New Article: ‘Corporate Corruption of the Environment: Sustainability as a Process of Compromise’

Nyberg, D. & Wright, C. (2013). Corporate Corruption of the Environment: Sustainability as a Process of Compromise. The British Journal of Sociology. 64 (3): 1-20.

Abstract: A key response to environmental degradation, climate change and declining biodiversity has been the growing adoption of market principles in an effort to better value the social good of nature.Through concepts such as ‘natural capitalism’ and ‘corporate environmentalism’, nature is increasingly viewed as a domain of capitalist endeavour. In this article, we use convention theory and a pluralist understanding of social goods to investigate how the social good of the environment is usurped by the alternate social good of the market.Through analysis of interviews with sustainability managers and corporate documentation, we highlight how organizational actors employ compromise to temporally settle disputes between competing claims about environmental activities. Our findings contribute to an understanding of the processes of empirically grounded critique and the undertheorized concept of compromise between social goods. Rather than protecting the environment, the corporate promotion of sustainability facilitates the corruption of the social good of the environment and its conversion into a market commodity.

Available for download with subscription here.

 

New Article: ‘Experiences of Integrated Assessment of Climate Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation Modelling in London and Durban’

Walsh, C.L., Roberts, D., Dawson, R.J., Hall, J.W., Nickson, A., Hounsome, R. (2013). Experiences of Integrated Assessment of Climate Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation Modelling in London and Durban. Environment and Urbanization.  DOI: 10.1177/0956247813501121

Abstract: The urgent need to reconfigure and transform urban areas to consume fewer resources, emit less pollution, minimize greenhouse gas production, protect natural ecosystems and increase the adaptive capacity to deal with climate risks is widely recognized. The implementation of improved sustainability measures in cities requires integrated thinking that encompasses a whole range of urban functions, often implying a major restructuring of urban energy systems, transport and the built environment, as well as a new approach to the planning and management of natural systems that service urban areas. Many local governments have a limited capacity to deal with such complex and interrelated problems, and this hampers their ability to deal with climate change. With these issues in mind, teams of scientists, practitioners and stakeholders in Durban (led by eThekwini Municipality) and London (led by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research) developed city-scale integrated assessment modelling tools that represent interactions between different urban functions and objectives by linking climate change issues to broader agendas such as spatial planning. This paper reviews each integrated assessment tool, and critically analyzes their effectiveness in terms of technical approach, extent to which they meet policy needs, role of stakeholders in model development and application, barriers to their uptake and the value of and effort required for integration. While these integrated assessment tools did not provide the detailed design information sought by some decision makers, importantly they have stimulated stakeholders to think strategically and hold cross-sectoral conversations around implementing sustainability measures. Despite the technical and institutional challenges associated with the development and uptake of an integrated assessment model, we conclude that they do contribute to the quest for urban sustainability.

Available for download with subscription here.

New Book: ‘Managing Adaptation to Climate Risk: Beyond Fragmented Responses’

O’Brien, B. & O’Keefe, P. (2013). Managing Adaptation to Climate Risk: Beyond Fragmented Responses. Routledge.

Climate change is the single largest threat to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and sustainable development. Addressing climate risk is a challenge for all. This book calls for greater collaboration between climate communities and disaster development communities. In discussing this, the book will evaluate the approaches used by each community to reduce the adverse effects of climate change. One area that offers some promise for bringing together these communities is through the concept of resilience. This term is increasingly used in each community to describe a process that embeds capacity to respond to and cope with disruptive events. This emphasizes an approach that is more focused on pre-event planning and using strategies to build resilience to hazards in an adaptation framework. The book will conclude by evaluating the scope for a holistic approach where these communities can effectively contribute to building communities that are resilient to climate driven risks.

For more information click here.

 

New Report: “Environmental Guidance Note for Disaster Risk Reduction: Healthy Ecosystems for Human Security and Climate Change Adaptation”

Sudmeier-Rieux, K., Ash, N. and Murti, R. (2013). Environmental Guidance Note for Disaster Risk Reduction: Healthy Ecosystems for Human Security and Climate Change Adaptation. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN, 1-34.

