United Nations University (UNU)
Recent publications
Even though the mosaic of different land-use/land-cover types has long contributed to the resilience of socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes in Ethiopia, recent data indicate that their sustainability is under threat. This study aims to evaluate landscape resilience by adopting a set of indicators for enhancing sustainability in the Gurage socio-ecological production landscape in Ethiopia. The authors employed a toolkit of indicators in the production landscape through a community-based scoring approach (1–5 Likert scale). The information from household surveys, land-use/land-cover analysis, and satellite-based drought incidents assessment was integrated with the ranking analysis to support the evaluations. The results revealed that landscape diversity, ecosystem protection, local governance, and social equity indicators had the highest landscape resilience ranks. In contrast, lower ranks are associated with knowledge, innovation, livelihoods, and well-being indicators. The overall resilience of the Gurage socio-ecological production landscape was estimated to be below average. Thus, strategies that enhance the resilience and sustainability of this socio-ecological landscape are essential. The findings could help draw the attention of policymakers and natural resource managers to building and strengthening the resilience of the landscape. This study demonstrates that indicators could aid in evaluating landscape resilience status along with other ancillary information, particularly in data-sparse regions. Methods of assessing resilience must be creative in such regions, and this paper may inform such efforts. In addition, the study recommends that landscape resilience indicators be improved by reducing subjective matter and including spatial-explicit dimensions for evaluating resilience.
The importance of forests in providing a healthy environment and good quality of life for people is crucial. Sacred forests, in particular, play a significant role in the social and ecological aspects of life. Despite numerous studies and reports on the subject, there is a lack of an up-to-date and comprehensive analysis of research on sacred forests and their ecosystem services. Our review looked at 2811 papers from the Scopus database using keyword selection. After screening, 214 papers were used for bibliometric analysis to assess the research trends and distribution of studies done on the contribution of sacred forests to various ecosystem services. Seventy-seven publications focusing on cultural ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, and carbon accumulation that met our eligibility criteria were chosen for detailed analysis of the methodological flows and gaps in the literature. The results revealed that studies on the subject are increasing, notably in developing countries. However, very limited investigations can be observed in the urban context. Furthermore, we discovered that most studies used field surveys to grasp sacred forests’ ecological aspects. While this technique gave a thorough understanding of the forests, future research should use a combination of methods, including remote sensing, geospatial analysis, and social surveys, to better understand the forests and the ecosystem services they provide. Future studies ought to evaluate the multiple regulative services and non-material benefits of sacred forests to ensure long-term human well-being and provide scientific proof for acknowledging and conserving these critical places are required particularly in urban landscapes. Overall, more research is required to comprehend these gaps in a broader context and enhance our overall view of conservation and sociocultural significance, both of which are critical for long-term practice.
Rapid urban population growth in Africa has resulted in the rapid expansion of many African cities. This has important ramifications for sustainable development across the continent. However, studies systematically synthesising the emerging literature to critically comprehend the different dimensions of urban expansion in Africa, and its intersections with sustainability are lacking. We conduct a systematic review of 247 peer-reviewed papers, critically discussing the dimensions of urban expansion in Africa, using the Drivers-Pressures-State-Impacts-Responses (DPSIR) model. Despite the significant variability between contexts, urban expansion occurs through a complex mix of Drivers, including urban population growth, in-migration, housing deficits, and the complex land governance systems. Urban expansion has multiple Impacts including the loss of agricultural land and natural vegetation that catalyses livelihood shifts/loss, and social transformation in expansion areas. The literature on the Responses to urban expansion is rather limited, usually focuses on policy-oriented responses, and suggests that such policy-oriented responses are rarely implemented effectively. Overall, we observe the centrality and multi-dimensional role of land (and its governance) and demographic transitions in urban expansion processes. We also identify the severe fragmentation of the relevant literature, the disproportionate focus on urban expansion’s negative Impacts, and the critical lack of studies on Responses. Arguably, there is a need for more systematic, cohesive and increasingly comparative research to both understand the different dimensions of urban expansion, as well as design effective and fit-for-purpose responses to ensure that it does not compromise Africa’s sustainable development.
