The PelicanWeb's Journal of Sustainable Development

Research Digest on Integral Human Development,
Solidarity, Sustainability, and Related Global Issues

Vol. 6, No. 5, May 2010
Luis T. Gutierrez, Editor

Home Page


Advances in Sustainable Development
May 2010 Update


This supplement attempts to be a radar screen for recent/emerging/forthcoming advances in sustainable development. In selecting items for this supplementary page, priority is given to information about publications and tools with an educational and human-centric focus. This update includes the following reminders that sustainable development has a human face:

1. Suggestions for Prayer, Study, and Action
2. News, Publications, Tools, and Conferences
3. Advances in Sustainable Development
4. Advances in Integral Human Development
5. Advances in Integrated Sustainable Development
6. Recently Launched Games and Simulation Tools
7. Visualizations of the Sustainable Development Process
8. Sustainable Development and the "Second Wave" of System Dynamics
9. Sustainable Development and the International Community
Note: Items in this page are updated as information is received and as time permits. If the reader knows about new pubs/tools that should be announced in this page, please write to the Editor.

1. Suggestions for Prayer, Study, and Action


Psalm of the Cosmos

Loving God, loving God, all creation calls you blessed,
and so do we, and so do we.

Your spirit imprints the whole universe with life and mystery.
Yes, all creation proclaims your love. We now join this chorus of praise.
Loving God, loving God, all of nature calls you blessed,
and so do we, and so do we.

For you have woven an intimate tapestry
and call it life, and called it good. In love you have formed a universe
so diverse yet so related, and into its web you call us forth
to walk the land and swim the sea with all our brothers and sisters.

To the stars, we seem no more than blades of grass.
Yet to you, each of us, as each blade of grass and each star,
is an irreplaceable treasure,
an essential companion on this journey of love.

Loving God, as you lure the whole world into salvation,
guide us with your Spirit
that we might not be only pilgrims on the earth,
but pilgrims with the earth, journeying home to you.

Open our hearts to understand
the intimate relationship that you have with all creation.
Only with this faith can we hope
for tomorrow's children. Amen. Alleluia!

Source: The Web of Creation


CCSC2009UNEP "The Climate Change Science Compendium is a review of some 400 major scientific contributions to our understanding of Earth Systems and climate that have been released through peer-reviewed literature or from research institutions over the last three years, since the close of research for consideration by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.

"The Compendium is not a consensus document or an update of any other process. Instead, it is a presentation of some exciting scientific findings, interpretations, ideas, and conclusions that have emerged among scientists.

"Focusing on work that brings new insights to aspects of Earth System Science at various scales, it discusses findings from the International Polar Year and from new technologies that enhance our abilities to see the Earth’s Systems in new ways. Evidence of unexpected rates of change in Arctic sea ice extent, ocean acidification, and species loss emphasizes the urgency needed to develop management strategies for addressing climate change."

Source: United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP)



Participate in the
Global Civil Society Consultation for the MDG+10 Summit

Clean Energy Solutions:
Ten Things You Can Do to Help Curb Global Warming

Responsible Choices
The choices we make and the products we buy test our commitment to maintain a healthy planet. When we burn fossil fuels—such as oil, coal, and natural gas—to run our cars and light our homes, we pump carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air. This thickens the heat-trapping blanket that surrounds the planet, causing global warming. Choosing modern technology can reduce our use of fossil fuels and help protect the planet. These ten steps will help curb global warming, save you money, and create a safer environment for the future.

1. Drive Smart!
A well-tuned car with properly inflated tires burns less gasoline—cutting pollution and saving you money at the pump. If you have two cars, drive the one with better gas mileage whenever possible. Better yet, skip the drive and take public transit, walk, or bicycle when you can.

2. Buy Local and Organic
Did you know the average American meal travels more than 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate? Think of all the energy wasted and pollution added to the atmosphere—not to mention all the pesticides and chemicals used to grow most produce! So go to your local organic farmer to get your fruits and veggies.

3. Support clean, renewable energy.
Renewable energy solutions, such as wind and solar power, can reduce our reliance on coal-burning power plants, the largest source of global warming pollution in the United States. Call your local utility and sign up for renewable energy. If they don't offer it, ask them why not?

4. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.
Especially those that burn the longest each day. Compact fluorescents produce the same amount of light as normal bulbs, but use about a quarter of the electricity and last ten times as long. Each switch you make helps clean the air today, curb global warming, and save you money on your electricity bill.

5. Saving energy at home is good for the environment and for your wallet.
Start with caulking and weather-stripping on doorways and windows. Then adjust your thermostat and start saving. For each degree you lower your thermostat in the winter, you can cut your energy bills by three percent. Finally, ask your utility company to do a free energy audit of your home to show you how to save even more money.

6. Become a smart water consumer.
Install low-flow showerheads and faucets and you'll use half the water without decreasing performance. Then turn your hot water heater down to 120°F and see hot-water costs go down by as much as 50 percent.

7. Buy energy-efficient electronics and appliances.
Replacing an old refrigerator or an air conditioner with an energy-efficient model will save you money on your electricity bill and cut global warming pollution. Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances or visit their website at www.energystar.gov to find the most energy-efficient products.

8. Plant a Tree, protect a forest.
Protecting forests is a big step on the road to curbing global warming. Trees "breathe in" carbon dioxide, but slash-and-burn farming practices, intensive livestock production, and logging have destroyed 90 percent of the native forests in the United States. And you can take action in your own backyard—planting shade trees around your house will absorb CO2, and slash your summer air-conditioning bills.

9. Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!
Producing new paper, glass, and metal products from recycled materials saves 70 to 90 percent of the energy and pollution, including CO2, that would result if the product came from virgin materials. Recycling a stack of newspapers only four feet high will save a good-sized tree. Please... buy recycled products!

10. Mount a local campaign against global warming.
Educate your community about how it can cut global warming pollution. Support measures at the national, state, and local level that:
  • Make automobiles go further on a gallon of gas;
  • Accelerate the use of clean, renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind;
  • Increase energy efficiency and conservation; and
  • Preserve forests around the world.
Interested in helping your city become a "cool city"? It's easy! Click here for details and you'll be on your way to helping your city be Cool!

