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  • 7 Reads
Sustainability-related Knowledge Communication between Strategic Staging, Information, and Understanding
Published: 03 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session General and Related Topics
In view of societal processes of sustainability-related exchange processes, the communicative interplay between individual citizen and society, inseparably linked to intermediary levels of mutual conciliation, is essential. In this regard, science faces the challenge to deliver policy- and action-relevant knowledge for decision making. Thus, the design of communicative interfaces between science, politics and the public is of particular significance, given the fact that a sustainable society without social communication on sustainability seems to be clearly out of reach. This paper is intended to present a retrospective on knowledge-based research within the environmental discourse. It is shown that these approaches do not only allow for deepened analyses and substantial optimization of stored knowledge but, furthermore, also highlight opportunities for various contexts of sustainability-oriented governance. Subsequently, these approaches are critiqued within the context of knowledge communication and analyzed in the light of the contrasting "internal rationalities" of science and politics. In doing so, trends in medialization in both domains are taken as much into account as participative practices for including non-scientific actors in political decision-making. With regard to the individual level of knowledge communication, the ipsative theory of action is considered as a helpful pattern of thought as it adverts to effective selectivity between objective conditions of situational action and its subjective counterpart. These individually-based principles are reflected on key aspects of knowledge communication and analyzed in the light of contrasting "internal rationalities" of science and politics. In doing so, trends for participative practices for including non-scientific actors in political decision-making are taken into account. As a result, various dimensions of a dialogically-reflexive communication are proposed against the backdrop of future societal pathways towards sustainability, reflecting the diversity, dynamics and self-organization – all featuring the liaison between science and politics both organizationally and on an individual basis.
  • Open access
  • 14 Reads
Stakeholder Diversity vs. Stakeholder General View: a theoretical gap in sustainability materiality conception
Published: 03 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Governance & Sustainability
Over the last decade, since GRI (G3) launched its definition on materiality, the materiality concept has been widely applied in corporate sustainability reports and management. The definition of \'materiality\' in sustainability context is based on extending the content of definition of \'financial materiality\': financial materiality is about the significance of financial information towards investors; whilst materiality in sustainability context targets on issues significant to a wider extent of stakeholders including not only investors, but also communities, employees, customers, governments, non-government organizations, and so on. Current definitions on sustainability materiality are to take all stakeholders as a whole, towards whom an issue is material (see GRI G3, AA 1000, Zadek & Merme 2003). That is, the materiality of sustainability issues is based on the general views of stakeholders: the issue is material because stakeholders generally accept it as material. However, such materiality conception ignores or oversights the diversity in stakeholders, a basic assumption in stakeholder theory. The diversity reflects as their different relationships to an organization (Burton & Dunn 1996), and lies in the different or conflicting values, expectations and interests among stakeholders (e.g. Ogden & Watson 1999; Mitchell 2001). From this perspective, a theoretical gap exists in prior materiality models and research, which do not address \'stakeholder diversity\'. This study argues that a new way on defining materiality is to fix this gap. It further proposes a \'hierarchy of materiality\' model, which may put insights for future research.
  • Open access
  • 12 Reads
High Performance Working Practices: The New Framework for Nurturing Sustainability?
Published: 02 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Economical Sustainability
A new organisational paradigm demands ethical commitment as well as committed agents towards society, visible practices which are exemplary in the citizenship domain. Within this domain, a culture of social and human solidarity is highlighted, so as to demonstrate to the economic agents that immaterial capital in society functions as the main artery of economy, even if those that are more inclined towards materialistic mindsets, do not understand this natural order within society. It is in this context that we intend to reflect upon the future ways that organisations foster creativity, based on intangible resources to leverage their sustainability and financial independence. Thus, the objective of this paper is to reflect upon the high performance work organisations framework, which is influenced by Learning Organisations as well as the development human and intellectual capitals in order to structure organisational competitive advantage. Our aim is to bring some light to this framework and demonstrate the importance of its implementation in a society dominated by technological advancements.
