–16.5 kg N–P–K ha−1), (d) 112.5–13.3–24.8 kg N–P–K ha−1, and (e) the recommended application in the country (150–17.5–33 kg N–P–K ha−1). There were significant year and cultivar effects for all traits. The fertilizer levels affected significantly most traits except panicle length and 1000-grain weight. The year × fertilizer level and year × cultivar interactions were significant for most traits, but the fertilizer level × cultivar and year × fertilizer level × cultivar interactions were not significant. Days to maturity, plant height, panicle per m2, and grain yield increased with increasing fertilizer levels during the two wet seasons. The grain yield of rice hybrids (bred by the International Rice Research Institute) was not significantly higher than that of the check cultivar widely grown in Senegal. The assessment of other rice hybrid germplasm showing more adaptability to low fertilizer levels will facilitate further hybrid cultivar development in Africa. Full article
Open AccessArticle Cooperation across Organizational Boundaries: Experimental Evidence from a Major Sustainability Science Project
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1171-1190; doi:10.3390/su6031171
Received: 21 January 2014 / Revised: 13 February 2014 / Accepted: 18 February 2014 / Published: 4 March 2014
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Abstract
Engaged research emphasizes researcher–stakeholder collaborations as means of improving the relevance of research outcomes and the chances for science-based decision-making. Sustainability science, as a form of engaged research, depends on the collaborative abilities and cooperative tendencies of researchers. We use an economic [...] Read more.
Engaged research emphasizes researcher–stakeholder collaborations as means of improving the relevance of research outcomes and the chances for science-based decision-making. Sustainability science, as a form of engaged research, depends on the collaborative abilities and cooperative tendencies of researchers. We use an economic experiment to measure cooperation between university faculty, local citizens, and faculty engaged in a large sustainability science project to test a set of hypotheses: (1) faculty on the sustainability project will cooperate more with local residents than non-affiliated faculty, (2) sustainability faculty will have the highest level of internal cooperation of any group, and (3) that cooperation may vary due to academic training and culture in different departments amongst sustainability faculty. Our results demonstrate that affiliation with the sustainability project is not associated with differences in cooperation with local citizens or with in-group peers, but that disciplinary differences amongst sustainability faculty do correlate with cooperative tendencies within our sample. We also find that non-affiliated faculty cooperated less with each other than with faculty affiliated with the sustainability project. We conclude that economic experiments can be useful in discovering patterns of prosociality within institutional settings, and list challenges for further applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Social Ecology and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Factors Influencing Household Food Security in West Africa: The Case of Southern Niger
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1191-1202; doi:10.3390/su6031191
Received: 10 January 2014 / Revised: 31 January 2014 / Accepted: 11 February 2014 / Published: 5 March 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (885 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Food insecurity is a major challenge for Niger and for many African countries. The purpose of this study is to investigate the factors affecting household food security in Niger. Based on survey data covering 500 households, drought, high food prices, poverty, soil [...] Read more.
Food insecurity is a major challenge for Niger and for many African countries. The purpose of this study is to investigate the factors affecting household food security in Niger. Based on survey data covering 500 households, drought, high food prices, poverty, soil infertility, disease and insect attacks are reported by the respondents to be the main causes of food insecurity. The empirical results from logistic regression revealed that the gender of the head of household, diseases and pests, labor supply, flooding, poverty, access to market, the distance away from the main road and food aid are significant factors influencing the odds ratio of a household having enough daily rations. Another important finding is that female headed households are more vulnerable to food insecurity compared to male headed households. The findings of this study provide evidence that food insecurity continues to affect the Nigerien population. Full article
Open AccessArticle Moving Targets and Biodiversity Offsets for Endangered Species Habitat: Is Lesser Prairie Chicken Habitat a Stock or Flow?