Source: Sierra Club

2. News, Publications, Tools, and Conferences



Cutting Climate Change's Gordian Knot

UN Gender Equality Architecture Reform

Global Information Media Newsletter - April 2010

Coal fuels much of internet "cloud," Greenpeace says

United Nations Says Copenhagen Accord Climate Pledges Are Too Weak

URUGUAY: Fighting Climate Change from the Countryside

MOZAMBIQUE: Earthquakes: Not a Matter of If, But When

ENVIRONMENT-ZIMBABWE: Future Generations Will 'Inherit Only the Wind'

AGRICULTURE-NAMIBIA: Turning to Wild Bean for Protein

SIERRA LEONE: Plan For Sanitation Rests with Community

UK becomes first country to ban ‘Third World Debt’ profiteering

Churches welcome end to 'vulture culture'

Women Online In Iran Brave Heavy Web Surveillance

Over 400 to Attend Kigali Gender Summit

Population, Health and Environment (PHE) Newsletter

Brazil: Poster Boy of Globalization Charts Own Course

China: Defending its Core Interest in the World - Part I

China: Defending its Core Interest in the World – Part II

Chagossians fight for a home in paradise

Gulf War Syndrome real, Institute of Medicine concludes

Economists Warn against Setting Price for Carbon Too Low

Gallup Poll Finds Public Supports Energy Over Environment

Reports Suggest Copenhagen Climate Summit Wasn't a Flop

Re-invent global finance to end poverty, says leading microcredit economist

Ban calls on world parliamentarians to support MDGs and disarmament efforts

Female Islamic Leadership Research Network

Farmers on Fringe of International Agriculture Policy?

DEVELOPMENT: Fragile Nations Speak Up To Donors

Maternal Deaths Drop, but Progress Still "Slow"

SENEGAL: Small-Scale Irrigation - Key to Rural Development

AFRICA: Monitoring a Changing Climate

Empowering Women to Slash Mother and Child Deaths

ZAMBIA: Health Fears Follow Floods

Brighter Business Prospects for Swazi Women

Link between Population, Development and Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment Informs Debate in Population Commission

An Activist Battles Corruption in Angola

How to Combat Modern Slavery

Globalization in Higher Education

Closer Social Connections, Not Just Gov't Ties

BRAZIL-CHINA: An Asymmetric Trading Partnership

Emerging Powers Cooking Up New International Order

WORLD-ECONOMY: New Directions or Just New Directors?

DEVELOPMENT: Emerging Powers Eager to Get Down to Business

MEXICO-CHINA: Trade Winds from the East

DEVELOPMENT: Listen to Us, Fragile States Tell Donors

G20 Big Powers Under Scrutiny by Smaller Nations

HAITI: Caribbean Unites Behind Recovery

A New Era of South-Oriented Geopolitics?

RUSSIA: Outpaced by China in Africa

TRADE-BRAZIL: Commodities Rule in Exports to China

DEVELOPMENT: South-South Cooperation Key to MDGs

WORLD SOCIAL FORUM: Global South's Growing Role in Post-Crisis World

DEVELOPMENT: Asia to Lead Global Economic Recovery, Says U.N.

The Difficulty of Balancing Earth's 'Energy Budget'

Indigenous Peoples of North America Join President Evo Morales in Bolivia for Historic Earth Day Climate Change Conference

IMF Sees Unemployment Remaining High in Many Advanced Economies

Capital Surges Can Be Difficult For Recipient Countries

IMF Staff Outlines Climate Change Financing Idea

Buying carbon offsets may ease eco-guilt but not global warming

40th Anniversary of Earth Day

U.S., Development Bank Launch Incubator to Help Clean Energy Projects Grow

President Koroma on the path of sustainable development

Consumers worry about giving utilities power to shut off appliances

Major economies focus on finance at climate meeting

China shift to low-carbon model vital for future - UN

Global scramble looms for vital 'clean energy' minerals

Mekong Delta faces twin threats of climate and development

The financial terrorists who blew up the global economy little more than a year ago were mostly American and British financial institutions.

JORDAN: Women Make Progress But Honour Killings Persist

A North-South Pact to Resolve Water, Sanitation Crisis

NICARAGUA: Controversy Over Pregnancy-Related Death Toll

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Benefits of Working Together on Water

MOZAMBIQUE: Weather Service Key to Flood Disaster Management

Malaria Funding Falls Short of Six-Billion-Dollar Target

Opposition Mounts to Carbon Compensation Schemes

PARAGUAY: Native Group Defends Land Claim Before Inter-American Court

AGRICULTURE: Affordable Solution to Costly Pests

NAMIBIA: Banking Water for the Future

Christians back World People's Conference on Climate Change

Roundtable on UN MDGs in Da Nang

Debt and Unemployment: Is Global Capitalism Responsible? – Part I

Do the Awakening Giants Have Feet of Clay? - Part I

Do the Awakening Giants Have Feet of Clay? – Part II

Is it time to rethink how globalization impacts culture?

A volcano teaches farmers about globalization

Women are today's shakers and movers

A People's Climate Summit — YES! Magazine

On the Path to Climate Neutrality

Chicago’s $1.3 Million Experiment in Democracy

This is Our Home

Time to Ban Domestic Violence in Pakistan?

The Airplane of the Future: Zero Emissions

Using Bio-oxidation to Prevent Air Pollution

Dispatches from the World People's Summit on Climate Change

Brain circuits for empathy, violence may overlap

Half a trillion spent on fossil fuel subsidies mostly "a complete waste of money"

The spirit of the first Earth Day

40 people who are redefining green

Time for the public to reinvest in food-system infrastructure

Globalization Marches On: Growing popular outrage has not challenged corporate power

International Day for Biological Diversity - 22 May

The Green Economy: The Race Is On

Mainstreaming climate change is going to take a bit more effort

The Competitive Advantage Of Collaboration

BASIC countries want legally binding climate change agreement

New Underwater Parks Approved for California's North Central Coast

MIDEAST: Settler Sewage Ruins Palestinian Crops, Drinking Water

U.S.-MIDEAST: To Peace Plan or Not to Peace Plan, and When?

Iran, Gender Discrimination, and the UN's Women's Commission

Greens outstrip big parties on global development, says WDM

Protesters Call Dam Project a "Disaster" for Brazil's Native Communities

U.S. to Face Litany of Complaints at UN Human Rights Council

RIGHTS-AUSTRALIA: Plan For Nuclear Waste Dump Faces Backlash

ARGENTINA: "We're Drowning in Sadness"

Wanted: World Referendum, Climate Justice Tribunal

BOLIVIA: Save the Planet from Capitalism, Morales Says

BOLIVIA: "Living Well" in Harmony with the Environment

Struggle for Native Rights Making Headway

CLIMATE CHANGE-BOLIVIA: In Defence of Pachamama

COLOMBIA: Indigenous Justice Put to the Test

Global Civil Society Consultation for the MDG+10 Summit

UN Sets Out Roadmap for Universal Electricity Access

Savings Spurned in Zimbabwe Water Purification

HEALTH-DR CONGO: Coming Together to Fight Malaria

KENYA: Farming Butterflies Puts Food on the Table

"Radical Reform" Urged for Private-Sector Development Support

NIGERIA: New Law to Promote Locals in Oil Industry

Crisis Trapping Millions More in Poverty

World Court Highlights Environmental Vulnerability of Uruguay River

Small Farmers to Get Nearly Billion-Dollar Boost

MALI: Rush For Land Along the Niger

The G-20, Development and a Framework for Sustainable Growth

Moving Up to Sustainability 2.0

African resurgence from the Global Financial Crisis

UN CSW Global 15-year review process in the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Cochabamba’s Message: Let the People Speak

U.N. Elects Iran to Commission on Women's Rights

Nicholas Kristof cites gender inequity as the central moral challenge of the century

Violence in Thailand could affect regional politics and global food prices

North Korea and Syria: A Warning in the Desert

Debt and Unemployment: Is Global Capitalism Responsible?



