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Special Issue "Sustainable Futures"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2010)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Bruce E. Tonn

Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, P.O. Box 2008, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 37831-6038, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 1-865-574-4041
Fax: +1 865 576 8646
Interests: energy policy; environmental policy; sustainability; foresight; futures analysis; decision making under uncertainty; technology assessment; energy program evaluation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The purpose of this special issue is to explore sustainability from a futures perspective. Useful futures analyses do not attempt to predict the future. Instead good futures analyses work to imagine, describe, and/or create possible futures in such ways as to identify issues of concern for today’s decision makers. The papers in this special issue should address these types of questions related to helping today’s decision makers better understand future trends and issues related to sustainability. What progress can be made towards achieving sustainability in the next fifteen to twenty years? Are there any potential breakthrough technologies on the horizon that could make achieving sustainability easier or even more difficult? What about the convergence of new technologies? Are trends in politics, economics, and culture that may play out over the next twenty or more years consistent with achieving sustainability goals or inconsistent? What socio-economic breakthroughs are needed to support the achievement of sustainability? What should be done today to remove barriers to potential technological and socio-economic breakthroughs? What on-the-ground models for a self-sufficiency version of sustainability might emerge in the future and can these models co-exist with each other? Are there sustainability challenges in the deep future, centuries or longer from now, that are qualitatively different from those being addressed today that require the attention of today’s generation?

Dr. Bruce E. Tonn
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • sustainability
  • futures
  • breakthrough technologies
  • self-sufficiency
  • energy policy
  • environmental policy

Published Papers (16 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle Understanding the Future of Change Agency in Sustainability Through Cellular Automata Scenarios: The Role of Timing
Sustainability 2011, 3(4), 578-595; doi:10.3390/su3040578
Received: 15 February 2011 / Accepted: 15 March 2011 / Published: 30 March 2011
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Abstract
One of the main interdisciplinary challenges today is to understand and change the dominant social perceptions and values that support and perpetuate unsustainable practices. Social computational simulations have been conceived in recent years to understand emergent results from complex systems. These dynamic social
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One of the main interdisciplinary challenges today is to understand and change the dominant social perceptions and values that support and perpetuate unsustainable practices. Social computational simulations have been conceived in recent years to understand emergent results from complex systems. These dynamic social models are of interest to sustainability researchers because they provide a means to implement hypotheses and explore scenarios that could help extend our understanding of the future role of change agency in society. Change agents are individuals who directly or indirectly enable sustainable behaviors or inhibit practices that damage the environment and large social groups. Evidence-based strategies, guidelines and methods are necessary in order to manage creative change agency more effectively. This paper presents work with computational simulations, known as cellular automata, in order to explore the role of timing in triggering social change through uncoordinated, autonomous individual action. The paper identifies a number of issues related to creative change agency and proposes associated guidelines for practitioners. As a means of early validation, these findings are portrayed against empirical studies in the literature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
Open AccessArticle Human Capital and Sustainability
Sustainability 2011, 3(1), 97-154; doi:10.3390/su3010097
Received: 9 November 2010 / Revised: 6 December 2010 / Accepted: 15 December 2010 / Published: 7 January 2011
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (1394 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A study of sustainability needs to consider the role of all forms of capital—natural, biological, social, technological, financial, cultural—and the complex ways in which they interact. All forms of capital derive their value, utility and application from human mental awareness, creativity and social
