ISDRS NEWSLETTER, ISSUE 3, 2011 201120112011
Welcome! After a very successful conference hosted by the Earth Institute, Columbia University, (ISRDC17), the Society is already planning the next conference, to be hosted at Hull University, UK, in 2012. ISDRS Board member and new Executive Secretary, Dr Pauline Deutz, is leading the planning team at Hull University and extends an invitation to the conference in this issue (http://www2.hull.ac.uk/science/isdrc18.aspx). Some changes in the format of the newsletter have been introduced, including the ‘News and Views’ section that invites comments on current issues of sustainability, including those where the writers have themselves been involved. Author guidelines for Newsletter articles are available on the ISDRS website: www.isdrs.org/
Retiring Executive Secretary’s Report
Greetings from Incoming Executive Secretary
ISDRC 18 (2012) – Hull University, UK.
News and Views ‘Carbon Pricing: the triumph of market ideology’ Sharon Beder
‘Global dimming in a climate emergency’ Clive Hamilton
‘Waiting for Rio’ (with acknowledgements to Samuel Beckett) Delyse Springett
‘In Search of the Integrating Ground Between Corporate Ethics and Corporate Sustainability’ David Wheeler
(ii) (iii) (iv)
7 (i) (ii)
Articles ‘Resilient Participation: Saving the Human Project?’ Simon Bell and Stephen Morse
‘Trade-offs in auto industry emissions regulations: the case of environmental improvements, technological development, notion of political effectiveness and supporting domestic industry’ Pontus Cerin and Rupert Baumgartner
‘Sustainable Industry Contributes to Happiness in Bhutan’ Cecilia Haskins
‘Postnature Environmentalism’ Paul Wapner
ISDRC 17 Track Chair Summaries 'Bridging organizations as institutional arrangements for sustainable development' Abhishek Agarwal and Alfred Posch 32
'Industrial Ecology, Sustainable Production and Sustainable Global Product Chains' Rupert Baumgartner and Vasilis Fthenakis
'Local and Regional Institutions and Governance' Simon Bell
‘Exhaustible and/or overused resources and their supply chains’ Martina Keitsch
‘Material Cycles’ Donald Lyons and Pauline Deutz
'Global Institutions and Corporate Governance' Van Miller
'The Role of Ethics and Faith Values in Sustainable Development’ Yamini Narayanan and Bob Pollack
(iv) (v) (vi) (vii) (viii)
'Stresses on socioeconomic systems’ Elke Weber
‘Between frustration and hope: A critical afterthought to ISDRC 17’ Tommy Jensen 50
Copy for Newsletter, Issue 4, 2011
Dr Delyse Springett Editor, ISDRS Newsletter D.V.Springett@massey.ac.nz With ISDRC 17 at the Earth Institute, Columbia University, proving a huge success in May and the prospect of ISDRC 18 at Hull University to look forward to in 2012 – not to mention the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June next year – the Society is in the middle of one of its busiest phases since its inception. The new Charter that will shape the Society’s governance and our plans for extended membership mean the work and influence of ISDRS are set to develop and increase. Rio+20 featured strongly at ISDRC 17, with the third day of the conference focusing on the major issues that will shape the UNCSD discourse. We still have to determine what impact the ISDRS will have on that discourse. As an affiliate attending UNCED in 1992 and a contributor to the Global Forum, I experienced the optimism that is generated by such fora, when it seems, for a while at least, that the world can be changed. The Earth Summit’s message - that nothing less than a transformation of our attitudes and behaviour would bring about the necessary changes - was a brave challenge, and it was hoped that the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and Agenda 21 would provide the platform for such transformation. I also witnessed the profound disappointment that grips people when they recognize that change comes in small increments and institutional change is especially hard to engender. The Global Forum comprised an international consortium of NGOs that strived to fill the gaps in the UNCED discourse, producing a set of Alternative Treaties that addressed serious silences. The odds against the success of the Global Forum were significant: armed soldiers thronged Flamingo Park; helicopters circling over the tents that housed the Forum drowned the voices of speakers; and the plug was literally pulled on Day 2, leaving speakers without microphones. Nevertheless, the determination and courage of the NGO representatives remained high and the outcomes were impressive - an example of the resilience of the human spirit. This issue of the Newsletter introduces a section on the ‘News and Views’ that are currently involving members. Once again, short, research-based articles give us insights into colleagues’ work, and we re-visit ISDRC 17 with summaries of several conference themes from Track Chairs and a comment on the conference as a whole. With Rio+20 getting closer, useful websites are provided which help us to follow the process; and, again, we have some recommended reading. The Society’s guidelines for contributors to the Newsletter are available on the website: www.isdrs.org/ We thank all of our contributors to this issue. Special thanks go to retiring Executive Secretary, Professor Van Miller, who has given the Society enormous support and leadership and remains a Board member. We warmly welcome incoming Executive Secretary and Co-Chair of ISDRC 18, Dr Pauline Deutz, and newly appointed VicePresident, Dr Walter Vermeulen, both long-term members of the Board. Kia kaha!
Dr Richard Welford President, ISDRS Chairman, CSR Asia Professor, Asian Institute of Technology firstname.lastname@example.org It is with a particular sense of satisfaction that I welcome our readers to this issue of the ISDRS Newsletter. Since its inception in 2005, the Society has grown and developed, co-hosting seven successful conferences in Helsinki (2005), Hong Kong (2006), Västerås (2007), New Delhi (2008), Utrecht (2009), Hong Kong (2010) and New York (2011). Next year, we look forward to our return to the UK – the traditional base for the earlier ERP Environment conferences that preceded the establishment of the Society - with Hull University hosting the 2012 ISDRS Conference under the trusted leadership of ISDRS Board member, Dr Pauline Deutz. 2011 has proved a significant year in the growth of the Society. The Board has worked as a team, under the guidance of Professor Van Miller, to produce the Charter that now provides the basis for governance of the Society, and we thank Van for his sterling efforts in pulling this together. At ISDRS 17 in New York, we set in place the conditions for extended membership of the Society and the greater involvement of members in the Society’s business. ISDRS 17 also saw the appointment of a new Executive Secretary, Dr Pauline Deutz, and our first Vice-President, Associate Professor Walter Vermeulen. In addition, we have revamped the Newsletter this year under the editorship of Dr. Delyse Springett, and we value very highly the contributions received from members and future members of the Society. The Newsletter has made it possible to share and celebrate the outcomes of ISDRS 17 with a wide audience and has also attracted quality articles from many corners of the earth. This expansive approach is one that we intend to develop further. 2011 has also proved to be a year of change on the broader front. Politically, we have witnessed a huge thrust for change, with struggles for democracy erupting at grassroots level as people fight for a fairer, more just existence, for institutional reform and for greater personal agency. The fiscal and financial crises of the US and the EU continue to impinge on the lives of people everywhere; and natural resource crises – particularly the crisis of water – threaten world security. Even in countries such as China we are seeing the growth of an increasingly sophisticated civil society concerned about the environment, climate change and labour rights. I see these trends as entirely complementary to sustainable development, which, after all, puts an emphasis on the quality of life of all individuals. But we have also witnessed the impacts of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan that make us realise how vulnerable we are to disasters of this sort. Not only did it lead to a devastating loss of human life and of people’s way of life, but the impact on the whole economy of Japan is still being felt. As climate change begins to heighten the likelihood of disasters we must be thinking about the importance of adaptation as an essential element of sustainable development.
For members of the ISDRS the challenges of sustainability and sustainable development never get smaller. We have the opportunity to contribute to the Rio+20 preparations as a significant voice in the area. But this is going to require us to work together in delivering meaningful research and other contributions that can help to shape the new emerging agenda. Our society journal, Sustainable Development, which has steadily increased its Impact Factor over the past four years has a role to play, but so too does this newsletter, which can be more immediate and responsive than traditional academic publications. I encourage you to read the stimulating contributions in the pages that follow and consider offering us your views and even a contribution for future issues. Richard Welford.
Board Members of the ISDRS President - Dr Richard Welford, Professor, Asian Institute of Technology Vice-President - Associate Professor Dr Walter Vermeulen, Utrecht University Retiring Executive Secretary – Professor Van Miller, Central Michigan University Executive Secretary and Conference Co-Chair, ISDRC18 - Dr Pauline Deutz, University of Hull Treasurer - Professor Peter Dobers, Mälardalen University Newsletter Editor - Dr Delyse Springett, Massey University Webmaster - Dr Pontus Cerin, University of Umeå Professor Rupert Baumgartner, University of Graz Professor Andy Gouldson, University of Leeds Dr Cecilia Haskins, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Dr Martina Maria Keitsch, The Oslo School of Architecture and Design Emeritus Professor Shobhana Madhaven, University of Westminster Professor Arun Sahay, Management Development Institute, Gurgaon, India Professor Peter Strachan, Aberdeen Business School Associate Professor Arnim Wiek, Arizona State University
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY’S REPORT
Professor Van V. Miller Central Michigan University USA email@example.com The year 2011 has been highly eventful for the ISDRS. It met for the first time on the North American continent in New York City at Columbia University. The numerous plenary sessions were organized by the Earth Institute, and the paper plus poster presentations occurred under the direction of the Society. Attendance was excellent, around 400, and hopefully stimulated much thought about sustainable development research and its impact upon the Earth as we move toward the milestone year of 2012. For the Society and its own operations, 2011 marks the year when the ISDRS began to govern itself by a Charter, which was ratified by the Board members present at the New York City conference. In terms of governance, key elements of the Charter are: • The legal venue for the ISDRS remains in Hong Kong. • The primary objective continues to be the stimulation and dissemination of research and knowledge about sustainable development. • The membership categories have been expanded and will be launched once the organizational infrastructure is in place for accepting members outside the annual conference setting. • During the annual meeting, there will be a consultative session with the permanent membership to solicit comment and advice from them. This becomes particularly important in 2012 and thereafter because it is the permanent membership that will elect two board members each year from the list of nominees selected by the Board. The normal term of office for a Board member will be five years with the possibility of standing for reelection once. • The titles of the elected officers who serve the Society and the Board are: President, Vice-President, Executive Secretary, Treasurer, Newsletter Editor, and Webmaster. Their terms are for three years with the possibility of being reelected once. • The importance of research tracks for the Society at its annual conferences is recognized. • Lastly, the growth and evolution of the ISDRS will not be constrained by the Charter—a process for amending the governance document is specified. With the positive events of 2011 supporting us, the Society can look forward to the 2012 meeting at Hull University in England. There, we can formally launch our annual permanent membership meetings, given the registration list from the 2011 meeting and the registrants for the 2012 conference, and start the democratic process of selecting Board members. I extend my best wishes to the incoming Executive Secretary, Dr Pauline Deutz. 6
GREETINGS FROM NEW EXECUTIVE SECRETARY.
Thanks to Van for his work on the Charter, which is a landmark in the development of the Society. As a board member since the New Delhi Conference in 2008, it has been a privilege and a pleasure for me to take a part in the devising of the governance structure of the Society. The strength of ISDRS for me is the integration of sustainability research from across a very broad spectrum of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, from researchers based in an impressively large number of countries. Very few ‘international’ conferences truly live up to the title as well as ours! I’m sure that our geographic coverage will continue to expand, facilitated by on-line communications. This widening, but purposeful, exchange can only increase the understanding of sustainability issues. I'm looking forward to working with both continuing and new members over the coming 3 years as we implement the Charter. Dr Pauline Deutz Executive Secretary Department of Geography University of Hull UK firstname.lastname@example.org
ISDRC 18 – HULL UNIVERSITY, UK, 24-26 JUNE, 2012 People, Progress and Environmental Protection (http://www2.hull.ac.uk/science/ISDRC18.aspx)
It is with pleasure that we invite you to ISDRC 18 at the University of Hull, England, 24-26 June 2012. Many thanks to the team at the Earth Institute, University of Columbia, NYC, for the wonderful conference experience they provided in May this year. Colleagues at Hull, with the support of the ISDRS board and our scientific committee, are working hard to ensure that ISDRC 18 will be as academically stimulating and rewarding as its predecessors, preserving the Society’s tradition of international, interdisciplinary debate in a friendly atmosphere. Conference themes The timing of next year’s conference is fortuitous, coming shortly after the Rio+20 events, marking the 20th anniversary of the historic Earth Summit of 1992. Given the evident problems that continue to have an impact on both people and the environment today, means to accelerate sustainable development are arguably required urgently. Or is it reasonable to question the validity of sustainable development as a guiding principle in delivering environmental and social solutions? The conference will provide a forum for discussion on sustainability, welcoming both empirical and theoretical contributions, considering developed, developing and/or transition economy perspectives around the following themes: • Sustainable production and consumption • Critical perspectives on sustainable development • Regional approaches to sustainable development • Effectiveness of governance, institutional and economic structures for sustainability 7
• Science of Sustainability: determining the need for transitions, assessing progress and trends. Each theme has a number of tracks, which will shortly be displayed on the conference website. Please see the website (http://www2.hull.ac.uk/science/ISDRC18.aspx) for information on how to submit an abstract. Note that abstracts will be subject to peer review by track chairs. Plenary programme We are preparing a cast of internationally recognised speakers to address the conference. I am delighted to announce that these will include: Professor Julian Agyeman, from Tufts University in the USA, renowned for his work on ‘just sustainability’, providing a new perspective on environmental justice. Dr Simon Bell and Professor Stephen Morse from The Open University and University of Surrey, respectively, who will discuss the engagement of popular interest in sustainability initiatives. Other features to include: A critical reflection on events at Rio+20. A dialogue with physical scientists and engineers engaged in sustainability related research. An introduction to the history, peoples and development of Hull, a city whose development has been closely intertwined with environmental issues. Social programme In addition to the academic programme, we are preparing an exciting social programme. You will have the opportunity relax with friends old and new whilst experiencing something of the city and region. A conference dinner and other evening events are being planned. On the day following the conference (27th June) there will be a choice of excursions to sites of ecological, industrial, and historical interest, as well as one or two of a more purely recreational nature. Hull and the region A city of 260,000 people on the east coast of England, Hull and its surroundings make an ideal location for a conference on sustainable development. As a port city, from its earliest days Hull has attracted merchants, visitors, and residents from overseas. Industry has been based around whaling, deep sea fishing and process/port industries. The Humber Estuary, on which Hull is situated, is home to the UK’s biggest port facility, in addition to having internationally significant estuarine and coastal habitats, and is likely to play host to significant renewable energy development. We look forward to greeting you all in person next June! Dr Pauline Deutz, Department of Geography Prof Stephanie Haywood, Centre for Adaptive Science and Sustainability & Dept of Engineering Conference Co-Chairs.