  • Open access
  • 39 Reads
Small-Scale Biogas Digester for Sustainable Energy Production in Sub-Saharan Africa
Published: 02 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Renewable Energy Self-Sufficiency
Interest in use of small scale biogas digesters in rural communities of Sub-Saharan Africa to generate cooking fuel, and to treat and utilise organic wastes is increasing, with numerous organisations promoting their use for both socioeconomic and environmental reasons. Small-scale biogas digesters have great potential to contribute to sustainable development by providing a wide variety of socioeconomic benefits, including diversification of energy (cooking fuel) supply, enhanced regional and rural development opportunities, and creation of a domestic industry and employment opportunities. Potential environmental benefits include reduction of local pollutants, reduced deforestation due to logging for fuel, and increased sequestration of carbon in soils amended with the digested organic waste. Ecosystem services that are potentially delivered through implementation of biogas digesters in rural communities are carbon sequestration, improved water quality and increased food production. Carbon can be directly sequestered in the soil through application of soil organic matter originating from the digested material. Indirect carbon sequestration can also be achieved through reduced carbon losses due to logging as household fuel is replaced by methane produced by the digester. Replacement of household fuel by biogas has added benefits to household air quality. Water quality can be improved through reduced runoff of waste material and reduced erosion of sandy soils due to stabilisation of the soil through increased input of organic matter. Food production can be improved by application to the soil of digested material containing readily available nutrients. The productivity of the soil can also be improved through improved soil structure and water holding capacity achieved by the organic amendments of digested material to the soil.
  • Open access
  • 11 Reads
Efficiency Analysis of Photovoltaic Systems for Carbon Footprint Reduction (Case Study: University of East London)
Published: 07 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Environmental Sustainability
The current energy crisis has shifted human efforts towards looking for and using renewable energy sources. One of the well known of these, is the solar energy. The two well known harvesting systems are PV and solar thermals. This paper tries to reflect the Photovoltaic systems in general in first instant. Furthermore it considers the efficiency analysis of the PVs by means of RETScreen 4 software. The case study chosen for this paper is University of East London located in London, England. The analysis are based on the RETScreen library and NASA related location statistics.
  • Open access
  • 14 Reads
Farmers Perception of Impact Climate Change on Food Crop Production in Ketu North District in the Volta Region of Ghana
Published: 02 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Environmental Sustainability
The present study analyses farmers\' perception of impact of climate change on food crop production and the adaptation strategies to cope with climate change. An interview schedule was the main tool for data collection whilst descriptive statistics was the main analytical tool applied. A random sampling technique was used to select 100 crop farmers for the study. The study revealed that most farmers perceived an increase in temperature, decrease in precipitation and an increase in wind temperature in Ketu North district. Major impacts of climate change were perceived as weed and pest challenges, decline in crop quality, changes in land, soil and water quality, increased risk of food shortage, stunted growth of crops and drying of seedlings after germination. Results suggest changing of planting dates, use of different crop varieties and the use of drought and heat resistant varieties as the widely used adaptation measures. Despite the use of adaptation techniques, lack of information, lack of credit, lack of access to water, expensive nature of adaptation, insecure property right, insufficient access to inputs and shortage of land were important constraints to the adaptation process.
  • Open access
  • 13 Reads
An Assessment of Farmers Perception and Adaptation Strategies to Climate Change in Beposo, Ghana
Published: 02 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Environmental Sustainability
This study analyses farmer\'s perception on climate change, their adaptation strategies in response to climate change and barriers to the adaptation process. A survey of 100 randomly sampled farmers was conducted using a standard questionnaire. An interview schedule was the main tool of data collection while descriptive statistics were the main analytical technique. Majority of the farmers studied perceived increase in temperature and a decrease in rainfall. In adapting to climate change, 91% of the farmers change planting dates, 86% use different crop varieties and 72 % implemented soil conservation measures as the major choice of adaptation techniques to climate change. Major barriers to climate adaptation are insufficient access to inputs and lack of credit.
