Matching Items (6)

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Toward sustainable governance of water resources: the case of Guanacaste, Costa Rica

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Research shows that many water governance regimes are failing to guide social-ecological systems away from points, beyond which, damage to social and environmental well-being will be difficult to correct. This

Research shows that many water governance regimes are failing to guide social-ecological systems away from points, beyond which, damage to social and environmental well-being will be difficult to correct. This problem is apparent in regions that face water conflicts and climate threats. There remains a need to clarify what is it about governance that people need to change in water conflict prone regions, how to collectively go about doing that, and how research can actively support this. To address these needs, here I present a collaborative research project from the dry tropics of Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica. The project addressed the overarching questions: How can water be governed sustainably in water-contested and climate-threatened regions? And, how can people transition current water governance regimes toward more sustainable ones? In pursuit of these questions, a series of individual studies were performed with many partners and collaborators. These studies included: a participatory analysis and sustainability assessment of current water governance regimes; a case analysis and comparison of water conflicts; constructing alternative governance scenarios; and, developing governance transition strategies. Results highlight the need for water governance that addresses asymmetrical knowledge gaps especially concerning groundwater resources, reconciles disenfranchised groups, and supports local leaders. Yet, actions taken based on these initial results, despite some success influencing policy, found substantial challenges confronting them. In-depth conflict investigations, for example, found that deeply rooted issues such friction between opposing local-based and national institutions were key conflict drivers in the region. To begin addressing these issues, researchers and stakeholders then constructed a set of governing alternatives and devised governance transition strategies that could actively support people to achieve more sustainable alternatives and avoid less sustainable ones. These efforts yielded insight into the collective actions needed to implement more sustainable water governance regimes, including ways to overcoming barriers that drive harmful water conflicts. Actions based on these initial strategies yielded further opportunities, challenges, and lessons. Overall, the project addresses the research and policy gap between identifying what is sustainable water governance and understanding the strategies needed to implement it successfully in regions that experience water conflict and climate impacts.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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A method for sustainability appraisal of urban visions

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Over the last two decades programs and mandates to encourage and foster sustainable urban development have arisen throughout the world, as cities have emerged as key opportunity sites for sustainable

Over the last two decades programs and mandates to encourage and foster sustainable urban development have arisen throughout the world, as cities have emerged as key opportunity sites for sustainable development due to the compactness and localization of services and resources. In order to recognize this potential, scholars and practitioners have turned to the practice of visioning as a way to motivate actions and decision making toward a sustainable future. A "vision" is defined as desirable state in the future and scholars believe that the creation of a shared, motivational vision is the best starting point to catalyze positive and sustainable change. However, recent studies on city visions indicate that they do not offer substantive sustainability content, and methods or processes to evaluate the sustainability content of the resulting vision (sustainability appraisal or assessment) are often absent from the visioning process. Thus, this paper explores methods for sustainability appraisal and their potential contributions to (and in) visioning. The goal is to uncover the elements of a robust sustainability appraisal and integrate them into the visioning process. I propose an integrated sustainability appraisal procedure based on sustainability criteria, indicators, and targets as part of a visioning methodology that was developed by a team of researchers at Arizona State University (ASU) of which I was a part. I demonstrate the applicability of the appraisal method in a case study of visioning in Phoenix, Arizona. The proposed method allows for early and frequent consideration and evaluation of sustainability objectives for urban development throughout the visioning process and will result in more sustainability-oriented visions. Further, it can allow for better measurement and monitoring of progress towards sustainability goals, which can make the goals more tangible and lead to more accountability for making progress towards the development of more sustainable cities in the future.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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A framework for supporting organizational transition processes towards sustainable energy systems

Description

Economic development over the last century has driven a tripling of the world's population, a twenty-fold increase in fossil fuel consumption, and a tripling of traditional biomass consumption. The associated

