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Governance Reform for a Sustainable Great Lakes Future
Published: 17 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Governance & Sustainability
Seen from space, the Great Lakes appear as sparkling jewels strung across the center of North America. The Great Lakes ecosystem is one of the great natural wonders of the world. Nearly one-fifth of the planet\'s surface fresh water is stored in and flows through the lakes. One out of every three Canadians and one of every ten United States residents takes her or his drinking water from the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement was negotiated pursuant to the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty between the United States and British Canada that had created the International Joint Commission (IJC) to help resolve problems Including pollution that was causing injury to health or property crossing the binational boarder. The IJC and the institutions added to it …were based on the principle of bi-nationalism (two countries collaborating on achieving a set of shared goals) rather than bi-lateralism (two countries negotiating with each other in an attempt to balance interests and protect each others rights).The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement has been the unifying principles for interjurisdictional shared water management for Canada and the United States for nearly 40 years. Beginning in 2009, both governments agreed to renegotiate a renewed agreement bringing it up to date with scientific advances and complex governance challenges. This is the first substantial amendment to the agreement since 1987 and represents a watershed point in the history of the Great Lakes regime. This presentation documents for posterity the process being employed in the negotiations and in public engagement through that process. It contains distressing observations and highlights promising approaches to ensure the new agreement is truly a vision for the 21st century.
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Energy Cost of Energy Saving in Building: A Review
Published: 07 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Energy Return-on-Investment
It is often claimed that the cheapest energy is the one you do not need to produce. Nevertheless, this claim is somewhat unsubstantiated. In this article, we try to shed some light on this issue by using the energy return on investment (EROI) as a yardstick. This choice brings semantic issues because the EROI is used in a different context than that of energy production. Indeed, while watt and negawatt share the same physical unit, they are not the same object, which brings some ambiguities in the interpretation of EROI. These are cleared by a refined definition of EROI and an adapted nomenclature. This review studied the research in the energy efficiency of building operation, which is one of the most investigated topics in energy efficiency. Impact of insulation, high efficiency windows, and other energy efficiency measures were considered. These results were normalized for climate, life time of the building, and construction material. In many cases, energy efficiency measures imply a very high EROI. Nevertheless, in some circumstances, this is not the case and it might be more profitable to produce the required energy than trying to save it.
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  • 20 Reads
Monitoring Soil Erosion in the Souss Basin, Morocco, with a multiscale Object-based Remote Sensing Approach using UAV and Satellite Data
Ali Aït Hssaïne, Johannes B. Ries, Klaus Daniel Peter, Irene Marzolff, Sebastian d'Oleire-Oltmanns
This article presents a multiscale approach for detecting and monitoring soil erosion phenomena (i.e. gully erosion) in the agro-industrial area around the city of Taroudannt, Souss basin, Morocco. The study area is characterized as semi-arid with an annual average precipitation of 200 mm. Water scarcity, high population dynamics and changing land use towards huge areas of irrigation farming present numerous threats to sustainability. The agro-industry produces citrus fruit and vegetables in monocropping, mainly for the European market. Badland areas strongly affected by gully erosion border the agricultural areas as well as residential areas. To counteract the significant loss of land, land-levelling measures are attempted to create space for plantations and greenhouses. In order to develop sustainable approaches to limit gully growth the detection and monitoring of gully systems is fundamental. Specific gully sites are monitored with unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) taking small-format aerial photographs (SFAP). This enables extremely high-resolution analysis (SFAP resolution: 2-10 cm) of the actual size of the gully channels as well as a detailed continued surveillance of their growth. Transferring the methodology on a larger scale using Quickbird satellite data (resolution: 60 cm) leads to the possibility of a large-scale analysis of the whole area around the city of Taroudannt (Area extent: ca. 350 km²). The results will then reveal possible relationships of gully growth and agro-industrial management and may even illustrate further interdependencies. The main objective is the identification of areas with high gully erosion risk due to non-sustainable land use and the development of mitigation strategies for the study area.
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  • 7 Reads
The Environmental Paradiplomacy In New International Governance
Published: 04 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Governance & Sustainability
The first decade of the new millennium brought a series of already historical facts, which the international society is called to deal with, understand and solve based on the assumption that the solutions are only possible if thought of and implemented in an integrated, solidary and multilateral way. This need of cooperation also makes the world more interdependent than before, confirming a new logic of power in international relations. General environmental problems, as well as those related to human rights, finances, trade, among others, may only have satisfactory solutions if negotiated and regulated by all the states, without disregarding the role played by new agents in the international scenario. The emerging global environmental issues, particularly climate change, have been challenging the international system to adopt effective measures to face this problem on an urgent basis, at the risk of aggravating the resulting social, economic, political and environmental impacts. The Environmental International Law has been facing these issues in an innovating way, incorporating a new form of global environmental governance based on which new players are brought to the discussion and implementation of measures to face environmental problems. Among these players, we should highlight the subnational regional governments and their horizontal networks of actions and insertions in the decision making scenario. The purpose of this article is to explore the role of subnational governments and their networks in the development of global climate governance and in the consolidation of the international environmental law, particularly the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD).