How to argue with climate skeptics - Contradictory Approaches? - On Realism and Constructivism in the Social Sciences Research on Risk, Technology and the Environment

New Political Reflectionis a quarterly, open access, electronic News Magazine on Politics, International Relations and Economy, which aims to contribute to interdisciplinary studies

Lowering Income Taxes While Raising Pollution Taxes Reaps Great Returns

Social Pathology | The Zeitgeist Movement (Video)

Learning in the wild

Renewable energy options in developing countries

Accelerating Efforts to Advance the Rights of Adolescent Girls – A UN Joint Statement

A Scenario for a Revitalized Japan

Climate Change Science Compendium 2009

Spirituality and Confronting Climate Change

Exhibition at the European Parliament - 13 copper sculptures of homeless people are displayed

UN Judge Says Pope Should be Prosecuted at International Criminal Court

UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Multi-Year Programme of Work

'Solar Radiation Management' or Manhattan Project 2.0? Shielding Electronics from Electromagnetic Pulses

The Economic Impact of Flats Fishing in The Bahamas

Using innovation surveys for econometric analysis

Corporate governance and innovation: an organizational perspective

The financial crisis and the future of innovation: A view of technical change with the aid of history

Making my neighborhood more walkable, sociable, sustainable, and safe

We need birth control, not geoengineering

Taxpayer Dollars Subsidizing Destruction

Gender Equality and Progress in Societies

Learnings and Vistas based on revisiting 40 years "Global Problematique"

Agricultural technologies and innovation; opportunities for making a difference

Draft of Fifth U.S. Climate Action Report Released for Public Comment

Natural Gas Potential Assessed in Eastern Mediterranean

The EU Role in Global Health

Charting International Labor Comparisons (2010 Edition)

Should social entrepreneurs adopt the language and practices of business?

Is God Mad at Us?

Link between Population, Development and Gender Equality

Let's See Ourselves: Gustavo Esteva on a Grassroots Climate Response

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization

China and a Sustainable Future

Analysis: survey into the religious and ideological roots of Iran's political crisis

The Energy Balance of Planet Earth

Climate and Earth’s Energy Budget

Global energy balance - animated diagram

Bringing Climate Change into Global Governance

Atlas of Gender and Development: How Social Norms Affect Gender Equality in non-OECD Countries

Corporations love to talk about going green, but not many are planning for a changing climate

Who gets rich in a geoengineered world?

Second European Quality of Life Survey: Family life and work

Plan B - A Plan to Save Civilization

A Global Standard for Gender Equality

Money Is a COW, and It’s Time for the COWs to Come Home

Regulating Financial System Risk Key Issue in Reforms, says IMF

New Index Measures Strength of Budget Institutions

IMF Strengthens Financial Data Dissemination

Moving Toward a More Balanced Global Economy

Analyzing the Crisis and its Aftermath

The US weapons labs need to develop a twenty-first-century vision of deterrence — one that does not include making new bombs

Better chemical-control legislation is a good start, but scientific reform should parallel legal reform

A quantum revolution

New Solar Homes Partnership Guidebook

Good practices in DevInfo Implementation

Saving Civilization is Not a Spectator Sport

Three Reports Detail Investment Risks in South and Southeast Asia

2009-2010 Donella Meadows Leadership Fellows Report

The Global Deal: Climate Change and the Creation of a New Era of Progress and Prosperity

Confronting Climate Change

Losing Faith in Economics

Making Money Work: How Can We Reconnect Capital with Community?

The State of the Earth 2010

Social Action: The Church’s Ministry in the World

Is the Answer to Renewable Energy Storage Blowin' in the Wind?

Green Solutions Magazine

YouTube - The Great Global Warming Swindle, Parts 1 to 9

Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are...cows, pigs, and chickens?

McKinsey conversations with global leaders: Andrew Gould of Schlumberger

Managing innovation systems in transition economies

Life Cycle Assessment


The Roles and Values of Personal Knowledge Management (PKM)

The Effect of Biofuel on the International Oil Market

Teach kids about Earth Day

Revisiting Economic Man

What Is Global Apartheid and Why Do We Fight It?

The Fifth Axis of Competition and Sustainable Value Management

Operationalizing a Business and Human Rights Framework

Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant

Reduce, Recycle, and Replant – Data Highlights on Restoring the World’s Forests

The Earth A Living Planet

Climate Policy Post-Copenhagen: Action at three levels offers prospect of success

Sustainability: Not What You Think It Is

The Annual Report as Sustainability's Secret Weapon

Crude Oil Spills and Human Health

Post-crisis trade recovering (but not fast enough)!

You get what you pay for!

UN CSW Declaration on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women



Elshayal Smart Web On Line Software© The First Arabian GIS software©

Elshayal Smart GIS Map Editor 4.35

Tools for Change

C-Learn: The International Climate Change Simulation

Emissions Dynamic Indicator

Modeling the Economic Crisis

Megatrends to Go: Trenddatabase for the iPhone

Directory of Social Enterprises

Searchable Database on Chemical Hazard, Exposure and Toxicity Data

Online Inventory of the United Nations System Activities on Climate Change

Ecological Footprint Calculators

Water Footprint Calculators

Directory of Development Organizations | Welcome

ELDIS: Electronic Development and Environment Information System Metadatabase.

World Directory of Environmental Organizations Online

NASA's Global Change Master Directory Site Map

Aquifer Reclamation Design: Combined Simulation-Optimization Approach

The Sustainable Development Global Simulation: Quality of Life and Security of People

Sustainable Development Model predicts potential environmental impact of future economic activity



Conference Search
Find Conferences Worldwide
by Topic, Country, or Keyword.
For example:
Sustainable Development
Source: Conference Alerts

Responses to Environmental and Societal Challenges for our Unstable Earth (RESCUE) - RESCUE Launch Event, 10-11 September 2009, Rueil-Malmaison, France

International Conference on Global Citizenship, Collective Identity, and Tolerance - The conference will take place at the Chillicothe campus of Ohio University, USA, Sept. 23-25th, 2010

Digital Libraries for International Development (JCDL/ICADL 2010)

Sustainable Development in the Energy Sector, Julich, Germany, 9-10 June 2010

Summer Academy on Innovation and Uncertainty

InnoTown Innovation Conference 2010

45th European Marine Biology Symposium 23 to 27 August 2010 Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland

50 Years of African Independencies: challenges to modernity Lisbon, 9-11 September 2010

The 2010 Global Youth Enterprise and Livelihoods Development Conference will be held from September 15-16, 2010 in Washington, D.C

Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Baltimore, Maryland, 29-31 October 2010

The Conference of the European Group of Public Administration (EGPA) will be held from 8-10 September, 2010 in Toulouse, France

Sustainability Institute to Co-Organize World Resources Forum

Conference on Educational Games and Simulations, University of Surrey, UK, July 2010

5-8 August 2010 Canterbury: “The Shape of God’s Affection: A challenge to re-imagine the uniqueness of Christ” James Alsion - John Main Seminar 2010.

