Sustain-Earth.Com supports all active efforts and challenges to promote and implement the Paris Agreement and the UN SDGs.
With the ongoing efforts to promote and implement the UN-SDGs including the EU vote to ratify the Paris Agreement (http://bit.ly/2dpyVoa) there are emerging key strategic issues. Countries around the world are called upon to act quickly to fulfill all the promises for the protection and preservation of the Earth’s natural resources. All society sectors (private and public), knowledge disciplines and human activities on planet Earth, both vertically and horizontally, have direct responsibilities in the ongoing process of transformation. There should be tools and instruments to assess the role and involvements on several levels, i.e. through coordinated webs of Key Performance Indicators. Among such instruments is the Nobel Prize which indeed played, and still playing, important role in promoting essential knowledge disciplines. However, knowledge in itself has to be promptly and effectively utilized by all sectors and on all levels to promote and implement the Paris agreement through effective coupling of diverse and wide spectra of knowledge to society, population and the market needs. It is interesting to see how far the Nobel Prize contributed in the past in developing the UN-SDGs, and also how much it will contribute in promoting and implementing these goals in future.
By founding the Nobel Prize in 1901 Alfred Nobel made the name Nobel famous worldwide. But Alfred’s prize was not the first Nobel Prize. As early as 1889 the Ludvig Nobel Award was founded. Ludvig was Alfred Nobel’s older brother and worked as a scientist, inventor and businessman in Russia during the second half of the 19th century. Alfred was most likely inspired by his brother Ludvig when founding his Nobel Prize, one of the most prestigious scientific awards of all times. Ludvig and his other bother, Robert Nobel, had an oil company in Baku, a manufacturing site for diesel engines in St. Petersburg and many other industrial sites throughout Russia during the late 19th century. Ludvig, however, strived to improve the conditions for the workers at the industrial sites by the introduction of shorter working hours, schools, healthcare, recreational facilities and also cooperative banking system for the employees. This was the 1st global initiative towards the implementation of Applied Sustainability but still lacked the environmental issues. In this context Sustainability and Social commitment was the trademark of the Nobel industries as visioned by Ludvig and Robert Nobel. The Russian revolution in 1917 changed the scene dramatically. Ludvig Nobel’s prize in science and research never became much more than a dream due to the revolution.
Thanks to the global trends of human thinking and the recognition of R&D as an integrated part in socio-economic developments, i.e. in the framework of the UN-SDGs, today the efforts of Ludvig Nobel and his brother have not been forgotten specially in Russia and Azerbaijan.
Recently, the Nobel family has taken the initiative to honor the memory of Ludvig. The Nobel Sustainability Trust was founded with the purpose of encouraging research and/or practice of sustainable and renewable energy, through an award. Not to be confused with the Nobel prize of Alfred Nobel and will be given to worthy individuals or organizations that during the year have carried out significant accomplishments in the field of renewable/sustainable energy (http://nobelsustainability.org/history/).
However, there are other wider initiatives to realize the importance of UN-SDG as they involve coupling many other sectors and disciplines in particular those related to Water – Energy – Natural Resources Nexuses. Still water, sanitation and hygiene in developing countries are taken much smaller proportion in relation to the R&D done within energy-related sectors and disciplines. In this context, additional steps are being taken by the United Planet Faith and Science Initiative by launching a website that attempts to win a Nobel Peace Prize for Sustainable Development (NP4SD.org) with a shared nomination of an organization and two individuals. As explained by “NP4SD.org” it is not a new Nobel Prize, it is a Peace Prize to be shared by nominees whose work is foundational and seminal in the field of sustainable development (http://www.upfsi.org/). Among cases in the past where sustainability issues were taken in consideration is 2004-Peace Prize (http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2004/press.html).
