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  • Open access
  • 98 Reads
Relevant Factors in Assessing Vulnerability of Urban Systems in Latin-American Cities
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Published: 31 October 2014 by MDPI in The 4th World Sustainability Forum session Sustainable Urban and Rural Development
Urban vulnerability is difficult to quantify, basically because of the difference among variables that contribute to its definition. Some of these parameters are originated in environmental processes and could be estimated by using efficiency indicators, others are more difficult to evaluate because of their dependence by social phenomena. In this work some ideas respect to an interdisciplinary and holistic approach are presented and discussed, developing a methodology to assess metabolism and resilience of cities under social, environmental and urban planning point of view. Preliminary results of study cases in northern Chile are also presented to justify proposed methodology to be used as predictive instrument of interventions in middle size cities.
  • Open access
  • 106 Reads
Food Security Challenges: Influences of an Energy/Water/Food Nexus
The food/water/energy nexus is the study of the interactions and connections between these three resources, the synergies and tradeoffs that arise from the way they are managed, and the potential areas of conflict. The core of nexus thinking is that no good results can be achieved from considering these resources independently, which means that food security cannot be achieved in a context of either/both water or/and energy insecurity. All three elements have to be assured to foster sustainability, resilience, prosperity and peace. In this paper attention is focused on the challenges posed by this nexus on achieving food security, which is embodied in the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG), which seeks to halve the number of hungry people in the world between 1990 and 2015. The primary aim of the paper is to identify how the nexus mentality underlies most of the pathways that have been proposed to achieve this goal. It argues that significant shortfalls exist and need to be addressed: there is still no generally accepted definition, and identifiable metrics for assessing the extent to which a food system fosters food security are lacking. Such metrics are necessary when evaluating alternative strategies and negotiating trade-offs therein.
  • Open access
  • 97 Reads
Gross National Happiness, Limits to Growth, and Challenges to Bhutan's Development Approach
Published: 31 October 2014 by MDPI in The 4th World Sustainability Forum session Posters
In their 30-year update to their book, Limits to Growth, Meadows et al. called for a vision of sustainable development that included (i) systemic change brought on by new perspectives on the purpose of development, (ii) new ways of measuring progress, and (iii) new social norms. With this talk, I discuss this vision in the context of the literature on sustainable development and present the parallels between Meadows et al.'s vision and the development trajectory of the Kingdom of Bhutan. I suggest that Bhutan's development approach provides one model for sustainable development that dovetails with Meadows et al.'s recommendations. The ideal of maximizing Gross National Happiness (GNH) adopted but the Bhutanese government exemplifies their commitment to holistic development and mirrors arguments about the shortcomings of an over-emphasis on economic growth. I provide examples of how GNH has been put into practice, describe how happiness is being measured, and discuss the potential emergence of social norms and a shared Bhutanese identity that may contribute to sustainable development. Bhutan's development success suggests that an alternative to growth-centric development is viable. However, as Bhutan's standard of living has increased, and so have the challenges the country faces; the most important of which may be their ability to manage rising consumption levels. With the transition to a democratic government, a growing urban middle class, and increased exposure to foreign values, ideals, and consumption patterns, Bhutan's sustainable development approach faces critical tests. I discuss these socio-economic, political and cultural changes and the impact that Bhutan's emphasis on happiness and well-being may have on other nation's aspirations for sustainable development.
  • Open access
  • 80 Reads
Evaluation of Level of Heterogeneity of Socio-Economic Development of a Country
Published: 31 October 2014 by MDPI in The 4th World Sustainability Forum session Sustainable Engineering and Science
Heterogeneity of levels of socio-economic development of countries or country's different regions is undesirable. For the sake of sustainable development of a country or group of countries it is important to elicit relative levels of development of country's regions or different countries, and to find the weakest indicators of their development. Socio-economic development of a country or group of countries depends on a variety of factors. Statistics Department of Lithuania provides annual data describing the state of all 10 counties of Lithuania by 162 criteria. 60 criteria describe economic development, 94 describe social development, and finally, ecological state is described by 8 criteria. Prevailing in literature comparative analysis by separately selected criteria, as important as GDP per capita, often does not provide an extensive picture of quality of life of country's citizens. A comprehensive approach is required for evaluating of level of development of countries or country's regions. A suitable tool, which promptly provides quantitative evaluation of level of development of country's regions, provides results in a clear comprehensible form, and comprises the whole variety of important multi-dimensional criteria is multiple criteria decision-making (MCDM) methods. Experienced experts evaluate weights of importance of criteria used in the research, keeping in mind the major aim of the evaluation. Weights and values of criteria are comprised into a single cumulative criterion of a MCDA method. Comparative analysis of evaluation over a lengthy period of time allows to analyse dynamics of development of the regions, and to elicit levels of dependence of different criteria on the general level of development and welfare. MCDM methods allow revealing weaknesses of development of every region and provide a strong support for decision-makers and politicians for their effective actions intended for sustainable development of regions.