NEWS AND VIEWS
Carbon Pricing: the triumph of market ideology
Professor Sharon Beder University of Wollongong Australia email@example.com In June 2011 a group of well-known Australians signed a letter to various newspapers calling for action on climate change. Medical researcher and former governor Professor David de Kretser, epidemiologist Dr Fiona Stanley, research biologist Sir Gus Nossal, environmental campaigner Ian Kiernan, psychiatrist Dr Pat McGorry, television gardener Peter Cundall, and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, mother of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, claimed that a "price on carbon is fundamental to substantially reducing emissions and driving the development and growth of a lowcarbon economy". This came a couple of weeks after actor Cate Blanchett fronted a television advertising campaign, funded by unions and environment groups, favouring a carbon tax. There is an unquestioned assumption, amongst those who believe measures are needed to prevent climate change, that what is required is either a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme. Although other policy measures ranging from government investment in low carbon technologies and direct regulation of emissions are also indirect ways of putting a price on carbon, the overwhelming consensus is that market instruments are the way to go. This consensus is the consequence of years of promotion of market instruments by economists and corporate-funded neoliberal think tanks. Market instruments are born of ideology â€“ faith in the power of markets â€“ and the desire to avoid more effective regulation. There is little independent evidence that market instruments are environmentally effective. While direct regulation is aimed at directly changing the behaviour of polluters by outlawing or limiting certain practices, market instruments aim to make environmentally damaging behaviour cost more and/or to make environmentally sound behaviour more profitable. Direct regulation is said to be inefficient because it requires all firms in a sector to meet uniform emission standards regardless of a firmâ€™s ability to meet them. Market instruments, it is claimed, enable the market to find the least cost method of achieving emissions reductions. If substantial pollution reductions are necessary, however, then more expensive reductions also have to be made and there is little point in setting up markets that enable some firms to avoid making those expensive reductions so as to minimise overall costs. This became evident in Germany when it considered implementing an acid rain emissions programme. The aim of the German programme was a 90 percent reduction in SO2 between 1983 and 1998. In comparison, the aim of the US SO2 emissions trading program, which was set up in 1990, was only a 50 percent reduction by 2010. This meant that in the US there was much more scope for power stations to find cheaper ways to reduce their emissions, whereas in Germany, every power 9
station had little choice but to retrofit their plants with flue gas desulphurisation and selective catalytic reduction for nitrogen oxides. This meant that there was no scope for trading. In other words, the more rigorous the emission reduction required the less scope there is to find cheap solutions and market instruments are a slow and uncertain means of achieving the reductions. The US Acid Rain Cap and Trade scheme is consistently cited as a success because it achieved some reductions at minimal cost but those reductions compare poorly with those achieved by traditional regulation in the EU. Even according to its champion, the US EPA: "The Acid Rain Program has enjoyed an unusually high level of emission reductions and near-perfect compliance. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the programâ€™s emission targets may not be sufficient to achieve its environmental goal of ecosystem recovery". Market instruments are not free from political decision-making and lobbying by vested interests, something that often prevents direct regulations from being effective. Environmental taxes and charges have historically been too low to achieve significant pollution reduction because of this political pressure. Similar pressure means that emissions trading caps tend to be very low, allocations of credits too generous, and compensation to affected industry undermines the purpose of the measures. When the EU greenhouse gas emissions trading system was introduced in 2005 many governments over-allocated allowances to local firms because they feared their local industries would be at a competitive disadvantage if they had to buy extra allowances. Because allowances were not in great demand, the price of carbon was far less than would be necessary to provide an incentive to reduce emissions and during the first phase of trading (2005-2007) emissions actually increased. In 2010, the EU Environmental Audit Commission found that for the period 2008-12, allowances may again be "significantly over allocated" because of recession-driven emissions reductions, which means that surplus allowances can be banked and used in the third phase of trading, thus undermining a stricter cap in years to come. Most recently the Australian Productivity Commission Report on Carbon Emission Policies in Key Economies claimed that "emissions trading schemes were found to be relatively cost effective". However it also conceded that nations implementing high cost measures achieved much higher levels of emission reduction. Although the report was portrayed in the media as endorsing market instruments, its conclusion that small reductions can be made cost effectively by market instruments does not mean that the necessary large reductions can be achieved through market instruments. Market instruments tend to protect very polluting or dirty industries by allowing them to buy emission allowances or to pay carbon taxes rather than meet higher environmental standards. In this way, market instruments reduce the pressure on companies to change production processes and introduce other measures to reduce their emissions. Yet it may be preferable in the long run not to allow firms that cannot make the environmental grade to continue polluting but instead let them go out of business and make way for other firms that can produce substitute products in a cleaner way.
Allowing firms to pay for pollution rather than reduce their emissions market instruments often stifles technological innovation rather than encouraging it. It is much easier to pay a charge or buy pollution allowances than invest in research and development that may or may not result in pollution reduction technologies that are cheaper than the cost of the charge or allowance. Similarly inter-nation emissions trading and offsets enable companies to spend a small amount of money on tree plantations or methane gas capture in developing nations rather than a greater amount on innovation in their own plants. Global warming, unlike acid rain, is not going to be prevented merely by individual firms reducing their emissions and individuals changing their consumer choices to save a bit of money. What is required is a more fundamental restructure of the energy and transportation sectors in each nation. This is not something that can be left to individual firms reacting to relatively small market signals and adjusting their emissions (or more likely their prices) accordingly. Whether we like it or not, such major restructuring requires government intervention, planning and direct investment. The market is not some magic panacea that will enable governments to evade their responsibilities by simply imposing a price on carbon and hoping markets will do the rest. (ii)
Global dimming in a climate emergency
Clive Hamilton Professor of Public Ethics Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics Canberra. firstname.lastname@example.org Since its formation 4.5 billion years ago the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth has been regulated by the Sun. Plans to “engineer” the atmosphere by spraying sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere suggest we are not happy with the arrangement and want to take over regulation ourselves. Among the geoengineering options being researched mimicking the cooling effect of a large volcanic eruption by sulphate aerosol spraying is seen to be the most effective, cheapest and most likely technology. The talk among scientists now is about the need to prepare for a “climate emergency”, an extreme situation that would call for rapid action, probably without too much consultation or assessment. The danger, of course, is that preparing for this emergency may make the emergency more likely to happen. The risks of solar radiation management are legion. If we have learned anything from the last two decades of climate research it is that the global climate system is fiendishly complex. We don’t know what the consequences of enhancing global dimming through aerosol spraying would be, and, even with another two decades of intensive study, it’s unlikely we could predict the global effects with any degree of accuracy.
Early studies suggest that, like some volcanic eruptions, stratospheric aerosol spraying could cause major changes in rainfall patterns. It may disrupt the Indian monsoon and African rainfall patterns, leading to widespread crop failures. These regional impacts would exacerbate the likely conflicts between nations over the optimal temperature at which the global thermostat should be set. One of the most powerful arguments against enhancing global dimming arises from the fact that climate change is not only about global warming. The oceans absorb around half of the additional carbon humans are pumping into the atmosphere, causing its acidity to rise. The oceans are already around 30 per cent more acidic than before the industrial revolution, impeding shell formation by marine organisms and jeopardising coral reefs. Aerosol spraying may be able to offset warming but ocean acidification would proceed unchecked as carbon concentrations rise. There is no known answer to acidification, other than crazy schemes to pump alkalis into the waters around coral reefs, so what are we to do? Sacrifice the oceans? Aerosol spraying would also reduce the amount of direct solar radiation available for plant photosynthesis, and anything else that uses solar energy, like renewable energy systems. The effect may be small, but many plant systems operate at the margin. Moral hazard A high-level aerosol haze would whiten the skies in the daytime and impede astronomers at night, but perhaps the foremost danger of solar radiation management is what is known as “moral hazard”, the possibility that geoengineering would relieve pressure on nations to cut their carbon emissions. Unrestrained growth in emissions would accelerate latent warming and thereby lock in the need for a spraying program without end. The analysts worry about how big a risk this is. Those with their feet on the ground know it is not a possibility but a certainty. Already powerful players are talking it up. Republican presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has declared: “Geoengineering holds forth the promise of addressing global warming concerns for just a few billion dollars a year. Instead of penalising ordinary Americans, we would have an option to address global warming by rewarding scientific invention… Bring on the American ingenuity.” And the authors of the error-riddled but popular book Superfreakonomics are gung-ho about seizing control of the planet’s climate system by permanently changing its chemical composition: “For anyone who loves cheap and simple solutions, things don’t get much better.” Once the flood-gates open, of course governments and industry will seize on solar radiation management as a means of getting themselves out of a tricky situation while carrying on with business-as-usual, the more so as controlling sunlight is expected to be much cheaper than cutting carbon emissions. The build-up of latent warming would soon make it impossible to stop regulating solar radiation without drastic consequences. The “rebound effect” of ending
enhanced dimming—due, for example, to war or a shortage of sulphur—would see accelerated warming, perhaps shifting the Earth to a new climate within months. Who will decide the weather? The ethical implications of this generation committing the next twenty generations to permanent management of solar radiation are immense. Perhaps if the judgment were left to “this generation” there would be less to worry about. But who in practice will make the decision to send up the specially equipped fleet of 747s or turn on the spigot of the 40 kilometre kevlar sky-tube? The decision as to how much solar radiation should reach planet Earth will depend on who makes it. So who will it be? The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party? President Palin? A rogue billionaire? The military? At present there is no law to stop any of them. Whose interests do they serve? What is their preferred thermostat setting? One thing seems certain: the poor and powerless will not be allowed near the control panel. Some climate engineers fear that a United Nations’ treaty to regulate SRM would prevent implementation, and even research. Yet, ethically, taking control of the Earth’s atmosphere cannot be justified without the informed consent of those affected, especially the most vulnerable. The UN is the only route by which consent may be given, even if consent stops geoengineering in its tracks. Commercial vultures are circling. Start-ups and venture capitalists are already making plans to cash in on planetary management technologies. Perhaps someone is already quietly acquiring control of the world’s sulphur supply. Most sulphur used today is a by-product of oil and gas production, although a share is scrubbed out of the flue gases from coal-fired power plants. That would be the final irony: extracting sulphur before it pollutes the lower atmosphere in order to save ourselves by spraying it into the upper atmosphere. The sulphur industry already has its own lobby group in Washington. Dominated by oil companies, it actively promotes greater use of sulphur. Once big corporations have a stake they become a political force with an interest in growth. In the future, will the promotion of shareholder value in oil companies determine how much light reaches the Earth? There lies perhaps the greatest anxiety about enhanced dimming: if we start a program to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth will we ever be able to stop it? Will enhanced dimming be locked in because it gives the green light to continued carbon emissions? Will it create its own political and commercial power bloc? Will the rich who benefit ignore the pleas of the poor who suffer? Will we be too afraid to stop it because cessation risks disaster? Global warming promises a grim future because we have come to believe that technology can solve any problem. But if technological thinking gave us the problem of climate change, is it not folly to believe that the same thinking will fix it?
Waiting for Rio (with acknowledgements to Samuel Beckett)1
Dr Delyse Springett Honorary Research Associate – Business and Sustainable Development Massey University Aotearoa New Zealand D.V.Springett@massey.ac.nz Estragon: Vladimir: Estragon: Vladimir:
Let’s go. We can’t. Why not? We’re waiting for Godot.
Were Samuel Beckett alive today, might he become engaged in the discourse of sustainable development? Might he see its key issues as symbolising the human condition and construct an existentialist tragicomedy about ‘waiting for sustainable development’? The topic would provide plenty of grist to the mill.2 The construct of sustainable development is complex and contested, with environmental, social, economic and institutional dimensions to it. Contestation for ‘control’ of the concept at international level has exposed the power and hegemony exercised in the struggle for ‘ownership’ and definition of the concept. As Harvey has noted (1996), a dialectical, relational approach is what is needed to open up a process that is still evolving. In Foucauldian terms, the importance of maintaining discursivity is that it is the discourse that is ‘creating’ sustainable development; the process is a dynamic one where the concept should not be allowed to become naturalised or ‘reified’. There have been ample attempts to reify sustainable development, to make the concept more manageable. Many groups and interests have placed their stakes in the ground: economics, ecology, environmental management, environmental philosophy, the claims and contestations of academic disciplines, views from the South and political and corporate positions. These reveal the ideological, epistemological, political, discipline-based and philosophical approaches that compete for legitimacy. Much hope for the necessary discursivity has been pinned on the major international fora on sustainable development organised by the United Nations: The UN Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE) in Stockholm, 1972; The UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, 1992; and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, 2002, provided key sites of contestation. Now we await the UN Conference on Sustainable 1
Beckett’s absurdist play, ‘Waiting for Godot’ (1952), based in the philosophy of existentialism, is ‘a powerful and symbolic portrayal of the human condition as one of ignorance, delusion, paralysis, and intermittent flashes of human sympathy, hope and wit.’ Oxford Companion to English Literature, 2006. 2
Davidson (2000) notes that the perennial existential question, ‘How should we live?’, has been raised anew in relation to sustainable development, with questions about ‘How we should arrange our systems of production and consumption to ensure the sustainability of the Earth under conditions of conspicuous and pressing environmentally limiting conditions.’ Environmental Ethics. Vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 45-71.