Among other strategic efforts to support UN-SDGs, is to give Ecological Economics greater worldwide exposure and to create more widespread understanding of other strategic fields of importance for our well-being, survival and life-quality on planet earth and its growing population (http://www.isecoeco.org/nobel-peace-prize-for-sustainable-development/). Yet, much more is still needed to be done to promote and implement better policies for education, R&D and Transfer-of-Knowledge in the developing countries. If the Nobel Prize is used as indicator for these strategic activities it is very easy to conclude that the major parts of planet earth suffer from huge knowledge poverty. Then we can simply ask how the UN-SDGs be effectively implemented to achieve global sustainable socio-economic developments? Would the UN-SDGs be only a day-night dream for generations to come?
This said, the traditional Nobel Prize has on large-scale and long-term perspective an long-standing importance, directly or indirectly, on improving our overall understanding of planet Earth and to some extent the fundamentals of improving life quality on the Earth’s surface. Building on science pyramid on large-scale and long-term perspective is strategic in pushing forward the wheels of technology and development. However, developments in science and technology in the past century along with the weak coupling with global sociey sectors through ineffective policy-making and lack of global coordination have caused the ongoing degradation in life quality on Earth. These negative trends could have be avoided or even limited if the UN-SDGs were realized and founded much earlier.
Any group preparing for a difficult mission such as climbing towards high tops against strong winds and steep heights, e.g. the Himalaya tops, knows that such mission is not free from an enormous number of excepted and unexpected risks. Accounting for such risks and taking all necessary measures and precautions is imperative not only for surviving, a long journey of such dimension, but also for fulfilling the goals of the mission. No one, whatsoever, can take such risks without careful planning and practise as well as having the necessary qualities and resources to withstand the all possible “known” and impossible “unknown” situations that can lead to failure. It is a matter of life or death and a journey where the very survival from the start to the end is a life mission, even after the mission itself is completed. The mission can, also be, understood and experienced as an instrument to learn and gain more merits “added-value” to cope with other future difficulties beyond the mission itself. It is from the “knowns” we can uncover, solve and cope with many other “unknowns”.
If we have to continue our survival on planet Earth, improve whatever can be improved and sustain the quality of life in the near future of coming generations we need to think the same way. Thinking about 2050-2100 we will be struggling to solve serious problems “peaks” facing us on planet Earth.
The future in this context requires convergence of our efforts and not divergence, i.e. to see the threats as common obstacles facing the life on earth and its quality. “sustain-earth.com” is an instrument for transformation of all the threats to challenges and to find solutions and implementations of what, why and how. It is about sustainability (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability).
Research and Development “R&D” has direct and indirect feedbacks and impacts on the global implementation, and also the successful achievements, of UN-SDG. One can expect that the UN-SDG can be achieved, and thereby implemented, as an Added-Value components to “R&D” Programs and Projects in cases where they are clearly specified and defined by funding organisations and institutes. This in turn will generate stronger, active and vital engagement of universities, academies, researchers and education programs in the promotion and implementation of UN-SDG. In particular shaping higher education, R&D for appropriate and timely promotion and implementation of the UN-SDG on local and regional scales with special focus on society and population needs. Also, with consideration to three pillars of sustainability (economic, social and environment issues) and building on the available natural resources in different regions. These are of course in addition to dedicated programs and projects where “R&D” directly deals with sustainability and sustainable developments in general.
Currently, there are no exact, detailed and coordinated global assessment policies/strategies on when, how and where the UN-SDG are to be achieved, though there are fragmented data on such issues in limited counties and regions. However, some information can be indirectly extracted from the global view of R&D, so as to examine strengths and weaknesses in following-up and assessing the perfomance by sectors, products, technologies, markets, regions and countries.
Research and development (R&D) is defined as the process of creating new products, processes and technologies that can be used and marketed for mankind’s benefit in the future. What regards sustainability, the interests and needs of future generations have to be taken in considerations. As the R&D processes and their costs vary from industry to industry, from country to country and from year to year, we can expect wide-range of variations in effectiveness, performance and time-scales of relevance for UN-SDG.
R&D investment in Asian countries (e.g. Japan, India and South Korea) including China is currently accounting for more than 40% of all global R&D investments, the North American investments now less than 30% and European R&D only slightly more than 20%. The rest of the world (Russia, Africa, South America and the Middle East countries) account for a combined 8.8% of the global R&D investments with combined average growth of only about 1.5% per year. Much of the R&D growth in any country around the world is driven by that country’s economic growth.