Beyond Knowledge Society: Scientific knowledge production, consumption and transformation - International Graduate Summer School, Inter University Centre (IUC) - Dubrovnik, Croatia, September 13 - 17, 2010

Thirty second sessions of the UNFCCC Convention subsidiary bodies Monday 31 May to Wednesday 9 June 2010

Religion and Economy in a Global World, 31th ISSR Conference, Aix-en-Provence (France) June 30 – July 3, 2011

Pathways to Success 2010 Conference Increasing Human Capacity for Global Human-Wildlife Coexistence September 27 - October 1, 2010 YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park. Colorado

MDG Summit Meeting - 20-22 Spetmber 2010 - New York

Global Civil Society Consultation for the MDG+10 Summit

      3. Advances in Sustainable Development

Tracing Connections
Edited by Joy Richmond, Lees Stuntz, Kathy Richmond, Joanne Egner
Jointly published by ISEE Systems and The Creative Learning Exchange, 2010

From the book's announcement:

"Tracing Connections is for anyone who’s ever wondered how Systems Thinking can be effectively used to significantly and successfully transform education, business, public policy, and research. "In ten chapters, teachers, World Bank Executives, corporate consultants, researchers and college professors lead the reader through an amazing spectrum of applied System Thinking that leads to unexpected realizations and critical understanding.

"Inspired by Barry Richmond, Systems Thinking pioneer, ISEE Systems founder, and creator of STELLA and iThink, Tracing Connections reveals how a new way of thinking can radically improve your ability to work through complex issues and uncover elegant solutions. All proceeds from the book will be used to fund The Creative Learning Exchange’s Tracing Connections Scholarship.


Sensing Changes:
Technologies, Environments, and the Everyday, 1953-2003

By Joy Parr, University of Western Ontario UBC Press, 2010
From the book's annoucement:

"Our bodies are archives of sensory knowledge and laboratories in which to retool our senses and practices in response to changing circumstances. If global environmental changes continue at an unsettling pace, how will we make sense of the cascade of new normals, where the air, land, and water around us are no longer familiar?

"The book tackles this question by exploring situations in the recent past when state-driven megaprojects and regulatory and environmental changes forced people to cope with radical transformations in their work and home environments. The construction of dams, chemical plants, nuclear reactors, and military training grounds; new patterns in seasonal rains; and developments in animal husbandry altered the daily lives of ordinary people and essentially disrupted their embodied understandings of the world.

"This study offers a timely and prescient perspective on how humans make sense of the world in the face of rapid environmental, technological, and social change.

Report on the World Social Situation 2010:
"Rethinking Poverty"

Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), United Nations, 2010

From the report release statement:

"Rethinking Poverty, the 2010 issue of the Report on the World Social Situation (RWSS2010) seeks to contribute to rethinking poverty and its eradication. It affirms the urgent need for a strategic shift away from the market fundamentalist thinking, policies and practices of recent decades towards more sustainable development- and equity-oriented policies appropriate to national conditions and circumstances. Responsible development and counter-cyclical macroeconomic policies to foster productive investments and generate decent employment must be at the core of this effort.

"The Report makes a compelling case for rethinking poverty and poverty-reduction efforts, saying that over-reliance on market forces and economic liberalization have led to neglect of nationally designed and developmentally-oriented strategies, to the detriment of the world’s poor. The most important lesson is that governments need to play a developmental role, integrating economic and social policies that support inclusive output and employment growth, while attacking inequality and promoting justice."


A personal journey to a built sustainable community ... and an amazing picture of what life will soon be like

By Stuart W. Rose, BookSurge Publishing, 5 January 2010
From the book cover:

"Sustainability, by Stuart W. Rose, describes the massive changes happening in the world, an example of a sustainable housing project, and a vision of what sustainable living will be. An architect and developer of what many consider the most sustainable housing development in the U.S., Rose introduces the exciting, ever-changing world of sustainability, a way of life that includes creating homes and communities with materials that do no harm to, and take nothing away from, the earth's resources. He reveals how sustainable living goes beyond being ecologically and financially friendly, while saving on utility bills, and leads to a different, yet more joyful quality of life. Also fascinating is the author's recounting of architectural developments leading to his innovations, such as Garden Atriums evolving from a design created 2,500 years ago. Rose has created a book that is as much an adventure as it is encouragement for everyone desiring to live a sustainable and more fulfilling life. In this comprehensive book, readers will learn about:

  • A detailed picture of the global transformation that's happening;
  • Architectural designs from ancient China adapted for use today;
  • The role of currencies and governance in sustainable living;
  • Living sustainably in a way that's more satisfying that today's lifestyle;
  • Debunking the myths around alleged difficulties of sustainable living."
  • Hatched: The Capacity for Sustainable Development
    Edited by Bob Frame, Richard Gordon and Claire Mortimer
    Landcare Research New Zealand Ltd. Lincoln, NZ, January 2010

    From the book's introduction:

    "The aim of this book is to provide a representation of research findings in an accessible form for practitioners within the public, business and the wider community sectors. We hope readers will delve deeper into the academic papers listed at the end of each chapter. There is much more available on our website and we invite readers to contact our lead authors for our most recent work. General comments can be directed to buildingcapacity@landcareresearch.co.nz.

    "This book does not pretend to cover all aspects of sustainability. It leaves out many great ideas, experiments and successes. It does not address biophysical science, for example in climate change, biodiversity, soils, land and urban ecosystems; that is a feature of the work of New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes. Instead our research has focused on supporting New Zealand’s and international capacity for sustainable development. We believe that capacity has now, in C.S. Lewis’s words, begun to hatch. We hope the insights within this book will continue to help individuals, organisations and communities to transition from the potential of the egg to the flight of the bird."