Development, 2012 – ‘Rio+20’ - perhaps with the blend of hope and trepidation that characterises Beckett’s tramps waiting endlessly for Godot. Critics have seen these fora as working to legitimate the North’s power over and domination of the construct of sustainable development while appearing to be seeking ‘solutions’. Organised by the Northern-dominated United Nations, they have promoted largely North-driven agendas, even though they have also formed sites of protest and contestation. The agendas have been as remarkable for their lacunae as their content. For example, the discourse of UNCED took for granted that economic development was the sine qua non – where no growth meant more poverty and degradation to the environment, whereas continued economic growth would protect the environment and reduce both population and poverty. Institutional hegemony at these fora has also been shown to be heavily dependent upon the support of corporate power. The fact that a coalition between these dominant forces governs the outcomes of international debates on environment and sustainable development has been difficult to overlook. The voices of NGOs and the South were eventually heard at UNCED after much struggle, though without achieving equal power. The Alternative Treaties produced by an international consortium of NGOs at the Global Forum that ran parallel to UNCED exposed the key ‘silences’ and ‘non-decision-making’ that characterised the formal agenda. For example, Agenda 21 had clauses on ‘enabling the poor to achieve sustainable livelihoods’, but none on how the rich would do so; a section on women, but none on men. Only the Alternative Treaties spoke of debt forgiveness and redistribution of wealth, or examined issues of militarism, TNCs and alternative economic models: as O’Riordan noted (1995), the Alternative Treaties presented a ‘devastating critique’ of UNCED. What, then, can we expect from Rio+20? With the overall goals of ‘Vision, Cooperation, Transformation’, the Conference offers considerable promise. The key overarching themes of an ‘Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development’ the system of global governance for sustainable development - and a ‘Green Economy’ in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development suggest ‘flashes of human sympathy and hope’ (see footnote 1). As Hannah Stoddard has recently pointed out in the Stakeholder Forum discourse on Rio+20 (June, 2011)3, the opportunity is provided for a wider focus than climate change and carbon emissions – climate change having to some extent become a proxy for sustainable development in recent years. Rio+20’s broad mandate could open the space for wider discussions on energy, agriculture, water, poverty and inequality and the links between them. Yet countries have so far been slow to engage with the Rio agenda and the media have given it relatively little attention – possibly because it is still nearly a year away; or more probably because, as Stoddard suggests, there is a deeper-seated malaise at work here. Some of that malaise must be placed at the door of the UN, an institution set up in Cold War conditions 60 years ago, now proving unable to respond to contemporary challenges and casting doubt on its own suitability and effectiveness to further the agenda of sustainable development. People do not forget the ‘débâcle’ of UNCED (The Ecologist, Vol. 22, No. 4), nor the failure to agree a climate change 3
settlement in Copenhagen in 2009 and Cancun in 2010. The apparently intractable geopolitical stand-offs in the negotiations point to a crisis within the international community. The lower-profile but still significant failure of the nineteenth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (May, 2011) to reach an agreement on a series of environmental and development issues provides further evidence of widening distrust and an unwillingness to cooperate on some of the most urgent global issues of our time. Must we anticipate from all this that Rio+20 will be an organizational and a political failure? Stoddard notes that there exists “a deep and understandable resentment on behalf of many developing countries that the North has consistently failed to adhere to its international commitments, and a perception that developed countries are constantly ‘shifting the goal posts’ in multilateral debates.” However, the balance of power also seems to be shifting. While the struggle at UNCED could be seen as that between ‘North’ and ‘South’, the gap today is also between the poorest countries, with no resources to attract investment, developed countries, and the new ‘rapidly developing’ economies. Notable amongst the last are the BRICs4, which may signal a shift in global economic power away from the G7 towards the developing world. In the meantime, dominant discourses and the interests they reflect and defend guarantee that developed world countries, as well as rapidly developing countries such as China, will make adjustments to deal with the crisis of debt in a disordered ‘first world’, but fail to respond to similar needs of resource-poor developing countries in Africa and South America. Stoddard also suggests that many developing countries are highly suspicious of the new agenda of a ‘Green Economy’: they perceive it as predominantly dictated by Northern countries seeking to detract attention away from the fact that they have not delivered on their commitments to sustainable development. She detects concerns that the new found enthusiasm for the green economy is seeking to re-write and replace the sustainable development narrative – with an associated weaker emphasis on social concerns. And, again, the outcomes from Rio+20 will not be legally binding: they can only accelerate action through ‘soft’ legislation. Stoddard is optimistic, suggesting that Rio+20 offers the opportunity “to identify alternative frameworks for compliance that enhance accountability and encourage States to deliver on their commitments - such as a set of time-bound sustainable development goals, with clear targets and indicators that allow civil society to easily hold governments to account.” But who are the stakeholders that will insist on this accountability? The key challenges for members of the ISDRS are how to exercise agency in order to influence what happens in Rio de Janeiro next June; and what our future roles will be in enhancing accountability and demanding delivery on the commitments that States make during the Conference. Or are we, too, waiting for Godot?
Brazil, Russia, India and China.
In Search of the Integrating Ground Between Corporate Ethics and Corporate Sustainability
Professor David Wheeler Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean Plymouth Business School Cookworthy Building Drake Circus Plymouth Devon PL4 8AA United Kingdom email@example.com In 1953, at the age of 21, and fresh with an Oxford degree, Rupert Murdoch commenced building a media empire that is now worth more than $30bn US in revenues annually. From the relatively humble starting point of owning the Adelaide Express, Mr Murdoch moved on to acquire the Perth Sunday Times in 1956 and then went on a takeover spree of troubled regional newspapers in Australia and New Zealand, much as the now disgraced Lord Conrad Black did in Canada in the 1970s. The late 1960s saw Murdoch’s takeover of the tabloid News of the World and the Sun in the UK, and subsequent decades witnessed a breathtaking diversification of his empire into broadsheets in the US and the UK (including The Times of London and the New York Post), and, eventually, cable, satellite, movies, music, video games, and even social networking businesses. But after nearly ten years of persistent rumour, exposure by investigative journalists and bungled police investigations exploring illegal practices at the News of the World, Murdoch’s hold on his News Corp empire is now looking somewhat shaky. In a performance worthy of Ronald Reagan during Contragate, the 80 year old Murdoch fumbled his way through a UK Parliamentary Committee asserting that he had been let down but was not personally aware of illegal acts undertaken by his journalists. At that point the allegations included bribing police officers and hacking into the voice mails of murder victims, deceased soldiers and numerous politicians and celebrities. In order to explore the broader questions of the role of the media in society, British Prime Minister David Cameron has requested Lord Justice Leveson to conduct an inquiry into the phone hacking scandal and he has quickly made clear that he wants to take a system-wide view of how the problem arose: “It may be tempting for a number of people to close ranks and suggest that the problem is or was local to a group of journalists then operating at the News of the World, but I would encourage all to take a wider view of the public good and help me grapple with the width and depth of the problem.” So it seems that we may yet be in for a feast of ethical debate addressing the root causes of media malfeasance. There is nothing quite like the interface between journalistic ethics, political influence and corporate aggression to cause consternation in the public mind, as it becomes increasingly obvious that it is not just the future reputations of politicians, film stars, royalty and sports personalities that are under assault, but democracy itself.
Another industry with a systemic impact that can shake democracies and undermine the social sustainability of nations is the financial industry. As Michael Lewis first argued in Liar’s Poker and more recently in The Big Short, for two decades much of the financial services industry was driven by forces that placed an unhealthy premium on leveraged betting and rewarded the actors at Merrill Lynch and elsewhere placing and insuring those bets.5 Seen today from the vantage point of countries like Greece of Ireland, faced with the prospect of national debts being unpayable for generations, the impacts of these behaviours on real people and their life prospects seems unforgiveable. But if we want to stop history repeating itself, we have to recognise the systemic failures represented by perverse incentive structures, non-transparent packaging of risk and faulty regulation. Of course, if we exclude the egregious thieves like Bernie Madoff who were perfectly aware of their wrongdoing, the most common excuse of individuals responsible for the 2008 melt down – from the sub-prime mortgage salesmen to the credit agency assessors - was ‘we didn’t know’. And just like Rupert Murdoch with his claimed lack of knowledge of phone hacking at the News of the World, they may well be telling the truth. Because in all of these cases it did not pay to ask. It actually paid not to know, as the culture of non-accountability, short termism and individual greed actually rewarded those creating the problem. So what has all of this got to do with sustainability? Actually, everything. These stories of systemic failure in the management of news gathering or the administration of financial services are manifestations of the same sort of business thinking that gives us climate change and famine in Somalia. We might call it a doctrine of ‘plausible deniability’ that now pervades so much of our corporate, political and institutional lives. As long as our personal fingerprints are not on the documents, as long as we restrict ourselves to direction and not detail, our tolerance of negative impacts of our institutions on real people knows no bounds. In my home city of Plymouth, England we have had an interesting example of this phenomenon in recent weeks. There is an Australian Bank called Macquarie, a selfstyled “leader in corporate philanthropy” with 15,500 employees in 28 countries around the world. This bank has an office in London that (amongst other things) manages funds for institutions and individuals. Some of these funds are invested in infrastructure. And some of those infrastructure funds are invested in privatised monopoly regulated firms. One example is Wales and West Utilities (WWU) whose main function is to maintain gas mains and deliver natural gas to the customers of its customers (who are in turn regulated gas supply companies). According to WWU, they are owned by “a consortium of long-term investors led by the Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund”. In April of this year, and wholly unexpected by stakeholders, WWU started digging up streets around the key touristic parts of the City – the City that was the setting off point for the Mayflower and the founding of America. The City from where Francis 5
In 2008 Merrill Lynch famously paid senior executives $3.6bn in bonuses, even as they prepared for takeover by Bank of America and after receiving three times that amount in bailouts from the US Government.
Drake defended England against Spanish invasion; from where James Cook set off to explore Botany Bay and Robert Falcon Scott embarked for Antarctica. So this is a City with a few sites worth visiting during the summer months. And yet in a perfect example of plausible deniability, WWU and their owners can argue that it is not their problem: they are only doing their job while hundreds of small businesses lose income and their economic sustainability is seriously threatened. I cannot help but think that in all of these examples, macro to micro, there is a thread that we would do well to reflect on. Many of today’s international corporations are led and managed by people for whom corporate ethics is an oxymoron, and for whom sustainability is framed as the maintenance of good relations with investors, not with real people. It suits such corporations to maintain a culture of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, which in turn gives permission for subsidiaries and distant business units to respond upwards on financial drivers whilst ignoring the interests of ordinary, voiceless individuals and communities where they make their money. So it would seem that sustainability practitioners and theorists need to formulate better approaches to organisational ‘systems design’ and ethical ‘corporate cultures’ that make sense to the Murdochs, Merrill Lynch’s and Macquaries of this world and those who finance and regulate them. Mark Schwartz of York University, Canada, and Archie Carroll of the University of Georgia have done as much thinking as anyone in this regard (see for example Schwartz, M. S. and Carroll, A. B., 2008)6. For historical reasons, see also Wheeler D., Colbert B. and Freeman R. E. (2003).7 It remains relatively rare for sustainability-oriented academics and ethicists to make common cause in surfacing the organisational questions that are central to the development of ethical and sustainable business. But perhaps it is now time to get the ethicists and the sustainability thinkers in one place in order to pose and research the bigger questions together.
Schwartz, M. S. and Carroll, A. B. (2008) Integrating and Unifying Competing and Complementary Frameworks: The Search for a Common Core in the Business and Society Field, Business & Society, 2008, 47(2): 148-186. 7
Wheeler D, Colbert B and Freeman R E (2003). Focusing on value: reconciling corporate social responsibility, sustainability and a stakeholder approach in a network world. Journal of General Management 28(3), 1-28).
Resilient Participation: Saving the Human Project?8
Dr Simon Bell Senior Lecturer in Information Systems at the Open University Communications and Systems Department, MCT Faculty, Open University Milton Keynes MK7 6AA UK Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Professor Stephen Morse Centre for Environmental Strategy Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences University of Surrey Guildford Surrey GU2 7XH UK Email: email@example.com As noted in plenary at the 17th ISDRC Conference in New York, a consideration of the turmoil of the later part of the twentieth century and the beginnings of the twenty first, the irreducible issue of our times would appear to be population. Without it being in some way permanently addressed, all other issues remain causally connected and unsolved. Indeed it is a truism that sustainability is all about people; if human beings did not exist then neither would the concept of sustainability – it is as stark as that! An alien visitor looking down at our ‘human-less’ planet could assess our scientific constructs such as biodiversity, ecosystems, food webs, extinctions and so on. They could even draw an assessment of the resilience of those properties: how likely they are to change if the environment changes. Like gravity, these would exist whatever the nature of the civilisation doing the observing as we can postulate that alien ecosystems may be quite different from anything we know but they will be ecosystems nonetheless. But these aliens could not assess ‘sustainability’ of a world without humans; at least not by our definition of the term, or indeed theirs, if founded upon similar principles. If population is the key to unlocking so many of our implacable problems, it is hard to dispute that the irreducible process of our times for addressing the issue is human participation. By this we mean the involvement of people in the making of decisions that impact upon sustainability. More precisely we mean the all-various ways in
The article draws on Simon Bell and Stephen Morse (forthcoming, 2012): ‘Resilient Participation: Saving the Human Project?’ London: Earthscan.
which human beings participate in group activities. We refer to this conjunction of population and participation as the human project. Our concern in this article and the book that it presages (and the focus of our attention for nearly thirty years of professional practice in diverse domains of study and intervention) is participation. Participation includes any gathering of three or more people, coming together in order to achieve some specific purpose. In many ways this is a bedrock of sustainability as people rarely – if ever – act entirely alone in ways which have a significant impact upon the environment. Almost always the impacts we observe are the result of group activity in one form or another, even if the group is following the instructions of one person. This gives us plenty of scope to work with but we do need to be clear about a number of other terms we use. For example, by “resilient participation” we mean the invisible force that holds groups of human beings together in all acts of group level behaviour and under all sorts of duress. Resilience conveys a quality of recovery and not just continuity of a given state. Our aim here is to address the requirement for groups to not only cope with process of change and turmoil but also to be able to recover from past stress. Our thinking is concerned with two major themes: the atomic nature of the group (3 people plus) as the lowest level of granularity; and resilience which provides the ‘strong force’ which cements groups and communities of all kinds – or, the absence of which allows groups to fail. Taking these themes, our concerns and thinking can be set out in the following set of questions and responses: Why do we as a species have to participate? Human beings are social animals, of course, and our societies have a myriad of networks, institutions and organisations. Participation is thus the basis for all group level behaviour. It is the key to group success and without ‘good’ and ‘effective’ participation groups of all kinds fail. What is group level behaviour? All work undertaken by organisations of all kinds, be they implicit or explicit, proximate or remote, intimate or formal, face-to-face or mediated. How well do organisations do group level behaviour? Here we have lots of evidence of haphazard approaches to understanding groups. There are issues of transiency. Things change, the group disappears. So, without understanding group level behaviour we consign all levels of human activity to ‘luck’ or chance. There are so many examples of ‘chancy’ group level behaviour, for example, the behaviour of pressure groups such as those that formed to fight ‘acid rain’ or the fight to stop the delivery of MMR vaccine to infants. Groups formed in response to a pressure tend to exist along the fracture line of the original stimulus. Remove that stimulus - and the group disappears.
From this basis of reasoning we can go onto think more provocatively. How have we as a species done so far in understanding how groups of us work? What have we done to understand participation? Participation is often seen as a convenient cover word for what is at heart an extractive process driven by those with an agenda to meet. This is not a new insight but it is remarkable in its resilience. Our position is that participation is the sine qua non of the human race. Without it we perish. So why is it often mentioned in the same breath as sustainable development but still regarded as an option? Why is there this contradiction? Participation is dogged by weaknesses of various kinds. These weaknesses cause a multitude of problems in terms of group efficiency, productivity and resilience. Plus, of course, there are the practical and â€˜messyâ€™ difficulties about the process of participation and managing a group so as to achieve goals. Ask undergraduate students whether they prefer working by themselves to deliver an assignment or whether they would prefer working as a group. At least nine times out of ten they will opt for the individual assignment. Ask they why and they will readily tell you about all the problems involved in working with other people. However, good participation (if there is such a thing) cannot be assumed. It is like meeting management and project management - a skill which can be allowed to flower according to chance but is far better learned, applied and considered in a thoughtful and reflective manner. In our book we discuss this and describe a new participatory approach that we have developed called Triple Task (TT). TT is founded upon a need to understand groups and not just to accept (for better or for worse) what they do. It is thus an attempt to understand how participation happens, what works and what does not work and how to improve the capacity of participation to work well. Our conclusion is that if we leave participation as a garnish, a craft skill to be achieved in a haphazard manner, then we face a long and very uphill struggle against the pressing social, economic and environmental problems of our time.