Economic development over the last century has driven a tripling of the world's population, a twenty-fold increase in fossil fuel consumption, and a tripling of traditional biomass consumption. The associated broad income and wealth inequities are retaining over 2 billion people in poverty. Adding to this, fossil fuel combustion is impacting the environment across spatial and temporal scales and the cost of energy is outpacing all other variable costs for most industries. With 60% of world energy delivered in 2008 consumed by the commercial and industrial sector, the fragmented and disparate energy-related decision making within organizations are largely responsible for the inefficient and impacting use of energy resources. The global transition towards sustainable development will require the collective efforts of national, regional, and local governments, institutions, the private sector, and a well-informed public. The leadership role in this transition could be provided by private and public sector organizations, by way of sustainability-oriented organizations, cultures, and infrastructure. The diversity in literature exemplifies the developing nature of sustainability science, with most sustainability assessment approaches and frameworks lacking transformational characteristics, tending to focus on analytical methods. In general, some shortfalls in sustainability assessment processes include lack of: * thorough stakeholder participation in systems and stakeholder mapping, * participatory envisioning of future sustainable states, * normative aggregation of results to provide an overall measure of sustainability, and * influence within strategic decision-making processes. Specific to energy sustainability assessments, while some authors aggregate results to provide overall sustainability scores, assessments have focused solely on energy supply scenarios, while including the deficits discussed above. This paper presents a framework for supporting organizational transition processes towards sustainable energy systems, using systems and stakeholder mapping, participatory envisioning, and sustainability assessment to prepare the development of transition strategies towards realizing long-term energy sustainability. The energy system at Arizona State University's Tempe campus (ASU) in 2008 was used as a baseline to evaluate the sustainability of the current system. From interviews and participatory workshops, energy system stakeholders provided information to map the current system and measure its performance. Utilizing operationalized principles of energy sustainability, stakeholders envisioned a future sustainable state of the energy system, and then developed strategies to begin transition of the current system to its potential future sustainable state. Key findings include stakeholders recognizing that the current energy system is unsustainable as measured against principles of energy sustainability and an envisioned future sustainable state of the energy system. Also, insufficient governmental stakeholder engagement upstream within the current system could lead to added risk as regulations affect energy supply. Energy demand behavior and consumption patterns are insufficiently understood by current stakeholders, limiting participation and accountability from consumers. In conclusion, although this research study focused on the Tempe campus, ASU could apply this process to other campuses thereby improving overall ASU energy system sustainability. Expanding stakeholder engagement upstream within the energy system and better understanding energy consumption behavior can also improve long-term energy sustainability. Finally, benchmarking ASU's performance against its peer universities could expand the current climate commitment of participants to broader sustainability goals.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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Environmental sustainability and conventional agriculture: an assessment of maize monoculture in Sinaloa, Mexico using multicriteria decision analysis and network analysis

Description

Sinaloa, a coastal state in the northwest of Mexico, is known for irrigated conventional agriculture, and is considered one of the greatest successes of the Green Revolution. With the neoliberal

Sinaloa, a coastal state in the northwest of Mexico, is known for irrigated conventional agriculture, and is considered one of the greatest successes of the Green Revolution. With the neoliberal reforms of the 1990s, Sinaloa farmers shifted out of conventional wheat, soy, cotton, and other commodities and into white maize, a major food staple in Mexico that is traditionally produced by millions of small-scale farmers. Sinaloa is now a major contributor to the national food supply, producing 26% of total domestic white maize production. Research on Sinaloa's maize has focused on economic and agronomic components. Little attention, however, has been given to the environmental sustainability of Sinaloa's expansion in maize. With uniquely biodiverse coastal and terrestrial ecosystems that support economic activities such as fishing and tourism, the environmental consequences of agriculture in Sinaloa are important to monitor. Agricultural sustainability assessments have largely focused on alternative agricultural approaches, or espouse alternative philosophies that are biased against conventional production. Conventional agriculture, however, provides a significant portion of the world's calories. In addition, incentives such as federal subsidies and other institutions complicate transitions to alternative modes of production. To meet the agricultural sustainability goals of food production and environmental stewardship, we must put conventional agriculture on a more sustainable path. One step toward achieving this is structuring agricultural sustainability assessments around achievable goals that encourage continual adaptations toward sustainability. I attempted this in my thesis by assessing conventional maize production in Sinaloa at the regional/state scale using network analysis and incorporating stakeholder values through a multicriteria decision analysis approach. The analysis showed that the overall sustainability of Sinaloa maize production is far from an ideal state. I made recommendations on how to improve the sustainability of maize production, and how to better monitor the sustainability of agriculture in Sinaloa.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Sustainability implications of mass rapid transit on the built environment and human travel behavior in suburban neighborhoods: the Beijing case