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A study of sustainability needs to consider the role of all forms of capital—natural, biological, social, technological, financial, cultural—and the complex ways in which they interact. All forms of capital derive their value, utility and application from human mental awareness, creativity and social innovation. This makes human capital, including social capital, the central determinant of resource productivity and sustainability. Humanity has entered the Anthropocene Epoch in which human changes have become the predominant factor in evolution. Humanity is itself evolving from animal physicality to social vitality to mental individuality. This transition has profound bearing on human productive capabilities, adaptability, creativity and values, the organization of economy, public policy, social awareness and life styles that determine sustainability. This article examines the linkages between population, economic development, employment, education, health, social equity, cultural values, energy intensity and sustainability in the context of evolving human consciousness. It concludes that development of human capital is the critical determinant of long-term sustainability and that efforts to accelerate the evolution of human consciousness and emergence of mentally self-conscious individuals will be the most effective approach for ensuring a sustainable future. Education is the primary lever. Human choice matters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
Open AccessArticle A Sustainable Energy Scenario for the United States: Year 2050
Sustainability 2010, 2(12), 3650-3680; doi:10.3390/su2123650
Received: 14 September 2010 / Revised: 28 October 2010 / Accepted: 18 November 2010 / Published: 26 November 2010
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (275 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper presents a scenario depicting life in the United States in the year 2050. The scenario is designed to achieve energy sustainability: fossil fuels and corn ethanol have been replaced by other sustainable and inexhaustible energy sources. The scenario describes the disappearance
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This paper presents a scenario depicting life in the United States in the year 2050. The scenario is designed to achieve energy sustainability: fossil fuels and corn ethanol have been replaced by other sustainable and inexhaustible energy sources. The scenario describes the disappearance of the suburbs, replaced by a mix of high density urban centers and low density eco-communities. A suite of advanced technologies and significant social changes underpin the scenario. Analysis of the energy implications inherent in the scenario suggest that total US energy consumption would be around 100 quads in 2050, approximately the same as in the year 2010 despite a forecasted population increase of 130 million. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
Open AccessArticle Sustaining Rainforest Plants, People and Global Health: A Model for Learning from Traditions in Holistic Health Promotion and Community Based Conservation as Implemented by Q’eqchi’ Maya Healers, Maya Mountains, Belize
Sustainability 2010, 2(11), 3383-3398; doi:10.3390/su2113383
Received: 30 August 2010 / Revised: 22 October 2010 / Accepted: 27 October 2010 / Published: 28 October 2010
PDF Full-text (348 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The present work showcases a model for holistic, sustainable healthcare in indigenous communities worldwide through the implementation of traditional healing practices. The implementation of this model promotes public health and community wellness while addressing crucially important themes such as in situ and ex
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The present work showcases a model for holistic, sustainable healthcare in indigenous communities worldwide through the implementation of traditional healing practices. The implementation of this model promotes public health and community wellness while addressing crucially important themes such as in situ and ex situ conservation of medicinal plant resources and associated biodiversity, generational transmission of knowledge, and the preservation of biological and cultural diversity for future generations. Being envisaged and implemented by Q’eqchi’ Maya traditional healers of the southern Maya Mountains, Belize, this model can be replicated in other communities worldwide. A ethnobotany study in collaboration with these healers led to collection of 102 medicinal species from Itzama, their traditional healing cultural center and medicinal garden. Of these 102 species, 40 of prior reported 106 consensus study plants were present in the garden. There were 62 plants not previously reported growing in the garden as well. A general comparison of these plants was also made in relation to species reported in TRAMIL network, Caribbean Herbal Pharmacopoeia (CHP), the largest regional medicinal pharmacopoeia. A relative few species reported here were found in the CHP. However, the majority of the CHP plants are common in Belize and many are used by the nearby Mopan and Yucatec Maya. Since these 102 species are relied upon heavily in local primary healthcare, this Q’eqchi’ Maya medicinal garden represents possibilities toward novel sustainable, culturally relative holistic health promotion and community based conservation practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
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Open AccessArticle Sustainable Nanotechnology: Through Green Methods and Life-Cycle Thinking
Sustainability 2010, 2(10), 3323-3338; doi:10.3390/su2103323
Received: 10 September 2010 / Revised: 9 October 2010 / Accepted: 18 October 2010 / Published: 25 October 2010
Cited by 22 | PDF Full-text (352 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Citing the myriad applications of nanotechnology, this paper emphasizes the need to conduct “life cycle” based assessments as early in the new product development process as possible, for a better understanding of the potential environmental and human health consequences of nanomaterials over the