  • Open access
  • 125 Reads
When are Interventions for a More Sustainable Agriculture Successful? Towards an Analytical Framework
Today's agriculture both contributes significantly to current environmental, social, and economic problems and also suffers from the consequences of this non-sustainable development. Despite the importance of research at the farm level to tackle these problems, it has often been argued that research and work for sustainable agriculture has to go beyond the farm gate. However, designing and implementing solutions at higher levels makes the collaboration of different stakeholders indispensable. There has already been much work on conditions influencing success or failure of joint action but there has been no research specifically on conditions for the success of collaborative interventions that aim at the improvement of the sustainability of agriculture. Furthermore, much of the existing work is based on the examination of one or few case studies, which makes it difficult to identify overall patterns. To fill this gap, we are conducting a case survey of collaborative interventions aiming at a more sustainable agriculture at the local or regional level in the EU. One crucial step in the case survey method is the design of an analytical or coding scheme. In this paper, we describe how we derived the variables making up our coding scheme. This includes the formulation of a meaningful definition of what actually is a case as well as the operationalization of 'success'. Finally, we give an overview over the resulting coding scheme, containing factors that potentially contribute to or hinder the success of collaborative interventions trying to achieve a more sustainable agriculture.
  • Open access
  • 82 Reads
Undesirable Algaes (Cyanobacteria) and the Use of Probiotic in Shrimp (Penaeus Monodon) Farming
Shrimp farm effluents increase concomitantly the deterioration of the mangrove ecosystem, as well as the production in farming itself. The long-term effects of this pollution cause to the growth of the undesirable algaes (Cyanobacteria). The use of the probiotic (Epicin) is the means adopted to fight against these undesirable algaes. The aim of this study was to determine the conditions of efficiency of the probiotic and its effects on the water quality in shrimp farming. The study focus on the water quality parameters of the channel reservoir and thirty ponds. The results showed that with a R²=0,550 and R² adjusted=0,517, the alkalinity and the rate of phosphate from the channel reservoir are the main componment that is the most influency in the growth of Cyanobacterieses in the ponds. High alkalinity is an element that inhibits the efficiency of the probiotics in the struggle against the undesirable algaes. The installation of the bioremediation by these bacteriese causes the reduction of phytoplancton density in the ponds, and also, it decreases the rate of pollutants in the water.
  • Open access
  • 97 Reads
LCA Software for Engineering Training on Product Development
Published: 31 October 2014 by MDPI in The 4th World Sustainability Forum session Sustainability Education and Approaches
Environmental conscience has been growing gradually in recent decades. The market is demanding ecological actions over the products, and legislation is introducing ecodesign measures in products. Because of that, ecodesign is becoming an important discipline in engineering, to take into account the environmental impact of the product during its development, performing Life Cycle Assessment, but it is not still a common discipline in engineering. Training focused on LCA for product development is essential to introduce ecodesign between engineering students, who are not used to work with environmental concepts. The best tool for this training is LCA software to learn through the practice how to calculate the environmental impact of a design, and how this results can be used to improve their designs from an ecological point of view. This work presents the ECOTOOL, software designed to train engineers in LCA methodology. Current existing LCA software are not prepared to be used by untrained engineers, sometimes because they are difficult to be used due to large databases and the complex working environment, and sometimes they are extremely simplified, not sensitive to design modifications. ECOTOOL allows complete LCA performing with a working environment similar to other engineering tools, like professional CAD software, well known by engineers. It is provided with reduced databases, training helps, simplified results and an intuitive working environment to allow students to easily analyze the environmental impact of their designs and apply design actions to optimize it, at the same time they learn the concepts of LCA methodology. Comments to the editor: Thank you for your kind review. The claim that 'the market is demanding ecological actions' will be explained and justified in the paper, as there are links between European legislation and the environmental conscience in Europe. The expression "appropriate training" has been modified in the abstract to avoid misunderstandings. With “appropriate” we intended to mean that the training should be focused on environmental impact assessment for product development, and not just focused on environmental impact assessment in a scientific context, talking only about the calculation and the scientifically basis. For us, it is very important to focus the training in this discipline into a practical application, which is the product development, so products could be improved from an ecological point of view thanks to environmental impact assessment during the design process.
