Matching Items (7)

Sustainability Analysis of Monoculture to Polyculture Transitions: A Palm Oil Case Study

Description

The purpose of this research was to address the viability of a monoculture to polyculture agricultural land-cover transition within the context of the palm oil industry in Malaysia and Indonesia.

The purpose of this research was to address the viability of a monoculture to polyculture agricultural land-cover transition within the context of the palm oil industry in Malaysia and Indonesia. A lifecycle assessment was used as a framework in the Cradle-to-Gate methodology used to understand sustainability hotspots, develop four future scenarios, and to measure three chosen indicators for metric changes. The four scenarios included a business-as-usual, perfect world, and two transition scenarios highlighting greenhouse gases, bio-control chemicals, fertilizer-use, and crop yield as indicators. In the four scenarios, a 1000 ha of plantation land with 140,000 palm oil trees created the backdrop for investigating nutrient cycling, cultivation methods, and the economic trade-offs of a transition. Primary literature was the main source of investigation and a wide-variety of current polyculture research helped create tangible data across the four scenarios. However, polyculture failed to address the socioeconomic barriers present in the governance, business-state, and regulations within this industry and region. An institutional analysis was conducted to investigate the political, financial, and regulatory barriers in this industry and recommend changes. It was concluded that while polyculture is an important form of environmental sustainability and can increase crop yield, the socioeconomic structure of the industry is the largest barrier to change and implement polyculture. In order for this social structure to change, it was recommended that the regulatory institutions, such as the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), reframe their pressure points and instead focus on the interconnectedness of logging and palm oil companies with the regional governments.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-05

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Institutional analysis of water management for agriculture in the Chancay-Lambayeque basin, Peru

Description

This research presents an analysis of the main institutions and economic incentives that drive farmers behaviors on water use in the Chancay-Lambayeque basin, located in Lambayeque (Peru), a semi arid

This research presents an analysis of the main institutions and economic incentives that drive farmers behaviors on water use in the Chancay-Lambayeque basin, located in Lambayeque (Peru), a semi arid area of great agricultural importance. I focus my research on identifying the underlying causes of non-collaborative behaviors in regard to water appropriation and infrastructure provisioning decision that generates violent conflicts between users. Since there is not an agreed and concrete criteria to assess "sustainability" I used economic efficiency as my evaluative criteria because, even though this is not a sufficient condition to achieve sustainability it is a necessary one, and thus achieving economic efficiency is moving towards sustainable outcomes. Water management in the basin is far from being economic efficient which means that there is some room for improving social welfare. Previous studies of the region have successfully described the symptoms of this problem; however, they did not focus their study on identifying the causes of the problem. In this study, I describe and analyze how different rules and norms (institutions) define farmers behaviors related to water use. For this, I use the Institutional Analysis and Development framework and a dynamic game theory model to analyze how biophysical attributes, community attributes and rules of the system combined with other factors, can affect farmers actions in regard to water use and affect the sustainability of water resources. Results show that water rights are the factor that is fundamental to the problem. Then, I present an outline for policy recommendation, which includes a revision of water rights and related rules and policies that could increase the social benefits with the use of compensation mechanisms to reach economic efficiency. Results also show that commonly proposed solutions, as switch to less water intensive and more added value crops, improvement in the agronomic and entrepreneurial knowledge, or increases in water tariffs, can mitigate or exacerbate the loss of benefits that come from the poor incentives in the system; but they do not change the nature of the outcome.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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Commons governance for robust systems: irrigation systems study under a multi-method approach

Description

Sustainability depends in part on our capacity to resolve dilemmas of the commons in Coupled Infrastructure Systems (CIS). Thus, we need to know more about how to incentivize individuals to

