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Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 2 (February 2015), Pages 1099-2273

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Open AccessArticle From Theory to Practice: Enhancing the Potential Policy Impact of Industrial Ecology
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2259-2273; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7022259
Received: 1 December 2014 / Revised: 10 February 2015 / Accepted: 12 February 2015 / Published: 17 February 2015
Cited by 26 | PDF Full-text (219 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Industrial ecology introduced a new paradigm of principles and tools useful to academic analysis and decision support activities for industry and policymakers. This paper presents a view of the state of the art of industrial ecology, encompassing the four major theoretical traditions comprising
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Industrial ecology introduced a new paradigm of principles and tools useful to academic analysis and decision support activities for industry and policymakers. This paper presents a view of the state of the art of industrial ecology, encompassing the four major theoretical traditions comprising the field, and emphasizing the relevance to practice. The principles of industrial ecology offer a basis for integrating environmental perspectives into production and consumption strategies, though there are significant challenges to be addressed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability)
Open AccessEditorial Sustainability Best Paper Awards for 2015
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2256-2258; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7022256
Received: 16 February 2015 / Accepted: 17 February 2015 / Published: 17 February 2015
PDF Full-text (124 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainability is instituting annual awards to recognize the most outstanding papers in the areas of environmental, cultural, economic, technical and social sustainability of human beings published in Sustainability. [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle Using GMDH Neural Networks to Model the Power and Torque of a Stirling Engine
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2243-2255; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7022243
Received: 4 December 2014 / Revised: 3 February 2015 / Accepted: 10 February 2015 / Published: 17 February 2015
Cited by 26 | PDF Full-text (180 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Different variables affect the performance of the Stirling engine and are considered in optimization and designing activities. Among these factors, torque and power have the greatest effect on the robustness of the Stirling engine, so they need to be determined with low uncertainty
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Different variables affect the performance of the Stirling engine and are considered in optimization and designing activities. Among these factors, torque and power have the greatest effect on the robustness of the Stirling engine, so they need to be determined with low uncertainty and high precision. In this article, the distribution of torque and power are determined using experimental data. Specifically, a novel polynomial approach is proposed to specify torque and power, on the basis of previous experimental work. This research addresses the question of whether GMDH (group method of data handling)-type neural networks can be utilized to predict the torque and power based on determined parameters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Energy Sustainability)
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Open AccessReview Soil Quality Impacts of Current South American Agricultural Practices
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2213-2242; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7022213
Received: 19 November 2014 / Revised: 17 January 2015 / Accepted: 10 February 2015 / Published: 17 February 2015
Cited by 18 | PDF Full-text (1043 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Increasing global demand for oil seeds and cereals during the past 50 years has caused an expansion in the cultivated areas and resulted in major soil management and crop production changes throughout Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and southern Brazil. Unprecedented adoption of no-tillage
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Increasing global demand for oil seeds and cereals during the past 50 years has caused an expansion in the cultivated areas and resulted in major soil management and crop production changes throughout Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and southern Brazil. Unprecedented adoption of no-tillage as well as improved soil fertility and plant genetics have increased yields, but the use of purchased inputs, monocropping i.e., continuous soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.), and marginal land cultivation have also increased. These changes have significantly altered the global food and feed supply role of these countries, but they have also resulted in various levels of soil degradation through wind and water erosion, soil compaction, soil organic matter (SOM) depletion, and nutrient losses. Sustainability is dependent upon local interactions between soil, climate, landscape characteristics, and production systems. This review examines the region’s current soil and crop conditions and summarizes several research studies designed to reduce or prevent soil degradation. Although the region has both environmental and soil resources that can sustain current agricultural production levels, increasing population, greater urbanization, and more available income will continue to increase the pressure on South American croplands. A better understanding of regional soil differences and quantifying potential consequences of current production practices on various soil resources is needed to ensure that scientific, educational, and regulatory programs result in land management recommendations that support intensification of agriculture without additional soil degradation or other unintended environmental consequences. Full article
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Open AccessReview Bioremediation of Heavy Metals from Soil and Aquatic Environment: An Overview of Principles and Criteria of Fundamental Processes
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2189-2212; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7022189
Received: 11 September 2014 / Revised: 21 January 2015 / Accepted: 11 February 2015 / Published: 17 February 2015
Cited by 113 | PDF Full-text (774 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Heavy metals are natural constituents of the environment, but indiscriminate use for human purposes has altered their geochemical cycles and biochemical balance. This results in excess release of heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc etc. into natural resources like the
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Heavy metals are natural constituents of the environment, but indiscriminate use for human purposes has altered their geochemical cycles and biochemical balance. This results in excess release of heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc etc. into natural resources like the soil and aquatic environments. Prolonged exposure and higher accumulation of such heavy metals can have deleterious health effects on human life and aquatic biota. The role of microorganisms and plants in biotransformation of heavy metals into nontoxic forms is well-documented, and understanding the molecular mechanism of metal accumulation has numerous biotechnological implications for bioremediation of metal-contaminated sites. In view of this, the present review investigates the abilities of microorganisms and plants in terms of tolerance and degradation of heavy metals. Also, advances in bioremediation technologies and strategies to explore these immense and valuable biological resources for bioremediation are discussed. An assessment of the current status of technology deployment and suggestions for future bioremediation research has also been included. Finally, there is a discussion of the genetic and molecular basis of metal tolerance in microbes, with special reference to the genomics of heavy metal accumulator plants and the identification of functional genes involved in tolerance and detoxification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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Open AccessArticle Threats to Sustainability of Soil Functions in Central and Southeast Europe