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1250-1259; doi:10.3390/su6031250
Received: 9 January 2014 / Revised: 28 February 2014 / Accepted: 4 March 2014 / Published: 10 March 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (438 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The US Fish and Wildlife Service will make an Endangered Species Act listing decision for the lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus; “LPC”) in March 2014. Based on the findings of a single, Uzbek antelope study, conservation plans put forth for [...] Read more.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service will make an Endangered Species Act listing decision for the lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus; “LPC”) in March 2014. Based on the findings of a single, Uzbek antelope study, conservation plans put forth for the LPC propose to modify and re-position habitat in the landscape through a series of temporary preservation/restoration efforts. We argue that for certain species, including the LPC, dynamic habitat offsets represent a dangerous re-interpretation of habitat provision and recovery programs, which have nearly-universally viewed ecosystem offsets (habitat, wetlands, streams, etc.) as “stocks” that accumulate characteristics over time. Any effort to create a program of temporary, moving habitat offsets must consider species’ (1) life history characteristics, (2) behavioral tendencies (e.g., avoidance of impacted areas, nesting/breeding site fidelity), and (3) habitat restoration characteristics, including long temporal lags in reoccupation. If misapplied, species recovery programs using temporary, moving habitat risk further population declines. Full article
Open AccessArticle Exploring the Dynamic Mechanisms of Farmland Abandonment Based on a Spatially Explicit Economic Model for Environmental Sustainability: A Case Study in Jiangxi Province, China
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1260-1282; doi:10.3390/su6031260
Received: 7 January 2014 / Revised: 4 March 2014 / Accepted: 5 March 2014 / Published: 11 March 2014
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (1078 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Farmland abandonment has important impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem recovery, as well as food security and rural sustainable development. Due to rapid urbanization and industrialization, farmland abandonment has become an increasingly important problem in many countries, particularly in China. To promote sustainable [...] Read more.
Farmland abandonment has important impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem recovery, as well as food security and rural sustainable development. Due to rapid urbanization and industrialization, farmland abandonment has become an increasingly important problem in many countries, particularly in China. To promote sustainable land-use management and environmental sustainability, it is important to understand the socioeconomic causes and spatial patterns of farmland abandonment. In this study, we explored the dynamic mechanisms of farmland abandonment in Jiangxi province of China using a spatially explicit economical model. The results show that the variables associated with the agricultural products yield are significantly correlated with farmland abandonment. The increasing opportunity cost of farming labor is the main factor in farmland abandonment in conjunction with a rural labor shortage due to rural-to-urban population migration and regional industrialization. Farmlands are more likely to be abandoned in areas located far from the villages and towns due to higher transportation costs. Additionally, farmers with more land but lower net income are more likely to abandon poor-quality farmland. Our results support the hypothesis that farmland abandonment takes place in locations in which the costs of cultivation are high and the potential crop yield is low. In addition, our study also demonstrates that a spatially explicit economic model is necessary to distinguish between the main driving forces of farmland abandonment. Policy implications are also provided for potential future policy decisions. Full article
Open AccessArticle A Holistic Approach to Enhance the Use of Neglected and Underutilized Species: The Case of Andean Grains in Bolivia and Peru
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1283-1312; doi:10.3390/su6031283
Received: 28 November 2013 / Revised: 20 February 2014 / Accepted: 20 February 2014 / Published: 12 March 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2516 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The IFAD-NUS project, implemented over the course of a decade in two phases, represents the first UN-supported global effort on neglected and underutilized species (NUS). This initiative, deployed and tested a holistic and innovative value chain framework using multi-stakeholder, participatory, inter-disciplinary, pro-poor [...] Read more.
The IFAD-NUS project, implemented over the course of a decade in two phases, represents the first UN-supported global effort on neglected and underutilized species (NUS). This initiative, deployed and tested a holistic and innovative value chain framework using multi-stakeholder, participatory, inter-disciplinary, pro-poor gender- and nutrition-sensitive approaches. The project has been linking aspects often dealt with separately by R&D, such as genetic diversity, selection, cultivation, harvest, value addition, marketing, and final use, with the goal to contribute to conservation, better incomes, and improved nutrition and strengthened livelihood resilience. The project contributed to the greater conservation of Andean grains and their associated indigenous knowledge, through promoting wider use of their diversity by value chain actors, adoption of best cultivation practices, development of improved varieties, dissemination of high quality seed, and capacity development. Reduced drudgery in harvest and postharvest operations, and increased food safety were achieved through technological innovations. Development of innovative food products and inclusion of Andean grains in school meal programs is projected to have had a positive nutrition outcome for targeted communities. Increased income was recorded for all value chain actors, along with strengthened networking skills and self-reliance in marketing. The holistic approach taken in this study is advocated as an effective strategy to enhance the use of other neglected and underutilized species for conservation and livelihood benefits. Full article
Open AccessArticle Sustainability of Water Reclamation: Long-Term Recharge with Reclaimed Wastewater Does Not Enhance Antibiotic Resistance in Sediment Bacteria
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1313-1327; doi:10.3390/su6031313
Received: 20 January 2014 / Revised: 4 March 2014 / Accepted: 5 March 2014 / Published: 12 March 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (829 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Wastewater reclamation for municipal irrigation is an increasingly attractive option for extending water supplies. However, public health concerns include the potential for development of antibiotic resistance (AR) in environmental bacteria after exposure to residual pharmaceuticals in reclaimed water. Though scientific studies have [...] Read more.