Food systems are responsible for pushing human resource use past three thresholds of safe planetary operating space, yet the potential of agroecosystems to contribute to sustainability of food systems when managed for multiple benefits is underexplored. This gap has led to a call for food systems transformation. Previous reviews have acknowledged that governance of food systems transformations is not well understood. The aim of this review is to examine the challenges to transformative governance of agroecosystems, and the potential to apply existing paradigms of adaptiveness in agroecosystems for this transformation. Agricultural production landscapes have been found to be a key level of governance for realizing sustainability transformations of food systems and the landscape concept has been a key paradigm for managing multiple social and ecological objectives at a landscape scale. An examination of the landscape concept using five transformative governance characteristics and applying the earth system governance research lenses illustrated two key areas for further investigation and action for transformative governance. The first is landscape design for continuous social and ecological changes and evolving understandings of sustainability, and the second is the allocation of landscape costs, rights and benefits in present and future decision-making and among human and non-human entities. Managing the pluralistic diversities inherent to agroecosystems will be a key dynamic important to governance and policy for food systems transformations.
The current Thai youth¹ (aged 15–24) have grown up in a time of political change and polarization. In 2020, resentment toward the junta government exploded in student-led protests not only at the university but also at the high-school and middle-school levels. This report provides historical backgrounds and investigates the political, economic, and socio-cultural factors that incited the movement. The objective is to describe the political context and explain this phenomenon based on relevant literature, news reports, and research with Thai high school students.
An adequate water supply is essential for the continued and sustainable growth of the Balinese economy. In addition to mounting water demand, Bali’s water supply has been constrained by high levels of water pollution. Despite being paid great attention, Bali’s earlier efforts to control water pollution yet to prove effective, mainly owing to their reliance on traditional methods and regulations that focus on water pollution being linked to discrete sets of economic activity (e.g., processing industries, livestock farming, and hotels). However, an economy of a region/country comprises a set of sectoral activities, which are interconnected through supply chains; thus, water pollution could be well explained by examining the entire sectoral economic activities and their environmental performance. Therefore, determining the structural relationships between water pollution and economic activity serves as an important basis for more effective forms of pollution control for the Balinese economy. In this study, accordingly, we employed an environmentally extended input–output model to establish the links between water pollution and the production processes of the entire economy. Using biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) as a proxy for water quality in our analysis, we estimated that 246.9 kt of BOD were produced from Bali’s economic activity in 2007. Further, we identified the chief BOD-emitting sectors and found that intermediate demand and household demand were the major causes of BOD discharge in the economy. We also accounted for the indirect role of each sector in total BOD emissions. Moreover, we categorized the sectors into four groups based on their direct and indirect BOD emission characteristics and offered appropriate policy measures for each group. Managing demand (i.e., lowering household consumption and exports) and shifting input suppliers (i.e., from polluters to non-polluters) are effective measures to control pollution for Categories I and II, respectively; clean production and abatement is advised for Category III; and a hybrid approach (i.e., demand management and abatement technology) is recommended for Category IV.
The education pathways and opportunities of schoolgirls in Asia are facing different challenges. The empirical studies have implemented Information and Communication Technology-enabled learning to expand such pathways and opportunities and promote education inclusiveness and equity. Through the Gender Analysis Framework, this review paper focuses on exploring and discussing how ICT-enabled learning may expand schoolgirls’ education pathways and opportunities in Asia for inclusive and equitable education. This review covers 30 studies that adopted ICT-enabled learning, synthesizes, and presents four key ICT-enabled learning approaches: Emerging technologies-enabled learning, Digital game-based learning, Mobile-enabled learning, and Computer-assisted learning. Our result discusses about how different approaches in this review (in)directly impact on schoolgirls’ access to assets, their practice and participation in learning activities, belief and perception of their own and other stakeholders’, and how policies accommodate these approaches. The review further suggests several guidelines to develop an inclusive learning environment enabled by ICT to education pathways and opportunities of schoolgirls, thereby enhancing education inclusiveness and equity.
Detailed information about waste generation rates, composition, and their influencing factors, is essential for sustainable municipal solid waste (MSW) management systems. While detailed waste characterization studies have been regularly conducted in industrialized countries for decades, they are still incipient and limited in scope in developing countries. Among all MSW streams, household waste (HW) represents a major fraction in developing countries with a distinctive influence on urban life-quality. This study conducts a HW characterization study in Santa Cruz, a rapidly urbanizing city of Bolivia, to (i) estimate HW generation rates and composition; and (ii) identify the main factors that explain variability in these rates. This is achieved through waste sampling and household surveys, manual component separation, and statistical analysis using correlations and multiple linear regressions. Results estimate a median waste generation rate of 0.548 kg/capita/day and a mean generation of 0.711 kg/capita/day for the whole city. Household size, household head (HH) education, children in the family and a kiosk in the household, are the main determinants of waste generation rates. Waste composition is comparable to other developing cities, with a relatively higher fraction of organic waste and fine residue, possibly due to context-specific characteristics of the urbanization process of the city.