Trade-offs in Auto industry emissions regulations: the case of environmental improvements, technological development, notion of political effectiveness and supporting domestic industry
Associate Professor Pontus Cerin* Unit of Accounting and Finance Umeå School of Business, Sweden Unit of Environmental Strategies Research - FMS KTH - Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm, Sweden firstname.lastname@example.org Professor Rupert J. Baumgartner Institute for Systems Science, Innovation and Sustainable Research University of Graz, Austria email@example.com In literature there are several writings supporting the business advantages of being a proactive firm in environmental performance – both for the individual firm and the nation hosting them, but sever academic critique has, however, been raised against this hypothesis. Sweden is in the green and competitive literature often depicted as a forerunner in addressing environmental trouble where both firms and regulators work towards achieving environmental improvement that also incorporates the investment cycles of firms to achieve largest leaps forward for both environmental improvements and domestic industry competitiveness. Writers like Bauner (2004) and Cerin and Löhman (2010), however, have shown that when regulating the auto industry’s emissions to air, nations take different approaches. Regulatory approaches are in countries with a strong domestic auto industry largely influenced by the industry actors and Sweden is no exception. When catalytic converter legislation was being introduced at various world markets Sweden and Germany, often seen as forerunners in environmental regulation, were late in introducing the regulation. Volvo, which showed the legislators in the US during the 70’s that it was indeed possible to manufacture catalytic converters took over a decade later the very opposite position and worked against the creation of a similar legislation in Sweden. Having one fifth of the auto sales in Sweden, it was simply not possible to transfer the costs of the catalytic converter on vehicles to the end consumers. In the US market, however, Volvo is a premium seeking niche market player aiming for safety and environmentally concerned customers, to which additional production costs can be pushed over to the end consumer. Politicians’ need for creating an image of taking action should not be under estimated. This crave for political action goes nowadays also for environmental regulations, if the policies do not intrude on the welfare of voters and their way of living. Furthermore, environmental policies are usually difficult politically to introduce if it may affect significant domestic industries, especially if demands are put in advance of regulation in countries hosting foreign competition. This is well illustrated in the Swedish and the EU regulatory approaches towards limiting CO2 emissions from lightweight vehicles where the Swedish case was formed to not affecting the costs of voters or competiveness of domestic auto manufacturers.
Instead benefits were given consumers if changing to an alternative subsidised biofuels – almost exclusively ethanol. Subsidies were given to vehicles that were equipped with the ability to run on either ethanol or gasoline. The CO2 emission reductions would, however, been considerably greater if the Swedish policy makers had focused on increasing the ethanol inclusion into ordinary gasoline from 5% to 10% for all gasoline-powered vehicles. This would also have saved considerable cost for fuel station and the closure of smaller ones in remote areas, but the image of political firm action would not have been transmitted in the same effective way. Instead great tax reductions on ethanol and various tax relief for vehicles with an option to use ethanol was implemented in Sweden without checking if flexifuel vehicle owners actually fuelled their cars with alternative fuel. The EU has adopted an effective regulation that focuses on CO2 emission targets. The auto manufacturers’ costs for non-compliance are, furthermore, foreseeable for industry all the way down to the year 2020. This legislation is technology neutral and drives auto manufacturers to develop the most effective technologies, which to policy makers are currently unknown. This approach by the EU is far more effective than the Swedish alternative that directs industry and consumers into one technology – in this case forces the auto sector into an inefficient biofuel ethanol. Recently though, Sweden has reluctantly and under objections, along with Germany, had to follow the EU innovation friendly policy that promotes technological innovation into more efficient engines, transmission and lighter vehicles in the strive for lowered greenhouse gas emissions as well as energy consumption. Compared to the greenhouse gas reductions before the EU Parliament made its decision to regulate and limit cars’ (light vehicles) CO2 emission averages for each manufacturer’s sold cars the European auto emissions as well as fuel consumptions per sold vehicle have remarkably decreased – progressively more than before – and in fact more than anticipated in the regulatory process (cf. JATO, 2010). The future costs for poor GHG emission averages of sold cars within the EU are detected by vehicle manufacturers as imposing impact that endanger future profits, if not seriously innovating the product portfolio to into new technical solutions of engines, energy sources, transportation systems as well as on design of offerings to end consumers. There has, hence, been a noticeable abatement of vehicle emission by A) making environmental costs that occur outside the firm (during use of their products) to become a production cost to the actor that have the largest possibilities to change them (the auto manufacturer), B) focusing on an emissions limit performance instead of trying to enforce a certain technology, C) creating long term goals that stretches over several product cycles so that the companies get incentives and possibilities to achieve some larger improvements of their products’ emission and D) making sure the end consumers receives the incentives to chose efficient technologies that have the lowest greenhouse gas emissions. Following the Nobel Prize Laureate Coase’s article on The Problem of Social Cost (1960) there is, hence, a case for allocating responsibility and ownership of a property – read problem – to those actors who can use them most efficiently. As Cerin and Karlson (2002) have stated there is a need to allocate responsibilities to those actors that have the highest possibilities to change the design and reach higher efficiencies e.g. through innovation, taking into account the value chain of a firm’s offerings.
Sustainable Industry Contributes to Happiness in Bhutan
Cecilia Haskins, PhD, CSEP Post-Doctoral Researcher Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) NO-7491 Trondheim Norway firstname.lastname@example.org Background After decades of creating enviable wealth and standards of living, the industrial societies are turning their attention to those countries now beginning to advance their own industrial base, and the general well-being of their citizens. One such nation is Bhutan, a small Himalayan country nestled between China (Tibet) and India. With a population under 800,000 people, Bhutan has never been colonized, and the people are primarily Buddhist. The economic base is primarily agricultural, but a few courageous entrepreneurs are gambling on industrial enterprises despite general disapproval from the conservative elements of society. Business-as-usual scenarios that include increasing production in developing countries using the traditional evolutionary paths are the stuff of nightmares. The constitution of Bhutan stipulates rigorous requirements against all industrial enterprises. The leaders have promoted the concept of industrial symbiosis with the intention of achieving sustainable development even as their fledgling industries emerge. The situation in Bhutan demonstrates the pressures between policy makers and entrepreneurs and the special needs of developing countries that desire to develop along a sustainable trajectory from the beginning. Bhutanese leaders learned the lessons of undirected progress and unlimited external influence from their neighbour Nepal. In 1979, the world was introduced to the concept of “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) as coined by their 4th king. GNH is based on 4 pillars that are the driving factors in promoting social, economic, and political change in Bhutan: • • • •
Conservation of Natural Environments Preservation of Cultural Values Sustainable Development with limited foreign investment and controlled tourism Good Governance
After 100 years of benevolent monarchy, Bhutan embraced democracy in December 2008. For those 100 years the people experienced the benefits of stability, centralized co-ordination, and clear direction. This resulted in a legacy of efficient institutional frameworks that allow for the efficient delivery of services and course corrections along the way. In addition, Bhutan has rich endowments of natural resources – forests, hydropower potential, biodiversity and raw materials – and the long term support of a few generous donors (India, Denmark, Japan, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, UNDP, WHO).
Stages of development The history of the development of Bhutan begins early in the 1960’s. From 1961 – 1973, the first stage addressed the issues of inaccessibility and mobility with road construction largely funded by India. The first stretch of road completed connected Phuentsholing (in the south) to India. Roads stimulated other development activities, a sense of national integration, and the possibility to expand international relationships. Between March 2009 – 2010, the travelling time from Phuentsholing to Thimphu (180 km) was reduced by more than one hour due to continuous improvements in the roads. Thanks to these infrastructure improvements, Bhutan was able to host the SAARC Summit for first time in April 2010. During the second stage, from 1971 – 1983, the government established effective delivery of health, education and agricultural services with the building of hospitals and schools and agriculture extension centres. However, these services cost the government money and plans were adjusted to generate revenue from hydropower and mineral-based industries like cement plants. Stage 3, from 1983 – 1987, saw the construction of first hydropower plant, which made it possible to start industrial enterprises. The export of products and excess electricity to India (primarily) increased revenue for the government, funding the ambitious social and environmental agendas. Since 1988, the country has experienced the introduction of television, telecommunication networks, and mobile telephones. This means that the Bhutanese are connected to the world and each other as never before. New technologies offer the potential for clean ‘IT’ industries (e.g. medical records transcriptions). The Industrial Era The first ‘factories’ were introduced in 1991 – nearly 200 years after the Industrial Revolution began – thanks to a generous infusion of Danish funding. The intention was to prove that it was possible to introduce industries using the latest developments in clean technology. The initial pilot companies were able to afford ‘clean technology’ and today some of these companies are ISO certified for quality (9001) and EMS (14001). However, as additional entrepreneurs emerged they encountered the barriers of money, technology and capacity – without all three it is difficult for fledgling industrialists to meet the objectives of GNH. Marble cutting, steel and ferrous alloy, beer brewery, and other industries were situated in an industrial estate in Phuentsholing. The estate provided minimum infrastructure– primarily electricity and telephone. Lacking the financial resources of the initial projects, investment in antiquated factory equipment means these sites produce unnecessary waste and pollution – given SOTA potential – and the industries are not as clean or pollution free as the law requires. As might be anticipated, waste management is one of the larger challenges. Since Bhutanese industry is enabled by hydropower-generated electricity, they are an attractive site for energy intensive industry such as steel production. As a result, Bhutan is an important part of the supply chain for the construction industry in India, their primary trading partner. However, the Bhutanese people remain sceptical about too much western ‘interference’ – minimum FDI is allowed – and heavy industry is
not popular. For this reason, the majority of skilled labour and much of the unskilled labour is imported from India despite high unemployment in youth sector. Fortunately, engineering and environmental management are now emerging as professions. Agenda 21 and Rio + 20 The case of Bhutan is interesting because they have incorporated elements of the Agenda 21 challenges into their constitution and this has been a contributing factor in their industrial development. The country participates in the following partnerships under the UN Commission for Sustainable Development as follows: • Institutional consolidation for systemic planning and management toward poverty alleviation and environmental conservation in a framework of sustainable regional development in the Hindu Kush, Karakorum, Himalaya mountain complex (2002-2006). • International Partnership for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions (Mountain Partnership), specifically biodiversity preservation and sustainable livelihoods (2002-2012). • Strategic Partnership Among Benin, Bhutan and Costa Rica for Co-operation on Sustainable Development ( Program for South-south Cooperation) (2005-2008). • Village Bamboo Conservation Regulations; regeneration of an important resource, which is used for house construction, agriculture tools, mats, baskets, containers, and other household items (ongoing). • Bamboo Drip Irrigation in which bamboo stem is used to store and provide water for mandarin and areca nut plants during the dry season of the year; low technology, which requires minimal investment for its set-up; very cost effective for Bhutanese farmers who have small land holdings and practice subsistence farming (ongoing). Representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indian and Nepal met in January to launch their common plan to, “develop and agree on a national and regional framework for developing a 10 year road map for adapting to climate change”. The Climate Summit for a Living Himalayas is a ten year adaptation plan during which the four Himalayan nations will act to ensure food security, water security, energy security, and biodiversity persistence. Governments in this region are already coping with impacts of climate change in the Himalayas such as rapid glacial melting, unpredictable weather and precipitation patterns, and increasing temperatures. The plan for collective action will be formalized at the Summit being hosted by the Royal Government of Bhutan on October 14th 2011 in Thimphu, Bhutan. Summary Progress in the industrial sector is slow, investment money is scarce, and ironically, despite a 3% unemployment rate, both skilled and unskilled workers are imported. Poverty is still a government priority making it hard to prioritize infrastructure over other issues. The white collar sector is most attractive and offers the most potential for future growth. Education is gradually integrating environmental studies – but the best students continue to study abroad.
Regarding future technology and information exchanges: • Countries such as Bhutan would benefit greatly from incentives at intergovernmental, regional and national levels to increase the flows of information and technologies where possible at the lowest cost, particularly North to South. • Developing countries cannot reasonably expect to achieve cleaner production objectives until the current trend whereby obsolete appliances and technologies are offloaded to developing countries is stopped. Current state-of-the-art technologies may require a larger financial investment, but they are cheaper in the long run if the negative climate effects are taken into consideration. • The UN should continue to encourage South to South interactions because transfers between countries at similar levels of development have assisted technologies to achieve successful commercialization and integration. • Moves to adopt principles of ecological economics would favor products from a country such as Bhutan with its clean energy resources. Author In her capacity as a post-doctoral researcher at NTNU, Cecilia was privileged to participate in the final phases of the DANIDA funded project on Cleaner Technology and Environmental Management. This included two visits to Bhutan, which, combined with additional research, contributed to the observations offered in this essay. (iv)
Professor Paul Wapner9 Director, Global Environmental Politics Program School of International Service, American University 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington DC 20016 (202) 885-1647 email@example.com Environmentalism in the United States has always prized nature. The preservation, conservation and sustainability wings of the movement have long seen the nonhuman world as something worthy of respect and protection. Whether trying to combat climate change, safeguard biological diversity, ensure fresh water availability or reduce ozone depletion, environmentalists have worked to keep humans at bay when it comes to intervening into natural processes. Overly exploitative human practices compromise nature’s ways and environmentalism is, in many ways, about guarding against this. One could say that nature is the raison d’être of the environmental movement. Notwithstanding environmentalism’s venerable goals, its work is becoming harder to carry out since nature, as understood as something separate from humanity, is coming undone. On the one hand, humanity has stretched its reach into all aspects of the earth’s ecosystems. We now fly through the sky, fish and release waste into all parts 9
Author of: Living through the End of Nature: The Future of American Environmentalism, to be reviewed in Issue 4 of the ISDRS Newsletter (November, 2011).