    State of the World 2010:
    Transforming Cultures from Consumerism to Sustainability

    By Erik Assadourian & Staff, Worldwatch Institute, 2010
    From the book cover:

    "Worldwatch's flagship publication, State of the World, has educated a broad audience of students, journalists, policymakers, and concerned citizens about trends in sustainable development for a quarter century. The book has been published in 36 languages, and over the years it has authoritatively assessed issues ranging from population, energy, and agriculture to materials use, health, and trade policy. Topics are covered from a global perspective, with an emphasis on innovation and problem-solving. State of the World is recognized as a classic of environmental literature, having attracted luminaries from Kofi Annan to Mikhail Gorbachev to write forewords for the book. News media, policymakers, and NGOs worldwide cite the book for its cutting-edge analysis, reliability, and careful documentation of its arguments, all marshaled to speed the global transition to a sustainable world."

    For the PelicanWeb's book review of State of the World 2010, click here.

    The Three Ds: Democracy, Divinity, and Drama
    By Bruce A. Burton, Castleton State College, Vermont
    Published by Synerg Ebooks, 2010

    From the book's Forward:

    "When we account for the thousands of years of written and institutional woman-hating right up to Democracy’s current struggle with religious despotisms, it is historically evident that where the genders shared equally, such as in the production of food, as in Neolithic societies in the Near East and America-where women domesticated and cultivated and men watered crops- Democracies flourished and Universal Peace prevailed. THE 3 DS was written, therefore, in response to the historical and to today’s continuing religious violence against women, and as an answer to Aristotle’s Iron Age negative view of women which continues to influence so many of our University and College graduates in religion, literature, drama, and philosophy today – and as a statement of confidence that Democracy based on Gender Balance will prevail against the current challenge of international terrorism in the name of religion and pave the way, for what can only be after these many thousands of years, a more humane future for the human family."


    Gaia in Turmoil: Climate Change, Biodepletion,
    and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis

    Edited by Eileen Crist and H. Bruce Rinker, MIT Press, November 2009

    gaia turmoil
    From the book cover:

    "Gaian theory, which holds that Earth's physical and biological processes are inextricably bound to form a self-regulating system, is more relevant than ever in light of increasing concerns about global climate change. The Gaian paradigm of Earth as a living system, first articulated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, has inspired a burgeoning body of researchers working across disciplines that range from physics and biology to philosophy and politics. Gaia in Turmoil reflects this disciplinary richness and intellectual diversity, with contributions (including essays by both Lovelock and Margulis) that approach the topic from a wide variety of perspectives, discussing not only Gaian science but also global environmental problems and Gaian ethics and education.

    "Contributors focus first on the science of Gaia, considering such topics as the workings of the biosphere, the planet's water supply, and evolution; then discuss Gaian perspectives on global environmental change, including biodiversity destruction and global warming; and finally explore the influence of Gaia on environmental policy, ethics, politics, technology, economics, and education. Gaia in Turmoil breaks new ground by focusing on global ecological problems from the perspectives of Gaian science and knowledge, focusing especially on the challenges of climate change and biodiversity destruction."

    Earth Day 2010: Selected Resources
    Science Reference Services
    Library of Congress ~ USA

    From the Library of Congress web site:

    Earth Day 2010: Selected Resources
    Research guides from Science Reference Services:

    Visit the Open Source Framework for Sustainability

    What is open-sustainability? "Open-sustainability is an approach that applies information-centric techniques to solve challenges related to sustainable development. It leverages an integrated solution approach, combining the Framework for Integrated Sustainable Development (FISDev) tool with a five phase sustainability governance framework, both of which are open-source tools freely accessible and collaboratively developed. They work in concert to enable commercial business models for sustainability and Social media business models around online advertising and e-learning. A corporate organization for open-sustainability.com exists to provide these service, but works in coordination with other organizations providing the same services."

          4. Advances in Integral Human Development

    Amina Waduna
    Islamic Feminist Scholar
    For more information, see
    Amina Wadud, The Quiet Heretic and A’ishah’s Legacy.
    Amina Waduna, Islamic Feminist Scholar. The following biographical note is excerpted from Wikipedia:

    "Amina Wadud was born September 25, 1952 in Bethesda, Maryland and is an Islamic feminist and scholar with a progressive, feminist focus on Qur'an exegesis.... Her father was a Methodist minister and her mother descended from Muslim slaves of Arab, Berber and African ancestry dating back to the 8th Century.... In 1972 she pronounced the shahadah and accepted Islam, not knowing of her maternal ancestry and by 1974 her name was officially changed to Amina Wadud to reflect her chosen religious affiliation. After receiving her B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania, she went to graduate school at the University of Michigan and received her M.A. in Near Eastern Studies and her Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic Studies (1988). She was a Professor of Islamic Studies at the International Islamic University Malaysia (1989-1992) and Virginia Commonwealth University (1992-2008). She is now a visiting professor at the Center for Religious and Cross Cultural Studies at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Wadud was the subject of controversy, debate and Muslim juristic discourse after leading a Friday prayer (salat) of over 100 male and female Muslims sponsored by the Progressive Muslim Union and held in the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York on March 18, 2005, breaking with the tradition of having only male imams (prayer leaders)."

    Fatemah Haghighatjoo
    Islamic Feminist Scholar
    Find out more about
    Women's Leadership
    in a Global Perspective

    Fatemah Haghighatjoo, Islamic Feminist Scholar. The following biographical note is excerpted from the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy web site at the University of Massachusetts-Boston:

    "Dr. Haghighatjoo is a leading proponent of human rights and women’s rights in Iran. Dr. Haghighatjoo served in the Iranian Parliament from 2000-2004 and was the first to resign when the anti-reform Guardian Council banned more than 2000 reformist candidates from the 7th Parliamentary election. She was president of the Student Movement Caucus and a deputy of the Mosharekat Caucus in the 6th Parliament as well as a member of the political bureau of the Mosharekat party in Iran. More recently, Dr. Haghighatjoo has held several academic posts in the United States: Assistant Professor In-Resident at the University of Connecticut, Fellow in the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and Visiting Scholar at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Haghighatjoo earned her Ph.D. in Counseling from Tarbiat Moalem University, served as a Professor at the National University of Iran, and authored Search for Truth (2002). She has served as Vice President of the Psychology and Counseling Organization in Iran. She was honored as a Young Global Leader Nominee 2005 by the World Economic Forum."

    If you could raise one question, what would it be?

    The World Survey on the Role of Women in Development is the flagship publication of the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women. The theme for the World Survey in 2009 is "Women’s control over economic resources and access to financial resources, including microfinance."

    To download the final report, click here.

    Point of contact: UN Division for the Advancement of Women, daw@un.org.

    Millennial assessments of the environmental problems confronting people of all nations have shown that the problems are severe and, in large part, the product of human activities.

    • Climate change,
    • Decline of food security
    • Loss of biological diversity
    • Depletion of water and other vital resources with consequent conflict
    • Use of unsustainable and environmentally malign energy technologies
    • Deleterious changes in patterns of land use, and
    • Toxification of the planet with unregulated pollutants that may be dangerous even in traces
    All threaten the human future. Yet society stubbornly refuses to take comprehensive steps to deal with them and their drivers,
    • Population growth
    • Overconsumption by the rich, and
    • The deployment of environmentally malign technologies.
    For the complete mission statement, click here.