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2161-2188; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7022161
Received: 14 December 2014 / Revised: 11 February 2015 / Accepted: 12 February 2015 / Published: 16 February 2015
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (2141 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A diverse topography along with deforestation, changing climatic conditions, long-term human settlement, overuse of agricultural lands without sustainable planning, cultural difficulties in accepting conservative land management practices, and wrong political decisions have increased the vulnerability of many soils to degradation and resulted in
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A diverse topography along with deforestation, changing climatic conditions, long-term human settlement, overuse of agricultural lands without sustainable planning, cultural difficulties in accepting conservative land management practices, and wrong political decisions have increased the vulnerability of many soils to degradation and resulted in a serious decline in their functional capacity. A progressive reduction in the capacity of soils to support plant productivity is not only a threat in the African continent and its large desert zone, but also in several parts of Central and Southeastern Europe (CASEE). The loss of soil functions throughout CASEE is mainly related to the human activities that have profound influence on soil dynamic characteristics. Improper management of soils has made them more vulnerable to degradation through water and wind erosion, organic matter depletion, salinity, acidification, crusting and sealing, and compaction. Unmitigated degradation has substantial implications for long term sustainability of the soils’ capability to support human communities and resist desertification. If sustainable agricultural and land management practices are not identified, well understood and implemented, the decline in soil quality will continue and probably accelerate. The lack of uniform criteria for the assessment and evaluation of soil quality in CASEE countries prevents scientific assessments to determine if existing management practices are leading to soil quality improvement, or if not, what management practices should be recommended to mitigate and reverse the loss of soil health. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Study on Project Duration Incentives in a Retail Apparel Franchise
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2145-2160; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7022145
Received: 30 October 2014 / Revised: 10 February 2015 / Accepted: 12 February 2015 / Published: 16 February 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (783 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper studies the impact on project duration of different forms of over-confidence among general contractors executing such projects, in the context of retail apparel franchises. It goes on to consider the design of relevant incentives and, in particular, a compensation mechanism included
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This paper studies the impact on project duration of different forms of over-confidence among general contractors executing such projects, in the context of retail apparel franchises. It goes on to consider the design of relevant incentives and, in particular, a compensation mechanism included in the initial contract that covers the event of contractor dismissal. This mechanism is examined as a means of hedging risk arising from the behavior of the principal. This includes a study of a two-way risk avoidance strategy, which is intended to make up for a shortfall in this regard in the existing literature. Outcomes derived from this research include the conclusion that different levels of confidence can have various impacts on optimal incentive coefficients and the effort level extracted from agents, thereby affecting the ultimate configuration of an optimal contract. Introducing a compensation mechanism covering the event of dismissal can serve to diminish the risk of an agent breaching their contract. This paper applies the concept of bounded rationality to a principal-agent model, ensuring conclusions that are attuned to reality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Fashion Business Operations)
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Open AccessArticle Proposal of a Sustainability Index for the Automotive Industry
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2113-2144; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7022113
Received: 10 November 2014 / Revised: 8 February 2015 / Accepted: 9 February 2015 / Published: 16 February 2015
Cited by 30 | PDF Full-text (784 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In a scenario of increasing globalization, sustainable development has emerged as an attractive and strategic issue for both countries and individual organizations and their supply chains. Companies have faced different challenges in seeking to combine the best economic performance with increased social and
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In a scenario of increasing globalization, sustainable development has emerged as an attractive and strategic issue for both countries and individual organizations and their supply chains. Companies have faced different challenges in seeking to combine the best economic performance with increased social and environmental responsibility. Monitoring sustainability is essential for decision-making and management of activities that comprise an organization’s system processes. Evaluation can be performed using indices or a set of indicators. In addition to increasing organizational effectiveness and improving competitiveness, customer service and profitability, it is also a crucial influence on the development of business sustainability. This paper proposes a sustainability index that provides companies with information about their level of economic, social and environmental sustainability, showing their performance at both individual and supply chain level. The importance of the indicators is assessed by using the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) methodology applied to a case study of a supply chain in the automotive industry. The various stages experienced during the construction of the index are also shown. The final results achieved are then presented and discussed in light of the objectives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle Sustainability, Efficiency and Equitability of Water Consumption and Pollution in Latin America and the Caribbean
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2086-2112; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7022086
Received: 12 December 2014 / Revised: 6 February 2015 / Accepted: 9 February 2015 / Published: 16 February 2015
Cited by 22 | PDF Full-text (3701 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper assesses the sustainability, efficiency and equity of water use in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) by means of a geographic Water Footprint Assessment (WFA). It aims to provide understanding of water use from both a production and consumption point of