of the ocean, mine the earth’s crust and influence the lives of countless other-thanhuman creatures. According to McNeil, our presence is so pervasive that we now penetrate every realm of the earth: the lithosphere, pedosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere (McNeill 2001). The epitome of this presence is anthropogenic climate change. As Bill McKibben has emphasized, climate change represents the “end of nature” (McKibben 1989). Climate affects everything. It influences the biochemical character of all life on life. Once we alter that, we extend our presence to all corners of the planet. There is no place devoid of human influence. Humanity’s huge ecological impact has led geographers to start referring to our geological period as the “anthropocene” (Crutzen and Stoermer 2000). This signals that the very foundations of life are inflected with a human signature such that there are no longer self-subsisting ecosystems but only anthropogenic biomes (“anthromes”) which possess ecological patterns and processes substantially different from those of the Holocene or any prior epoch (Ellis 2011). As if the physical disappearance of pristine nature were not enough, we are also witnessing the conceptual end of nature. Much contemporary thought recognizes that we never experience ‘nature’ in its noumenal state but rather come to it with discursive categories. Thus, different people in different times have various understandings of the nonhuman world. For example, some people may look at trees in a forest as fellow beings with whom we share the planet or even relatives in a spiritual sense while others see them as timber to be used as furniture. Likewise, what some take to be an endangered species, others may see as a threat or, alternatively, dinner. In short, our understandings of the nonhuman world vary across time and space. They are socially constructed(Cronon 1996; Vogel 2002; Whiteside 2002). Many have written about the empirical and conceptual ends of nature. Scholars have explained the many ways that we are erasing the physical divide between humans and nonhumans, and the ways we are increasingly recognizing nature’s socially constructed character. A neglected aspect of such scholarship is its meaning for the environmental movement. If the movement has long prized nature, what happens to the movement “after nature”? How can environmentalism position itself philosophically and politically in a world in which ‘nature’ has come undone? Can it operate without a philosophical and political ground? As I see it, the end of nature is not a death knell for the movement but an opportunity. It provides the chance for the movement to re-envision its work and situate itself more productively within debates about the environment. Environmentalists and their critics square off over many issues. At the core of their disagreements is a clash of worldviews having to do with the place of humans on earth. Environmentalists tend to subscribe to, what can be called, the dream of naturalism, which understands that humans are only one among many species and should strive to harmonize themselves with, rather than lord over, the natural world. Thus, environmentalists advocate for living lightly on the land, respecting nature’s limits and otherwise folding human life into ecological interdependencies in ways that enhance ecosystem health. Anti-environmentalists or environmental sceptics, in contrast, subscribe to a different view. They see humanity as an exceptional species that is endowed with abilities and can best flourish by controlling the nonhuman world and shaping it to humanity’s wants. In contrast to the dream of naturalism,
sceptics subscribe to the dream of mastery. They believe that, no matter what constraints nature throws our way, we can use our innovative spirit, matched with technological prowess, to overcome. The end of nature erodes the confidence of both orientations. If nature does not exist as an independent entity or separate realm of phenomenon, environmentalists can no longer naively try to harmonize with it since its essential character is tainted with a human signature and fundamentally unknowable except as a social construct. On the flipside, if the human and nonhuman worlds are intricately linked and if we have no access to nature unto itself, it is unclear how humanity can master nature since doing so assumes that humans themselves have an essential character that can be distinguished and lorded over nature. The many modifications that we are making to the human body (genetic and otherwise) and the endless and perhaps fruitless search for an elementary ‘nature’ to the human being (whether as homo economicus, homo technologicus, homo invictus) suggest that there is no such thing as a human ‘nature’ and thus sceptic’s prizing human nature over nature’s nature is a fundamentally misguided exercise. The end of both human and nonhuman nature, then, shifts the fault lines of environmental politics. It scrambles the urge to embrace one realm over another, and leaves people more open to the many ways of living meaningful and ecologically healthy lives. Put differently, the end of nature (which pertains to both humans and nature) pulls the floor out from both environmentalists and their critics, and, in doing so, resets the points of contention. Environmental debates can no longer be about humans versus nature but rather must be about sustaining life in a hybrid world. There is no such thing as pure nature; concomitantly, there is no such thing as pure human. It is time to realize this and develop a politics that can operate in the uncertainties of what this means. How do we live in a world that is not of our own making but is also not separate from us? How should we treat trees, mountains, air, water and creatures knowing that their ways are forever influenced by humanity’s actions and yet still distinct from humanity itself? What do safeguarding wilderness, climate change protection, water security and so forth mean in a world in which there are no circumscribed natures to humans or the other-than-human world? While the question is abstract, answering it is extraordinary important for contemporary environmentalism. Let’s face it, we currently manage wilderness areas, affect climate, govern evolution of all creatures and otherwise serve as an ecological force in our own right. This is what, after all, the anthropocene means. A post-nature world calls on us to embrace our role and to develop an orientation to it that can serve all life. We can do this by treating the more-than-human world with a combination of respect and responsibility. Many of us who are parents affect such an orientation toward our children. We recognize that, while we have tremendous influence over our offspring, they are also independent from us and have their own ways. Ideal parenting consists, then, of balancing the dual dimensions of the relationship. It involves, on the one hand, moulding our children to grow in ways that we believe would enable them to live meaningful and successful lives. On the other hand, it also involves beholding them as beings with their own life trajectories. As Michael Sandel has noted, parenting involves both moulding and beholding our children. We try to
direct them as best we can but also step back and appreciate the novelty of what they are (Sandel 2007). This is the same attitude gardeners have to their gardens and herders have toward their flocks (Pollan 1991; Trefil 2004). It involves both listening to the other as well as shaping its ways. As I see it, humanity can no longer pretend that it is not in the ecological driver seat and that there is anything that exists completely separate from our influence. However, we must also understand that everything is not us. There is an otherness to the world even if its character is inflected with a human signature. The most genetically souped-up mouse is still not a human being. Likewise, the most altered human being (with animal parts and artificial prosthetics) is not a whale or other creature. By extension, a managed wilderness area or an altered ozone layer is not completely humanized even if its essential character has been shaped by human actions. In such a state, we must learn both to mould and behold the more-thanhuman world. We must understand that we have a tremendous responsibility to care for that which is under our influence and appreciate those fundamental aspects of the more-than-human world that will always escape our grasp due to their distinctiveness. As we do so, we can begin to create a new environmentalism. A post-nature environmentalism would not be a nature movement but an environmental movement. It would see the hybrid character of the human/nature world and the co-evolutionary trajectory we are on (Thiele 1999), and cultivate a politics that does not pose one realm over the other but works with both to create a better world. Such a politics would not be some kind of weak-knee version of earlier environmentalism but an authoritative one that is comfortable with the ambiguities and responsibilities that come from living in the anthropocene.
ISDRC 17 TRACK CHAIR SUMMARIES
The following are summaries of the content of several of the ISDRC 17 Conference tracks provided by track chairpersons. A full list of Conference Abstracts can be accessed on: http://isdrc17.ei.columbia.edu/sitefiles/file/ISDRC17th_Abstract%20FINAL (i)
Bridging Organizations as Institutional Arrangements for Sustainable Development. (Track 5D)
Abhishek Agarwal* Aberdeen Business School Robert Gordon University Aberdeen AB10 7QE, UK Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Dr Alfred Posch Institute for Systems Science, Innovation and Sustainability Research University of Graz Merangasse 18/I 8010 Graz, Austria. Email: email@example.com Intra-organizational measures are usually no longer sufficient to cope with the challenges of sustainable development. Instead, there is increasing awareness regarding the importance of bridging organizations as institutional arrangements for sustainable development. By moving beyond a narrow intra-organizational approach, inter-organizational initiatives can become important stepping stones, supporting overall structural changes towards more sustainable pathways of development at different scales – local, regional, national, or international. Track 5D of the ISDRC 17 was dedicated to this institutional aspect of bridging organizations for sustainable development. Unsurprisingly, there were contributions from very different fields of application, ranging from green energy clusters to sustainable production, or water treatment systems, in developing economies. In the first contribution, Jennie C. Stephens, Steve McCauley, Lisa Kwiatkowski, Jing Zhang, and Mary-Ellen Boyle analyzed a regional initiative, i.e. The Institute for Energy and Sustainability (IES), promoting a “green energy” cluster and associated “green jobs” that have been developing in Central Massachusetts in the Northeastern USA. There, a diverse set of stakeholders, including state-government, universities, businesses, local citizens and activists has embarked on an effort to facilitate the integrated development of an emerging cluster of activity focused on sustainable energy. Initial findings suggest a diversity of perceptions and visions regarding IES’s potential and its focus as an intermediary organization. A critical anchor-institution role of the local universities, and limitations of the mechanisms and processes by which IES is engaging and collaborating with a broad constituency have also been identified.
Subsequently, Emilie Ouellet, Tracy Casavant and Katelyn Harris presented important findings resulting from the first attempt in North America to quantify the sustainability performance of infrastructure in an eco-industrial park, specifically the Innovista EIP in Hinton, AB. Taking a project life cycle perspective from planning through to operation, they considered indicators related to (renewable) energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, land protection and restoration, waste diversion, waste production, water consumption and materials consumption. A benchmark â€œbusiness as usualâ€? baseline was created, representing how the land would have been developed without an eco-industrial approach. Although, data collection was a challenge, several performance benefits were quantifiable, including a one-time greenhouse gas emission avoidance of 44,700 tonnes eCO2 and an annual projected greenhouse gas emission avoidance of 59,200 tonnes eCO2 per year. The third contribution by T.A. Ogunyoku, D.M. Nover, E.R. McKenzie, G. Joshi and W.E. Fleenor, described the assessment, implementation, and dissemination of pointof-use water treatment and sanitation systems in Nkokonjeru, Uganda. Over the past five years, Engineers Without Borders (EWB) at the University of California-Davis (UC Davis) partnered with the Rural Agency for Sustainable Development (RASD), a non-governmental organization in Nkokonjeru, to implement sustainable point of use (POU) water and sanitation systems. For this, they determined the community issues and needs in order to find appropriate technologies that could lead to potential solutions towards a more sustainable water treatment system. Key partnerships between United States and Ugandan organizations were essential for the success of the project and led to the establishment of a working relationship with the Town Council in Nkokonjeru, Uganda and the United States Embassy in Kampala Uganda, as basis for additional projects. Cecilia Haskins presented her experiences in establishing sustainable production systems in developing economies, specifically in Bhutan. The case of Bhutan is interesting because they have incorporated elements of the Agenda 21 challenges into their constitution, which also promotes the concept of industrial symbiosis with the intention of achieving sustainable development. The country currently participates in several partnerships under the UN Commission for Sustainable Development. This contribution was based on an empirical case study to derive recommendations about approaches to future sustainable production in non-OECD lands. In the final contribution by Ivana Zelenika-Zovko and Joshua M. Pearce, the barriers to open source appropriate technology and innovation - through collaboration with information and communication technologies - were examined. The full capacity of sustainable development information is largely untapped due to many issues, of which poor communication, collaboration, and feedback are amongst the most significant barriers. Often, relevant information concerning data and design of appropriate technologies, which would be useful to the global community in order to foster sustainable development, is simply not shared. Fortunately, the Internet provides a massive opportunity to build and exchange open source information on an unprecedented scale, and is a promising mechanism through which global improvements in human development may be achieved. This contribution identified and sought solutions to these barriers and was supported by a preliminary study designed to determine social barriers to the collaborative use of appropriate open
source technology and methods for increasing efficiency through collaboration and ICTs. Although these contributions are so diverse, they have one major commonality: all focus on bridging organizations and here, especially on the human dimension of the inter-organizational collaboration, the actors and stakeholders within the respective systems. It is also clear, particularly from the contribution by Ogunyoku - which was awarded the best student paper - that the simple integration of analytical knowledge and systems understanding by experts (academics), together with practical observation and experience of society’s risk perception and demands, can lead to generally acceptable and socially robust solutions for sustainable development. This, in fact, is a fundamental paradigm shift in research for sustainable development: Scholars need to understand that scientists alone are no longer in a position to identify a single (correct) way of living, or the best form of sustainability. Instead, a joint problem solving process between science, technology and society is needed, or in other words: research on sustainable development needs to be transdisciplinary. (ii)
Industrial ecology, sustainable production, and sustainable global product chains. (Track 3F)
Professor Rupert J. Baumgartner Institute for Systems Science, Innovation and Sustainable Research University of Graz Austria firstname.lastname@example.org Professor Vasilis Fthenakis Center for Life Cycle Analysis Columbia University and Brookhaven National Laboratory U.S.A. email@example.com This track about Industrial ecology, sustainable production, and sustainable global product chains was part of the theme “Solutions to the problems created by continued development of a growing world population”. The main goal was to provide a platform for critical discussion about questions of industrial ecology, global product responsibility, innovation and related sustainability impacts. In the first presentation Rosa Maria Dangelico (Politecnico di Bari, Italy) presented an empirical study on “The role of external collaborations to improve companies’ environmental performances: a study of the largest U.S. companies.” The goal of her study was to investigate whether and to what extent external collaborations with different types of actors can help companies to improve their environmental performances, and to this aim, she analysed data related to the 500 largest U.S. companies. The dependent variables of this study are companies’ environmental performances, as reported in the Newsweek Green Ranking 2010. Companies were evaluated on three areas: Environmental Impact Score (a measurement of the total environmental impacts of a corporation’s global operations and disclosure of those impacts), Green Policies Score (an assessment of how a company manages its environmental footprint), and Reputation Survey Score (based on an opinion survey
of corporate social responsibility professionals, academics, and other environmental experts). The results showed that collaborations with customers seem to be the most important factor to improve the Environmental Impact Score, while collaborations with suppliers, customers, GOs, and NGOs seem to be relevant for the Green Policies Score. Furthermore, collaborations with almost all actors show a positive effect on the Reputation Survey Score. Finally, results show that collaborations with actors both within and outside the supply chain are beneficial to improving companies’ overall environmental performance. In fact, both collaborations with suppliers and customers and collaborations with GOs showed to have a significantly positive effect on the Newsweek Green Score. The second presentation by Jo Molan (University of Manchester, UK) about “Focal organizations: stimulating eco-innovation within production and distribution systems” dealt with the role of organizations with significant purchasing power, i.e. focal organizations, in stimulating eco-innovation beyond the boundary of the organization. The example of bakeries revealed that there is potential to stimulate eco-innovation in three areas of major environmental impacts: 1) upstream with wheat cultivation, facilitated by their involvement in non-conventional supply chain arrangements that by-pass the global trading of wheat; 2) the baking process, through technical and organizational eco-innovation within the firm and with others, especially the industry’s equipment suppliers; and 3) waste at the consumption stage, via new product development, collaboration with packaging and ingredients suppliers, and cooperation with retailers. Vasilis Fthenakis (Brookhaven National Laboratory and Columbia University, US) gave insights about the market potential of photovoltaics in his presentation with the title “Sustainability Metrics for Photovoltaics Growth to Terawatt Levels”. Photovoltaics as fuel-free energy sources inherently will be sustainable unless they are too expensive to produce, the materials required for their manufacture are depletable, or they are environmentally unsafe. These criteria demand investigations of three measurable aspects: cost affordability, resource availability, and environmental impact minimization. The presentation revealed a potential for cost reduction based on cost-reduction learning curves for PV production, economics of scale, and trends in production and device efficiencies. This allows reducing solar electricity costs to grid parity levels in four years for the best sites and financial conditions, and for the whole U.S. by 2030. He showed that a proactive approach is necessary for reducing conflicts with wild-life in the desert, for improving the extraction of minor metals from base metal production circuits, and developing efficient and inexpensive recycling technologies. Stable markets and advance planning are needed for photovoltaics to grow to terawatt levels of cumulative production and satisfy a major portion of the global electricity needs by 2030 and most of our electricity needs by mid-century. The fourth presenter was Deepali Sinha Khetriwal (University of St.Gallen, Switzerland), she received the best paper award at the conference. Her presentation with the title “Consumption and Obsolescence: The Consumer Link to Sustainable Global Electronic Product Chains” contributed to the understanding of consumer disposal behaviour with respect to consumer durable. Using the example of LCD TVs the link between consumption and obsolescence is modelled with the hypothesis that the emergence of new technologies directly influences the obsolescence, significantly
accelerating the disposal of existing products. The changes in consumer behavior are a result of interacting social and market driven factors. In turn, obsolescence of consumer durable products is often discretionary in nature rather than technical. Understanding consumer disposal behaviour will not only be able to provide insights for motivating better consumer behaviour, but also inform models for forecasting waste flows to more accurately estimate and improve collection efficiency. This research at modelling consumer behaviour by linking both consumption and obsolescence will, it is hoped, lead to the development of more sustainable global electronic product chains. Christoph Meinrecken (Columbia University, US) presented on “Fast carbon footprinting for products and services of large companies” a statistical approach to calculate carbon footprints based on already existing LCA datasets. The overarching philosophy of the approach is to (i) leverage shortcuts and approximations wherever possible as long as they do not materially affect the accuracy of carbon footprints; and (ii) harmonize the data structure so that GHG reduction measures can be more easily identified and company-wide impacts quantified and evaluated against the measures' costs. Fast Carbon Foot-printing is based on three techniques: (1) Each footprint is based on a single, uniform data framework that applies to all products/services. (2) Particularly for remaining data entries, concurrent uncertainty analysis points the user to those activity data or emission factors where additional data or improved accuracy would most improve the accuracy of the calculated footprints. (3) A statistical model approximates emission factors, thereby eliminating the manual mapping of a product/service's inventory to the vast selection of emission factor databases. This technique enables non-LCA experts to calculate footprints. Selina Künstle and Werner Schröder (University of Leoben, Austria) discussed in their presentation “Corporate Energy Management in a Sustainable Maintenance and Plant Asset Management” if and how energy can be managed efficiently in production and maintenance processes. Possibilities to integrate aspects of corporate energy management into a sustainable plant asset and maintenance management were presented; the authors discussed legal requirements within the European Union and the current status and potential improvements of energy management and its integration into maintenance and production management. Han Shi (City University of Hong Kong) presented on the topic ”Organizational Forms and Likelihood of Industrial Symbiosis from the Perspective of Transaction Cost Economics”. His research conceptualized intra-firm waste recovery, inter-firm waste exchange, and commercial waste recycling/disposal as the hierarchy, hybrid, and market modes of industrial waste management. For the empirical testing of the relationships between transaction attributes and organizational forms of waste recovery and disposal practices, a dataset that contains 123 energy, water, and material related waste recovery/disposal activities at the plant level in an ecoindustrial park in China (Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA)) was compiled. The findings of the empirical research show that physical asset specificity, site asset specificity, and human asset specificity are significant determinants of organizational forms of waste management practices while procedural asset specificity, brand name capital asset specificity, and frequency of exchanges do not have definitive impacts on the organizational forms of waste recovery/disposal activities.