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Citing the myriad applications of nanotechnology, this paper emphasizes the need to conduct “life cycle” based assessments as early in the new product development process as possible, for a better understanding of the potential environmental and human health consequences of nanomaterials over the entire life cycle of a nano-enabled product. The importance of this reasoning is further reinforced through an illustrative case study on automotive exterior body panels, which shows that the perceived environmental benefits of nano-based products in the Use stage may not adequately represent the complete picture, without examining the impacts in the other life cycle stages, particularly Materials Processing and Manufacturing. Nanomanufacturing methods often have associated environmental and human health impacts, which must be kept in perspective when evaluating nanoproducts for their “greenness.” Incorporating life-cycle thinking for making informed decisions at the product design stage, combining life cycle and risk analysis, using sustainable manufacturing practices, and employing green chemistry alternatives are seen as possible solutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
Open AccessArticle Virtual Sustainability
Sustainability 2010, 2(10), 3195-3210; doi:10.3390/su2103195
Received: 30 July 2010 / Revised: 9 September 2010 / Accepted: 13 September 2010 / Published: 30 September 2010
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (612 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In four ways, massively multiplayer online role-playing games may serve as tools for advancing sustainability goals, and as laboratories for developing alternatives to current social arrangements that have implications for the natural environment. First, by moving conspicuous consumption and other usually costly status
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In four ways, massively multiplayer online role-playing games may serve as tools for advancing sustainability goals, and as laboratories for developing alternatives to current social arrangements that have implications for the natural environment. First, by moving conspicuous consumption and other usually costly status competitions into virtual environments, these virtual worlds might reduce the need for physical resources. Second, they provide training that could prepare individuals to be teleworkers, and develop or demonstrate methods for using information technology to replace much transportation technology, notably in commuting. Third, virtual worlds and online games build international cooperation, even blending national cultures, thereby inching us toward not only the world consciousness needed for international agreements about the environment, but also toward non-spatial government that cuts across archaic nationalisms. Finally, realizing the potential social benefits of this new technology may urge us to reconsider a number of traditional societal institutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
Open AccessArticle Designing a Sustainable Future through Creation of North America’s only International Wildlife Refuge
Sustainability 2010, 2(9), 3110-3128; doi:10.3390/su2093110
Received: 23 July 2010 / Revised: 9 September 2010 / Accepted: 13 September 2010 / Published: 21 September 2010
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (720 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In 2001, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge was established based on the principles of conservation and sustainability. The refuge has grown from 49.1 ha in 2001 to over 2,300 ha in 2010. Agreement on a compelling vision for a sustainable future was
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In 2001, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge was established based on the principles of conservation and sustainability. The refuge has grown from 49.1 ha in 2001 to over 2,300 ha in 2010. Agreement on a compelling vision for a sustainable future was necessary to rally stakeholders and move them forward together. Project examples include: lake sturgeon and common tern restoration; soft shoreline engineering; ecotourism; sustainable redevelopment of a brownfield; and indicator reporting. Key success factors include: a consensus long-term vision; a multi-stakeholder process that achieves cooperative learning; strong coupling of monitoring/research programs with management; implementing actions consistent with adaptive management; measuring and celebrating successes; quantifying benefits; building capacity; and developing the next generation of sustainability practitioners and entrepreneurs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
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Open AccessArticle Using Scenario Visioning and Participatory System Dynamics Modeling to Investigate the Future: Lessons from Minnesota 2050
Sustainability 2010, 2(8), 2686-2706; doi:10.3390/su2082686
Received: 10 July 2010 / Revised: 17 August 2010 / Accepted: 18 August 2010 / Published: 24 August 2010
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (734 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Both scenario visioning and participatory system dynamics modeling emphasize the dynamic and uncontrollable nature of complex socio-ecological systems, and the significance of multiple feedback mechanisms. These two methodologies complement one another, but are rarely used together. We partnered with regional organizations in Minnesota