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This paper assesses the sustainability, efficiency and equity of water use in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) by means of a geographic Water Footprint Assessment (WFA). It aims to provide understanding of water use from both a production and consumption point of view. The study identifies priority basins and areas from the perspectives of blue water scarcity, water pollution and deforestation. Wheat, fodder crops and sugarcane are identified as priority products related to blue water scarcity. The domestic sector is the priority sector regarding water pollution from nitrogen. Soybean and pasture are priority products related to deforestation. We estimate that consumptive water use in crop production could be reduced by 37% and nitrogen-related water pollution by 44% if water footprints were reduced to certain specified benchmark levels. The average WF per consumer in the region is 28% larger than the global average and varies greatly, from 912 m3/year per capita in Nicaragua to 3468 m3/year in Bolivia. Ironically, the LAC region shows significant levels of undernourishment, although there is abundant water and food production in the region and substantial use of land and water for producing export crops like soybean. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
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Open AccessArticle Measurement and Numerical Simulation of Air Velocity in a Tunnel-Ventilated Broiler House
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2066-2085; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7022066
Received: 23 October 2014 / Revised: 5 February 2015 / Accepted: 6 February 2015 / Published: 13 February 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (3153 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A building needs to be designed for the whole period of its useful life according to its requirements. However, future climate predictions involve some uncertainty. Thus, several sustainable strategies of adaptation need to be incorporated after the initial design. In this sense, tunnel
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A building needs to be designed for the whole period of its useful life according to its requirements. However, future climate predictions involve some uncertainty. Thus, several sustainable strategies of adaptation need to be incorporated after the initial design. In this sense, tunnel ventilation in broiler houses provides high air velocity values (2–3 m·s−1) at animal level to diminish their thermal stress and associated mortality. This ventilation system was experimentally incorporated into a Mediterranean climate. The aim was to resolve these thermal problems in hot seasons, as (traditional) cross-mechanical ventilation does not provide enough air velocity values. Surprisingly, very little information on tunnel ventilation systems is available, especially in terms of air velocity. Using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and a multi-sensor system, the average results are similar (at animal level: 1.59 ± 0.68 m·s−1 for CFD and 1.55 ± 0.66 m·s−1 for measurements). The ANOVA for validation concluded that the use of CFD or measurements is not significant (p-value = 0.1155). Nevertheless, some problems with air velocity distribution were found and need to be solved. To this end, CFD techniques can help by means of virtual designs and scenarios providing information for the whole indoor space. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Engineering and Science)
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Open AccessArticle Cross-Scale and Cross-Level Dynamics: Governance and Capacity for Resilience in a Social-Ecological System in Taiwan
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2045-2065; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7022045
Received: 24 December 2014 / Revised: 29 January 2015 / Accepted: 9 February 2015 / Published: 13 February 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (818 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Resilience thinking has strongly influenced how people understand and pursue sustainability of linked social-ecological systems. Resilience thinking highlights the need to build capacity and manage general system properties in a complex, constantly changing world. I modified an analytical framework to address associations among
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Resilience thinking has strongly influenced how people understand and pursue sustainability of linked social-ecological systems. Resilience thinking highlights the need to build capacity and manage general system properties in a complex, constantly changing world. I modified an analytical framework to address associations among cross-scale and cross-level dynamics, attributes of governance, and capacity to enhance resilience. The Danungdafu Forestation Area represents one of Taiwan’s most controvisal cases concerning land use, indigenous rights, and environmental issues. Analysis of this Taiwanese experience from a social-ecological perspective can show how current capacities for managing resilience are related to critical governance attributes. Analysis helped identify fundamental flaws in current governance and key issues needing to be addressed. The Danungdafu Forestation Area should transition towards a governance regime that is more participatory, deliberative, multi-layered, accountable, just, and networked. This can be done by developing an intermediate level institution that coordinates the cross-scale and cross-level interactions that better fit this social-ecological system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Land Use and Ecosystem Management)
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Open AccessArticle VCC-SSF: Service-Oriented Security Framework for Vehicular Cloud Computing
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2028-2044; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7022028
Received: 20 December 2014 / Accepted: 6 February 2015 / Published: 13 February 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2094 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Recently, as vehicle computing technology has advanced, the paradigm of the vehicle has changed from a simple means of transportation to a smart vehicle for safety and convenience. In addition, the previous functions of the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) such as traffic accident
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Recently, as vehicle computing technology has advanced, the paradigm of the vehicle has changed from a simple means of transportation to a smart vehicle for safety and convenience. In addition, the previous functions of the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) such as traffic accident prevention and providing traffic volume information have been combined with cloud computing. ITS services provide user-oriented broad services in the Vehicular Cloud Computing (VCC) environment through efficient traffic management, traffic accident prevention, and convenience services. However, existing vehicle services focus on providing services using sensing information inside the vehicle and the system to provide the service through an interface with the external infrastructure is insufficient. In addition, because wireless networks are used in VCC environments, there is a risk of important information leakage from sensors inside the vehicle, such as driver personal identification and payment information at the time of goods purchase. We propose the VCC Service-oriented Security Framework (VCC-SSF) to address the limitations and security threats of VCC-based services. The proposed framework considers security for convenient and efficient services of VCC and includes new user-oriented payment management and active accident management services. Furthermore, it provides authentication, encryption, access control, confidentiality, integrity, and privacy protection for user personal information and information inside the vehicle. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Analysis of the Temporal and Spatial Distribution of Lake and Reservoir Water Quality in China and Changes in Its Relationship with GDP from 2005 to 2010
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2000-2027; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7022000
Received: 22 October 2014 / Revised: 6 January 2015 / Accepted: 23 January 2015 / Published: 12 February 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2072 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We analyzed the spatial distribution of lake and reservoir water quality in China, and the trends from 2005 to 2010, based on monitoring data from 28 large Chinese lakes and reservoirs. We used a comprehensive water pollution index (WPI) to describe water quality