Sustainability depends in part on our capacity to resolve dilemmas of the commons in Coupled Infrastructure Systems (CIS). Thus, we need to know more about how to incentivize individuals to take collective action to manage shared resources. Moreover, given that we will experience new and more extreme weather events due to climate change, we need to learn how to increase the robustness of CIS to those shocks. This dissertation studies irrigation systems to contribute to the development of an empirically based theory of commons governance for robust systems. I first studied the eight institutional design principles (DPs) for long enduring systems of shared resources that the Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom proposed in 1990. I performed a critical literature review of 64 studies that looked at the institutional configuration of CIS, and based on my findings I propose some modifications of their definitions and application in research and policy making. I then studied how the revisited design principles, when analyzed conjointly with biophysical and ethnographic characteristics of CISs, perform to avoid over-appropriation, poverty and critical conflicts among users of an irrigation system. After carrying out a meta-analysis of 28 cases around the world, I found that particular combinations of those variables related to population size, countries corruption, the condition of water storage, monitoring of users behavior, and involving users in the decision making process for the commons governance, were sufficient to obtain the desired outcomes. The two last studies were based on the Peruvian Piura Basin, a CIS that has been exposed to environmental shocks for decades. I used secondary and primary data to carry out a longitudinal study using as guidance the robustness framework, and different hypothesis from prominent collapse theories to draw potential explanations. I then developed a dynamic model that shows how at the current situation it is more effective to invest in rules enforcement than in the improvement of the physical infrastructure (e.g. reservoir). Finally, I explored different strategies to increase the robustness of the system, through enabling collective action in the Basin.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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Germany's energy transition experiment: a case study about guiding decisions and steering large socio-technical systems in desired directions

Description

The Energiewende aims to drastically reduce Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions, without relying on nuclear power, while maintaining a secure and affordable energy supply. Since 2000 the country’s renewable-energy share has

The Energiewende aims to drastically reduce Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions, without relying on nuclear power, while maintaining a secure and affordable energy supply. Since 2000 the country’s renewable-energy share has increased exponentially, accounting in 2017 for over a third of Germany's gross electricity consumption. This unprecedented achievement is the result of policies, tools, and institutional arrangements intended to steer society to a low-carbon economy. Despite its resounding success in renewable-energy deployment, the Energiewende is not on track to meet its decarbonization goals. Energiewende rules and regulations have generated numerous undesired consequences, and have cost much more than anticipated, a burden borne primarily by energy consumers. Why has the Energiewende not only made energy more expensive, but also failed to bring Germany closer to its decarbonization goals? I analyzed the Energiewende as a complex socio-technical system, examining its legal framework and analyzing the consequences of successive regulations; identifying major political and energy players and the factors that motivated them to pursue socio-technical change; and documenting the political trends and events in which the Energiewende is rooted and which continue to shape it. I analyzed the dynamics and the loopholes that created barriers to transition, pushed the utility sector to the brink of dissolution, and led to such undesirable outcomes as negative wholesale prices and forced exports of electricity to Germany’s European neighbors. Thirty high-level energy experts and stakeholders were interviewed to find out how the best-informed members of German society perceive the Energiewende. Surprisingly, although they were highly critical of the way the transition has unfolded, most were convinced that the transition would eventually succeed. But their definitions of success did not always depend on achieving carbon-mitigation targets. Indeed, Germany jeopardizes the achievement of these targets by changing too many policy and institutional variables at too fast a pace. Good intentions and commitment are not enough to create economies based on intermittent energy sources: they will also require intensive grid expansion and breakthroughs in storage technology. The Energiewende demonstrates starkly that collective action driven by robust political consensus is not sufficient for steering complex socio-technical systems in desired directions.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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Automobile path dependence in Phoenix: driving sustainability by getting off of the pavement and out of the car

Description

A methodology is developed that integrates institutional analysis with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to identify and overcome barriers to sustainability transitions and to bridge the gap between environmental practitioners and

A methodology is developed that integrates institutional analysis with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to identify and overcome barriers to sustainability transitions and to bridge the gap between environmental practitioners and decisionmakers. LCA results are rarely joined with analyses of the social systems that control or influence decisionmaking and policies. As a result, LCA conclusions generally lack information about who or what controls different parts of the system, where and when the processes' environmental decisionmaking happens, and what aspects of the system (i.e. a policy or regulatory requirement) would have to change to enable lower environmental impact futures. The value of the combined institutional analysis and LCA (the IA-LCA) is demonstrated using a case study of passenger transportation in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. A retrospective LCA is developed to estimate how roadway investment has enabled personal vehicle travel and its associated energy, environmental, and economic effects. Using regional travel forecasts, a prospective life cycle inventory is developed. Alternative trajectories are modeled to reveal future "savings" from reduced roadway construction and vehicle travel. An institutional analysis matches the LCA results with the specific institutions, players, and policies that should be targeted to enable transitions to these alternative futures. The results show that energy, economic, and environmental benefits from changes in passenger transportation systems are possible, but vary significantly depending on the timing of the interventions. Transition strategies aimed at the most optimistic benefits should include 1) significant land-use planning initiatives at the local and regional level to incentivize transit-oriented development infill and urban densification, 2) changes to state or federal gasoline taxes, 3) enacting a price on carbon, and 4) nearly doubling vehicle fuel efficiency together with greater market penetration of alternative fuel vehicles. This aggressive trajectory could decrease the 2050 energy consumption to 1995 levels, greenhouse gas emissions to 1995, particulate emissions to 2006, and smog-forming emissions to 1972. The potential benefits and costs are both private and public, and the results vary when transition strategies are applied in different spatial and temporal patterns.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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An institutional approach to understanding energy transitions