Wastewater reclamation for municipal irrigation is an increasingly attractive option for extending water supplies. However, public health concerns include the potential for development of antibiotic resistance (AR) in environmental bacteria after exposure to residual pharmaceuticals in reclaimed water. Though scientific studies have reported high levels of AR in soils irrigated with wastewater, these works often fail to address the soil resistome, or the natural occurrence of AR. This study compared AR patterns in sediment Enterococcus isolated from water storage basins containing either reclaimed water or groundwater in central Arizona. Resistance to 16 antibiotics was quantified in isolates to a depth of 30 cm. Results reveal high levels of resistance to certain antibiotics, including lincomycin, ciprofloxacin, and erythromycin, exists in sediments regardless of the water source (groundwater, reclaimed water), and higher AR was not detectable in reclaimed water sediments. Furthermore, multiple-antibiotic-resistance (MAR) was substantially reduced in isolates from reclaimed water sediments, compared to freshwater sediment isolates. Comparing the development of AR in sediment bacteria at these two sites will increase awareness of the environmental and public health impacts of using reclaimed water for irrigation of municipal areas, and illustrates the necessity for control sites in studies examining AR development in environmental microbiota. Full article
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Open AccessArticle History and Technology of Terra Preta Sanitation
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1328-1345; doi:10.3390/su6031328
Received: 12 December 2013 / Revised: 30 January 2014 / Accepted: 4 March 2014 / Published: 12 March 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2343 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In order to reach the Millennium Development Goals for significantly reducing the number of people without access to adequate sanitation, new holistic concepts are needed focusing on economically feasible closed-loop ecological sanitation systems rather than on expensive end-of-pipe technologies. An analysis of [...] Read more.
In order to reach the Millennium Development Goals for significantly reducing the number of people without access to adequate sanitation, new holistic concepts are needed focusing on economically feasible closed-loop ecological sanitation systems rather than on expensive end-of-pipe technologies. An analysis of a former civilization in the Amazon (nowadays Brazil) highlights the possibility to close the loop with a more sustainable lifestyle integrating soil fertility, food security, waste management, water protection and sanitation, renewable energy. Terra Preta do Indio is the anthropogenic black soil produced by ancient cultures through the conversion of bio-waste, fecal matter and charcoal into long-term fertile soils. These soils have maintained high amounts of organic carbon several thousand years after they were abandoned. Deriving from these concepts, Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) has been re-developed and adopted. TPS includes urine diversion, addition of a charcoal mixture and is based on lactic-acid-fermentation with subsequent vermicomposting. Lacto-fermentation is a biological anaerobic process that generates a pre-stabilization of the mixture. The main advantage of lacto-fermentation is that no gas and no odor is produced. What makes it particularly interesting for in-house systems even in urban areas. Instead, vermicomposting is an aerobic decomposition process of the pre-digested materials by the combined action of earthworms and microorganisms. It transforms the carbon and nutrients into the deep black, fertile and stable soil that can be utilized in agriculture. No water, ventilation or external energy is required. Starting from ancient Amazonian civilizations traditional knowledge, the aim of this work is to present TPS systems adopted nowadays. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Improving the Effectiveness of a Nutrient Removal System Composed of Microalgae and Daphnia by an Artificial Illumination
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1346-1358; doi:10.3390/su6031346
Received: 20 December 2013 / Revised: 27 February 2014 / Accepted: 5 March 2014 / Published: 12 March 2014
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Abstract
For determining the effect of illumination on nutrient removal in an artificial food web (AFW) system, we launched a pilot continuous-flow system. The system consisted of a storage basin, a phytoplankton growth chamber, and a zooplankton growth chamber. A 25,000 Lux AFW-light [...] Read more.