Unfolding events have shown that Sierra Leone is enduring various disasters at a worrying rate. While progress is being made in disaster management, activities that degrade the fragile ecosystem, exacerbated by climate change, poverty, and bad governance, remain growing concerns. Amid these concerns, there is inadequate information to take appropriate actions. The authors wish to provide a solution by examining 35 publications from various scholarly and grey literature and raw data sources, following a critical review process designed to expose the implementation drawbacks, research gaps, advances, and prospects in disaster management in Sierra Leone. The study results show that lapses in data management, fewer professionals, and inefficiencies in communication are the most pressing considerations for improving disaster management in the country. Inadequate funds to implement management plans remain pervasive. Following these findings, we recommend that all first responders be routinely exposed to international tabletop exercises and simulated disaster response training to help them build their capacities and learn from other countries. Students in the relevant disciplines should be encouraged to participate in these exercises to facilitate early learning. Also, management initiatives should consider gender equity, the situations of the disabled, and other vulnerable groups at all levels of planning and implementation of activities. Future studies should assess the influence of social media on disaster management research and practice in the country.
Research on Regional Centers of Expertise (RCEs) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) has focused on how multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral partnerships can work to enable ESD projects, with a particular focus on how higher education institutions could effectively collaborate with community partners. However, much of this research has focused on how partners worked together (for example, what governance and coordination structures allowed higher education institutions to effectively collaborate with partners) without as much focus of investigation on what activities RCEs were working on. While diverse and compelling research on RCEs already exists, much of this research falls into conceptual theory building or case studies of individual RCE activities. In this article, an overview and analysis of activities from RCEs around the globe is offered to provide some trend analysis for topics and modalities of ESD projects conducted during the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD which ran from 2015 to 2019. This empirical analysis can serve as record of where the Global RCE Network has been over the 5 years of the GAP, where it is now, and where it may wish to go in the future.
This article describes the experience of elaborating on a Brazilian strategy for smart cities. The elaboration process was innovative as it used co-creation mechanisms to engage a group of institutions and people involved in the topic of digital transformation in cities. Based on a design policy approach, it featured design thinking activities , workshops, working groups, listening, and online public consultation. The result was the Brazilian Charter for Smart Cities, a document that presents an agenda to address digital transformation as an opportunity for sustainable urban development in Brazil. The strategy gives eight strategic goals addressed to different stake-holders. Furthermore, a collaborative network was formed that remains active and implements the strategic goals defined in the Charter. The experience illustrates the importance of establishing collaborative and participatory processes in formulating strategies and public policies. The challenge now is implementing the goals in Brazilian municipalities, which are highly diverse and unequal, and replicating this participatory model to formulate local smart city strategies.
Landscape approaches are integrated place-based approaches and provide cross-sectoral opportunities to facilitate sustainability transformations. The COVID-19 outbreak has profound ramifications for multiple dimensions of landscapes, ranging from mobility and lifestyle to value to environment and society. Therefore, integrated approaches to "health" have been more vigorously promoted in the policy arena dealing with human-nature interactions. The ecosystem principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which resonate with landscape approaches, are generally aligned with integrated approaches to health. However, commonalities and distinctions between these integrated approaches in both political and scientific domains have not been clarified. Drawing on a narrative review of the literature on "One Health," "Ecohealth," and "Planetary Health" as major health-oriented approaches in comparison with landscape approaches, the aspects of landscape approaches to be complemented in addressing health-related challenges were examined in this study. In addition to the review on the intellectual roots and evolutionary pathways, a comparative analysis of these relevant approaches was conducted in terms of three realms including theoretical assumptions, knowledge bases, and research paradigms. The results of the comparative review show that all approaches share systems thinking, interdisciplinarity, cross-sectoral collaboration, and holistic paradigm but differ with respect to their focused management problems, disciplines, and sectors as well as ontological and epistemological underpinnings. Pointing to the recent theoretical and methodological development in integrating health in placemaking, the results of this study suggest that pragmatic landscape approaches could be strengthened by using health-related research paradigms to achieve better constructivism-positivism meeting grounds regarding health-landscape intersections.