Description

Energy is a central concern of sustainability because how we produce and consume energy affects society, economy, and the environment. Sustainability scientists are interested in energy transitions away from fossil

Energy is a central concern of sustainability because how we produce and consume energy affects society, economy, and the environment. Sustainability scientists are interested in energy transitions away from fossil fuels because they are nonrenewable, increasingly expensive, have adverse health effects, and may be the main driver of climate change. They see an opportunity for developing countries to avoid the negative consequences fossil-fuel-based energy systems, and also to increase resilience, by leap-frogging-over the centralized energy grid systems that dominate the developed world. Energy transitions pose both challenges and opportunities. Obstacles to transitions include 1) an existing, centralized, complex energy-grid system, whose function is invisible to most users, 2) coordination and collective-action problems that are path dependent, and 3) difficulty in scaling up RE technologies. Because energy transitions rely on technological and social innovations, I am interested in how institutional factors can be leveraged to surmount these obstacles. The overarching question that underlies my research is: What constellation of institutional, biophysical, and social factors are essential for an energy transition? My objective is to derive a set of "design principles," that I term institutional drivers, for energy transitions analogous to Ostrom's institutional design principles. My dissertation research will analyze energy transitions using two approaches: applying the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework and a comparative case study analysis comprised of both primary and secondary sources. This dissertation includes: 1) an analysis of the world's energy portfolio; 2) a case study analysis of five countries; 3) a description of the institutional factors likely to promote a transition to renewable-energy use; and 4) an in-depth case study of Thailand's progress in replacing nonrenewable energy sources with renewable energy sources. My research will contribute to our understanding of how energy transitions at different scales can be accomplished in developing countries and what it takes for innovation to spread in a society.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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The semiotic nature of power in social-ecological systems

Description

Anderies (2015); Anderies et al. (2016), informed by Ostrom (2005), aim to employ robust

feedback control models of social-ecological systems (SESs), to inform policy and the

design of institutions guiding resilient resource

Anderies (2015); Anderies et al. (2016), informed by Ostrom (2005), aim to employ robust

feedback control models of social-ecological systems (SESs), to inform policy and the

design of institutions guiding resilient resource use. Cote and Nightingale (2012) note that

the main assumptions of resilience research downplay culture and social power. Addressing

the epistemic gap between positivism and interpretation (Rosenberg 2016), this dissertation

argues that power and culture indeed are of primary interest in SES research.

Human use of symbols is seen as an evolved semiotic capacity. First, representation is

argued to arise as matter achieves semiotic closure (Pattee 1969; Rocha 2001) at the onset

of natural selection. Guided by models by Kauffman (1993), the evolution of a symbolic

code in genes is examined, and thereon the origin of representations other than genetic

in evolutionary transitions (Maynard Smith and Szathmáry 1995; Beach 2003). Human

symbolic interaction is proposed as one that can support its own evolutionary dynamics.

The model offered for wider dynamics in society are “flywheels,” mutually reinforcing

networks of relations. They arise as interactions in a domain of social activity intensify, e.g.

due to interplay of infrastructures, mediating built, social, and ecological affordances (An-

deries et al. 2016). Flywheels manifest as entities facilitated by the simplified interactions

(e.g. organizations) and as cycles maintaining the infrastructures (e.g. supply chains). They

manifest internal specialization as well as distributed intention, and so can favor certain

groups’ interests, and reinforce cultural blind spots to social exclusion (Mills 2007).

The perspective is applied to research of resilience in SESs, considering flywheels a

semiotic extension of feedback control. Closer attention to representations of potentially

excluded groups is justified on epistemic in addition to ethical grounds, as patterns in cul-

tural text and social relations reflect the functioning of wider social processes. Participatory

methods are suggested to aid in building capacity for institutional learning.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017