Jobs and Training
1. Call for views on proposals for a Welsh Government Sustainable Development Bill
The Welsh Government is seeking views on its proposals for a Sustainable Development Bill which will place a legal requirement on organisations developing public services in Wales, to ensure their decision-making is informed by sustainable development principles. It is proposing a duty that applies to higher level decisions adopted by organisations delivering public services to guide the way they work; ensures that those decisions have to be informed by key sustainable development factors; and requires organisations to report on how they have complied with the duty through their existing annual reporting. The consultation will inform the development of the Sustainable Development Bill White Paper, which will be launched in autumn 2012. The proposed bill can be found here:
Comments should be submitted by 18 July via this online form:
2. Call for applications for internships: short projects in the area of Business Engagement with Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services
The Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network, on behalf of the Natural Environment Research Council, is inviting existing researchers (those currently employed in the UK on topics within NERC remits, including PhD students who are at least in their second year of research) to apply for internships of between one and six months, based in businesses and third sector organisations. The objectives of the scheme are to initiate collaborations between academics and business or third sector organisation partners, leading to the application of ecosystem services approaches in longer-term self-sustaining activities undertaken by partners; generate evidence and case studies of how businesses and other organisations have used or could use ecosystem services approaches to introduce innovation into their business; and, provide evidence concerning the effectiveness of policies intended to facilitate the development of ecosystem services approaches by businesses and third sector organisations. Proposals should focus on a topic where ecosystem service approaches have potential to affect business decision-making. Projects will involve collaborative working between at least one business or third-sector partner and one or more researchers to ensure that the business partner makes maximum use of the knowledge and data provided. NERC funding up to £20,000 is available for each project. The closing date for applications is 15 June 2012.
3. Calls for papers – Smart, Sustainable and Just: Higher Education and the Remaking of the Right to the City
The International Journal of Social Ecology and Sustainable Development (IJSESD) welcomes submissions for an upcoming special issue on ‘Higher Education and the Remaking of the Right to the City’. ‘The right to the city’ is the right to access urban resources, to interact with and to shape the urban environment as well as the urbanization process itself. The motivation behind the issue is to explore the role of higher education in the sustainable, digital, environmentally and socially just city of the future – how higher education can contribute to the right to a sustainable and just city. Topics in the special issue will include, amongst others: e-development (e-learning, e-health, e-business, and e-society); eco-innovation and eco-entrepreneurship; environmental change and human development; environmental justice; higher education; new media technologies and knowledge for sustainable development; resilience; social networking and urban democracy; the Right to the City; and urban food security. The deadline for submissions is 10 December 2012. Submissions and any inquiries should be directed to the guest editors: Dr. John Blewitt (email@example.com) and Dr. Nick Theodorakopoulos (N.THEODORAKOPOULOS@aston.ac.uk). Further details about the special issue and the call for submissions are available on the IGI Global website.
1. Journal of Industrial Ecology special issue – ‘Meta-Analysis of Life Cycle Assessments’
The Journal of Industrial Ecology, which focuses on the relationship between industry and environment, has published a special issue on life cycle assessment. The issue explores the role of ‘meta-analysis’ in helping to draw together results and recommendations from a wide range of existing studies on life cycle assessment. Articles in the special issue include several findings from the U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Life Cycle Assessments Harmonization Project. Under this project, attempts to produce a harmonised collection of methods and assumptions from life cycle assessments in a range of different potential electricity-generating sources. The special issue includes reviews on coal-fired, nuclear, solar, thin-film photovoltaic (PV), and utility-scale wind electricity generation as well as with carbon capture and storage (CCS). Articles from the issue are available online for free.
2. Declining public concern about climate change: Can we blame the great recession?
Lyle Scruggs’ and Salil Benegal’s article in Global Environmental Change explores the declining concern of the American public about climate change - in the last two to three years, the American public’s belief that the climate is warming has fallen between 10 and 20 per cent. They looked at a number of popular explanations for declining support – such as campaigns to promote climate scepticism; loss of faith in climate science due to negative news coverage that scientists had manipulated data; and a levelling off of annual global temperature increases in the last few years, leading to the perception that climate change has stopped. Scruggs and Benegal suggest, however, after evaluating over 30 years of public opinion data about global warming and the environment, that the changing view is driven by the recession and poor labour-market conditions and that this has been a consistent pattern, not only in America but also in Europe.