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We analyzed the spatial distribution of lake and reservoir water quality in China, and the trends from 2005 to 2010, based on monitoring data from 28 large Chinese lakes and reservoirs. We used a comprehensive water pollution index (WPI) to describe water quality and also identified the major pollutants. Using GDP data, we analyzed the relationships between economic factors and water quality. We found that although the water quality of large reservoirs is improving or remaining stable, despite economic growth, the water quality of most lakes either did not change or worsened. The outlook is pessimistic, as water quality in most lakes has decreased to Grade V or worse. The water quality was lowest for northern lakes and highest for southern lakes due to a combination of the local industrial structure and lower rainfall in the north. The primary pollutants generally remained stable during the study period. For some lakes, fluoride and volatile phenols became the primary pollutants, indicating more diverse sources of contamination. We divided the 28 bodies of water into four types based on the median WPI and GDP. The dominant combinations were low WPI with low GDP and high WPI with high GDP, as a result of the balance among economic development, the natural environment and environmental policy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Educating the Aware, Informed and Action-Oriented Sustainable Citizen
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1985-1999; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021985
Received: 2 November 2014 / Accepted: 31 January 2015 / Published: 12 February 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1599 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Introduction to Sustainability course at the University of Iowa seeks to educate the aware, informed and action-oriented sustainable citizen. A phenomenographic analysis and retrospective pretest were utilized to determine how students formed conceptions of sustainability as a result of completing the course.
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The Introduction to Sustainability course at the University of Iowa seeks to educate the aware, informed and action-oriented sustainable citizen. A phenomenographic analysis and retrospective pretest were utilized to determine how students formed conceptions of sustainability as a result of completing the course. The study indicated that student conceptions of sustainability can be characterized by the “aware, informed and action-oriented” spectrum. In written reflections following service-learning experiences, students provided ample examples of “awareness moments” where they expressed a first encounter with a wicked problem. In these same reflections, students provided examples of being able to move beyond awareness toward an action-orientation. Many students that were called to action through a service-learning experience expressed hesitation regarding their level of knowledge regarding certain issues. But, many students with this hesitation decided their next action step would be to become more informed. Therefore, even when confronted by a sustainability issue or dilemma that students felt were beyond their knowledge level, they many times expressed an action pathway to become more informed. By challenging student thought processes and exposing the immediate need for global change, the Introduction to Sustainability course empowered students to become aware, informed, and action-oriented sustainable citizens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Education and Approaches)
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Open AccessArticle Sustainable Development for Solar Heating Systems in Taiwan
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1970-1984; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021970
Received: 8 January 2015 / Accepted: 6 February 2015 / Published: 12 February 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1020 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In response to the impact of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, developing and using renewable energy sources and technologies have become vital for managing energy supply and demand in Taiwan. The long-term subsidy programs (1986–1991, 2000–present) for solar water heaters
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In response to the impact of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, developing and using renewable energy sources and technologies have become vital for managing energy supply and demand in Taiwan. The long-term subsidy programs (1986–1991, 2000–present) for solar water heaters (SWHs) launched by the Taiwanese government constitute the main driving force for market expansion. By the end of 2013, the cumulative area of installed solar collectors was 2.27 million m2. Approximately 0.3 million systems (or 1.545 million m2) are in operation. This corresponds to an annual collector yield of 0.92 TWh, which is equivalent to savings of 98.7 thousand tons of oil and 319 thousand tons of CO2,eq. The market-driven mechanism is associated with cost-to-benefit ratios, construction businesses, types of building architecture, degree of urbanization and household composition. The strong wind load of typhoons is another major concern. For sustaining the solar thermal industry in Taiwan, the dominant factor for disseminating SWHs in metropolitan areas involves developing building-integrated solar thermal systems. Alternative financial incentives are required for industrial heating processes in the commercial sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Business and Development)
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Open AccessArticle Barriers to Business Model Innovation in Swedish Agriculture
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1957-1969; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021957
Received: 23 December 2014 / Accepted: 6 February 2015 / Published: 11 February 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (678 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Swedish agricultural companies, especially small farms, are struggling to be profitable in difficult economic times. It is a challenge for Swedish farmers to compete with imported products on prices. The agricultural industry, however, supports the view that through business model innovation, farms can
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Swedish agricultural companies, especially small farms, are struggling to be profitable in difficult economic times. It is a challenge for Swedish farmers to compete with imported products on prices. The agricultural industry, however, supports the view that through business model innovation, farms can increase their competitive advantage. This paper identifies and describes some of the barriers Swedish small farms encounter when they consider business model innovation. A qualitative approach is used in the study. Agriculture business consultants were interviewed. In a focus group led by the researchers, farmers discussed business model innovation, including the exogenous and endogenous barriers to such innovation. The paper concludes many barriers exist when farmers consider innovation of agricultural business models. Some barriers are caused by human factors, such as individuals’ attitudes, histories, and traditions. Other barriers are more contextual in nature and relate to a particular industry or company setting. Still other barriers, such as government regulations, value chain position, and weather, are more abstract. All barriers, however, merit attention when Swedish agricultural companies develop new business models. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Business and Development)
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Open AccessArticle The Environmental, Social, Governance, and Financial Performance Effects on Companies that Adopt the United Nations Global Compact
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1932-1956; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021932