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  • 5 Reads
Responding to Pollution Problems: Conceptual Analysis of Disciplinary Approaches
Published: 17 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session General and Related Topics
The scientific community to guide the analysis of pollution problems and solution generation adopts disciplinary approaches. This paper examines monodisciplinary where all attention is given to one element or relationship; multidisciplinary approach where disciplines are considered side by side and usually arranged by an intuitive notion of connections, interdisciplinary approach where disciplines are strongly connected, usually by way of a systematic framework and transdisciplinary approach were different elements of disciplines form a discipline. Conceptual schemes, the causal chain approach and systems approach which are offsprings from the different disciplinary approaches relevant for the development of frameworks for pollution management are examined. The paper ends by proposing adaptive management of complex systems, material flow analysis, cognitive switches in evolutionary approaches for problem analysis and opportunity discovery as the building blocks for the development of frameworks for sustainable pollution management in developing countries.
  • Open access
  • 12 Reads
Damage and Post-cyclone Regeneration Assessment of the Sundarbans Botanic Biodiversity caused by the Cyclone Sidr
The Sundarbans is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the World. The versatile biodiversity of this forest, situated at the southwest of Bangladesh, plays a vital role in maintaining environmental sustainability of the country. This study identifies and quantifies the damage caused by the tropical cyclone Sidr in 15 November 2007 and the post-cyclone regeneration of the botanic biodiversity of the Sundarbans. Unsupervised classification and the normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) were carried out over a temporal series of four Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM +) images for the month of February in the period between years 2007 and 2010. The obtained overall accuracies for the classification of the images of years 2007 and 2010 (the ones\' for which there were ground-truth data available) were, respectively, 76% and 88%. Classification results and land change analysis show that three important botanic species - Heritiera fomes (Sundari), Excoecaria agallocha (Gewa) and Sonneratia mangrove (Kewra) have been significantly affected by the cyclone. On the other hand NDVI analysis indicated that 45% area of the Sundarbans (approximately 2500 sq.km) has been damaged due to the cyclone action. Results further indicate that the rate of post-cyclone regeneration in 2009-2010 is four times higher than the regeneration rate of 2008-2009. Although cyclone Sidr has done significant damage to the diversity of the mangrove forest, it has regenerated to a satisfactory condition despite the effects of climate change and man-made encroachment.
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  • 8 Reads
Land Reforms and the Tragedy of Anticommons
Published: 02 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Governance & Sustainability
Most of the land reforms of the recent decades have followed a theoretical basis, which might be described in brief by "formalization and capitalization" of individual land titles (de Soto 2000). This privatization agenda has been strongly supported for example by the World Bank, the IMF or by governmental development cooperation. It is supposed that formalization and individualization of property rights should help to enhance the efficiency of the land markets by awarding the fruits of improvements to those who bear the costs. However, there is an obvious gap between theory and practise: Within the privatization agenda, benefits of unimproved land (such as land rents and value capture) are reaped privately by well-organized actors, whereas the costs of valorization (e.g. infrastructure) or opportunity costs of land use changes are shifted onto poorly organized groups or society as a whole. Hence, the "capitalization" of land titles is connected with external costs. Consequences include rent seeking and land grabbing. Also, formalization of land titles is used as a means of land grabbing. In developing countries, formal law often transpires to work in favour of the winners of the titling process and is opposed by the customary rights of the losers. This causes a lack of general acknowledgement of formalized law (which is made responsible for deprivation of livelihoods of vulnerable groups) and often leads to a clash of formal and customary norms. Due to this clash of norms, many countries are falling into a state of de facto anarchy and a new form of "de facto open access". The consequence might be a "tragedy of anticommons" (Fitzpatrick 2006). Protection laws, e.g. for primary forests are no longer complied with; encroachment and destruction of natural resources is spreading. However, the real problem is not the formalization of land titles but the capitalization of the titles. A central counter-measure is to skim off land rent and incremental value as far as possible in favour of the community (decapitalization of land). This could be executed by an intelligently designed leasing or land taxation framework. Within such a decapitalization framework, the land use planning could be more neutral and independent than today. A neutral planning could provide space for a diversity and coexistence of lifestyles, legal and economic models. Good governance and the rule of law could be supported better than is the case at present. This holds true for natural protection laws in particular. Examples and evidence are provided particularly from Cambodia, which has many features in common with other countries in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa in this respect.