3. Uncertainty, scepticism and attitudes towards climate change: biased assimilation and attitude polarisation
This paper by Adam Corner, Lorraine Whitmarsh and Dimitrios Xenias, published in Climatic Change, describes their study of ‘scepticism’ in public attitudes towards climate change. They asked participants (two groups with different levels of scepticism) to read two newspaper editorials which made opposing claims about the reality and seriousness of climate change (designed to generate uncertainty), measuring their scepticism before and after this task. The experiment was designed to test the well-established social psychological finding that people with opposing attitudes often assimilate evidence in a way that is biased towards their existing attitudinal position (leading to attitude polarisation). The attitudes towards climate change of both groups of participants became markedly more sceptical after reading the editorials but the groups evaluated the convincingness and reliability of the articles in different ways, demonstrating biased assimilation of the information but there was no evidence of attitude polarisation. The authors believe that this study has important implications for anticipating how uncertainty – in the form of conflicting information – may impact on public engagement with climate change.
1. The Rivers Trust EU ‘WATER’ Conference - ‘Payments for Ecosystem Services and Catchment Restoration’
27 June 2012, Exeter Golf & Country Club, Exeter, Devon, EX2 7AE
Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are an increasingly topical mechanism for investing in the restoration of rivers catchments. The WATER project was set up to investigate the role of wetted land within a catchment and to identify the necessary assessment, techniques and the costs of restoration. This conference launches two of the project’s main contributions: a catchment portal that identifies the different brokers working across our rivers; and a series of guides aimed at setting up PES projects. The keynote will be given by Dylan Bright (Director of the Westcountry Rivers Trust). Other speakers include Anne Le Duigou (Chamber of Agriculture in Finistere), and Mark Everard (Principle Scientist at the Environment Agency). For more information, for the conference agenda and to register, please visit the conference website.
2. Technology Strategy Board conference – Design for Future Climate
12 June 2012, 9:30am – 4:30pm, The Building Centre, London WC1E 7BT
The Technology Strategy Board is hosting a conference based on the findings of the Design for Future Climate programme. The conference explores why adaptation is important and showcases the challenges and opportunities available to built environment professionals, clients, decision makers and local authorities. It provides the policy and practice context to adaptation from the perspectives of engineers, architects and policy makers, indicating future opportunities and how we can continue to develop the design for adaptation agenda. This event will showcase projects funded during the Technology Strategy Board Design for Future Climate: Adapting Buildings competition, which looks at how we address adaptation in our built environment. The competition funded 50 projects to assess climate change risks and develop adaptation strategies for a range of different types of buildings, from domestic housing to schools and offices. At the conference, the project teams will present their innovative solutions for adapting buildings in terms of comfort (e.g. management of internal temperatures), construction (e.g. stability of foundations in changing ground conditions) and water management (e.g. increasing resilience to flooding). Other speakers at the conference include Sunand Prasad (Ex-President of the RIBA), Mark Wray (Design for Future Climate programme manager), Bill Gething (author of Design for Future Climate: Opportunities for Adaptation in the Built Environment), and Anastasia Mylona (CIBSE). Attendance is free of charge but registration is required as places are limited. Please register online on the conference webpage.
3. European Conference on Measuring Well-Being and Fostering the Progress of Societies
26–28 June, OECD Conference Centre, Paris
This event, organised by the OECD in its role as a partner of the FP7 project e-frame ‘European Framework for Measuring Progress’, will include keynote addresses by prominent policy-makers, statisticians and analysts on how better well-being measures can inform policies from a European perspective, as well as round tables on important cross-cutting issues and a series of themed sessions. Theme 1, Material conditions, will focus on income inequalities, jobs and earnings and wealth distribution. The second Theme is Quality of Life, where discussions will cover subjective well-being, social connections and civic participation and regional and local dimensions. The final day’s Theme is Sustainability, with workshops on environmental capital, human capital and ageing and trans-boundary impacts. To register contact firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain an e-invitation.
4. Shaping Cities for Health: Complexity and the planning of urban environments in the 21st century
30 May at 2.30 pm, Denys Holland Lecture Theatre, UCL Faculty of Laws, Endsleigh Gardens, London, WC1H 0EG
This event will present the report and main findings of the UCL-Lancet Commission on Healthy Cities. It highlights the role that urban planning could and should play in delivering health improvements through the urban fabric of our cities and considers this through case studies of sanitation and wastewater management (Mumbai), urban mobility (Bogotá), building standards (London), the urban heat island effect (London) and urban agriculture (Havana and Accra). The event is free but online registration is required.
1. Video - Talking Climate's George Marshall - how to talk to a climate change ‘denier’
George Marshall reflects on what he thinks works and what doesn’t work when trying to change a person’s views on climate change, including understanding the importance of finding ‘common ground’ as their views will have developed from social interactions with like-minded individuals, to respecting the person, avoiding a confrontational approach and even changing the usual terminology of those with different views – dropping ‘denier’ or ‘sceptic’ in favour of ‘dissenter’.