Received: 22 December 2014 / Accepted: 6 February 2015 / Published: 11 February 2015
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (740 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper aims to investigate companies’ environmental, social, governance (ESG), and financial implications of their commitment to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The focus is placed on companies operating in the three countries with the highest number of UNGC participants: Spain, France,
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This paper aims to investigate companies’ environmental, social, governance (ESG), and financial implications of their commitment to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The focus is placed on companies operating in the three countries with the highest number of UNGC participants: Spain, France, and Japan. The results clearly reveal that adoption of the UNGC often requires an organizational change that fosters stakeholder engagement, ultimately resulting in improvements in companies’ ESG performance. Additionally, the results reveal that ESG performance has a significant impact on financial performance for companies that adopted the principles of the UNGC. These findings provide both non-financial and financial incentives to companies to commit to this voluntary corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, which will have important implications on companies’ strategic management policies that aim to foster sustainable businesses and community development. Finally, the linkages between the UNGC-committed companies’ ESG and financial performance may be influenced by geographical spread, mainly due to the appearance of differences in the institutional, societal, and cultural settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Business and Development)
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Open AccessArticle Local Governments Supporting Local Energy Initiatives: Lessons from the Best Practices of Saerbeck (Germany) and Lochem (The Netherlands)
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1900-1931; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021900
Received: 22 December 2014 / Accepted: 3 February 2015 / Published: 11 February 2015
Cited by 40 | PDF Full-text (794 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The social dimension of the transition to a low carbon economy is a key challenge to cities. The establishment of local energy initiatives (LEIs) has recently been attracting attention. It is of great importance to draw lessons from best practices when LEIs have
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The social dimension of the transition to a low carbon economy is a key challenge to cities. The establishment of local energy initiatives (LEIs) has recently been attracting attention. It is of great importance to draw lessons from best practices when LEIs have been facilitated by local governments and made a substantial contribution to greening local energy systems. The main research questions in this paper are: What lessons can be drawn from successful local low carbon energy transition cases, and which strategies proved successful to support LEIs? We have used analytical notions from the Strategic Niche Management (SNM) and grassroots innovation literature to analyze two best-practice cases: Saerbeck (Germany) and Lochem (The Netherlands). Data collection involved a set of fourteen in-depth interviews and secondary data. The results show that three key factors from SNM (building networks, managing expectations, and facilitation of learning) are of great importance. However, to a great degree it is also strategic, community serving, responsive, reflexive leadership and proper process management by public officials that spurred success, which would not have been possible without close interaction and mutual trust between local government and representatives of the local communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
Open AccessArticle Development of Climate Indices Using Local Weather Data for Shading Design
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1884-1899; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021884
Received: 3 December 2014 / Revised: 23 January 2015 / Accepted: 27 January 2015 / Published: 10 February 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1416 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The energy performance of buildings depends on how effectively the building envelope responds to climate. Architects, therefore, need to design building envelopes with the consideration of local climate characteristics in the early design stage. Simplified formulas were used that evaluate the heating and
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The energy performance of buildings depends on how effectively the building envelope responds to climate. Architects, therefore, need to design building envelopes with the consideration of local climate characteristics in the early design stage. Simplified formulas were used that evaluate the heating and cooling energy demand of building envelopes, which were applied to a model building with envelope and climate properties according to eight climate zones. Two climate indices, P and S, were developed. P enables the comparison of the heating and cooling energy demand of building envelopes, and S is for comparing the solar heat gain during heating and cooling seasons to review the feasibility of installing shading devices. The physical properties of envelopes were set differently according to the requirements in each climate zone proposed by American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 90.1. Using local climate data, the P and S of 24 cities over eight climate zones in the United States were derived, which can be used to evaluate the heating and cooling energy characteristics of envelopes. The indices not only enable users to understand the characteristics of the local climate conditions in a simple manner, but also to carry out quantitative assessments on whether shading devices are feasible and, if so, what type is recommended. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Vertically Differentiating Environmental Standards: The Case of the Marine Stewardship Council
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1861-1883; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021861
Received: 15 October 2014 / Accepted: 5 February 2015 / Published: 10 February 2015
Cited by 18 | PDF Full-text (715 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper explores the externally-led vertical differentiation of third-party certification standards using the case of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). We analyze this process in two dimensions. First, fisheries employ strategies to capture further market value from fishing practices that go beyond their
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This paper explores the externally-led vertical differentiation of third-party certification standards using the case of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). We analyze this process in two dimensions. First, fisheries employ strategies to capture further market value from fishing practices that go beyond their initial conditions for certification and seek additional recognition for these activities through co-labelling with, amongst others, international NGOs. Second, fisheries not yet able to meet the requirements of MSC standards are being enrolled in NGO and private sector sponsored Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIPs), providing an alternative route to global markets. In both cases the credibility and authority of the MSC is challenged by new coalitions of market actors opening up new strategies for capturing market value and/or improving the conditions of international market access. Through the lens of global value chains, the results offer new insights on how such standards not only influence trade and markets, but are also starting to change their internal governance in response to threats to their credibility by actors and modes of coordination in global value chains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agricultural Governance)