For determining the effect of illumination on nutrient removal in an artificial food web (AFW) system, we launched a pilot continuous-flow system. The system consisted of a storage basin, a phytoplankton growth chamber, and a zooplankton growth chamber. A 25,000 Lux AFW-light emitting diode (LED) on system and an AFW-LED off system were separately operated for 10 days. In the AFW-LED on system, the maximum chlorophyll-a concentration of the phytoplankton chamber was four times higher than that of the AFW-LED off system. With artificial nighttime illumination, the microalgae became both smaller and more nutritious; the microalgae became high quality food for the zooplankton, Daphnia magna. Consequently, this zooplankton became more efficient at extracting nutrients and grew more densely than in the AFW-LED off system condition. In the LED-on condition, the amounts of total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) flowing into the system for 10 days were 84.7 g and 20.4 g, and the amounts flowing out were 19.5 g (23%) and 4.0 g (20%), respectively. In contrast, in the LED-off condition, 83.8 g and 20.6 g of TN and TP flowed into the system while 38.8 g (46%) and 6.8 g (33%) flowed out, respectively. Artificial illumination significantly improves the removal rate of nutrients in an AFW system. Full article
Open AccessArticle Planning for Climatic Extremes and Variability: A Review of Swedish Municipalities’ Adaptation Responses
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1359-1385; doi:10.3390/su6031359
Received: 21 January 2014 / Revised: 21 February 2014 / Accepted: 25 February 2014 / Published: 14 March 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (998 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Climate change poses a serious challenge to sustainable urban development worldwide. In Sweden, climate change work at the city level emerged in 1996 and has long had a focus on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. City planners’ “adaptation turn” is recent and still [...] Read more.
Climate change poses a serious challenge to sustainable urban development worldwide. In Sweden, climate change work at the city level emerged in 1996 and has long had a focus on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. City planners’ “adaptation turn” is recent and still ongoing. This paper presents a meta-evaluation of Swedish municipal adaptation approaches, and how they relate to institutional structures at different levels. The results show that although increasing efforts are being put into the identification of barriers to adaptation planning, in contrast, there is little assessment or systematization of the actual adaptation measures and mainstreaming strategies taken. On this basis, opportunities for advancing a more comprehensive approach to sustainable adaptation planning at both the local and institutional level are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Urban and Rural Development)
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Open AccessArticle Integrated Metrics for Improving the Life Cycle Approach to Assessing Product System Sustainability
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1386-1413; doi:10.3390/su6031386
Received: 31 December 2013 / Revised: 7 March 2014 / Accepted: 10 March 2014 / Published: 19 March 2014
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (1069 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Life cycle approaches are critical for identifying and reducing environmental burdens of products. While these methods can indicate potential environmental impacts of a product, current Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods fail to integrate the multiple impacts of a system into unified measures [...] Read more.
Life cycle approaches are critical for identifying and reducing environmental burdens of products. While these methods can indicate potential environmental impacts of a product, current Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods fail to integrate the multiple impacts of a system into unified measures of social, economic or environmental performance related to sustainability. Integrated metrics that combine multiple aspects of system performance based on a common scientific or economic principle have proven to be valuable for sustainability evaluation. In this work, we propose methods of adapting four integrated metrics for use with LCAs of product systems: ecological footprint, emergy, green net value added, and Fisher information. These metrics provide information on the full product system in land, energy, monetary equivalents, and as a unitless information index; each bundled with one or more indicators for reporting. When used together and for relative comparison, integrated metrics provide a broader coverage of sustainability aspects from multiple theoretical perspectives that is more likely to illuminate potential issues than individual impact indicators. These integrated metrics are recommended for use in combination with traditional indicators used in LCA. Future work will test and demonstrate the value of using these integrated metrics and combinations to assess product system sustainability. Full article
Open AccessArticle Measuring sustainability by Energy Efficiency Analysis for Korean Power Companies: A Sequential Slacks-Based Efficiency Measure
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1414-1426; doi:10.3390/su6031414
Received: 31 December 2013 / Revised: 4 March 2014 / Accepted: 12 March 2014 / Published: 19 March 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (692 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Improving energy efficiency has been widely regarded as one of the most cost-effective ways to improve sustainability and mitigate climate change. This paper presents a sequential slack-based efficiency measure (SSBM) application to model total-factor energy efficiency with undesirable outputs. This approach simultaneously [...] Read more.
Improving energy efficiency has been widely regarded as one of the most cost-effective ways to improve sustainability and mitigate climate change. This paper presents a sequential slack-based efficiency measure (SSBM) application to model total-factor energy efficiency with undesirable outputs. This approach simultaneously takes into account the sequential environmental technology, total input slacks, and undesirable outputs for energy efficiency analysis. We conduct an empirical analysis of energy efficiency incorporating greenhouse gas emissions of Korean power companies during 2007–2011. The results indicate that most of the power companies are not performing at high energy efficiency. Sequential technology has a significant effect on the energy efficiency measurements. Some policy suggestions based on the empirical results are also presented. Full article
Open AccessArticle Socio-Economic Survey as a Support Tool during the Scaling Up of Improved Stoves in the Logone Valley (Chad/Cameroon)
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1427-1447; doi:10.3390/su6031427
Received: 2 October 2013 / Revised: 6 March 2014 / Accepted: 12 March 2014 / Published: 19 March 2014
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Abstract
Field assessment plays a key role in the evaluation of the energy access modalities and of the socio-economic features that may influence the beneficiaries’ choices and preferences in the adoption and use of an energy technology. This work presents the findings of [...] Read more.