Description

The sustainability impacts of the extension of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in suburban Beijing are explored. The research focuses on the neighborhood level, assessing sustainability impacts in terms

The sustainability impacts of the extension of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in suburban Beijing are explored. The research focuses on the neighborhood level, assessing sustainability impacts in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and energy consumption. By emphasizing suburban neighborhoods, the research targets the longest commuting trips, which have the most potential to generate significant sustainability benefits. The methodology triangulates analyses of urban and transportation plans, secondary data, time series spatial imagery, household surveys, and field observation. Three suburban neighborhoods were selected as case studies. Findings include the fact that MRT access stimulates residential development significantly, while having limited impact in terms of commercial or mixed-use (transit-oriented development) property development. While large-scale changes in land use and urban form attributable to MRT access are rare once an area is built up, adaptation occurs in the functions of buildings and areas near MRT stations, such as the emergence of first floor commercial uses in residential buildings. However, station precincts also attract street vendors, tricycles, illegal taxis and unregulated car parking, often impeding access and making immediate surroundings of MRT stations unattractive, perhaps accounting for the lack of significant accessibility premiums (identified by the researcher) near MRT stations in suburban Beijing. Household-based travel behavior surveys reveal that public transport, i.e., MRT and buses, accounts for over half of all commuting trips in the three case study suburban neighborhoods. Over 30% of the residents spend over an hour commuting to work, reflecting the prevalence of long-distance commutes, associated with a dearth of workplaces in suburban Beijing. Non-commuting trips surprisingly tell a different story, a large portion of the residents choose to drive because they are less restrained by travel time. The observed increase of the share of MRT trips to work generates significant benefits in terms of lowered energy consumption, reduced greenhouse gas and traditional air pollution emissions. But such savings could be easily offset if the share of driving trips increases with growing affluence, given the high emission intensities of cars. Bus use is found to be responsible for high local conventional air pollution, indicating that the current bus fleet in Beijing should be phased out and replaced by cleaner buses. Policy implications are put forward based on these findings. The Intellectual Merit of this study centers on increased understanding of the relationship between mass transit provision and sustainability outcomes in suburban metropolitan China. Despite its importance, little research of this genre has been undertaken in China. This study is unique because it focuses on the intermediate meso scale, where adaptation occurs more quickly and dramatically, and is easier to identify.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Stern Produce Sustainability Assessment and Performance Reporting

Description

Stern Produce has been a prominent agricultural produce distributor in Arizona since 1917, with three distribution locations in the state: Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff. The company is a wholesale supplier

Stern Produce has been a prominent agricultural produce distributor in Arizona since 1917, with three distribution locations in the state: Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff. The company is a wholesale supplier of produce, meat and dairy products. Stern Produce is seeking to create comprehensive sustainability metrics to develop sustainability baseline information on their operations. This project, in partnership with Stern Produce’s Sustainability Coordinator, provides a final report that describes the sustainability indicators and metrics, provides recommendations for future growth, and highlights immediate areas of impact using the Hart and Milstein’s Sustainable Value Framework (2003). Under the three tenets of people, earth and business, the sustainability areas to focus on for Stern Produce are: sustainable procurement (internal and external); fleet management; organizational continuity; sustainable communities; and, sustainable building operations. By formulating sustainable focus areas, Stern Produce is acknowledging the significance of integrating environmental consciousness with economic performance and social benefits. Based on the findings, the project will assist Stern Produce in identifying intervention points and find new ways to mitigate negative operational outputs. Moreover, the project will facilitate cross-department engagement and involvement, provide data for sustainability key performance indicators, and further social commitments to operating sustainably. Measuring and reporting operations also improve transparency within the company and with external partners. Furthermore, the assessment proposes sustainability initiatives to address staff and community wellbeing concerns. Thus, the project uses a triple-bottom line approach to assess Stern Produce and translate the sustainability indicators into value for the company.

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Date Created
  • 2017-04-28