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Open AccessArticle Sustainability and Competitiveness in Australian Cities
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1840-1860; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021840
Received: 15 November 2014 / Accepted: 4 February 2015 / Published: 10 February 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1513 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study injects sustainability into competitiveness to inform policy making and planning for contemporary urban development. This is built upon the recent advancement in the scholarship on urban competitiveness that demonstrates a clear deviation from an economic-centric approach to incorporate multiple dimensions of
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This study injects sustainability into competitiveness to inform policy making and planning for contemporary urban development. This is built upon the recent advancement in the scholarship on urban competitiveness that demonstrates a clear deviation from an economic-centric approach to incorporate multiple dimensions of a city’s progress. This study has an explicit concern for environmental sustainability and its relationship with urban competitiveness and their conceptual and methodological articulations. Empirically, this study measures the sustainability and competitiveness in Australian cities and reveals that Australia’s urban progress is clearly associated with an environmental cost. The findings are useful to inform policy making and planning for building sustainable and competitive cities. Apart from the conventional solutions that focus on urban form change and transport infrastructure improvement, this study suggests a need to explore the opportunities deriving from the emerging smart city planning and practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessArticle Quantitative Evaluation of Settlement Sustainability Policy (QESSP); Forward Planning for 26 Irish Settlements
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1819-1839; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021819
Received: 10 November 2014 / Accepted: 5 February 2015 / Published: 10 February 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1121 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Urban areas are increasingly associated with negative environmental impacts due to concentrated resource consumption; however urban areas also offer economies of scale in terms of service provision. There is no accepted mechanism to aid decision-makers in policy selection to determine where to promote
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Urban areas are increasingly associated with negative environmental impacts due to concentrated resource consumption; however urban areas also offer economies of scale in terms of service provision. There is no accepted mechanism to aid decision-makers in policy selection to determine where to promote population growth or how to select settlement specific policies to improve sustainability of urban areas. There is strong political desire for methods assessing policy implementation impact on overall sustainability targets, but this has proved challenging, as views on the meaning of sustainability vary, and methods developed satisfying scientists’ needs for rigor are deemed too complex and inadequately transparent by decision-makers. Sustainability measurement is vital to check whether a new policy, decision or technical innovation is helpful in enhancing sustainability. By 2055 estimates indicate that 75 percent of the world population will live in urban areas, highlighting the importance of promoting low cost policy decisions providing greatest environmental benefit, with short implementation timescale. This paper describes an evidence-based method developed and piloted to address these drivers and provide a decision support system for planners and policy-makers developed for Irish settlements with population range 500–20,000, which may have application elsewhere. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Potential of Non-Formal Laboratory Environments for Innovating the Chemistry Curriculum and Promoting Secondary School Level Students Education for Sustainability
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1798-1818; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021798
Received: 1 December 2014 / Accepted: 3 February 2015 / Published: 10 February 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (918 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Developing skills and attitudes among students in terms of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) requires that educators address issues of sustainability in both formal and non-formal education. However, up to now, ESD seems to have been insufficiently implemented in secondary science education in
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Developing skills and attitudes among students in terms of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) requires that educators address issues of sustainability in both formal and non-formal education. However, up to now, ESD seems to have been insufficiently implemented in secondary science education in many countries in general, and in high school chemistry learning in particular. A lack of suitable experiments, coupled with missing teaching and learning materials and insufficient teacher professional development have been identified as the reasons for this gap. This paper describes a project of innovation and research in the field of ESD for secondary school chemistry education. Within the project, both half- and full-day learning environments have been developed for non-formal, laboratory-based learning of secondary level students at the university. The research-based development focuses on teaching-learning modules which link formal and non-formal learning. The pedagogy employed is both learner-centered and inquiry-based. All the modules focus on sustainability issues in chemistry-related contexts. Data was collected by questionnaires from teachers and students both prior to and after the visit of the non-formal learning environment. Likert-items were analyzed statistically and the evaluation of the open-ended questions was done by Qualitative Content Analysis. An overview of the project, a case from the non-formal laboratory setting, and findings from accompanying research and evaluation are discussed in this paper. Potential impacts on teacher professional development and curriculum innovation are also outlined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Approaches in Education)
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Open AccessArticle An Integrated Simulation Model for Dynamically Exploring the Optimal Solution to Mitigating Water Scarcity and Pollution
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1774-1797; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021774
Received: 14 December 2014 / Accepted: 3 February 2015 / Published: 10 February 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1311 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
An integrated optimization simulation model has been developed based on an input-output approach to mitigate water pollution and water scarcity through embedding environmental economic policies and applicable technologies into a complex environ-economic system to obtain an optimal set of policies and technologies that