2. Video – Policy Exchange panel event – how those on the political ‘right’ could communicate climate change more effectively
This recent debate, chaired by Guy Newey of Policy Exchange, with Peter Lilley MP, Tim Yeo MP, Dr Adam Corner (Cardiff University and Climate Outreach Information Network) and Damian Carrington (Guardian Environment Editor) as panellists, discussed how those on the political right could communicate climate change more effectively, and seeks to assess to what extent some parts of the right are suspicious of climate change; whether climate change is thought of as a cover for more radical anti-capitalist political aims, and whether appealing to concerns like energy security or green growth would be the best way to build support for climate action or to alienate it.
1. Social Care Institute for Excellence briefing – ‘Sustainable Health and Social Care’
Produced by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), this summary report on ‘Sustainable Health and Social Care’ has been created as a briefing for Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) commissioners and health and wellbeing board members. The report draws on perspectives from experts and key stakeholders in the field and sets out what it believes to be the key drivers for the design and delivery of sustainable health and social care. The summary covers all three pillars (the environmental, social and economic) of the sustainability challenge, with particular attention to climate change and the other environmental aspects to sustainability such as energy efficiency and waste reduction. Links to further information including key reports, tools and resources are provided throughout the report, and short case studies of good practice at local levels illustrate the gains for health, efficiency, risk management, reputation and legislative compliance.
2. New Book – ‘The Social Dynamics of Carbon Capture and Storage: Understanding CCS Representations, Governance and Innovation’
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a promising technology for decarbonising electricity supply and mitigating climate change, but it also faces growing scepticism and criticism. Published by Routledge as part of its Earthscan Science in Society Series, this book brings together the social and policy issues surrounding CCS in an attempt to shed new light on the technology’s current use and future potential. The book covers a range of topics including the roles and positions that different publics, NGOs, industry, political parties and media are taking up; the way CCS is organised, supported and regulated; how CCS is being debated and judged; how innovation, demonstration and learning are occurring and being conceptualised and promoted; and the role of CCS in the transition to a low carbon energy future. The authors draw on a variety of approaches, concepts, methods and themes and provide a new understanding of innovation in the energy and climate change fields. The book presents the issues in a way that makes it well-suited to anyone interested in CCS issues, from those who are involved in the scientific and technological work itself, to those in charge of evaluating and making decisions which will have an impact on the technology’s future.
3. Green Alliance report – ‘Saving for a sustainable future: Increasing public benefit from UK tax relief for savings’
Chris Hewett’s report for Green Alliance, ‘Saving for a sustainable future’, examines the case for the government using tax relief on savings and investment activity to encourage responsible and sustainable investment for the public good. He highlights the need to restore public trust in financial institutions through increased transparency, increase the rewards for long-term investment to provide greater stability for business and innovation, and emphasises that “we need a higher proportion of the increased savings and investments to flow towards the vast range of activities that will increase our energy security, reduce carbon emissions and enhance social and environmental well-being.”
4. Royal Society report – ‘People and the planet’
This is the Royal Society’s first substantive report on the impacts of human population and consumption on the planet. It identifies three pressing challenges – the need for the world’s 1.3 billion poorest people to be raised out of poverty to reduce global inequality and ensure the wellbeing of all people; the need to reduce unsustainable consumption in the most developed and the emerging economies; and the need to slow and stabilise global population growth. The Society acknowledges that although science and technology have a crucial role to play in meeting the challenges by improving the understanding of causes and effects and developing ways to limit the most damaging trends, attention must also be paid to the socio-economic dimensions of technological deployment. The report concludes with nine recommendations, including that Population and the environment should not be considered as two separate issues; Government should realise the potential of urbanisation to reduce consumption and environmental impact through efficiency measures; and Financial and non-financial barriers must be overcome to achieve high-quality primary and secondary education for all the world’s young, ensuring equal opportunities for girls and boys.
5. RAC Foundation report – ‘Fuel for Thought, the what, why and how of motoring taxation’
This report, commissioned by the RAC Foundation from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, looks at how motoring taxes are being determined and considers whether they are equitable, understandable and justifiable. It questions whether motoring taxation is just about raising revenue or covering the external costs which the use of vehicles has on other road users and the community at large, such as traffic congestion, accidents, visual intrusion, noise and air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. One aspect of note is that despite a projected growth in traffic by the Department of Transport (44 per cent more traffic by 2035), revenue from motoring taxation is set to drop from £38 billion in 2010 to £25 billion in 2029 as a result of improved fuel efficiency of vehicles in response to the government’s climate change targets for greenhouse gas reduction. In response to the report, the RAC Foundation is asking the government to 1) Admit fuel duty is a frequently altered tax without adequate rationale, 2) Recognise the acute impact high fuel prices are having on car-owning households, 3) Recognise the dramatic fall in fuel duty revenue which will inevitably follow the greening of the vehicle fleet, and 4) Start a dialogue on how a more transparent motoring taxation system might look.