Land use change is one of the major drivers of soil degradation, affecting the ability of soils to supply multiple ecosystem services (ES). Despite the growing importance of soil-related ES, there is a lack of comprehensive methodologies to systematize how land use change affects the ability of soil to supply them. Here, by using primary information on soil properties, we develop a series of indices to assess the impact of land use change on the ability of soil to supply five soil-related ES: support for plant growth (SES1), C storage (SES2), nutrient cycling (SES3), erosion control (SES4), and water regulation and aeration (SES5). We focus our analysis on the rainforest-pasture transition for extensive ranching in the Colombian Amazon. Despite the global importance of the Amazon Forest biome, the existing methodological and knowledge gaps restrict our understanding of the impacts of land use change in the region’s soil-related ES. The results revealed that the extensive conversion of forest to pasture degraded the soil’s ability to supply all measured soil-related ES, with a higher impact for SES2 (47% of soil C storage reduction), SES1, and SES4 (40% and 31% decline of related indices, respectively). According to the average scores for the three sites, the capacity of the soil to supply related ES is severely threatened by extensive ranching, causing a decline in the index from 99% in forest sites to 73% in pasture sites. A significant correlation among most indices revealed that the supply of the five soil-related ES is interdependent, with the indices of soil C storage and erosion control services being the major drivers of synergies and trade-offs. Our study highlights the importance of re-adjusting management practices to mitigate the negative historical impacts of pasture conversion on soil properties linked to soil-related ES.
Households are responsible for a large fraction of the direct and indirect emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) at the national level. However, emission patterns are not homogeneous within the residential sector, with several factors affecting them. This study explores how income‐related divergences in consumption and time allocation affect the carbon footprint of the Japanese residential sector. To achieve this, we combine data on emission intensities from national input‐output tables with household‐level consumption and time allocation data from two large‐scale nationally representative surveys. Overall, we find that indirect emissions account for approximately 78% of the overall carbon footprint of the residential sector across the studied income groups. The overall carbon footprint and the emissions of several individual consumption categories follow an N‐shaped curve, with some of the lower‐income groups having disproportionately higher emissions compared to middle‐ and higher‐income groups. Conversely, emissions for other individual consumption categories increase almost linearly with income. This points to the fact that different factors can affect emissions across income groups. Specifically, the N‐shaped curves are driven by the propensity of lower‐income households to spend more time at home and rely on inefficient technologies, while the linear trend is driven by the propensity of higher‐income households to consume more. A detailed understanding of how these factors affect emissions patterns can provide useful insights for designing and implementing effective policies to achieve decarbonization the residential sector.
The Indonesian government has issued various policies to control COVID-19. However, COVID-19 new cases continued to increase, and there remain uncertainties as to the future trajectory. We aimed to investigate how medical and health academics view the Indonesian government’s handling of COVID-19 and which areas of health systems need to be prioritized to improve the government’s response to COVID-19. We conducted a modified Delphi study adapting the COVID-19 assessment scorecard (COVID-SCORE) as the measurement criteria. We invited medical and health academics from ten universities across Indonesia to take part in the two-round Delphi study. In the first round, participants were presented with 20 statements of COVID-SCORE and asked to rate their agreement with each statement using a five-point Likert scale. All participants who completed the first cycle were invited to participate in the second cycle. They had the opportunity to revise their answers based on the previous cycle’s results and ranked a list of actions to improve government response. We achieved a moderate consensus level for five statements, a low consensus level for 13 statements and no consensus for two statements. The prioritization suggested that top priorities for improving the government’s response to COVID-19 in Indonesia encompass: (1) strengthening capacity to ensure consistent, credible and targeted communication while adopting a more inclusive and empathic communication style to address public concerns; (2) ensuring universal access to reliable COVID-19 testing by expanding lab infrastructure, facilitating operational readiness, and scaling up implementation of proven alternative/complementary tests to RT-PCR; and (3) boosting contact tracing implementation capacity and facilitating contact tracing for all positive cases, involving key stakeholders in further development of the existing contact tracing system (i.e. PeduliLindungi) as well as its evaluation and quality assurance. Ultimately, our study highlights the importance of strengthening health system functions during the pandemic and improving health system resilience for dealing with future public health emergencies.
This article examines the contributions of police to the Protection of Civilians (PoC) in United Nations (UN) peace operations. Drawing on field research in four missions where police have had to implement PoC mandates in challenging and unprecedented ways, I identify lessons associated with emerging practice. The article contributes to debates about non-military forms of civilian protection arguing that police – at once uniformed and civilian, coercive but also community-oriented – offer unique contributions to PoC. It also highlights the need for a systematic evaluation of what works and what does not for protection through policing to be harnessed in future missions.
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501 members
Luk Van Langenhove
  • Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS)
Lulu Zhang
  • Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES)
Tokyo, Japan