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Both scenario visioning and participatory system dynamics modeling emphasize the dynamic and uncontrollable nature of complex socio-ecological systems, and the significance of multiple feedback mechanisms. These two methodologies complement one another, but are rarely used together. We partnered with regional organizations in Minnesota to design a future visioning process that incorporated both scenarios and participatory system dynamics modeling. The three purposes of this exercise were: first, to assist regional leaders in making strategic decisions that would make their communities sustainable; second, to identify research gaps that could impede the ability of regional and state groups to plan for the future; and finally, to introduce more systems thinking into planning and policy-making around environmental issues. We found that scenarios and modeling complemented one another, and that both techniques allowed regional groups to focus on the sustainability of fundamental support systems (energy, food, and water supply). The process introduced some creative tensions between imaginative scenario visioning and quantitative system dynamics modeling, and between creating desired futures (a strong cultural norm) and inhabiting the future (a premise of the Minnesota 2050 exercise). We suggest that these tensions can stimulate more agile, strategic thinking about the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
Open AccessArticle The Century Ahead: Searching for Sustainability
Sustainability 2010, 2(8), 2626-2651; doi:10.3390/su2082626
Received: 10 July 2010 / Revised: 12 August 2010 / Accepted: 17 August 2010 / Published: 20 August 2010
Cited by 38 | PDF Full-text (353 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The global future lies before us as a highly uncertain and contested landscape with numerous perils along the way. This study explores possible pathways to sustainability by considering in quantitative detail four contrasting scenarios for the twenty-first century. The analysis reveals vividly the
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The global future lies before us as a highly uncertain and contested landscape with numerous perils along the way. This study explores possible pathways to sustainability by considering in quantitative detail four contrasting scenarios for the twenty-first century. The analysis reveals vividly the risks of conventional development approaches and the real danger of socio-ecological descent. Nonetheless, the paper underscores that a Great Transition scenario—turning toward a civilization of enhanced human well-being and environmental resilience—remains an option, and identifies a suite of strategic and value changes for getting there. A fundamental shift in the development paradigm is found to be an urgent necessity for assuring a sustainable future and, as well, a hopeful opportunity for creating a world of enriched lives, human amity, and a healthy ecosphere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
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Open AccessCommunication Sustainability in Near-shore Marine Systems: Promoting Natural Resilience
Sustainability 2010, 2(8), 2593-2600; doi:10.3390/su2082593
Received: 1 July 2010 / Revised: 6 August 2010 / Accepted: 13 August 2010 / Published: 16 August 2010
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (112 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Accumulation of atmospheric CO2 is increasing the temperature and concentration of CO2 in near-shore marine systems. These changes are occurring concurrently with increasing alterations to local conditions, including nutrient pollution and exploitation of selected biota. While the body of evidence for
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Accumulation of atmospheric CO2 is increasing the temperature and concentration of CO2 in near-shore marine systems. These changes are occurring concurrently with increasing alterations to local conditions, including nutrient pollution and exploitation of selected biota. While the body of evidence for the negative effects of climate change is rapidly increasing, there is still only limited recognition that it may combine with local stressors to accelerate degradation. By recognizing such synergies, however, it may be possible to actively manage and improve local conditions to ameliorate the effects of climate change in the medium-term (e.g., by reducing nutrient pollution or restoring populations of herbivores). Ultimately, however, the most effective way to increase the sustainability of near-shore marine systems into the future will be to decrease our reliance on carbon-based sources of energy to reduce the negative effects of climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
Open AccessArticle The Limits to Transforming the Environment and the Limits to Sociological Knowledge
Sustainability 2010, 2(8), 2483-2498; doi:10.3390/su2082483
Received: 11 June 2010 / Revised: 19 July 2010 / Accepted: 25 July 2010 / Published: 3 August 2010
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (143 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper argues that the social sciences are fragmented in addressing the environmental challenge of increasing resource depletion. To address this problem, the paper puts forward a framework which encompasses several disciplinary approaches, and above all a long-term historical perspective and a realist