6. IFPRI – 2011 Global Food Policy Report
The International Food Policy Research Institute’s new publication is the first of an annual series providing an analysis of major food policy challenges at the global, regional, national and local levels. This report looks at the factors influencing food policy in 2011 as well as considering the outlook for 2012 and opportunities for action.
7. WWF Living Planet Report 2012
WWF’s Living Planet Report 2012 is the ninth biennial report documenting the ‘state of the planet’ – the changing state of biodiversity, ecosystems and humanity’s demand on natural resources. It highlights an alarming decline in biodiversity (down 30 per cent since 1970) and states that at our current rate of consumption, the Earth needs 1.5 years to produce and replenish the natural resources that we consume in a year. It proposes better choices from a one planet perspective in order to reverse the declining Living Planet Index, bring the Ecological Footprint down to within planetary limits, avoid dangerous climate change and achieve sustainable development. These take the form of preserving natural capital, equitable resource governance, producing better, redirecting financial flows and consuming more wisely.
8. European Commission report - The Uptake of Green Public Procurement in the EU27
This report, produced for the European Commission by the Centre for European Policy Studies and the College of Europe, reveals the extent to which the EC’s target of 50 per cent of all public tendering procedures being ‘green’ by 2010 has been met. Although there was an overall positive trend in 2009-2010 and the uptake of Green Procurement in the EU is significant, the target has not been met. The study shows that purchasing costs are still the predominant criterion for awarding contracts.
9. Green Alliance report - Neither sermons nor silence: the case for national communications on energy use
The government has developed a number of schemes to support householders in reducing their energy use, including the Green Deal, Renewable Heat Incentive and the smart meter roll-out and ambitious targets for their uptake – e.g. just under two homes an hour to install renewable heat between now and 2020. Green Alliance, in its new report, ‘Neither sermons nor silence’ by Rebekah Phillips and Faye Scott, expresses concern at the lack of a national-level communications plan to persuade the public to engage with the schemes (some of which will involve spending their own money) in order to drive uptake and secure behavioural changes around energy consumption. The government plans for multiple, dispersed communications from providers but there are several issues, including that of lack of trust by the public in energy suppliers delivering messages on energy efficiency, which may mean that these schemes are unsuccessful in terms of demand. The report cites examples of successful national public awareness campaigns, such as those of the digital switchover and the Change4Life healthy living campaigns and calls on the government to relax its ban on advertising spend and commission a national communications campaign to drive adoption of upcoming green initiatives.
10. JRF pamphlet - Climate Change and Sustainable Consumption: What do the public think is fair?
Tim Horton and Natan Doran (on behalf of the Fabian Society for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation) set out to investigate via focus groups whether encouraging people to look at sustainable consumption and climate change in terms of fairness could help build public support for behaviour change and sustainability policies. Among the key points which emerged were that whilst not liking regulation, there was a strong feeling that if households were to make efforts or sacrifices to reduce consumption then everyone should be required to do so, to avoid ‘free-riding’. The most important factor in triggering people’s sense of fairness was the notion of resource scarcity and there was a suggestion that current behaviour-change strategies tend to focus on the choices individuals make in isolation, and often seek to appeal solely to financial self-interest which may not be the most effective method of changing behaviour.
11. Visualising Climate Change: A Guide to Visual Communication of Climate Change and Developing Local Solutions
Stephen R J Sheppard’s new book seeks to aid those wishing to engage the public and build awareness of climate change by the use of dramatic visual imagery such as 3D and 4D visualisations of future landscapes, community mapping and iconic photographs. The concept is to bring the invisible (carbon dioxide, global climate change), the remote, abstract and scientific (e.g. charts, global temperature maps) to life and also closer to home, showing how climate change works where we live. The suggested use of visual tools, from outdoor signs to video games is designed to help communities, action groups and planners in increasing awareness of and accelerating action on climate change.
12. EEA report - Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe
About three-quarters of Europe’s population live in urban areas, which are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts such as heatwaves (affecting the ageing population), water scarcity and flooding. Cities drive Europe’s economy and generate substantial wealth but this could be threatened by climate change. For instance, heavy rainfall (150 mm in two hours) in Copenhagen’s city centre resulted in insurance damages of EUR 650 – 700 million. Since European cities and regions are heavily interconnected, and the European Environment Agency’s new report argues the case for national and Eurpean policy frameworks for urban adaptation to climate change, provides advice on adapting cities and gives examples of good practice.
1. SDRN Website: Jobs & Training
Jobs and Training opportunities around the Sustainable Development Research network are updated frequently on the ‘Jobs and Training’ page of the SDRN website.
The SDRN Mailing is a moderated information resource and dissemination service for SDRN members. You can make use of this service by sending any information for inclusion in the mailing to Ben Watson.
To join or leave this list, please email Ben Watson or visit the JISCmail website.
SDRN Mailing, 22 May 2012