Field assessment plays a key role in the evaluation of the energy access modalities and of the socio-economic features that may influence the beneficiaries’ choices and preferences in the adoption and use of an energy technology. This work presents the findings of a survey conducted during the implementation of a cooperation project in the Logone Valley (Chad/Cameroon). After an initial period of promotion of an improved cookstove (ICS), a survey was conducted that was aimed at identifying different beneficiary groups, matching their preferences and cooking habits to the technology proposed, in order to best tailor the scaling-up strategy. In-depth analysis of the data gathered identified two household-user behaviors and the relative influencing features: in the urban area, the increased adoption rates confirmed the appropriateness of the technology proposed and its sustainability, whereas in the rural area, ICS use was not perceived by the final users as advantageous and lower adoption rates were observed. Thus, due to the outcome of the survey, the project action was re-oriented in order to achieve a higher impact on the territory and on the population. Full article
Open AccessArticle Economic Growth Assumptions in Climate and Energy Policy
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1448-1461; doi:10.3390/su6031448
Received: 11 December 2013 / Revised: 6 March 2014 / Accepted: 7 March 2014 / Published: 19 March 2014
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Abstract
The assumption that the economic growth seen in recent decades will continue has dominated the discussion of future greenhouse gas emissions and the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. Given that long-term economic growth is uncertain, the impacts of a wide [...] Read more.
The assumption that the economic growth seen in recent decades will continue has dominated the discussion of future greenhouse gas emissions and the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. Given that long-term economic growth is uncertain, the impacts of a wide range of growth trajectories should be considered. In particular, slower economic growth would imply that future generations will be relatively less able to invest in emissions controls or adapt to the detrimental impacts of climate change. Taking into consideration the possibility of economic slowdown therefore heightens the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions now by moving to renewable energy sources, even if this incurs short-term economic cost. I quantify this counterintuitive impact of economic growth assumptions on present-day policy decisions in a simple global economy-climate model (Dynamic Integrated model of Climate and the Economy (DICE)). In DICE, slow future growth increases the economically optimal present-day carbon tax rate and the utility of taxing carbon emissions, although the magnitude of the increase is sensitive to model parameters, including the rate of social time preference and the elasticity of the marginal utility of consumption. Future scenario development should specifically include low-growth scenarios, and the possibility of low-growth economic trajectories should be taken into account in climate policy analyses. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Group Inequality and Environmental Sustainability: Insights from Bangladesh and Kenyan Forest Commons
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1462-1488; doi:10.3390/su6031462
Received: 4 December 2013 / Revised: 25 February 2014 / Accepted: 10 March 2014 / Published: 20 March 2014
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Abstract
The paper contributes to understanding the interactions of environmental and social dimensions of sustainability in situations of acute group inequalities. Using case studies of Mount Elgon in Kenya and Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh it shows the importance of ethnicity based inequalities [...] Read more.
The paper contributes to understanding the interactions of environmental and social dimensions of sustainability in situations of acute group inequalities. Using case studies of Mount Elgon in Kenya and Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh it shows the importance of ethnicity based inequalities in defining sustainability outcomes. The paper explores, first, the mechanisms through which dominant ethnic groups are able to exert influence on resource management at the expense of less powerful groups; and second, the consequences of ethnic inequalities for resource uses within ostensibly democratic systems. It combines information from social and political history with remote sensing data to explore causes, processes and patterns behind spatial trends in the study of forests. The paper concludes that efficacy of national democracy and its institutions in achieving positive environmental outcomes depends on the power relations among social groups, particularly in historically contested contexts. Further, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability cannot be treated separately and the issue of equity among groups, ethnic or otherwise, needs to be recognised in policies for sustainable development. The study points out the need for further research into integrating socio-political history with spatial data to better understand social and spatial distribution of policy impacts. Full article
Open AccessArticle Review of Potential Characterization Techniques in Approaching Energy and Sustainability
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1489-1503; doi:10.3390/su6031489
Received: 8 January 2014 / Revised: 27 February 2014 / Accepted: 7 March 2014 / Published: 20 March 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (508 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Societal prosperity is linked to sustainable energy and a healthy environment. However, tough global challenges include increased demand for fossil fuels, while approaching peak oil production and uncertainty in the environmental impacts of energy generation. Recently, energy use was identified as a [...] Read more.