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This paper argues that the social sciences are fragmented in addressing the environmental challenge of increasing resource depletion. To address this problem, the paper puts forward a framework which encompasses several disciplinary approaches, and above all a long-term historical perspective and a realist sociology of science and technology which, in combination, provide a means of understanding the disruptive changes in the transformation of the environment. The paper then focuses on energy and gives an overview of the various social forces that can potentially counteract the future tensions arising from the foreseeable depletion of energy sources. It argues that only some of these countervailing forces—namely state intervention and technological innovation—provide viable potential solutions to these tensions. However, these solutions themselves face severe constraints. The paper concludes by arguing that a realistic assessment of constraints is the most useful, though limited, service that social science can contribute to our understanding of the relation between social and environmental transformation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
Open AccessArticle Striving for Sustainability and Resilience in the Face of Unprecedented Change: The Case of the Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreak in British Columbia
Sustainability 2010, 2(8), 2403-2423; doi:10.3390/su2082403
Received: 2 July 2010 / Revised: 25 July 2010 / Accepted: 28 July 2010 / Published: 29 July 2010
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (322 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A massive insect outbreak in the public forests of central British Columbia (Canada) poses a serious challenge for sustainable forest management planning. Tree mortality caused by natural disturbances has always been a part of wild and managed forests, but climate change is accentuating
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A massive insect outbreak in the public forests of central British Columbia (Canada) poses a serious challenge for sustainable forest management planning. Tree mortality caused by natural disturbances has always been a part of wild and managed forests, but climate change is accentuating the uncertainty around such losses. Policy responses to accelerate overall timber harvesting levels to prevent further tree mortality and to aggressively salvage value from dead wood before it deteriorates can be disruptive and even counter-productive in the long run. Current alternatives are to strategically redirect existing timber harvesting quotas to the most vulnerable areas, minimize overall uplifts in cutting activity, prolong the period over which harvested timber can be processed, avoid the harvesting of mixed species stands or those with good advance regeneration, employ more partial cutting or “selective logging” techniques, and relax standards for acceptable species and inter-tree spacing during post-disturbance stand recovery. At the same time, careful attention to species composition and evolving landscape risk profiles may facilitate adaptation to anticipated climate change and reduce vulnerability to future disturbances. Harvest levels must be set conservatively over the full planning horizon if it is important to assure continuity of the timber supply with few disruptions to regional socio-economics and less stress to ecosystems. Broader lessons in sustainability include the option to emphasize persistence, continuity and flexibility over the long term, though at the expense of maximized production and full resource utilization in the short term. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
Open AccessArticle Out of the Rubble and Towards a Sustainable Future: The “Greening” of Greensburg, Kansas
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 2302-2319; doi:10.3390/su2072302
Received: 3 June 2010 / Revised: 29 June 2010 / Accepted: 14 July 2010 / Published: 20 July 2010
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (403 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Following a devastating tornado there in 2007, the tiny city of Greensburg, Kansas has engaged in a sustainability-oriented recovery process through which it hopes to serve as a model for other communities planning for a sustainable future. This article uses innovation theory to
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Following a devastating tornado there in 2007, the tiny city of Greensburg, Kansas has engaged in a sustainability-oriented recovery process through which it hopes to serve as a model for other communities planning for a sustainable future. This article uses innovation theory to consider how and why the sustainability focus emerged in Greensburg and to explore the potential transferability of those factors to other contexts. An analysis of 535 newspaper articles reveals key factors as: the shared vision of persistent local leaders, the framing of sustainability as an “opportunity” with an energy efficiency focus, community pride and resilience, and a “clean slate” rebuilding effort with substantial available funding. While Greensburg’s future is intimately connected to the specifics of its recent past, the analysis does reveal lessons that other communities can draw from in crafting sustainability plans of their own. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview What is Sustainability?