    Point of contact: Douglass Carmichael, doug@dougcarmichael.com.

    The MAHB, the Culture Gap, and Some Really Inconvenient Truths,
    by Paul R. Ehrlich, Stanford University, PLoS, 6 April 2010.

    Human Development Report 2010
    "Rethinking Human Development"

    From the UNDP HDR 2010 web page:

    "Human development is about putting people at the centre of development. It is about people realizing their potential, increasing their choices and enjoying the freedom to lead lives they value. Since 1990, annual Human Development Reports have explored challenges including poverty, gender, democracy, human rights, cultural liberty, globalization, water scarcity, climate change, and mobility.

    "The 2010 report will seek to articulate an agenda for change to underpin a New Human Development Deal that can significantly advance development thinking and policies. It will incorporate thinking from academia and the policy world as well as new research to be commissioned or undertaken by the Human Development Report Office. It will place significant emphasis on the knowledge that comes from developing countries and regions, in particular that garnered through the national and regional human development reports. This emphasis reflects the belief that placing people at the center of development also implies putting people at the center of the generation of knowledge about development, and that this is best achieved by understanding how communities and local actors understand the practice of development."
    1990 - 2010

    For more information
    on the HDR 2010,
    click here.

    World People's Conference on Climate Change
    Cochabamba, Bolivia, 20-22 April 2010

    YES! Magazine
    Links to Reports from Cochabamba

    EARTH DAY 2010
    Celebrated Worldwide, 22 April 2010

    Visit the Official Earth Day Campaign
    Get the Guide to the 40th Anniversary
    Read about Earth Day 2010 Celebrations!


          5. Advances in Integrated Sustainable Development

    It is time for the human propensity to avoid responsibility, and the common practice of finger pointing, to give way to collaborative efforts driven by human solidarity and a willingness to assume responsibility for individual and institutional actions. This is an area in which ICT can be helpful if properly used. A good example is the analysis of large interdependency matrices. This kind of analysis is useful in understanding both sequential and closed-loop interactions in complex systems. Let us consider the system of all the ESD activities and all the MDG activities, a total of 16 activities as follows:

    ESD1-Education on Gender Equality
    ESD2-Education on Human Health
    ESD3-Education on Environmental Management
    ESD4-Education on Rural Development
    ESD5-Education on Cultural Diversity
    ESD6-Education on Human Security
    ESD7-Education on Sustainable Urbanization
    ESD8-Education on Sustainable Consumption
    MDG1-Eradication of Poverty and Hunger
    MDG2-Universal Education for all Children
    MDG3-Promotion of Gender Equality
    MDG4-Reduction of Infant Mortality
    MDG5-Improvement of Maternal Health
    MDG6-Mitigation of the HIV Epidemic
    MDG7-Assurance of Environmental Sustainability
    MDG8-Global Partnership for Development

    The PSM32 matrix analysis software, developed by Donald Steward and associates at Problematics, provides a convenient way to enter data on interdependencies between activities of any kind. When the tool is launched, the analyst must first list the activities in any order. Then the software builds a blank NxN square matrix that enables the analyst to enter data on interdependencies between activities. Basically, in the blank matrix shown below, a mark is entered in cells such that a mark in cell (row i, column j) represents a dependency of row activity i on input to be supplied by column activity j.

    16x16 blank matrix built by PSM32 showing the ESDs and MDGs and rows and columns.
    Courtesy of Problematics

    The marks can be entered directly in the matrix. As a preliminary step, it is often a good practice to prepare a block and arrow diagram showing the input and output information flows that connect all the activities. Then, after all the stakeholders have validated the web of interdependencies, each arrow going into an acitivity can be captured in the matrix by entering a mark in cell (row i, column j) where the column j activity is the supplier of information to the row i activity. In other words, the marks are entered at the points where an arrow from activity j delivers information to activity i. The following figure shows 4 steps of analysis that are possible after the diagram of dependencies is converted to matrix format:

    16X16PSM32PROCESS Steps 1 to 4 in the analysis of ESD activities and all the MDG activities interdependencies using PSM32

    Step (1) is building a diagram of dependencies between the 16 activities. Step (2) is the translation to a 16X16 matrix format. Each column entry shows what row activities are fed by the column activities. Numbers and/or colors can be used to indicate how sensitive the row activities are to inputs from the column activities. Plus and minus signs can be used to depict positive (reinforcing) or negative (stabilizing) feedback loops. For instance, the plus signs in the MDG8 column indicate that progress in MDG8 has a reinforcing effect on all the ESDs. Step (3) shows the rows and columns reordered so that the matrix becomes block-triangular, i.e., all activities are shown in square blocks around the diagonal. Activities within blocks are usually tightly coupled together and may have to be iterated several times before proceeding to the next block. Step (4) is a sanity check on all the dependencies and feedbacks.

    This block-triangular matrix was derived (using Don Steward's PSM32 software tool) by setting up a 16x16 square matrix -- with the rows and columns being the eight ESDs and the eight MDGs -- and entering marks in those cells for which the column item provides input to the row item. Then the matrix is partitioned via row and column operations so as to identify the blocks of that should be worked out together. The arrows are added to show that there is a feedback loop between ESDs and MDGs as the sustainable development process unfolds.

    Once the basic structure of activity interdependencies is understood, additional critical factors can be inserted for further analysis. The next figure shows the insertion of integral human development (IHD) as the the result of activities in the preceding blocks; and IHD is the ingredient that actually fuels the reinforcing feedback from the MDGs back to the ESDs.

    Matrix expanded to show IHD as the critical axis of the ESD-MDG system

    This 17x17 matrix is a concise representation of all the interdependencies between the ESDs, between the MDGs, and between the ESDs and MDGs. The yellow block includes all the ESD themes, which should be integrated together such that every theme includes dependencies on all the other themes; otherwise, the order in which they are listed is not essential. The next block around the diagonal (red) includes MDGs 1, 8, 2, 7, and 3; and includes nested blocks for MDGs 1, 8, 2, and 7 (blue) and MDGs 1 and 8 (green). The lowest block down the diagonal (orange) includes MDGs 4, 5, and 6, which improve in response to 1-8-2-7-3 block and in turn have a reinforcing effect on the same block.

    This is an illustration of the kind of integration needed in education and planning for sustainable development. Managing the sustainable development process requires interdisciplinary knowledge integration. It requires integration of projects at the local, national, and global levels. For instance, at the global level, issues of population growth, ecological economics, and climate change need to be integrated so as to avoid costly failures and delays. Computers, and software such as PSM32, make this kind of integration possible. There is much to be gained in terms of the common good of humanity and the conservation of the human habitat. Indeed, integration requires some collaborative effort, but it is much better than pointing fingers and looking for scapegoats to avoid responsibility as global citizens.