Societal prosperity is linked to sustainable energy and a healthy environment. However, tough global challenges include increased demand for fossil fuels, while approaching peak oil production and uncertainty in the environmental impacts of energy generation. Recently, energy use was identified as a major component of economic productivity, along with capital and labor. Other environmental resources and impacts may be nearing environmental thresholds, as indicated by nine planetary environmental boundaries, many of which are linked to energy production and use. Foresight techniques could be applied to guide future actions which include emphasis on (1) energy efficiency to bridge the transition to a renewable energy economy; (2) continued research, development, and assessment of new technologies; (3) improved understanding of environment impacts including natural capital use and degradation; (4) exploration of GDP alternative measures that include both economic production and environmental impacts; and (5) international cooperation and awareness of longer-term opportunities and their associated potential scenarios. Examples from the U.S. and the international community illustrate challenges and potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Energy-Sustainability Nexus)
Open AccessArticle Development of a Sustainable Process for the Solid-Liquid Extraction of Antioxidants from Oat
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1504-1520; doi:10.3390/su6031504
Received: 25 November 2013 / Revised: 12 March 2014 / Accepted: 13 March 2014 / Published: 20 March 2014
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Abstract
This research paper studies the development of a sustainable process for the extraction of antioxidants from oat. Experimentation covered two factorials to evaluate significance among temperature, time, particle size and solvent. Total polyphenolic content (TPC) and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) were [...] Read more.
This research paper studies the development of a sustainable process for the extraction of antioxidants from oat. Experimentation covered two factorials to evaluate significance among temperature, time, particle size and solvent. Total polyphenolic content (TPC) and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) were the response variables. ANOVA was applied to find significance among variables and predict optimum conditions though a regression model. Extractions at different solid/solvent ratios were developed to study solvents’ solubility. Process simulation in Aspen Process Developer was carried out to evaluate energy cost, raw material cost, campaign time, and process mass intensity. Solvent and particle size showed significance as main effects, whereas temperature and time presented significance as interactions. From an industrial and sustainable perspective, ethanol (EtOH) in a 1/20 (w/v) ratio was the best choice since it presented the lowest cost for energy and raw material. It also showed the lowest process mass intensity (PMI), short campaign time, highest g extract/g oat, and a considerable antioxidant capacity. Full article
Open AccessArticle A Tale of Two (or More) Sustainabilities: A Q Methodology Study of University Professors’ Perspectives on Sustainable Universities
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1521-1543; doi:10.3390/su6031521
Received: 10 January 2014 / Revised: 12 March 2014 / Accepted: 13 March 2014 / Published: 20 March 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (850 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
If change for sustainability in higher education is to be effective, change efforts must be sensitive to the institutional culture in which they will be applied. Therefore, gaining insight into how institutional stakeholders engage with the concept of sustainable universities is an [...] Read more.
If change for sustainability in higher education is to be effective, change efforts must be sensitive to the institutional culture in which they will be applied. Therefore, gaining insight into how institutional stakeholders engage with the concept of sustainable universities is an important first step in understanding how to frame and communicate change. This study employed Q methodology to explore how a group of professors conceptualize sustainable universities. We developed a Q sample of 46 statements comprising common conceptions of sustainable universities and had 26 professors from Dalhousie University rank-order them over a quasi-normal distribution. Our analysis uncovered four statistically significant viewpoints amongst the participants: ranging from technocentric optimists who stress the importance of imbuing students with skills and values to more liberal arts minded faculty suspicious of the potential of sustainability to instrumentalize the university. An examination of how these viewpoints interact on a subjective level revealed a rotating series of alignments and antagonisms in relation to themes traditionally associated with sustainable universities and broader themes associated with the identity of the university in contemporary society. Finally, we conclude by discussing the potential implications that the nature of these alignments and antagonisms may hold for developing a culturally sensitive vision of a sustainable university. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle Environmental Factors and Intermodal Freight Transportation: Analysis of the Decision Bases in the Case of Spanish Motorways of the Sea
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1544-1566; doi:10.3390/su6031544
Received: 12 February 2014 / Revised: 3 March 2014 / Accepted: 12 March 2014 / Published: 20 March 2014
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Abstract
Today, there is widespread consensus about the notable, yet simultaneously growing, negative environmental impacts generated by the transportation sector. Experts working in a number of different fields consider the current situation to be unsustainable and possible measures to reduce emissions and foster [...] Read more.