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An integrated optimization simulation model has been developed based on an input-output approach to mitigate water pollution and water scarcity through embedding environmental economic policies and applicable technologies into a complex environ-economic system to obtain an optimal set of policies and technologies that promotes the maximization of the regional economy under the constraints of water pollutant discharge and water availability. An empirical study is undertaken with the Source Region of Liao River as the target area to verify the performance of the model. The relationships between the water environment and socio-economic systems are presented by clarifying the trends in economic development, water pollutant discharge and water supply and demand during a time horizon from 2011 to 2020. The endogenously-formed optimal set of policies and industrial restructuring simultaneously facilitate the reduction of water pollutant discharge and water consumption and increase the water supply. The extent of the mitigation of water pollution and water scarcity via applied policies and technologies promoted by the subsidies provided by the government are specified, and the mechanism of the policy application and subsidization distribution is explained. This model has applicability for other regions in terms of giving an optimal solution via comprehensive assessment of all of the proposed sustainability-related policies with sufficient data accessibility to achieve regional sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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Open AccessArticle A Stepwise, Participatory Approach to Design and Implement Community Based Adaptation to Drought in the Peruvian Andes
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1742-1773; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021742
Received: 14 August 2014 / Accepted: 30 January 2015 / Published: 10 February 2015
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (4662 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The livelihoods of people in the Andes are expected to be affected by climate change due to their dependence on glacier water. The observed decrease in glacier volume over the last few decades is likely to accelerate during the current century, which will
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The livelihoods of people in the Andes are expected to be affected by climate change due to their dependence on glacier water. The observed decrease in glacier volume over the last few decades is likely to accelerate during the current century, which will affect water availability in the region. This paper presents an approach for participatory development of community-based adaptation measures to cope with the projected impacts of climate change. It combines in an innovative manner participatory design with physical measurements, modeling and a vulnerability analysis. Vulnerability to drought is made operational for households in a catchment of the Ocoña River basin in Peru. On the basis of a household survey (n = 94) we explore how a vulnerability index (risk divided by response efficacy) can be used to assess the distribution of vulnerability over households, and how socio-economic factors determine this vulnerability. Water entitlement, area of irrigated land, income and education are all significantly correlated with vulnerability to drought. The research showed that the main source of spring water is local rainwater, and that water use efficiency is low. The selected adaptation measures aimed to increase water availability close to farmland, and increase water use efficiency of farmers and households. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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Open AccessArticle Network Analysis for a Better Water Use Configuration in the Baiyangdian Basin, China
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1730-1741; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021730
Received: 30 November 2014 / Accepted: 26 January 2015 / Published: 9 February 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (955 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Nowadays, an increasing shortage of water resources intensifies the contradiction among different water-using sectors in the social-economic-ecological complex system. To adjust water used configuration in a holistic framework, a water use system (WUS) model was constructed with inclusive five water-using sectors including aquatic
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Nowadays, an increasing shortage of water resources intensifies the contradiction among different water-using sectors in the social-economic-ecological complex system. To adjust water used configuration in a holistic framework, a water use system (WUS) model was constructed with inclusive five water-using sectors including aquatic systems, primary industry, secondary industry, tertiary industry and resident consumption. The Baiyangdian Basin in Northern China was used as a case area. Six years data from 2008 to 2013 were used to quantify the model. By introducing the ecological network analysis (EAN), we holistically assessed the WUS under different water use configuration. System organization, activities and development degree, etc. were used to character the prosperities of the water use system. Results indicate that the WUS encountered a lasting degradation in system organization (AMI index decreased in an annual rate of 0.6%) and development degree though with an ascending system activities in the studies periods (with an annual growth rate of 11.3%). Scenario analysis results suggest several potential ways to achieve a better water use configuration in this basin, such as environmental and ecological restoration, water-saving technology and water recycling rate, etc. The current study may provide ways to optimize water use structure to balance the interests of different sectors both ecologically and economically. Full article
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Open AccessReview Differential Radar Interferometry for Structural and Ground Deformation Monitoring: A New Tool for the Conservation and Sustainability of Cultural Heritage Sites
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1712-1729; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021712
Received: 2 December 2014 / Revised: 14 January 2015 / Accepted: 30 January 2015 / Published: 5 February 2015
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (994 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Affected by natural and human-induced factors, cultural heritage sites and their surroundings face threats of structural instability and land displacement. Accurate and rapid identification of the key areas facing existing or potential deformation risks is essential for the conservation and sustainability of heritage
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Affected by natural and human-induced factors, cultural heritage sites and their surroundings face threats of structural instability and land displacement. Accurate and rapid identification of the key areas facing existing or potential deformation risks is essential for the conservation and sustainability of heritage sites, particularly for huge archaeological regions. In recent years, the successful application of differential radar interferometry techniques for the measurement of millimeter-level terrain motions has demonstrated their potential for deformation monitoring and preventive diagnosis of cultural heritage sites. In this paper, we review the principles of advanced differential radar interferometry approaches and their applicability for structural and ground deformation monitoring over heritage sites. Then, the advantages and challenges of these approaches are analyzed, followed by a discussion on the selection of radar interferometry systems for different archaeological applications. Finally, a workflow, integrating space-borne and ground-based differential radar interferometry technologies for deformation anomaly monitoring and preventive diagnosis of cultural heritage sites, is proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability of Cultural and Natural Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle Seasonal Imbalances in Natural Gas Imports in Major Northeast Asian Countries: Variations, Reasons, Outlooks and Countermeasures
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1690-1711; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021690
Received: 22 October 2014 / Revised: 26 January 2015 / Accepted: 2 February 2015 / Published: 5 February 2015
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (3029 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The seasonal imbalances and price premiums of natural gas imports (NGIs) seriously affect the sustainability of these imports in major Northeast Asian countries, namely, China, Japan, and South Korea. Research on NGI seasonality might provide new insights that may help solve these issues.