    Interdependency matrices are useful in many phases of sustainable development, and more generally in the structuring and management of complex programs. Interdependency matrices are used under various name, but the technique is generally the same:

    [1] For N interdependent factors, or processes, build and NxN matrix such that each cell (i,j) identifies inputs that factor i must receive from factor j.
    [2] Using any appropriate algorithm for row and column operations, convert the NxN matrix into a block-triangural NxN matrix.
    [3] Iterate on each square block around the diagonal to define the optimal coordination for the tightly coupled factors in the block.
    [4] Revisit the optimized matrix frequently, so that it does not become a static crutch while the dynamics of the process are changing the factors and interdependencies.
    For more information about using interdependency matrices, see the following papers/tutorials:
    Interdependency Matrix of Sustainable Development
    Input-Output Analysis for Sustainability
    Developing measures to assess the extent of sustainable competitive advantage provided by business process reengineering
    Applying the Design Structure Matrix to System Decomposition and Integration Problems: A Review and New Directions
    An Introduction to Modeling and Analyzing Complex Product Development Processes Using the Design Structure Matrix (DSM) Method
    The Use of Design Matrices to Create an End-to-End Representation of a Complex Socio-Technical System
    Evolution Analysis of Large-Scale Software Systems Using Design Structure Matrices & Design Rule Theory
    From DSM based planning to Design Process Simulation: A review of process scheme verification issues

          6. Recently Launched Games and Simulation Tools

    A number of gaming/simulation software packages have been developed to support learning and decision-making about resource management dilemmas. Some examples are:
    FISH 3.1 - Fisheries Management
    LOGICITY - Climate Change Game
    British Gas - Generation Green Games
    Planet Green - Global Warming Game
    Chevron - Power for 5.9M People City
    EnerCities - Sustainable Urbanization Game
    EnCon City - Energy Conservation Game
    Third World Farmer - Sustainable Rural Development Game
    ASU GameBot - Human & Robots Games
    Minimonos - Sustainability & Generosity Virtual World
    BBC - European Climate Change Game
    ABC AU - River Catchment Detox Game
    Games for Change - Social & Environmental Issues
    Phantom Compass - Greenville Game
    Jason Science - Energy City Game
    Columbia Earth Institute - Millennium Village Simulation (MV Sim)
    World Bank - EVOKE: A Crash Course in Saving the World

    The Millennium Village Simulation (MV Sim), developed by the Columbia University's Center for New Media Teaching & Learning (CCNMTL) and the Columbia Earth Institute, is very appealing because it supports learning about pursuing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) under conditions of extreme poverty in Africa.

    According to the MV Sim web site, "the MV Sim (short for Millennium Village Simulation) was created as a teaching tool to help students appreciate the complexity of meeting the MDGs in a rural African setting, and to experience the interdisciplinary nature of sustainable development. The MV Sim does not strive to be a perfect replica of a real village; indeed, many of Africa's challenges (such as HIV/AIDS) are not present in the simulation. Instead, the MV Sim purposefully incorporates only a select set of issues to make it a manageable educational tool that models challenges cutting across the disciplines of agronomy, public health, environmental science, and economics."

    The tool is freely accessible on the web, and an excellent tutorial is available and embedded below. Just click on the arrow to get started. While taking the tutorial, clicking on the four outgoing arrows (next to last in the bottom tool bar) switches to full screen mode.

    Click here to register and give it a try. The simulation entails making periodic decisions about work and consumption of basic necessities by a poor familiy. After the family succeeds in sustainable living, the simulation allows for participation in sustainability decisions for the entire village. During a given simulation run, the user is given periodic reports on sustainability status for the family and village based on previous decisions, including graphs of the decisions made over time. Help text is available at each step. In addition, links are provided to access maps and other online sources of sustainable development information.

          7. Visualizations of the Sustainable Development Process

    One of the best online visualization resources on sustainable development is the UNEP/GRID-Arendal web site. This resource is a collaborative product of the Norwegian GRIP Foundation and the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). The mission of the UNEP/GRID-Arendal web site is "to communicate environmental information to policy-makers and facilitate environmental decision-making for change." The content includes e-books, maps, and graphics, as well as links to other web sites with similar content.

    Links to recently published e-books (free downlads) include the following:

    In the Maps and Graphics Library, there is (as of 5 March 2010) an amazing collection of 1841 graphics, a collection of interactive maps, and a collection of graphs from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. These are global collections, but there are options to search by region, country, and themes (Freshwater Systems, Climate Change, Waste, Pollution, Biodiversity & Conservation, Environment & Poverty, Environment & Security, and Urban issues). All these maps and graphics can be downloaded and used for free albeit subject to the disclaimer, copyright and usage conditions. Links are provided to other collections of maps and graphics such as DatabasiN, Globalis, the Arctic Environmental Atlas, the Marine Geophisical Data Maps (UNEP), the Baltic Environmental Atlas, and the University of the Arctic Atlas.

    The following are samples of images accessible via UNEP/GRID-Arendal:
    Click here or on the image to view the image in the UNEP/GRID web site,
    then click the UNEP/GRID image to download a full resolution image
    The Climate Change Performance Index developed by Germanwatch is calculated using three weighted indexes: [1] Emissions trends for energy, transport, industry and residential account for 50 % of total rating; [2] A country’s current emissions level (CO2 emitted per primary energy unit, primary energy unit per GDP, primary energy unit per capita) is given a 30 % weight in the overall evaluation; [3] Climate policy (national and international) weighs 20%.

    Primary source: Germanwatch: The Climate Change Performance Index, A Comparison of Emissions Trends and Climate Protection Policies of the Top 56 CO2 Emitting Nations, December 2007. To view the 2010 Climate Change Performance Index, click here. Secondary sources: Kick the Habit: A UN Guide to Climate Neutrality and UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics.

    Click here or on the image to view the image in the UNEP/GRID web site,
    then click the UNEP/GRID image to download a full resolution image
    Sources: Kick the Habit: A UN Guide to Climate Neutrality and UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics.

    Click here or on the image to view the image in the UNEP/GRID web site,
    then click the UNEP/GRID image to download a full resolution image
    All data is for 2000. All calculations are based on CO2 equivalents, using 100-year global warming potentials from the IPCC (1996), based on a total global estimate of 41,755 Million Tons CO2 equivalent. Land use change includes both emissions and absorptions. Dotted lines represent flows of less than 0.1% of total GHG emissions. Note: The contribution of the livestock sector is shown as 5.1%, but check this out.

    Primary source: World Resources Institute, Climate Analysis Indicator Tool (CAIT). Secondary sources: Kick the Habit: A UN Guide to Climate Neutrality and UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics.