Today, there is widespread consensus about the notable, yet simultaneously growing, negative environmental impacts generated by the transportation sector. Experts working in a number of different fields consider the current situation to be unsustainable and possible measures to reduce emissions and foster sustainability are being encouraged. The European Commission has highlighted the need to shift away from unimodal road transport toward a greater use of intermodal transport through, for example, motorways of the sea, in light of the evidence that the former makes a significant contribution to increased CO2 emissions. However, although there is a general perception that sea transport is environmentally preferable to road transport, recent studies are beginning to question this assumption. Moreover, little research has been conducted to quantify environmental aspects and incorporate them into the decision-making processes involved in the modal shift. This study first reviews the existing literature to examine the extent to which environmental aspects are relevant in the modal choice in the case of short sea shipping and motorways of the sea. Related to this, the study also evaluates the role that different agents may play in making decisions about choice of mode, taking into consideration environmental aspects. Secondly, we use the values the European Commission provides to calculate external costs for the Marco Polo freight transport project proposals (call 2013) to estimate the environmental costs for several routes (a total of 72), comparing the use of road haulage with the intermodal option that incorporates the Spanish motorways of the sea. The results of this comparative analysis show that the intermodal option is not always the best choice in environmental terms. Consequently, the traditional environmental argument to justify this alternative must be used carefully. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Current Dilemma and Future Path of China’s Electric Vehicles
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1567-1593; doi:10.3390/su6031567
Received: 14 January 2014 / Revised: 5 March 2014 / Accepted: 7 March 2014 / Published: 20 March 2014
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (344 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
China had set an ambitious development target of electric vehicles (EVs) to mitigate the environmental pollution. However, the actual situation of EVs far lagged behind the goals. This paper analyzes the elements impeding EVs’ development, which are identified into four contributors, including [...] Read more.
China had set an ambitious development target of electric vehicles (EVs) to mitigate the environmental pollution. However, the actual situation of EVs far lagged behind the goals. This paper analyzes the elements impeding EVs’ development, which are identified into four contributors, including deficient EV subsidy policies, embarrassed EV market, local protectionism, and unmatched charging infrastructure. Based on the actual situation of China, this paper discusses corresponding policy suggestions and explores the alternative roadmap of EVs. In the initial development stage of EVs, it is important to select the appropriate charging mode for EVs according to different characteristics across users. Moreover, the development of hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) may open the EV market faster than battery electric vehicle (BEV). In addition, the low-speed EVs may be a good choice for the rural market and should be well developed. With the promotion of EVs, China central and local governments should make rational policies to promote EVs’ development, which is the crucial force to drive the uptake of EVs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Social Ecology and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Linking Complexity and Sustainability Theories: Implications for Modeling Sustainability Transitions
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1594-1622; doi:10.3390/su6031594
Received: 28 November 2013 / Revised: 5 March 2014 / Accepted: 6 March 2014 / Published: 24 March 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (688 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, we deploy a complexity theory as the foundation for integration of different theoretical approaches to sustainability and develop a rationale for a complexity-based framework for modeling transitions to sustainability. We propose a framework based on a comparison of [...] Read more.
In this paper, we deploy a complexity theory as the foundation for integration of different theoretical approaches to sustainability and develop a rationale for a complexity-based framework for modeling transitions to sustainability. We propose a framework based on a comparison of complex systems’ properties that characterize the different theories that deal with transitions to sustainability. We argue that adopting a complexity theory based approach for modeling transitions requires going beyond deterministic frameworks; by adopting a probabilistic, integrative, inclusive and adaptive approach that can support transitions. We also illustrate how this complexity-based modeling framework can be implemented; i.e., how it can be used to select modeling techniques that address particular properties of complex systems that we need to understand in order to model transitions to sustainability. In doing so, we establish a complexity-based approach towards modeling sustainability transitions that caters for the broad range of complex systems’ properties that are required to model transitions to sustainability. Full article
Open AccessArticle Application of On-Site Wastewater Treatment in Ireland and Perspectives on Its Sustainability
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1623-1642; doi:10.3390/su6031623
Received: 20 December 2013 / Revised: 4 March 2014 / Accepted: 17 March 2014 / Published: 24 March 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (707 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The wastewater of one third of Ireland’s population is treated on-site using domestic treatment systems (DWWTSs) that usually consist of a septic tank and soil attenuation system. Within the past four years, the legislative framework for these systems has undergone a major [...] Read more.