Finally John N. Telesford (Robert Gordon University Aberdeen, UK) discussed in his presentation “Islands as examples for global sustainability: an initial consideration of strategic sustainable development in the island context” the possibility to use approaches from industrial ecology to regional research. Islands face severe challenges due to climate change and increasing dependency from tourism. Although tourism has contributed significantly to the development of island economies, development for tourism, for example in the accommodation sub-sector on the other hand, have had negative environmental (and social) impacts on the island system. An alternative approach in which “strategic thinking” is incorporated into sustainable development to address failures in applying sustainable (tourism) development and an adapted framework for strategic sustainable development in the island context were proposed. The presentations in this track covered a wide range of key elements of industrial ecology as there were contributions about (inter-)organizational management, innovation, energy technologies, regional development, and environmental impact assessment. Different aspects were highlighted and revealed the multidimensional and complex relations between key elements of industrial ecology and global product chains. Further research is necessary to better understand these key elements and to measure their real impact on Sustainable Development. (iii)
Local and Regional Institutions and Governance. (Track 4A)
Dr Simon Bell Senior Lecturer in Information Systems at the Open University Communications and Systems Department, MCT Faculty, Open University Milton Keynes MK7 6AA UK Email: firstname.lastname@example.org I warn you now, this piece ranges from agony to splendour. It has been my privilege to act as Track Chair at a number of conferences in the past but I don’t think I have ever felt quite so agonised by my responsibilities as when working on ISDRC 17. Before continuing, I need to thank my co-Track Chair, Professor Manoj Joshi, for the time and effort he put into the review of abstracts. But what a job we took on! For those not familiar with the exercise I would like to give a small inkling of the rigour and the creepy crawlies which lie under the Track Chair stone. Imagine, you are sitting at your desk, early in the day on a late winter morning, the sun is creeping over the skyline at about 08.15, hot coffee on the desk, early emails in the in-tray: then it happens! An email arrives from the most perfect, polite and wellorganised person (I speak of conference organiser, Lauren Barredo) with an attachment of 20 abstracts. OK, you had forgotten that you said you would do this, and you had other things in mind for the morning, but hey! 20 ain’t so bad. Could be cool to review them, send your thoughts to your Co-chair, and get on with the day. So saying, I did just that. Papers ranged from India to Idaho, from Turbines to Terrorism, from Global South to the all too familiar, over-indebted North. Fascinating. Some 37
papers are wonderful and some are less so. Some are disciplined, sending exactly what we asked for (200 words), some are full papers already with full reference lists and diagrams. Hmm. I wade in and begin to realise the nature of the task I have taken on. How many can I accept? Of the 20 I could easily nominate to Manoj 12 or 13. And what about posters? How many? All of them? I am not sure. I send a conservative email to Manoj and get on. But then it all begins. I receive not just one more batch, not two, but four! It emerges that 4A is massively subscribed to with almost 100 abstracts received but – and now my agony really begins to click in - with originally only 8 or so slots available for full presentation and the same for posters! My response to this over the next couple of weeks was “Aaaaaaah!” (clearly audible from Norfolk UK to New Jersey). Manoj and I do two things, we begin to ‘sift’ the quality of the papers from the abstracts sent in and plead with the organisers for more space. I create a colour coded table of papers, assessed on their values, scope, focus and relevance. It is a hideous task. After much pleading, finally we gain an additional slot – we now have a dozen or more papers we can select for presentation and roughly the same for poster. Not comfortable but maybe just about manageable. But still we have more agony of choice. We want to select papers from across the range. We need to represent work from our hosts – the great city and environ of New York. We need to select seasoned practitioners and young academics, representatives from around the globe and from a diverse range of contexts. Our job is not one of qualitative selection, it is one of worried denial. Many, many papers of our total selection could not be allocated space and they were fine. Many, many papers were allocated poster place when they were worthy of full presentation. Our choices had to be made and we had to select according to our own light. Dozens of emails were sent, abstracts were read and re-read, possible became probable, some selection turned to de-selection. Over this time, winter turned to spring and the conference approached. I am sorry to say, many possibly great papers did not make it … enough of the agony. Spring in New York and the papers which actually emerged for presentation did not disappoint one bit. We kicked off with a splendid overview of governance for sustainable development - Utrecht2040 - presented by Harm van den Helligenberg and Monike van Duren. Not only did this take us back to the ISDRC city of 2009, it also showed us how Utrecht is providing real leadership in urban sustainability. This paper was followed by John Ottamanelli, focusing on support for policies for sustainable urban development in the New York Metropolitan Area. John’s excellent paper was balance and expanded in scope by Joan Hoffman looking at creating green milieus for Sustainability – she looked at lessons from the New York City watershed collaboration. These papers took us in one direction. We were then wrenched away to very distant vistas by Yeti Nisha Madhoo: her study of Small Island environmental regulation provided a huge contrast to our metropolitan area of study. She also had some formidable questioning to navigate. Congratulations to her. Our final paper in the first
4A session was given by Kenich Imai – the analysis of emission trading among local communities provided more contrast and depth. After the break we had a potentially disrupted session with two of our speakers being unable to be with us; but, as you shall see, also providing us with a serendipidous outcome. Stakeholder engagement arose as the main theme for many of the papers and we had solid and engaging presentations by Andre Wueste and Karin Mossberk Sonnek on renewable energy villages (and the intriguing use of the Goettingen approach) and the possibility of incorporating climate adaptation into existing public decision-making processes. Volker Mauerhofer introduced a compelling paper that seemed to gain wrapt attention from the audience. In: “The ‘Governance Check” he suggests provocative and engaging means to analyse competences within political units and assess relationships between political stakeholders. Following this, Karin Edvardsson Bjornberg discussed decision tools for sustainable adaptation planning. This Swedish case study included the topic of models of sustainability analysis, an area that spoke particularly to me. Finally, we had two splendid papers which, from my perspective, represented both the head and the heart of sustainability. Kathryn Frank gave an enthralling paper on adaptive ecosystem management of the Everglades ecosystem. With great use of photographs the story was very well told. Finally, finally, Jessica Dillabough gave what for me was the best paper of the day. Jessica was down to give a poster and had the courage to ask if her paper could be fitted in. We did have a vacancy and so she had the floor to tell us the topical and utterly gripping story of the Canadian oil sands. A terrific finale to the Track. From agony to enthral. The cycle complete.
Exhaustible Resources and/or Overused Resources and their Supply Chains. (Track 2A) Dr. Phil. Martina Maria Keitsch Oslo School of Architecture and Design Norway email@example.com On July 8, 2011, Fred Pearce states in the article ‘Phosphate: a critical resource misused and now running low’: “If you wanted to really mess with the world’s food production, a good place to start would be Bou Craa, located in the desert miles from anywhere in the Western Sahara. They don’t grow much here, but Bou Craa is a mine containing one of the world’s largest reserves of phosphate rock. Most of us, most days, will eat some food grown on fields fertilized by phosphate rock from this mine. And there is no substitute.” Pearce’s article illustrates a core problem, discussed in conference track 2A - the world’s supplies are increasingly dependent on a resource, demand is rising, most of the best reserves are gone, and those that remain are overused and exhausted. The term ‘exhaustible resource’ refers per definitonem to a physical item (e.g. petroleum, coal, natural gas, and several mineral resources) that does not renew itself naturally. While technology is able to improve extraction and recycling of such resources, they cannot be grown, produced or generated and thus their quantities are fixed (McEachern 2009, 370). Moreover, overuse of both exhaustible and renewable resources (i.e. resources that can be replenished naturally within a certain time span) within a region creates specific environmental problems that have to be dealt with. Not surprisingly, twothird of the track 2A presentations addressed national and regional approaches to meet challenges such as deforestation, mineral depletion, decline of oil reserves and groundwater loss. Being geographically focused, several presentations expressed however a deeper appreciation of local and global economic and environmental interdependency as e.g. Julia Kennedy pointed out: “A close analysis of the successes and failures in Chad’s policy framework can provide greater insight into achieving sustainable development in diverse contexts around the globe (Participation and Success in Environmental Governance: Lessons from Woodfuel Policy in Chad, ISDRS Conference Abstracts p.56). Another trend in resource management and -planning is the increasing weight on public participation and decentralization of decision-making power (see e.g. World Bank, Strategic Environmental Assessment 2011), which mirrors the insight that use of natural resources for production and consumption takes place among different stakeholders in heterogeneous socio-political systems. Ultimately, (un)-sustainable production and consumption is performed at the organization, household or individual level. Decisions of local, regional and central governments and authorities can in turn influence individuals’ and groups’ resource use. Thematizing exhaustible resource issues over this micro-macro continuum was taken up by three scholars in the track, first within a simulation-based analysis of the net-effect of policy interaction for water efficiency policies, second trough a web-based survey, focusing on European citizens’ values towards economic scenarios to cope with mineral depletion and third, via the
construction of an overall sustainable development index, covering exhaustible resources with help of principle component analysis and composite indicators including regional factors. A general intention in track 2A seemed to be to create awareness among various stakeholders on resources depletion and exhaustion on the one hand and to propose innovative solutions for a sustainable use and management of natural reserves on the other hand, connoted by the following statement “Technological and social innovations, adoption of efficient land use policies and practices, changes in how people consume, and how goods and commodities are traded affect the future supply of and demand for land resources and farm products. A global restoration of forests must be perceived from a systems perspective. Noting the competition for productive land between different land uses, a global forest transition will require major policy and technological innovations, and shifts in demands for fiber, fuel, and food.” (Kauppi, P.E, et al, Forest Transition - When, Where and for How Long, ISDRS Conference Abstracts p.60) In the context of theory and management an inherent dilemma was pointed out as well: “In the sustainability strategy literature, some scholars project corporate sustainability will be achieved through continuous improvement and greening efforts … Others see a need for creative destruction and competency destroying technological advancements…. In reality, there are many uncertainties and barriers associated with radical innovation...” (Byle, C.Av.d, Reconfiguring for Sustainability: Challenges at Suncor Energy Purpose of the Research, ISDRS Conference Abstracts p.57)An important socio-political and ethical aspect on exhaustible and overused resources that was hardly discussed in the track is the resource consumption gap between rich and poor people. It is a well known fact that about 75% of the world's energy is consumed by a few industrialized countries with less than 30% of the world's population - the U.S. has e.g. about 6% of the world's population, yet uses 35% of the total energy (Non-renewable resources, History of their Use) - and that the average person in a developed country uses for example 20 times as much aluminum as his or her counterpart in developing countries (Roseland et. al 2005, p.2). Perhaps not so well-known is that the carbon footprint of multi-millionaires (around 10 million people worldwide with assets greater than a million dollars) can be up to ten thousand times that of the average person in industrialized countries, which in turn is 10 times that of the average person in developing countries (Leng 2010). The demoralizing impact of these figures on the sustainability goal of fair sharing of resources (“sustainability” is here interpreted as intergenerational fairness, where individuals’ life opportunities are maintained or enhanced over time) should not be underestimated. A recommendation for a future track on ‘Exhaustible and overused resources’ is to address these issues scientifically, e.g. in form of a discussion on ‘Resource Egalitarianism’. This means to encourage scholarly presentations from the social science and the humanities already in the call for abstracts, instead of portraying resource depletion as a chiefly organizational and managerial problem.