          8. Sustainable Development and the "Second Wave" of System Dynamics

    System Dynamics is a method for analyzing the "behavior over time" of complex systems to the extent that it is generated by the system's endogenous feedback loop structure. The origins of System Dymanics can be traced back to Norbert Wiener, who in 1948 published his famous book, Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. In 1954 he published another fundamental book, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society, which broke new ground on the analysis of social systems. Several others followed at a theoretical level, including Jay W. Forrester and his group (especially Willard R. Fey) at the MIT Sloan School of Management. It was Forrester who - in the late 1950s and early 1960s - coined the term System Dynamics and formulated the recursive mathematics needed to simulate the dynamic behavior of nonlinear feedback-driven systems in digital computers.

    This "first wave" of System Dynamics was a significant breakthrough that led to many new insights, such as the counterintuitive behavior of social systems, an enhanced awareness about the global limits to growth, and many other applications in practically all disciplines. However, as it is often the case with "first waves," the enthusiasm created by the new modeling and simulation method also led to naive claims about System Dynamics having a "prescriptive capability" to improve real-world system behavior by changing information flows and feedback loops in accordance with the results of simulation experiments. These presumptious claims were wisely challenged by many in both academic institutions and other private/public policy-making groups. For some additional material on "first wave" System Dynamics applied to sustainable development, click here.

    A "second wave" of System Dynamics has been incubating since the 1980s in which the method is proposed more for collaborative learning and communication and less for policy-making prescriptions. This "second wave" was triggered by "first wavers" such as Donella Meadows' (see her self-critique of the Limits to Growth project and her insistence on balancing systems thinking with global citizenship), Barry Richmond (who wrote a novel guide to systems thinking and developed the user-friendly STELLA software), and Peter Senge (author of The Fifth Discipline and other books about organizational learning). The following are suggested as basic references about the "second wave" of System Dynamics:

    According to Barry Richmond, there are eight critical skills in systems thinking:
    1. high altitude thinking, to gain a view of the interdisciplinary "big picture" rather than intradisciplinary minutiae
    2. system-as-cause thinking, to include only the factors that interact to generate the behavior of interest
    3. dynamic thinking, to visualize behavior patterns over time, i.e., behavior modes rather than specific events
    4. operational thinking, to capture how the system parts interact to generate the behavior patterns of interest
    5. closed-loop thinking, to identify the web of feedback loops that link together all the interacting parts
    6. scientific thinking, to use math models/simulation experiments as hypotheses linking behavior to feedback webs
    7. emphatic thinking, to communicate working hypotheses effectively for individual/organizational learning
    8. generic thinking, to understand how certain feedback structures generate the same behavior across disciplines
    These critical skills apply to "systems thinking" in general, and in particular to System Dynamics. Let us consider the global human civilization-human habitat system in a "limits to growth" context. Keeping in mind that any system analysis is but a simplified abstraction from the real-world system, application of the eight skills, and in particular the "closed-loop thinking" and "scientific thinking" skills, lead to something like the following:

    Closed-loop diagram and simulation experiment for the human civilization-human habitat system
    Colors: blue=population, red=resources, pink=financial capital, green=pollution, yellow=human capital

    The "high altitude thinking" and "system-as-cause" skills lead to the causal-look diagram on the left. The causal-loop diagram is a hypothesis based on "dynamic thinking" about system behavior (see examples in Section 6 of this page) and "operational thinking" about how the subsystems interact. The simulation plot on the right is the behavioral counterpart of the causal-loop diagram. Both together constitute a working hypothesis about why the real-world system behaves as it does. It is noted that the simulation plot does not show a dark-yellow pattern for human capital (or integral human development, IHD). This indicates that the hypothesis does not yet include the operational effect of intanglible, but highly influential, cultural factors.

    Then, "emphatic thinking" is required to communicate this hypothesis to all the stakeholders and see how it bounces, in order to learn and explore options for improved system management. In this scenario, the learning and exploring probably should include further elucidation of how the blue, red, pink, and green sectors interact with culture and human development. It is good System Dynamics practice to make visible both what is included and what is not included in the hypothesis. The "generic thinking" process is not shown, as it comes into play when formulating the stock and flow equations required to generate the simulation. To provide further visibility, it would be shown in diagrams at a lower level of decomposition. The entire System Dynamics method is then one of collaborative learning and communication. It may support decision-making and policy-making as confidence increases on the validity of the working hypothesis; but this is beyond the System Dynamics method per se.

    For applications of System Dynamics to the sustainable development process, see chapters 8 and 10 of Tracing Connections. For additional references, including Learning Environment: Limits to Growth - The 30-Year Update, click here. The next challenge for System Dynamics is to take into account the intangible (cultural) factors that really matter for resisting/fostering the transition from consumerism to sustainability. The STELLA "graph functions" provide the required software functionality, but these ceteris paribus nonlinearities are yet to be identified and quantified. This is the splendid challenge awaiting the "third wavers."


    System Dynamics models formulated in the in STELLA simulation language can be migrated to the web by using the NETSIM software package. Then the model becomes available for web-based simulation sharing. See, for example, the web-based C-LEARN Climate Simulation for runnning scenarios about the generation of CO2 emissions.

    Courtesy of Forio Simulations
    Note: Scroll vertically to select simulation options, horizontally to see other results.

    Web-based games and simulations can play an important role in education for sustainable development. However, the educational benefit of running the models is contingent on a solid understanding of how the models work as an abstraction of reality; else, the benefit degrades from education to entertainment.

          9. Sustainable Development and the International Community

    MDG Summit on 20-22 September 2010 in New York
    UN Millennium Development Goals, UN, 2008
    Millennium Development Goals Report, UN, 2009
    Millennium Development Goals Indicators, UN MDG Database, 2010
    Keeping the promise:
    A forward-looking review to promote an agreed action agenda
    to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015
    , UN Secretary General, 2010
    Global Civil Society Consultation for the MDG+10 Summit, UN March 2010.

    Visit the World Council of Churches (WCC) web site
    Visit the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) web site

    The World Resources Forum (WRF) is an independent, international platform for debate on global resource consumption issues, advocating innovation for resource productivity. The WRF is building a bridge from the natural sciences and engineering to economics. It aims to equip political decision makers to identify realistic policy options for sustainable growth. Visit the web sites of the sponsors, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research and the Donella Meadows Sustainability Institute.

    Visit the UN Conference on Sustainable Development web site
    Visit the UN Division of Sustainable Development web site

    |Back to SUMMARY & OUTLINE|

    |Back to SECTION 1|     |Back to SECTION 2|     |Back to SECTION 3|
    |Back to SECTION 4|     |Back to SECTION 5|     |Back to SECTION 6|
    |Back to SECTION 7|     |Back to SECTION 8|     |Back to SECTION 9|

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