The wastewater of one third of Ireland’s population is treated on-site using domestic treatment systems (DWWTSs) that usually consist of a septic tank and soil attenuation system. Within the past four years, the legislative framework for these systems has undergone a major change with a registration and inspection regime being introduced to identify legacy sites that will require remediation work, particularly in areas of the country underlain by subsoils of very low permeability. Against this background this study aims to assess the overall sustainability of existing DWWTSs as well as alternative treatment and disposal options. The results show that main CO2eq emissions are from the methane production in septic tanks. The reduced methane production in mechanically aerated secondary treatment systems was found to counterbalance the related emissions due to the additional energy requirements. In contrast, septic tank systems have the lowest construction and operational costs representing the most economically sustainable solution. Pressurised disposal systems are slightly more expensive but have the potential to reduce environmental impact on surface water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Clustered decentralised treatment solutions could be environmentally and economically sustainable but ownership, management and related financial and legal issues will need to be addressed and developed. Full article
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Open AccessReview Governing Harmonious Human Engagement with the Spatial Capital
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1203-1221; doi:10.3390/su6031203
Received: 4 November 2013 / Revised: 7 February 2014 / Accepted: 24 February 2014 / Published: 5 March 2014
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Abstract
The unprecedented rate and scale of activities, simulated by human abode in its entirety, is having large and accelerating effects on the integrity of biophysical elements of spatial capital, at local, regional, and global scales. Real appreciation of these effects demands a [...] Read more.
The unprecedented rate and scale of activities, simulated by human abode in its entirety, is having large and accelerating effects on the integrity of biophysical elements of spatial capital, at local, regional, and global scales. Real appreciation of these effects demands a dramatic change in human manipulation of the spatial capital. Spatial capital can be viewed as processes or a complex matrix, in which not only our spatial but social, economic, and intellectual needs are embedded. Through an extensive synthesis of literature, this study strives to situate as well as manage human abode in context of spatial capital. It focuses on the need of crafting spatial governance, which secures today’s needs without compromising the needs of abode for our future generations. For harmonious human engagement with the spatial capital, we focused on following major requisites: (i) filling gaps in the understanding of processes of the respective spatial capital; (ii) integration of this intellectual capital; (iii) and spatial government supported by seamless institutionalisation, and governance processes in a global context. All modes of human abode are unique when analysed in the milieu of their social, economic, cultural, and intellectual yield, and their respective ecological footprint on spatial capital. An essential component of the sustainability of spatial capital is fundamental knowledge of the relevant biophysical processes, which yield the respective social, economic, cultural, and intellectual services we obtain from it. Action-oriented and integrated intellectual capital will yield the required awareness about the spatial capital, which when crystallised into proper institutions their processes will certainly produce promising outcomes for spatial management. Sustainable spatial constructs can only be produced through horizontal and vertical harmonization in governance institutions from the local to global level. It will not only help in the rehabilitation of the spatial capital but can also enhance it. Full article
Open AccessReview Visions of Sustainability in Bioeconomy Research
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1222-1249; doi:10.3390/su6031222
Received: 23 January 2014 / Revised: 25 February 2014 / Accepted: 27 February 2014 / Published: 6 March 2014
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (979 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The rise of the bioeconomy is usually associated with increased sustainability. However, various controversies suggest doubts about this assumed relationship. The objective of this paper is to identify different visions and the current understanding of the relationship between the bioeconomy and sustainability [...] Read more.
The rise of the bioeconomy is usually associated with increased sustainability. However, various controversies suggest doubts about this assumed relationship. The objective of this paper is to identify different visions and the current understanding of the relationship between the bioeconomy and sustainability in the scientific literature by means of a systematic review. After a search in several databases, 87 scientific journal articles were selected for review. Results show that visions about the relationship between bioeconomy and sustainability differ substantially. Four different visions were identified, including: (1) the assumption that sustainability is an inherent characteristic of the bioeconomy; (2) the expectation of benefits under certain conditions; (3) tentative criticism under consideration of potential pitfalls; and (4) the assumption of a negative impact of the bioeconomy on sustainability. There is considerable attention for sustainability in the scientific bioeconomy debate, and the results show that the bioeconomy cannot be considered as self-evidently sustainable. In further research and policy development, good consideration should therefore be given to the question of how the bioeconomy could contribute to a more sustainable future. Furthermore, it is stressed that the bioeconomy should be approached in a more interdisciplinary or trans-disciplinary way. The consideration of sustainability may serve as a basis for such an approach. Full article

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