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  • 7 Reads
Systems Thinking, a Different Approach for Designing our World
Published: 02 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session General and Related Topics
For the past 60 years or more, industrial design\'s true main goal has being helping increase the sales, "make the economy grow". The ideals of beauty and functionality, the improvement of life quality and other high propose statements have being set aside to pursue an evermore accelerated rate of sales, planned and perceived obsolescence are the key in gross market products, we have linked our progress to the sale of physical objects. These last together with the exponential population growth and the greed for infinitely increasing profits has taken mankind to one of its most dangerous periods in history, for the first time our species is under threat by our own activity and it\'s impact in our context. Almost all man creations, especially since the industrial revolution the gross market products have being thought linearly; phrases like "one size fits all" and "cradle to grave" perfectly represent the reductionist thought of 20th century production and service activities. It\'s until relatively recently that concerns for natural systems and the clear impact of human activity has taken further steps into widely applying complexity principles into the diverse kind problem solving and therefore into a systems thinking point of view. This paper intends to show our experiences in complexity approach in teaching industrial design; the eighth semester design studio of our Industrial Design program aims to formulate a complex problem or situation that includes social, economical, and environmental issues. The usual student response is to think only in object terms, as they have been told during their studies, to create new goods in order to keep the consumer society working and growing. Through debates and videos, sustainability, ecological footprint and life cycle of products are analysed; considering at large human consumption and nature depletion helps the student to see beyond the object and start questioning the deepest roots of our consumer society and what "growing" really means. Systems theory principles and ecosystems are incorporated in order to understand natural cycles and non-linear dynamics. It is at this point that discussions surpass the realm of objects and products. Concepts like services and systems start to emerge as the next target for designers. The object is thus considered as only a small part of a complex network of people, economics, politics, markets, function, semiotics, production processes, natural capital, etc. The outcome of this approach has been projects of high value where proposals range from strategies, services and systems. The paper intends only to show the last four years of experiences in changing the focus from the classic problem solving method in an Industrial Design workshop into a systemic solution point of view incorporating the complexity behaviour of our everyday living.
  • Open access
  • 9 Reads
Remote Sensing Time Series to Evaluate Direct Land Use Change of Recent Expanded Sugarcane Crop in Brazil
Mitigation of global carbon emissions to prevent global warming potential using biofuels is highly dependent on direct and indirect land use change (LUC). There are still several uncertainties about how to assess the indirect LUC impacts of biofuels. However, direct LUC (dLUC) can be evaluated using remote sensing (RS). The present work has the aim to quantify the dLUC occurred during the recent sugarcane expansion for ethanol and sugar production concentrated in the South-Central region of Brazil. This region has a favorable climate for sugarcane production and also a great potential for agriculture expansion. Yearly monitoring from 2005 to 2010 using Landsat type imagery has shown that the sugarcane crop expanded during this period over 3.5 Mha in the South-Central region. To evaluate the dLUC in response to the expanded sugarcane area we used RS time series from the MODIS sensor transformed to the two-band enhanced vegetation index (EVI2), acquired from 2000 to 2009. The original sugarcane map was re-sampled to a pixel size of 250 x 250 m to be compatible with spatial resolution of the MODIS images. One percent of these pixels were systematically sampled covering 1035 pixels. Each of these pixels were carefully analyzed using a special developed web tool to visualize the entire MODIS time series overlaid with several Landsat-5 TM images acquired at key periods in order to correctly identify the land use/land cover prior to the sugarcane crop. Considering 2000 as reference year for the dLUC evaluation it was observed that: 69.8% of the sugarcane expanded on pasture land; 26.2% expanded on annual crops; 0.6% expanded on native vegetation; and 3.4 % was not sugarcane expansion but sugarcane renovation using crop rotation. It was interesting to notice that 35% of the pasture land in 2000 converted to sugarcane was first converted to annual crops. This practice is commonly adopted for one to two years on degraded pasture to improve the physical soil characteristics before introducing the sugarcane crop. It was also observed that the 0.6 % of native vegetation changed to sugarcane was previously converted to either annual crop (33%) or pasture land (67%). Although the analysis needs to be further refined the results clearly show that the dLUC observed during the recent sugarcane expansion for ethanol and sugar production in the South-Central region of Brazil is mainly occurring on pasture and agricultural land.
  • Open access
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Application of Waste Plastics for Efficient Flood Protection Systems
Published: 03 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Environmental Sustainability
There are about twenty different types of plastic resins that are commonly used in packaging applications, whereby five of them are large-volume polymers, i.e. polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), poly(vinyl chloride) (PVC), polystyrene (PS) and poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET). Together, these polymers account for around 75% of all plastics demand in Europe and is the largest group of waste deposited on Municipal Solid Waste Landfills (MSW). However, waste storage may cause environmental pollution, and the integration of MSW incinerators with materials recovery is one of the most controversial aspects of waste management. In this article a new idea of plastics waste management, based on the production of composite materials with improved properties for flood protection systems, has been presented.
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