SERI Infomail 01/07

Das Sustainable Research Institute (SERI) ist ein europäisches Netzwerk zur Untersuchung gesellschaftlicher Optionen für nachhaltige Entwicklung in Europa. In Zukunft wollen wir jeden Monat die SERI Infomails veröffentlichen. Los gehts!

1. This month’s highlight:

Climate Change

Climate change is held to be the largest environmental challenge of the future, as is shown currently by the daily reports in the media. Are the observed phenomena, such as temperature increase and extreme weather events, a result of natural variability? What measures are necessary in order to avoid dramatic levels of climate change?
The atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are increasing significantly as a result of human activities. The carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, for example, is higher today than it has been in at least the last 650,000 years. The increase of the greenhouse effect through human activities has already led to a global temperature increase of 0.6 oC within the last hundred years. Even if the emissions of greenhouse gases were drastically reduced today, the warming would continue, because the greenhouse gases have a long lifetime in the atmosphere. As a result, in the coming decades mild winters in Europe and extreme events such as floods, droughts and storms will become more frequent. Strategies for adapting to these changes are necessary, in order to reduce negative ecological, economic and societal effects.
In order to avoid drastic climatic change, it is necessary to start acting today. A central part of SERI’s work investigates and communicates the necessary response options. The reduction of resource and energy use is the most significant contribution.
Read more: www.seri.at/klimawandel.

For further highlights check also http://www.seri.at/.

1. SERI-News: General news from SERI and SERI members

SERI General meeting 2006

The general meeting of the society „Verein zur Förderung eines Sustainable Europe Research Institute“ took place in Vienna on Nov. 30th 2006. A main topic were the activities of the society in Germany found in 2006. The board of the Austrian society has been re-elected with the following changes: Laura Radiconcini left the board and Thomas Ruddy has been accepted as a new board member.
For further information about the society and the meeting contact mark.hammer@seri.at or visit the webpage www.seri.at/verein.


IUCNFor his work on biodiversity pressures and driving forces, Joachim Spangenberg has been nominated by IUCN as a member of its Committee on Ecosystem Management IUCN CEM.


ISEE session to be publishedAt the ISEE conference in New Delhi, Joachim Spangenberg organised a session on scenarios and indicators for sustainable development, with speakers from UNEP (Nilanjan Gosh), EEA (David Stanners) and SERI (JS), a written contribution of UN DESA, and a number of invited papers. Jaqueline McGlade, EEA director, Robert Costanza and Richard Norgaard participated in the discussion. The session will be documented in a book edited by Joachim Spangenberg and Nilanjan Gosh, published by Oxford University Press. For the current news on SERI check also www.seri.at/news.

2. Project-Overview: News from our projects, our other work and new research fields

Launch of the „INDI-LINK“ website

The website of the EU-project „INDI-LINK“ (Indicator-based evaluation of interlinkages between different sustainable development objectives) has been officially lanched at www.indi-link.net. The website provides details about the objectives and expected results of the project, illustrates the upcoming work plan and lists the INDI-LINK related events. For more information about the INDI-LINK project, please contact Friedrich Hinterberger (friedrich.hinterberger@seri.at).


Multi-level Governance of Natural Resources: Tools and Processes for Water and Biodiversity Governance in Europe – GOVERNATGOVERNAT, a Marie Curie Research Training Network, which started on 1st of October 2006 held its Kick-off meeting from January 10-12 in Leipzig at the UFZ. It is coordinated by Felix Rauschmayer from the UFZ and involves 10 core partners, as well as a set of praxis hosts and will last for 4 years. The overall objective of GoverNat is to develop new solutions for multi-level environmental governance and to facilitate their use by decision makers in an enlarged EU. The central research objective is to test the hypothesis that certain participatory processes and analytical decision tools are particularly useful for improving multi-level environmental governance. SERI acts as a praxis affiliate and will host 1-2 fellows in internships, where the fellows can experience from the “ insider perspective” the challenges of making decisions on environmental governance at different spatial scales. For more information about this project visit its website www.governat.eu or contact Ines Omann (ines.omann@seri.at).