Introduction: This note was developed to provide guidance on the benefits of and ways to integrate environmental concerns into disaster risk reduction strategies (DRR) at the local and national levels. As recognised and outlined within the Hyogo Framework for Action priority 4: “Reduce the Underlying Risk Factors”, healthy ecosystems and environmental management are considered key actions in DRR. Although the field of disaster risk management has evolved to recognize the need for addressing sustainable development issues for reducing risk, the environmental dimension has not to date received adequate attention and practical guidance.

The questions we would like to answer with this guidance note are:
• What are healthy ecosystems and why do they matter to disaster risk reduction?
• How can ecosystems contribute to reducing disasters?
• What is ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction?
• How can we integrate ecosystem management and disaster risk management?

The rise in number and intensity of many extreme hydro-meteorological events is increasingly recognized as being the result of global and regional climate change. More broadly and importantly, the underlying risk factors of disasters are increasing: more people are living in vulnerable areas, such as low lying coastal areas, steep hillsides, flood plains, near cliffs, or in forested areas on the outskirts of cities – most often out of necessity, but sometimes out of choice. Environmental degradation is reducing the capacity of ecosystems to meet the needs of people for food and other products, and to protect them from hazards. The people affected by reoccurring disasters are often the most dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, and the appropriate management of ecosystems can play a critical role in their ability to prevent, cope with, and recover from disasters.

For more information click here.

New Article: “Securing Ocean Benefits for Society in the Face of Climate Change”

Ruckelshaus. M. et al. (2013). Securing Ocean Benefits for Society in the Face of Climate Change. Marine Policy. 40: 154-159.

Abstract: Benefits humans rely on from the ocean – marine ecosystem services – are increasingly vulnerable under future climate. This paper reviews how three valued services have, and will continue to, shift under climate change: (1) capture fisheries, (2) food from aquaculture, and (3) protection from coastal hazards such as storms and sea-level rise. Climate adaptation planning is just beginning for fisheries, aquaculture production, and risk mitigation for coastal erosion and inundation. A few examples are highlighted, showing the promise of considering multiple ecosystem services in developing approaches to adapt to sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and rising sea temperatures.

Ecosystem-based adaptation in fisheries and along coastlines and changes in aquaculture practices can improve resilience of species and habitats to future environmental challenges. Opportunities to use market incentives – such as compensation for services or nutrient trading schemes – are relatively untested in marine systems. Relocation of communities in response to rising sea levels illustrates the urgent need to manage human activities and investments in ecosystems to provide a sustainable flow of benefits in the face of future climate change.

Available for download with subscription here.

New Article: “Fishing in Muddy Waters: Exploring the Conditions for Effective Governance of Fisheries and Aquaculture”

Kalfagianni, A & Pattberg, P. (2013). Fishing in Muddy Waters: Exploring the Conditions for Effective Governance of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Marine Policy. 38: 124-132.

Abstract: Over the past fifteen years a number of transnational certification and labeling schemes have emerged with the aim to foster sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices worldwide. Despite notable successes in the uptake and implementation of these standards, few measurable environmental improvements have been achieved on a global scale to date. This paper explores the conditions for effective governance taking into account external and internal attributes of the relevant rule-setting organizations. The analysis provided in this paper is situated in a broader debate regarding the effectiveness of transnational forms of governance and thereby contributes to recent efforts to build clearer theoretical propositions on the basis of more nuanced theoretically and empirically informed analyses.

Available for download with subscription here.

New Book: ‘Defensive Environmentalists and the Dynamics of Global Reform’

Rudel, T. (2013). Defensive Environmentalists and the Dynamics of Global Reform. Cambridge University Press.

Description: As global environmental changes become increasingly evident and efforts to respond to these changes fall short of expectations, questions about the circumstances that generate environmental reforms become more pressing. Defensive Environmentalists and the Dynamics of Global Reform answers these questions through a historical analysis of two processes that have contributed to environmental reforms, one in which people become defensive environmentalists concerned about environmental problems close to home and another in which people become altruistic environmentalists intent on alleviating global problems after experiencing catastrophic events such as hurricanes, droughts and fires. These focusing events make reform more urgent and convince people to become altruistic environmentalists. Bolstered by defensive environmentalists, the altruists gain strength in environmental politics and reforms occur.

For more information click here.

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