  • Open access
  • 84 Reads
Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change: The Production of Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) and Bush Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) Crops for Improved Food Security and Resilience in a First Nation Community in the Canadian Sub-Arctic
There is an overall consensus that arctic regions will experience climate change earlier and to a greater extent than lower latitude regions. Aboriginal people in Canada's northern regions are especially vulnerable to climate variability in addition to experiencing disproportionately high rates of diet-related illnesses such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The majority of these diet-related diseases can be attributed to food insecurity and a loss of traditional lifestyles. Furthermore, current food systems within these northern regions are reliant on imported foods that are resource expensive and are ecologically and socially unsustainable. A warming arctic climate offers the opportunity for local agricultural production that can promote ecologically and culturally sustainable means to increase food security. To date, there has been little investigation into the potential for sustainable food production in arctic and sub-arctic regions. In this study, the feasibility of using locally grown produce as a means to sustainably enhance food security in sub-arctic Aboriginal communities is explored through a case study in the community of Fort Albany First Nations located in Ontario, Canada. Solanum tuberosum L. (potatoes) and Phaseolus vulgaris L. (green beans) were grown over a two year period to determine if potato and bean crops could be grown in a sustainable manner for community consumption. Results from two growing seasons showed that potatoes and beans could be grown successfully in the sub-arctic especially with regards to warming air temperatures. Sustainable local food production offers flexible and innovative opportunities for communities to promote social capital, healthy lifestyles, adaptation and resilience, while helping to enhance the benefits that a warmer climate can offer.
  • Open access
  • 153 Reads
Sensitivity Analysis of the Environmental Impact of Polymer Injection Molding Process
Published: 31 October 2014 by MDPI in The 4th World Sustainability Forum session Sustainable Engineering and Science
During the last decades the environmental concern of society has experienced an increase. Specific tools like the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and software and databases to apply this method have been developed to calculate the environmental burden of products or processes very diverse. Global plastics production rose to 288 million tonnes in 2012. Among the different ways of plastics processing the injection molding process is one of the most used in the industry worldwide. In this paper an analysis of the influence of the polymer in the environmental impact of the injection molding process has been carried out. In order to perform this study, the EcoInvent database inventory considered and the data from which this database is obtained for this process have been studied. In general, when a LCA of a product is carried out, databases such EcoInvent, where materials, processes and transports are characterized providing average values, are used. This approach can be good enough for some cases but in order to assess a specific process, like the injection molding process, a further level of detail is needed. This study shows how the final results of environmental impact differ significantly when modifying the generic dataset's values, using the PVC's, PP's or PET's original report data or more updated values. This aspect suggest the necessity of studying, in a more precise way, this process to evaluate its environmental burden correctly so the priority areas can be properly identified and thereby actions to develop a more sustainable way of manufacturing can be determined.
  • Open access
  • 68 Reads
Building Awareness of the Impact of Environmental Xenobiotics in Coal-Fired Flue Gas
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Dangerous and unstable situations can result from the presence of environmental xenobiotics since their harmful effects on humans and ecosystems are often unpredictable. The environmental xenobiotics in the flue gas from a fossil fuel-fired electrical generating station, such as particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon dioxide (CO2), are analyzed in this study, since these xenobiotics are persistentent pollutants. Mathematical models of the environmental pollutant vector, estimating the emission factors specific to fossil fuel combustion, are applied to the operation of thermal units in the Turceni electrical generating station, each of which produce a net electrical power of 330 MW. For each stack gas component in the pollutant vector, emission factor and pollutant concentration are determined. A pattern is also examined depicting the mathematically modelled processes of resonant absorption of an environmental xenobiotic harmonic oscillation by an organism modulated as an absorbing oscillator structure. The xenobiotic concentration degree is represented through a spatial concentration vector, which allows further modelling and simulation of the oscillating regime of environmental xenobiotic absorption.