Challenges in assessing and forecasting biodiversity and ecosystem changes in Europe – ECOCHANGEECOCHANGE – a new FP project started with the Kick-off meeting from 16 to 18th of January in Dourdan, France. SERI is one of 23 partners of this 5-year integrated project and is coordinated by Pierre Taberlet (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique). ECOCHANGE aims to to assess and forecast changes in terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystems and changes in the ability of biodiversity and ecosystems to supply goods and services and to buffer against climate and land use change. SERI’s role is provide the socio-economic framework of the assessment and forecasting, to support the science-policy interface and to carry out an integrated sustainability assessment of different scenarios according to their impacts on ecosystem goods and services. ECOCHANGE has a strong link to other SERI pro jects such as MATISSE, ALARM or GOVERNAT. For further information contact Ines Omann (ines.omann@seri.at)


ALARMFrom January 22nd to 26th, the ALARM project held its general meeting in Athens, directly below the Acropolis. From the point of view of the socio-economic team, the conference was a major success. Not only was the work on methodology and terminology regarding drivers, pressures etc for biodiversity adopted as a generally methodology (DPSIR revisited), but also the scenarios SERI co-developed (Joachim Spangenberg the storylines, Ines Omann and Andrea Stocker the simulations) were accepted as the basis for all risk assessment undertaken in the framework of ALARM. Two more challenging years are ahead, but the integration of socio-economic and bio-geo-science research is making significant progress already.


DEEDSSERI Germany’s DEEDS project on sustainability in the design curricula is making progress; after a first meeting in Denmark in November now the framing work is under way. SERI Germany (Joachim Spangenberg) is responsible for providing the sustainability knowledge essential to the project.
For more information on our projects check also http://www.seri.at/projects/.

3. SERI and Friends: News about co-operation and partnerships

Künstler Hack verkündet internationale Chiang Mai-Erklärung für nachhaltiges Leben auf dem Friedensplatz Bonn

Forscher und Mitarbeiter von Nichtregierungsorganisationen (NGO) aller Kontinente sind auf Einladung des Deutschen Büros von „Sustainable Europe Research Institute“ (SERI) diese Woche zu einer Tagung in das thailändische Chiang Mai gekommen. Die Arbeitsgruppe befasst sich mit der Frage, welches Wissen notwendig ist, um menschenwürdiger und umweltgerechter produzieren und konsumieren zu können. „Anders konsumieren ist ein Teil unserer Diskussion“, beschreibt Sylvia Lorek die Arbeit des hochrangigen Expertenteams. „Eigentlich ist bekannt, dass die Verschwendung von Rohstoffen in eine Sackgasse führt. Politiker aber sind vor allem den Lobbyisten ausgesetzt“, erklärt sie das Übergewicht wirtschaftlicher Interessen. Um nicht im Elfenbeinturm stecken zu bleiben, entwickeln die Experten Methoden, wie bereits vorhandene und neue Kenntnisse in konkretes Handeln überführt we rden können. Die auf 15 Monate angelegte Diskussion ist Teil eines Forschungsprojekts der Harvard Universität. Am Samstag Morgen werden die Ergebnisse von Chiang Mai Wissenschaftlern wie Praktikern aus aller Welt in einer Erklärung eröffnet. Neu und außergewöhnlich ist, dass der Künstler Hermann Josef Hack als Erster die Erklärung von Chiang Mai der Öffentlichkeit vorstellen wird – nämlich nicht einfach durch eine Presseerklärung, sondern Hack wird den Wortlaut der Erklärung auf den Boden der Bundesstadt Bonn in Riesenbuchstaben schreiben. „Ich wähle bewusst diese Form, um damit das Gewicht der Erklärung herauszustellen und die Worte zu erden. Es muss jetzt mehr denn je gehandelt werden. Papier ist geduldig, wir haben aber keine Zeit zu verlieren. Niemand soll sagen, er oder sie habe nichts gewusst“, so der Künstler, der im Dezember von der UNESCO in Bonn für seine Arbeit ausge zeichnet wurde, und seit 1991 mit seiner Kunst globale Herausforderungen thematisiert. Siehe auch www.hermann-josef-hack.de.

Übrigens gibt es Fotos von ähnlichen Aktionen vor dem Reichstag oder auf dem Friedensplatz auch der Homepage www.hermann-josef-hack.de unter Bilder – Fotos von Aktionen und Projekten.

For more news please check also http://www.seri.at/.

4. Selected publications: Book reviews and announcements from SERI members and related writers and publishers

Jill Jäger (2007). Was verträgt unsere Erde noch? Wege in die Nachhaltigkeit. Forum für Verantwortung.