  • Open access
  • 9 Reads
When Should We Care about Sustainability? Applying Human Security as the Decisive Criterion
Published: 02 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session General and Related Topics
It seems intuitively clear that not all human endeavours warrant equal concern over the extent of their sustainability. This raises the question about what criteria might best serve for their prioritisation. We refute on empirical and theoretical grounds the counterclaim that sustainability should be of no concern regardless of the circumstances. We propose that human security can serve as a source of criteria that are both widely shared and can be assessed in a reasonably objective manner. Following the respective classifications established in the literature, we compile and compare four forms of sustainability (environmental, economic, social, and cultural) in their relationships with the four pillars of human security (environmental, economic, sociopolitical, and health-related). Our findings, based on probable cause and effect relationships, suggest that the criteria of human security allow for a reliable discrimination between relatively trivial incidences of unsustainable behavior and those that warrant widely shared serious concern. They also confirm that certain sources of human insecurity, such as poverty or violent conflict, tend to perpetuate unsustainable behavior, a useful consideration for the design of development initiatives. Considering that human security enjoys wide and increasing political support among the international community, it is to be hoped that by publicizing the close correlation between human security and sustainability greater attention will be paid to the latter and to its careful definition.
  • Open access
  • 36 Reads
Educating for Sustainability: Curriculum Reform in the Age of Environmental Crisis
Published: 02 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session General and Related Topics
In the the present global environmental crisis people who contribute most to its causes are not the people who reap most of the resulting harms. The former tend to be well educated and hold positions of power or at least high levels of personal consumption. This points to a failure of education systems and institutions that cannot be ignored in the light of their potential to help and their responsibility to do so. In spite of numerous efforts to render education more conducive to sustainability, the problems are still widespread and time is running short. Extending on previous work, this paper presents the priorities for a curriculum that focuses on sustainability as foremost imperative. To make the case for the important role of education, a survey of determinant factors is presented that contribute to the counterproductive behaviour causing the crisis. The connection to education involves key ideological content of the hidden curricuum. I argue that through this connection education at all levels has contributed to environmental injustice by omission and commission, referring to education in Canada as a case in point. Major ideological culprits include Cornucopianism and anthropocentrism. As those failings involve mostly affective learning outcomes in implicit form, they can only be addressed by a transdisciplinary curriculum that emphasises and explicates values, beliefs, and attitudes toward sustainable living and the restoration of damaged systems. The goal is to prevent the reproduction of counterproductive ideologies by educational means and to help learners around the world to actively change their lives.
  • Open access
  • 11 Reads
Transformation of an Industrial Brownfield into an Ecological Buffer for Michigan\'s only Ramsar Wetland of International Importance
Published: 02 November 2011 by MDPI AG in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Environmental Sustainability
The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge spans 77 km along the Detroit River and western Lake Erie, and is the only international wildlife refuge in North America. A key unit of the refuge is the 166-ha Humbug Marsh that represents the last kilometer of natural shoreline on the U.S. mainland of the river and is Michigan\'s only Wetland of International Importance designated under the 1971 International Ramsar Convention. It is considered an internationally important wetland because of its ecological importance in the Detroit River corridor and the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. Humbug Marsh serves as a vital habitat for 51 species of fish, 90 species of plants, 154 species of birds, seven species of reptiles and amphibians, and 37 species of dragonflies and damselflies. Adjacent to Humbug Marsh is an 18 ha former industrial manufacturing site (now called the Refuge Gateway) that is being remediated and restored as an ecological buffer for Humbug Marsh, and the future home of the refuge\'s Visitor Center. The site was operated as an automotive brake and paint plant facility for 44 years. The facility was closed in 1990 and remediated to Michigan criteria for industrial/commercial use. It sat vacant for 12 years before it was acquired by Wayne County in 2002 as the gateway to the international wildlife refuge. In 2006, Wayne County and many partners adopted a Master Plan to guide cleanup and restoration. Activities have included: cleanup and capping of contaminated lands; daylighting a creek and constructing a storm water pond and emergent wetland to treat storm water prior to discharge to the Detroit River; achieving a net gain of 6.5 ha of wetlands in a river that has lost 97% of its coastal wetlands to development; restoring 10 ha of upland buffer habitat; treatment of Phragmites along 4 km of shoreline; and treatment and removal of invasive plant species in over 20 ha of forested lakeplain habitat in Humbug Marsh. This project has been described as transformational for the region by restoring an industrial brownfield into high quality wildlife habitat that expands the ecological buffer of a Ramsar site. Further, this Refuge Gateway is being restored as a model of environmental sustainability for nearly seven million residents within a 45-minute drive. This paper will document results achieved, describe the unique public-private partnerships that are being used, and share lessons learned.
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