Material Cycles. Track 2C.
Donald Lyons University of North Texas Department of Geography 1155 Union Circle #305279 Denton, TX 76203-5017 Dlyons@unt.edu Pauline Deutz Department of Geography University of Hull Hull HU6 7RX UK firstname.lastname@example.org The four papers in the session on Material Cycles looked at the concept of material cycles from a variety of angles in both a developed world and developing world context. While the context of each paper was substantially different a key theme to emerge was the issue of environmental awareness among the various actors involved in material transactions. In the first paper, Lyons argued that while there is mounting case study evidence of successful industrial ecology (IE) practices via industrial symbiosis and material cycling from across the world, it is still difficult to gauge the impact of these practices on industry in general. Using a unique dataset of Non Hazardous Industrial Wastes (NHIW) from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he examined the waste management practices of manufacturing firms between 1992 and 2008. Overall trends in weight of NHIW generated are relatively stable with major increases confined to the production of electricity. However, it is unclear at this stage whether the decline in manufacturing is real or simply a reduction in manufacturing activity within the state. More importantly, he found a decrease in the weight of NHIW being disposed of and an increase in newer non-conventional reuse strategies possibly reflecting an increase in IE practices. However, while positive empirical trends are helpful for a preliminary evaluation of IE strategies, key questions remain. Particularly, what are the major drivers and motivations behind the increase in reuse strategies? Are the companies aware of the environmental dimension of their activities and consequently adopting new industrial production strategy or are they simply responding with alternatives due to rising costs of disposal? The provision of water supply and the management of waste are a central component of concern for urban managers in the developing world and is a key theme for the study of material cycles. In the second paper, Poonam Banerjee and Puneet Chitkara contend that cities in India experiencing significant economic and population growth are putting even further stress on their already strained water supply services. Using data from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) the authors examined the changing efficiency rates of water provision in a number of select Indian cities between 1999 and 2006. Continued problems with unaccounted for water (UfW) continues to be the most critical factor affecting the efficiency of the utility agencies in these cities. Not only are the inefficiencies tied to weaknesses in the distribution length of the network
and storage capacity, they are also negatively impacted by continuing high rates of urban sprawl. Using a detailed analysis of Kolkatta, for example, they demonstrate that, while the number of connections, storage capacity and the distribution network responded to increased rates of population and physical growth, the volume of UfW has increased dramatically also. In addition, while overall levels of efficiency have remained relatively unchanged, a deterioration of “technological best practices” have led to a dramatic increase in unaccounted for water. A problem that is only likely to get worse over time. Again, a lack of awareness of sustainability is built into the system of management practices resulting in probably unnecessary increased environmental damage. Like the recent growth of Indian cities, the drive toward modernization in Vietnam and the accompanied issues of urbanization and industrialization have resulted in increases in both the volume and the types of solid waste being generated. In response, the Vietnamese government has established a registration-licensing system designed to impose strict controls on industrial waste generators, mandating that all solid waste from urban areas and hazardous and non-hazardous industrial solid waste must be collected and treated by 2025. Trang and colleagues, in the third paper of the series, examine differences between the ideals embodied in the new laws and the actual practices occurring in industry through an examination of government records from industrial solid waste generators and an on-site survey of 44companies in industrial zones of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). The results point to a number of worrisome trends. In general, the companies’ consciousness of their environmental performance was almost negligible. In addition, while industrial waste generators must register and acquire a license, there are inadequate regulations regarding how such wastes are to be dealt with after removal. As such, a shortage of treatment facilities and the limited capacity to deal with the wastes are causing an increase in environmental violations at the treatment firms and a steady increase in the volume of illegal disposal. In the final paper of the session, Pauline Deutz and colleagues at the University of Hull examined the relationship between design theory and practice in the U .K. manufacturing sectors. They point out that while it is commonly understood that the environmental impact of a product’s life cycle is established at the point of product design, eco-design plays a marginal role in the practice of manufacturing. Through both a postal questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews with large UK manufacturing companies they find that, while the formal eco-design process advocated by theorists is recognized in industry, it is seldom deployed in full. The problem is that designers in general are satisficers (i.e., meet criteria for adequacy) rather than optimizers which results in environmental issues being largely confined to satisfying regulatory requirements. Significantly, an appreciation of design theory is largely absent from both policy and academic eco-design realms, while conversely, design theorists have shown limited interest in the extent to which their ideals are applied in industry. As such, the same lack of environmental awareness highlighted by Nguyen Trang and colleagues in Vietnam, and Banerjee and Chitkara in India, is also evident in the context of manufacturing design and industrial waste management in the developed world.
Global Institutions and Corporate Governance. (Track 4B)
Professor Van V. Miller Central Michigan University USA email@example.com The papers and posters accepted and presented around this theme can be grouped into three categories— 1) Conceptual, or still looking for the ideal way to govern corporations from the perspective of sustainable development; 2) Practical, i.e. willing to accept the institutions now in place and examine them from multiple perspectives; and, 3) Descriptive, which entails looking at a particular case of governance for corporate sustainability and explaining how it functions. In the presentations at Columbia University in May, we saw and heard numerous examples of all three types. Instead of commenting on individual papers or posters, let me first describe the purview of each type and then draw some normative conclusions about each and what needs to be done next to advance this line of research. The conceptual work generally rejects the current state of affairs for the governance of corporate sustainability and projects into the future as to how this governance should be accomplished. Based on some ideal model, it purports to demonstrate that this better model will lead to ‘real’ sustainability. In many cases, the ideal model emanates from the writings of a particular individual who supposedly has special insights into how corporations and the world interact. Given that the proposed model is hypothetical, there exists no real way to test its efficacy; thus, one is inclined to say, “Yes, it may indeed work”. The practical research presented at the Conference took an almost opposite view. Instead of searching for the ideal, this group of researchers accepts what is currently available, e.g. GRI, and then proceeds to analyze it. Most of these research analysts focus on what causes corporations to join existing institutions for sustainability, whether they are private (codes or standards for sustainable corporate practices) or voluntary (principles of conduct like the UNGC). Very few of these studies actually examine whether or not adherence to such institutions does result in a more sustainable world. Descriptive research presented at the Conference seems to be exactly that and little more. It zeroes in on a particular case, the possible range remains quite broad, and then proceeds to describe in considerable detail what has occurred, whether positive or negative. Rarely does this line of research study attempt to relate it to broader themes or to test extant theories with it. Generalizability appears quite limited and usually not a concern of the researcher(s). From a normative viewpoint, this theme of research studies holds great potential, assuming that corporations have a role to play in sustainable development, but the potential needs more focus. Researchers pursuing conceptual work must begin to
review the work of multiple others, not just one, and relate their ideal models to existing institutions. They should explore why todayâ€™s institutions are as they are and how this may impact their proposed models. Realism would be helpful in these writings. Those researchers exploring the practical side of these institutions from a highly empirical or statistical angle should spend more effort analyzing the outcomes of current institutions upon corporate governance and sustainability than they now do. The statistical significance of hypotheses ought not to be the sole criterion for good research. Substance also matters. For the descriptive researchers, they should reconsider and think about conducting research in line with the other two types. From someone who has spent his academic life in the college of business where the case method is ubiquitous, the vast majority of descriptive research studies remind me of the standard case study, only worse written. If this line of research must be continued, then the least its proponents could do is relate the descriptive study to a more overarching idea or concept and give it a degree of generalizability. (vii)
The role of ethics and faith values in sustainable development. Track 2E.
Dr Yamini Narayanan Lecturer in Sustainable Development Murdoch University Western Australia firstname.lastname@example.org Robert Pollack Professor of Biological Sciences Director, Center for the Study of Science and Religion Director, University Seminars Columbia University email@example.com Values, or the application of spiritual principles, have been the missing ingredient in most past approaches to sustainable development. Grand declarations and detailed action plans, even when approved by all the governments, do not go far if people are not motivated to implement them in their own lives, and if institutions are not made responsible to carry them out. The exciting thing about addressing sustainability at the level of values is the potential to create self-generating human systems building a more sustainable and thus ever-advancing civilization. (International Environment Forum, 2001)10 The Brundtland Commission created a decisive shift in viewing the notion of development as sustainableÂ¸ i.e., a model of development that would serve the interests and welfare of both the present and the future generations of the planetâ€™s citizens by making prudent use of the available natural resources. However, visionary 10
International Environment Forum. (2001). Knowledge, Values and Education for Sustainable Development. Input to the World Summit on Sustainable Development Preparatory Process From the 5th Conference of the International Environment Forum. Retrieved 12 August, 2006, from http://www.bcca.org/ief/wssdpc2.htm
while this perspective was, it retained much of the character of the earlier models of development, expressed most clearly in its largely scientific and secularist nature. However, the Brundtland call is arguably as much to do with human values, morality and spirit, as it is to human rationality, for it fundamentally depends on self-conscious and self-aware individuals and societies to exercise values such as restraint, sustainability, justice and cooperation. Papers were invited for this track to assist with three main agenda – firstly, to explore and clarify the conceptual associations between the two complex notions of sustainability and ethics/spirituality/religion, and secondly, papers that were empirically grounded and illustrative of cases where such conceptual connections have been made in a pragmatic manner, where meaningful sustainable development and values/spirituality/faith form an inseparable grounding union. Lastly, the track also hoped to explore instances of ‘dark or conflicted spirituality’, or where values have been perverted to cause corruption, venality, greed and other forms of vice that are major impediments to sustainability, and explore a solutions-based approach to this issue. While values and ethics have both secular and religious roots, the track explicitly emphasised and invited papers on religion, because of the relatively underexplored connections between faith and development. International speakers representing a range of cultural, religious and secular scholarly backgrounds presented at this track, which was further neatly divided into ‘Perspectives from the West’ and Perspectives from the East’. In addition to providing a clear sense of structure, this was useful in providing a sense of difference as well as of the collapse of this difference between and within these varied perspectives. Erin Lothes from the College of Saint Elizabeth opened the presentations with her paper, ‘Effectiveness of Decision-Making and Advocacy for Sustainability among Faith Communities’. Lothes’ paper was a commendable effort in examining the vital interconnections between scholarship and activism. She noted the interest of large faith communities in the United States who hold considerable political and moral influence on their congregations, in matters related to the global ecological crisis and poverty, and argued that this sector, assisted further by appropriate decision-making models, had the potential to capably offer leadership in addressing these major crises. Yamini Narayanan’s paper, ‘Inspiring Sustainability Beyond Sustainability: Sustainable Development and the Ultimate Hindu Purpose’, deepened the focus on the notion of the ‘self and sustainability’ or the ‘sustainable self’. Following the work of recent scholars such as the Australian political philosopher Clive Hamilton who argues for a resurrection of the “meaningful life” based on morality, Narayanan examined the four-fold path to moksha or Hindu notions of self-realisation and suggests that the stage of dharma or ethics or duty is where the most profitable connections between sustainability and Hindu religion may be made. Narayanan’s paper, in addition to unpacking further the connections between religion and development, also attempts to clarify conceptual methods for the growing field of greening of religions. The third speaker Elona Piggot from the University of Brighton presented her coauthored paper on ‘Values-based indicators: Bridging the gap between ethical values and sustainable practices’. Based on the premise that an explicit integration of values and ethics demonstrably have better sustainability outcomes in terms of economic
development, social justice and ecological preservation, Piggot used empirical studies based across six countries to show that the use of value-based indicators for sustainability enables greater action, leading to more green and sustainable outcomes. This is important research as the field of sustainable economics itself undergoes a major upheaval, calling for a conceptually and empirically clear grounding in philosophy and allied disciplines, to allow economic justice, as much as economic growth. D. Ravishankar from the Housing and Development Corporation, India, offered a theoretical paper on the ‘Role of Ethics in Sustainable Development: Some Indian Examples’. Ravishankar used a series of interesting case studies from India to demonstrate that “disciplining the inner environment” or showing exemplary integrity, morality and transparent leadership is invaluable in successful project management and completion, crucial to sustainability. The last paper, by Raj Sampath from Brandeis University, entitled ‘Overview of Ethics and Justice in the Field of Development: An Assessment of Amartya Sen’s The Idea of Justice’, offered another theoretical critique of the notion of justice based on “capabilities”. Sampath argued that there were limits to such an understanding of justice and he proceeded to outline some of these, and particularly, their impacts on poverty reduction and alleviating inequalities. This was a rich and highly engaged session with very gratifying audience participation, indicating overall a strong interest and engagement with issues of values, ethics, faith and development. This is a reassuring development for the field of religion and development, which has thus far, has had hesitant engagement or even dismissal. It was a praiseworthy attempt by the ISDRS since the 14th Conference in New Delhi in 2008, to include a separate track for such a theme. It is reflective of both the growing strides in this field as well as the leadership of the ISDRS in the discipline of sustainable development. (viii) Stresses on Socioeconomic Systems: A Review of Selected Insights and Emergent Challenges. (Track 1C) Elke U. Weber Jerome A. Chazen Professor of International Business Director, Center for Research on Environmental Decisions Director, Center for the Decision Sciences Uris Hall 716, 3022 Broadway New York, NY 10027-6902 (646) 896-9410 firstname.lastname@example.org On May 9, 2011, I had the pleasure of chairing the session on “Stresses on Socioeconomic Systems” at the 17th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference that took place at Columbia University in New York City. This was the first ISDRC meeting I attended, and I was impressed with the wide range of issues covered, the range of disciplines and perspectives represented, and the geographic diversity of the presenters, making it an international conference in substance rather than in name only.