The new book “Was verträgt unsere Erde noch? Wege in die Nachhaltigkeit“ illustrates the complexities of global change, the implications of overuse of natural resources, visions of a more sustainable future and some of the ways forward.
The book begins by presenting 10 questions and answers as a guide to the content of the book – “What kind of a future do we want?”, “Is the situation really so dramatic, or do we have time to deal with it?”, “Why do the industrialized countries need to reduce their resource use?”, “What can we do?”. These are some of the questions that are asked and answered. The other four chapters then go into detail on these issues, explaining the complexities of global change, the urgency of the problems, the need for a more equitable distribution of resource use, the roles that improved efficiency of resource and energy use could play, the important role that lifestyle changes will play in reaching sustainable pathways, and the steps that a wide range of decision-makers as well as individuals could take to avoid an unsustainable future.
For further information visit www.seri.at/buch


Stocker, A. (2006). Sustainability models: Aims, requirements, and applications. SERI Background Paper 11.Abstract:
Successful and effective sustainability policies must be aligned with clear political demands, for which the responses can be measured and examined. Thereby, it is crucial to know, which economic (e.g. economic growth, budged deficit, interest rate), environmental (e.g. resource use and environmental quality) and social effects (e.g. employment and income distribution) different suggested measures will presumably have in order to derive the best-suited mix of different policy instruments. Sustainability models represent effective tools for the measurement of the effects of policy measures. They assist political decision makers in their choice of suitable instruments and measures, by regarding and quantifying conflicting aims between the different dimensions of sustainable development within one consistent framework. This paper describes the benefits of sustainability models and discusses some requirements that a model should satisfy for being able to properly evaluate sust ainability strategies.
The paper can be downloaded from www.seri.at/backgroundpapers.


Muradian, R., Giljum., S. (2007). Physical trade flows of pollution-intensive products: Historical trends in Europe and the world.
In: Hornborg, A., McNeill, J. and J. Martinez-Alier (editors). Rethinking Environmental History: World-System History and Global Environmental Change. Altamira Press.
Abstract:
In the debate on international trade, the environment and sustainable development, a growing number of empirical studies are devoted to the assessment of the international distribution of environmental pressures induced by the production of goods requiring intensive use of natural resources. This chapter contributes to this discussion by analyzing trends in imports and exports of pollution-intensive products in different regions throughout the world. Our results suggest that exports of pollution-intensive products (quantified in units of weight) are increasing across time in nearly all of the regions considered. However, from 1978 to 1996, the share of pollution-intensive exports to total exports (measured in monetary units) decreased in the EU, U.S. and Japan, increased in South America and Africa, and remained constant in Southeast Asia. We also found that the EU was a net importer of products from polluting sectors during the whole period of analysis. Despite the limita tions of the analysis in terms of reliability and completeness of data, the current chapter contributes to the assessment of the worldwide distribution of exports from polluting sectors and, indirectly, to the debate on the “pollution haven” hypothesis.
For more information about the book click here or contact Stefan Giljum (stefan.giljum@seri.at).


Giljum, S., Behrens, A., Hinterberger, F., Lutz, C., Meyer, B. (2007): Modelling scenarios towards a sustainable use of natural resources in Europe.
SERI Working Paper No. 4. Sustainable Europe Research Institute. Vienna.
Abstract:
This paper presents results from the international research project „MOSUS“ (Modelling opportunities and limits for restructuring Europe towards sustainability), which was designed to fill some of these research gaps. In this project, a global economy-energy model system was extended by a world-wide database on material inputs, in order to run three scenarios for European development until 2020: a baseline scenario without additional policy intervention and two sustainability scenarios, simulating the implementation of six packages of policy measures geared towards decoupling economic activity from material and energy throughput. These measures included, amongst others, taxes on CO2 emissions and transport, measures to increase metal recycling rates, and a consulting programme to increase material productivity of industrial production. This paper presents the evaluation of the three scenarios with regard to the extraction of natural resources on the European an d global level. The baseline scenario reveals roughly constant levels of used domestic extraction (DE) within the EU until 2020 and decreasing unused domestic extraction (in particular, overburden from mining activities). The stabilisation of DE is accompanied by growing imports of material intensive products, indicating that the material requirements of the European economy will increasingly be met through imports from other world regions. The implementation of the six sustainability policy measures applied in the sustainability scenarios results in a slight absolute reduction of DE in all European countries and significantly increased resource productivities. The results illustrate that policy instruments aimed at raising eco-efficiency on the micro level can be conducive to economic growth. They should, however, be accompanied by other policies influencing the prices of energy and materials, in order to limit rebound effects on the macro level. With regard to global resou rce use trends, the baseline scenario forecasts a significant growth of resource extraction, particularly in countries of the global South. This reflects the growing demand for natural resources of emerging economies such as China and India.
The paper can be downloaded from www.seri.at/workingpapers.