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The seasonal imbalances and price premiums of natural gas imports (NGIs) seriously affect the sustainability of these imports in major Northeast Asian countries, namely, China, Japan, and South Korea. Research on NGI seasonality might provide new insights that may help solve these issues. Unfortunately, little research has been conducted on this topic. Therefore, this paper examined the seasonalities of Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean NGIs using the X-12-ARIMA model to analyze monthly and quarterly data. The results suggest that Chinese NGIs lacks identifiable monthly or quarterly seasonality, while South Korea and Japan exhibit clearly identifiable seasonality. In Japan, NGIs exceed their average levels in January, February, July, August, September, and December; that is, Japan imports more natural gas during the winter and summer. In South Korea, NGIs exceed their average levels in January, February, March and December. In other words, South Korea typically imports more natural gas during the winter. The seasonal differences in NGIs among these countries might be explained by differences in natural gas consumption characteristics, domestic natural gas production capacity, NGI capacity, price sensitivity, and means of transportation. Based on seasonal differences and their probable causes, some suggestions are provided to promote the sustainable development of NGI. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Developing a Green Supplier Selection Model by Using the DANP with VIKOR
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1661-1689; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021661
Received: 14 December 2014 / Accepted: 22 January 2015 / Published: 5 February 2015
Cited by 31 | PDF Full-text (1244 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study proposes a novel hybrid multiple-criteria decision-making (MCDM) method to evaluate green suppliers in an electronics company. Seventeen criteria in two dimensions concerning environmental and management systems were identified under the Code of Conduct of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC). Following
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This study proposes a novel hybrid multiple-criteria decision-making (MCDM) method to evaluate green suppliers in an electronics company. Seventeen criteria in two dimensions concerning environmental and management systems were identified under the Code of Conduct of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC). Following this, the Decision-Making Trial and Evaluation Laboratory (DEMATEL) used the Analytic Network Process (ANP) method (known as DANP) to determine both the importance of evaluation criteria in selecting suppliers and the causal relationships between them. Finally, the VlseKriterijumska Optimizacija I Kompromisno Resenje (VIKOR) method was used to evaluate the environmental performances of suppliers and to obtain a solution under each evaluation criterion. An illustrative example of an electronics company was presented to demonstrate how to select green suppliers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability)
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Open AccessCommunication Beyond Cockpit-ism: Four Insights to Enhance the Transformative Potential of the Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1651-1660; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7021651
Received: 24 December 2014 / Revised: 7 January 2015 / Accepted: 28 January 2015 / Published: 4 February 2015
Cited by 51 | PDF Full-text (818 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have the potential to become a powerful political vision that can support the urgently needed global transition to a shared and lasting prosperity. In December 2014, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General published his report on the SDGs.
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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have the potential to become a powerful political vision that can support the urgently needed global transition to a shared and lasting prosperity. In December 2014, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General published his report on the SDGs. However, the final goals and targets that will be adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 risk falling short of expectations because of what we call “cockpit-ism”: the illusion that top-down steering by governments and intergovernmental organizations alone can address global problems. In view of the limited effectiveness of intergovernmental efforts and questions about the capacity of national governments to affect change, the SDGs need to additionally mobilize new agents of change such as businesses, cities and civil society. To galvanize such a broad set of actors, multiple perspectives on sustainable development are needed that respond to the various motives and logics of change of these different actors. We propose four connected perspectives which can strengthen the universal relevance of the SDGs: “planetary boundaries” to stress the urgency of addressing environmental concerns and to target governments to take responsibility for (global) public goods; “the safe and just operating space” to highlight the interconnectedness of social and environmental concerns and its distributive consequences; “the energetic society” to benefit from the willingness of a broad group of actors worldwide to take action; and “green competition” to stimulate innovation and new business practices. To realize the transformative potential of the SDGs, these four perspectives should be reflected in the focus and content of the SDGs that will be negotiated in the run up to September 2015 and its further implementation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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