My co-chair, Annapurna Vancheswaran, from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi and I could only accept a subset of submitted papers on the topic of our session for presentation. The six oral presentations that the conference schedule allowed were delivered by two female and four male presenters from six different countries, ranging in geographic proximity from the USA to Costa Rica and Brazil, Austria, New Zealand, and Pakistan. Munazza Fatima, a geographer from Bahawalpur, Pakistan, started off the session with a case study of the prevalence of water-born and vector-born diseases in the slums of Bahawalpur City and identified their relation to environment and socioeconomic determinants resulting from non-sustainable development practices. The presentation, which was accompanied by stark and compelling photographic evidence of life in the slums, also provided management suggestions for better and healthy living conditions for slum populations as a step to sustainable development. Poor housing condition, high dependency rate, low income level, inappropriate sewerage, low income level, low nutrition intake, poor drinking water quality are the prime determinants responsible for adverse health conditions of people living in slums, as is illiteracy in poor communities, who are ignorant of the fact that most of the health problems are due to the degraded environment. The presentation closed by discussing the need of integrated action at all levels and implementation of long-term program by the government directed at controlling the driving forces that generate the environmental health problems in slums. Annie Feighery, from Columbia Universityâ€™s School of Public Health, presented an impressive set of results about positive externalities of a group treatment intervention for depression in two districts of South Western Uganda. Successive insults of civil war and the HIV/AIDS epidemic over three decades have resulted in a destroyed sense of community and widespread clinical depression in that region, with local depression prevalence rates of 21% in 2001. The 16-week long intervention program treatment (IPT) was found to be highly successful at reducing the prevalence of depression in 2003, and the treatment intervention was subsequently disseminated to a wider population by an NGO, World Vision International. This presentation focused on the unintended positive consequences the group level treatment intervention had, based on a qualitative analysis based on ethnographic interviews with the NGO staff, IPT leaders, IPT participants, and unrelated communities members. Beyond the reduced incidence of clinical depression on the individual level, the interventions resulted in community gains on unrelated subjects, including education, sanitation, and agriculture. The presentation explained these successes of the IPT as resulting from its repair of social networks previously destroyed by civil war and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The result was an increased diffusion of innovations. It closed by examining possible lower-level mechanisms responsible for these improvement and how they might inform an increase in the transfer of technologies and the retention of aid investments in the effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Tord Kjellstrom, an epidemiologist from the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, addressed climate change threats to population, health, and socio-economic systems. His theoretical analysis highlighted the importance of context specific knowledge to determine the environmental, economic and cultural conditions that make sustainable consumption possible and suggested a to-pronged
global action research strategy. The first prong is the production of indicators that incorporate a human health dimension and which can be applied globally and nationally. The second is the creation of extended scientific networks, which employ citizens collecting, reporting and making sense of local environmental health data. Examples were presented from Australia, India, Thailand, South Africa, Cameroon and Central America. Volker Mauerhofer, a biologist from Vienna, Austria, focused on social capital, social capacity, and social carrying capacity as critical variables in sustainable development. The presentation defined each of the three terms and provided an integrative literature review of both their interconnections and their impacts on sustainable development practices, stressing in closing the importance of such a social capital and capacity framework for interdisciplinary discussions on sustainable development regarding limits of population growth, social riots, overwork and technical overload. Rodrigo Medeiros, an environmental scientist from the National Institute of Science and Technology in Public Policies, Strategies and Development in Brazil, provided an evaluation of the economic potential of the Brazil nut and rubber exploitation by local and traditional communities in extractive reserves, a special category of protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon. The presentation contrasted the competing goals of maintenance and evolution of different species and the conservation of biological diversity versus economic survival of local communities. Annual production of Brazil nuts and rubber and the earnings they generated were estimated for 41 extractive reserves, showing that 11 reserves have potential for sustainable exploitation of rubber by local and traditional communities, while another 17 reserves have such potential for Brazil nut, suggesting that the right policy of access to vulnerable areas with sustainable techniques of forest resource exploitation can satisfy both ecological and economic goals. Last but not least, Sergio Molina-Murillo, a social scientist from Costa Rica, examined the effects of psychological variables such as attitudes and behavioural intentions in residents of Costa Rican fast-growing urban areas on the pressures that such urbanization is putting on natural and socio-economic systems, focusing as an example on solid waste management. Using the theory of planned behaviour as a theoretical framework, the presentation showed that both perceptions of social norms and of control influence waste management practices. In combination the rich set of presentations exemplified the varied sources of stress on socio-economic systems, the title of the session, but perhaps more importantly also provided insights into underlying mechanisms by which these stressors influenced outcomes, thus contributing to possible interventions designed to bring us closer to viable sustainable development practices.
Between frustration and hope: A critical afterthought to ISDRC 17. (And summary of Track 4D)
Tommy Jensen, PhD Associate Professor in Business Studies Umeå University Sweden email@example.com As a track chairperson, I have been asked to summarize my impressions of, in this case, track 4D – 'Models for decision-making on environmental and sustainable development issues'. This will be done, but let me start by reflecting on the conference as a whole. My frustration level was quite high during plenary speeches and round table discussions. This was the 17th ISDRC conference, in the year 2011, and we still put our faith on the traditional premises of science, technology and the market. That is, the perception that the current problems are just temporary setbacks and the sideeffects created can and must be solved through advancing the science and technology of separation and domination (see Jensen and Sandström, ISDRS Newsletter 1, 2011) and through realising the global common market to speed this ‘development-andrepair’ programme (under the banner of ‘innovation’). We in the audience could hear that genetically modified organisms will take care of food supply (science having proven them to be harmless); that the rising energy consumption levels – the ‘needs’ of the world population – are a given, but increased efficiency and innovations will take care of that. We could furthermore hear that no single person needs to dramatically change behaviour in his/her daily lives (connoting George W. Bush’s statement that ‘the American livstyle is not up for negotation’) and that emerging markets promise new possibilities for developing countries. Adding to the frustratiom was the blaming of economics. Economics deserves a lot of critique – no doubt about that. But so do a lot of other societal stakeholders, and, not the least, other academic disciplines besides economics. Blaming economics has become a habit which seems only to serve to release the burdon of self-criticism and routine thinking, seeing and doing. We jointly seem to enjoy these assults and happily respond with the distinct ‘blame and shame’ laughter that is so often heard at conferences all over the world. There were, however, fragments of critical thinking and attempts to escape the iron cage of science, technology and the market. Surprisingly, population growth, normally a taboo, was also brought up on the agenda (but it is ‘they’ – strangers far away – that reproduce too fast, right?). On the whole, however, the critique of quickfix technological solutions, scientific progress, consumption and lifestyle patterns, economic and population growth, and the balance between markets and politics was a ‘fringe’ phenomenon. As Lester R. Brown critically remarked: ‘It is time to develop Millennium Development Goals for the Developed Countries!’ This could be the task for the next ISDRC conference. It is time to get off the veranda. I use exactly the same words – ‘it is time to get off the veranda’ – to summarize the two sessions held in track 4D. Why? Because this theme had the primary aim to emphasize the need for developing suggestions on how to move forward – what to actually do – to feed possible solutions into policy-making. It seems to be difficult to
move from research to policy recommendations, from research to action. Why is the science community so hesitant? A stream of researchers in our track emphasised this and my impression from this is that the social sciences can play a tremendously important role in providing real cases, showing novel ways of meeting the challenge of sustainable development in various local places throughout the world (in our track all continents but one – Australia – were represented). I would like to encourage the organizers of the next conference to establish a general theme where concrete suggestions and solutions located outside the logic of the science-technology-market paradigm are presented and thoroughly discussed – let us look forward to an ISDRC 18 that emphisizes ‘concrete utopias’. A concrete utopia, following the critical realist Roy Bhaskar, is something that shows radically different but still possible and feasible ways of organising social practices and relations. There is an upsurge in such concrete local practices to be investigated, understood, and circulated. Let me note here that these examples are probably found outside our ‘first world’. What was also refreshing in our track was the rich plethora of methods that was presented, and the discussion on the need for new methods to capture contemporary problems. All too often, new problems are addressed by old methods – the same old song and dance. The path-dependence is strong here. What we previously have learned and are used to is what we habitually reach for when closing in on problems. The need for new methods could be a promising theme for future ISDRC conferences. Furthermore, there was also a stream of researchers in track 4D who emphasized the need to get rid of old discourse; that is to say, to radically alter the scientific language used. It was concluded that the import of what has become the established (business case) ‘language’ of Sustainable Development (for example, the ‘three pillars’ of economic, social and environmental – the ‘triple bottom line’) and the appropriation of the term, ‘sustainable development’, to other areas of life (who is not using ‘sustainable development’ today?) is a severe and concrete problem. It all boils down to the fact that ‘nature as the fundamental bottom line’ is obscured. The highjacking of sustainable development, to paraphrase Richard Welford, has never been stronger. The need for a shift in the current discourse – not more of the same – is critical, and this is a theme that also could be an important theme for the next ISDRC conference. Maybe we are starting to get off the veranda after all; if so, that is an encouringing and hopeful prospect.
Consuming Space: Placing Consumption in Perspective Michael K. Goodman, David Goodman and Michael Redclift (Editors) Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2010.
Space and place are made and remade, produced and reproduced through the iterative processes, iconographies and materialities of consumption. Yet, how do cultures of consumption discover and rediscover space and how do they construct and reconstruct place at different periods and in different ways? This volume engages with these questions by teasing out the implications of conceptualizing consumption as a spatial, increasingly globalised, yet intensely localized activity. One of the key aims of the book is the development of integrative approaches that articulate the relational and iterative processes involved in the production and consumption of space and place. This volume brings together a varied, engaging and novel array of contributions to explore the spatiality and nature of consumption and its role in structuring contemporary capitalist political economies. (ii)
Living Through the End of Nature: The Future of American Environmentalism* Paul Wapner (2010) MIT Press.
Environmentalists have always worked to protect the wildness of nature but now must find a new direction. We have so tamed, colonized, and contaminated the natural world that safeguarding it from humans is no longer an option. Humanity's imprint is now everywhere and all efforts to "preserve" nature require extensive human intervention. At the same time, we are repeatedly told that there is no such thing as nature itself—only our own conceptions of it. One person's endangered species is another's dinner or source of income. In Living Through the End of Nature, Paul Wapner probes the meaning of environmentalism in a post-nature age. Wapner argues that the end of nature represents not environmentalism's death knell but an opportunity to build a more effective political movement. He outlines the polarized positions of environmentalists, who strive to live in harmony with nature, and their opponents, who seek mastery over nature. Wapner argues that, without nature, neither of these two outlooks—the "dream of naturalism" or the "dream of mastery"—can be sustained today. Neither is appropriate for addressing such problems as biodiversity loss and climate change; we can neither go back to a preindustrial Elysium nor forward to a technological utopia. Instead, he proposes a third way that takes seriously the breached boundary between humans and nature and charts a co-evolutionary path in which environmentalists exploit the tension between naturalism and mastery to build a more sustainable, ecologically vibrant, and socially just world. *A full review of Paul Wapner’s book will appear in the November issue of the ISDRS Newsletter.
Resilient Participation: Saving the human project? Simon Bell and Steve Morse Earthscan, London 2012.
We all work in groups and the notions of community and localism have rarely had higher currency among planners, politicians and leaders. This book is all about how groups work and how they can be studied and aided to work better. The book sets out the need to understand why groups arrive at the analyses they do. Up to the present the emphasis has been almost exclusively upon what groups have ‘delivered’ within participation. Few seem to have set out to explain how the nature of the deliverable could have been influenced by the make-up of groups and how they have worked together (the group dynamic). Working from research undertaken with Sustainability Indicators (SIs) in a variety of sectors such as transport, agriculture, energy and sustainable development across the European Union during 2009 – 2010, the authors set out the background to the use of participation in various forms. Participation is shown to be a great idea but one which rarely get the serious treatment it deserves. It affects us all. Great teams capture the imagination, strong community fosters social cohesion, good groups lead and others are quick to follow. By the step-by-step application of the Triple Task theory and method the authors show how groups can be understood, their issues and problems identified and their functionality improved. Triple Task can be applied rapidly and coherently by many kinds of practitioner and academic but the prize comprises more than understanding – good though this is. By use of Triple Task the analyst can start to understand why teams fail and how they can be enhanced. This diagnostic and prescriptive element to Triple Task takes it beyond being a research tool to being an effective means to galvanise social action – and this has positive implications for the human project as a whole. (iv)
Ethics And Global Environmental Policy: Cosmopolitan Conceptions of Climate Change Paul G. Harris (Editor) Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011
This collection of provocative essays re-evaluates the world’s failed policy responses to climate change, in the process demonstrating how cosmopolitan ethics can inform global environmental governance. A cosmopolitan worldview points to climaterelated policies that are less ‘international’ and more ‘global’. From a cosmopolitan perspective, national borders should not delineate obligations and responsibilities associated with climate change. Human beings, rather than the narrow interests of nation-states, ought to be at the centre of moral calculations and policy responses to climate change. In this volume, expert contributors examine questions of individual and global responsibility, burden sharing among people and states, international law and environmental justice, capitalism and voluntary action, pluralist cooperation and hegemony, and alternative approaches to climate action and diplomacy. The book helps to illuminate new principles for global environmental policy that can come from cosmopolitan conceptions of climate change. Ethics and Global Environmental Policy should be read by scholars, students, policymakers, activists and analysts in the fields of climate change, international ethics, environmental policy, international
environmental diplomacy, global environmental politics and environmental studies. Government officials, nongovernmental actors, and informed readers concerned about climate change and global justice will also find much to interest them in this book. (v)
Political Economy of Climate Change - IDS Bulletin 42.3 Edited by Thomas Tanner and Jeremy Allouche www.tinyurl.com/pecc2011
The latest issue of the IDS Bulletin contains a collection of articles taking a political economy approach to understand international climate change initiatives, their implementation in developing countries, and the politics of the policy process. The summary article ‘Towards a New Political Economy of Climate Change and Development’ by Tanner and Allouche can be downloaded here. In this article, the authors propose a new political economy of climate change and development in which explicit attention is given to the way that ideas, power and resources are conceptualised, negotiated and implemented by different groups at different scales. The climate change and development interface warrants such attention because of its importance to achieving sustainable poverty reduction outcomes, cross-sectoral nature, urgency and rapid emergence of international resource transfers, initiatives and governance architectures, and the frequent assumption of linear policymaking and apolitical, techno-managerial solutions to the climate change challenge.
Earth Summit 2012: www.earthsummit2012.org/ Objectives and Themes The Process Background Publications Conference and inter-sessional dates ... Green Economy FAQs
‘Sustainable Societies – Responsive Citizens’ (focusing on input to Rio+20 and the GA debate on voluntarism) will take place in Germany’s United Nations city of Bonn, 3 - 5 September 2011: UN-DPI-NGO conference
Milestones to Rio+20 – Useful student resource: www.earthsummit2012.org/index.php/milestones-to-rio20
Stakeholder Forum's Program on Sustainable Development Governance http://ugn.ucoz.org/news/stakeholder_forum_s_program_on_sustainable_deve lopment_governance_towards_rio_20/2011-05-16-46
Earth Summit 2012 â€“ The Rio Spirit, by Felix Dodds, Stakeholder Forum http://www.iisd.ca/mea-l/guestarticle89a.html
EarthSummit Network: Rio+20 | World Information Transfer www.worldinfo.org/2010/08/earthsummit-network-rio20
Sustainable Development Research Network: http://www.sd-research.org.uk/
The Climate Reality Project: http://climaterealityproject.org/#step-1
COPY FOR NEWSLETTER, ISSUE 4, 2011
Copy for Issue 4, 2011, is due by 15 October for publication in November. Please see the Author Guidelines on the ISDRS website: www.isdrs.org/ Copy should be sent to the Newsletter Editor, Dr Delyse Springett: D.V.Springett@massey.ac.nz
ISDRS Newsletter Issue 3 2011