Jordis Grimm (2006). Ergebnisse der Glücksforschung und was Regionen davon lernen können. SERI Background Paper No. 10. Abstract:
This discussion paper discusses happiness as an economic concept. First, it illustrates how to measure happiness and then it deals with various variables of the happiness equation. Income explains different levels of happiness only insufficiently, which is demonstrated in the first section. Thus, the second section introduces further variables such as (un)employment, health, social relations, heredity, democracy and governance, and environment and pollution. The last section summarizes how far happiness is integrated into policy concepts in various regions. Finally, the author judges the risks and opportunities of a policy orientation towards happiness.
Zusammenfassung:
Dieses Discussionpaper widmet sich Glück als ökonomischem Konzept. Es erläutert zunächst die Messbarkeit von Glück und beschäftigt sich dann ausführlich mit verschiedenen Variablen der Glücksgleichung. Im ersten Abschnitt wird dargelegt, dass Einkommen unterschiedliche Glücksniveaus nur unzureichend erklären kann. So werden im zweiten Abschnitt weitere Einflussgrößen wie Arbeit und Arbeitslosigkeit, Gesundheit, Soziale Beziehungen, Vererbung, Demokratie und Governance und Umwelt(zerstörung) untersucht. Im letzten Abschnitt wird dargelegt in welchen Regionen die Ergebnisse der Glücksforschung bereits Einzug in die Politik gehalten haben und eingeschätzt was die Vor- und Nachteile einer Orientierung auf das Glück in der Politik mit sich bringen.
The paper can be downloaded from www.seri.at/backgroundpapers.For other interesting publications please visit http://www.seri.at/publications/.

5. Links + Other: News about other activities, hints and advice on dates, workshops …

Turn everything off

On February 1st between 7:55 p.m. until 8 p.m. Urgent: action against climate change
On February 1st you can participate in the worldwide greatest action against climate change! Various environmental organizations are asking the peoples of this planet to hold 5 minutes of silence: Everyone should turn off all lights, electricity etc. between 7:55 until 8 p.m. to bring attention to other inhabitants, the media and politicians about the daily waste of energy. An act which takes only 5 minutes, which cost nothing, but shows the governments that climate change should be on the top agenda of world politics. Why this date? On February 1st the United Nations is publicizing the newest results and knowledge base on climate change. SO…TURN OFF!


Summer school in Emerging Theories and Methods of Sustainability Research (THEMES) In June 2007, the Institute for Forecasting at the Slovak Academy of Sciences will be hosting a summer school in Emerging Theories and Methods of Sustainability Research (THEMES), titled “Institutional Analysis of Sustainability Problems.” This is the second summer school in a series of four funded by Marie Curie.Applications for this summer School are now open : see http://www.umb.no/research/themes
This link will also offer you more detailed information about the school. When selecting participants, priority will be given to young researchers.


Conference Announcement and Call for AbstractsThe Environmental Management Accounting Network Europe (EMAN-EU) will hold its 10th annual conference at the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management of the Helsinki University of Technology, Finland. The conference will be held on 24 and 25 May 2007.Theme: Environmental Management Accounting and Sustainable Supply Chains
Organiser: The Environmental and Quality Management Unit of the Helsinki University of Technology Currently confirmed speakers for the plenary sessions are from Nokia, Kesko, Ruukki, Skanska and The Finnish Ministry of the Environment. Please find here the Call for Abstracts with further details. Abstracts should be sent as PDF files to the email address eman2007@cc.hut.fi. The deadline for abstracts is 31 January 2007.

For other interesting activities and links click http://www.seri.at/.

6. SERI – 5 years ago

SERI and social sustainability

SERI is sharpening its profile in the field of social sustainability. While preparing project applications, SERI established contacts to scientists from different disciplines interested in this issue, and we hope to extend and intensify this network long before the applications have been decided about and regardless of the outcome of the decision.


EU project on sustainability research in EuropeThe EU Commission has awarded SERI its first EU project as project coordinator. Its duration is 18 months and is called: „Adaptive Integration of Research and Policy for Sustainable Development – Prospect for the European Research Agenda.“ Together with our five partners (The University of Durham, Centro de Estudos Informação e Formação para o Ambiente – CEIFA, The Wuppertal Institute, European Commission – Joint Research Centre – Institute for Prospective Technological Studies – IPTS, and European Commission – Joint Research Centre – Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen – IPSC) we will link in a mutual learning process several European research programmes aimed at sustainability-related technology development and evaluate them according to a jointly developed set of quantitative and qualitative evidence-based indicators. These indicators will reflect strategies that enabled RTD programm es to envision desirable sustainability futures, and develop means to foresee and overcome obstacles to the realisation of these futures. From these indicators a uniform methodological approach will be developed to evaluate RTD programmes across Europe, and the findings will support recommendations for the creation of pan-European programmes that more effectively integrate scientists, policy makers and stakeholders in the development of more sustainable production and consumption processes. To learn more about the project please visit the following website: www.seri.at/airp-sd.

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