Sustainability 2010, 2(11), 3436-3448; doi:10.3390/su2113436
Received: 17 September 2010 / Revised: 15 October 2010 / Accepted: 19 October 2010 / Published: 1 November 2010
Cited by 41 | PDF Full-text (116 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainability as a policy concept has its origin in the Brundtland Report of 1987. That document was concerned with the tension between the aspirations of mankind towards a better life on the one hand and the limitations imposed by nature on the other
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Sustainability as a policy concept has its origin in the Brundtland Report of 1987. That document was concerned with the tension between the aspirations of mankind towards a better life on the one hand and the limitations imposed by nature on the other hand. In the course of time, the concept has been re-interpreted as encompassing three dimensions, namely social, economic and environmental. The paper argues that this change in meaning (a) obscures the real contradiction between the aims of welfare for all and environmental conservation; (b) risks diminishing the importance of the environmental dimension; and (c) separates social from economic aspects, which in reality are one and the same. It is proposed instead to return to the original meaning, where sustainability is concerned with the well-being of future generations and in particular with irreplaceable natural resources—as opposed to the gratification of present needs which we call well-being. A balance needs to be found between those two, but not by pretending they are three sides of the same coin. Although we use up natural resources at the expense of future generations, we also generate capital (including knowledge) which raises future well-being. A major question is to what extent the one compensates for the other. This debate centres around the problem of substitutability, which has been cast into a distinction between ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ sustainability. It is argued that these two do not need to be in opposition but complement one another. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
Open AccessReview Noah’s Ark or World Wild Web? Cultural Perspectives in Global Scenario Studies and Their Function for Biodiversity Conservation in a Changing World
Sustainability 2010, 2(10), 3211-3238; doi:10.3390/su2103211
Received: 1 September 2010 / Revised: 14 September 2010 / Accepted: 8 October 2010 / Published: 14 October 2010
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (602 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, we review the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Scenarios and their assumptions on biodiversity conservation, using a framework based on the cultural theory (CT) perspectives. We explored an adaptation of the CT typology and the
[...] Read more.
In this paper, we review the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Scenarios and their assumptions on biodiversity conservation, using a framework based on the cultural theory (CT) perspectives. We explored an adaptation of the CT typology and the significance of some underrepresented worldviews for discussions on conservation in a changing world. The evaluation of the assumptions on biodiversity conservation in the scenario studies and storylines adds to our understanding of the socio-cultural dimensions of biodiversity loss in a changing world. It contributes to an understanding of the worldviews underlying the complex debates on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Making such assumptions and world views explicit will help policymakers and conservationists discuss the diversity of conservation strategies in the face of uncertainty. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
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Open AccessReview Extending the Influence of Scenario Development in Sustainability Planning and Strategy
Sustainability 2010, 2(8), 2449-2466; doi:10.3390/su2082449
Received: 24 June 2010 / Revised: 15 July 2010 / Accepted: 21 July 2010 / Published: 30 July 2010
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (207 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is wide agreement that a transition toward deeper forms of sustainability would require transformational changes at many levels, transcending current patterns of incremental progress. Transformational changes might only occur, in many instances, over time frames that extend well beyond those of mainstream
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There is wide agreement that a transition toward deeper forms of sustainability would require transformational changes at many levels, transcending current patterns of incremental progress. Transformational changes might only occur, in many instances, over time frames that extend well beyond those of mainstream approaches to planning. The need for more explicit attention to longer term futures is reflected in the increasing use of scenario-based processes applied to sustainability challenges. The full potential of scenario development remains, however, largely untapped; many audiences have yet to be engaged, intrigued and influenced by them. This review article explores key barriers to more effective use of scenario development in relation to sustainability challenges, including: (1) the persistent predictive orientation of sustainability planning exercises; (2) the relatively low level of interest in weak signals and their implications; (3) institutionalized aversion to long term planning; and (4) the predominance of an essentialist perspective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)

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