There are substantial changes that are being seen in industrial R&D makeup. Life science R&D, for example, has been the largest sector in the industrial technology arena. However, the automotive arena is expected to grow their R&D programs due to strong technology shifts from internal combustion to electric propulsion systems, manual to automated driving systems and increasingly integrated electronic systems. Other changes include the rapid and mostly unexpected implementation of self-driving cars; the emergence of electric cars, which could supplant a significant portion of fossil fuel-powered vehicles in a relatively short period; and the availability of large amounts of fossil fuels at low prices not experienced in more than 20 years. Fast forward to today, unlike what was known before, there’s an oil glut on the world market, gas prices are where they were 25 years ago and the U.S. has considered exporting crude oil from its shale oil reserves. Saudi Arabia and other traditional oil exporting countries will be faced with serious economic difficulties because of low gas prices.
Solar-powered technologies continue to be a relatively small sector of the overall energy industry that is populated by comparatively smaller technology companies. Most of these small energy companies, with strong future market forecasts, expect to increase their R&D spending in 2016. Solar cells, power converters and associated hardware continue to improve in overall effiencies, while dropping lightly in overall prices. In the Automotive industry, lithium-ion batteries are improving which in combination with computers can bring about new trends in automotive markets. Solar-panel system, also for small industries and other consumer uses, can shape additional new trends.
Except in the automotive arena, the U.S. industries gained more technological advantage than they lost in many other areas. This includes advanced materials, commercial aerospace, communications, computing/IT, energy, environmental, instrumentation, life science, military/defense, and pharmaceutical/ biotech.
What regards R&D, academia has become the go-to organization for performing advanced basic research and even applied research when government or industrial organizations are looking for cost-effective ways to perform a development program. For many years now, academia has performed the majority of basic research as industrial organizations have reduced their involvement in basic research. The U.S. university and college systems continue to lead other countries in research, technology and innovation. For example, of the top 10 universities in the world, eight are in the U.S. (Harvard, Stanford, MIT, UC-Berkeley, Princeton, CalTech, Columbia and the Univ. of Chicago) and two are in the U.K. (Cambridge and Oxford). Of the top 20 universities in the world, 16 are in the U.S., with Switzerland’s ETH and Univ. College London being the non-U.S.-based standouts—the other top U.S. universities include Yale, UCLA, Cornell, UC- San Diego, Univ. of Washington, Univ. of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins and UC-San Francisco. This ranking system is run by the Center for World Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong Univ., China. However, five of the top 10 in the Economic Intelligence Unit’s 2015 Global Talent Index are in Europe—Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The same countries as were in the top 10 for the 2011 version of the Index. The U.S. was number one in both versions of the Index. The Nordic region of Europe is noteworthy as it has four of the top countries in the talent index. The Nordic region as a whole has high government spending, as a percentage of GDP which is maintained throughout all stages of education, right through to universities, which explains why it has outperformed so many prominent rivals in the developed world in the overall index. The linguistic and technical skills of the Nordic countries’ working population are also particularly strong.
What concerns R&D staff, the researchers surveyed indicated that money is likely the most important component for maintaining and attracting researchers. Tied closely to creating a strong research staff is the creation of an innovation culture within the R&D organization.
R&D has been, still and will remain imperative for understanding and making the “best” of “our” lives on planet “earth”. Here comes three questions: first, how to assess the outcome and “how best is best”; second, which lives and which are those included in “our”; third, what are the impacts on “earth” and would the earth provide all the necessary ingredients at all times. The attached file demonstrates that R&D around the world is still driven with less investments towards solving the threats facing the majority of world population. The focus as far as the majority of the world population is concerned is still geared towards one of the three main sustainability pillars which is “Economy”. The “environment” and “social” issues of the majority of the world population have to remain of much less priority.
Indeed, UN-SDG can be regarded as the last call, after a series of regular and continuous calls on several regional and global levels, for meeting pressing and urgent needs for implementation of effective, practical and immediate solutions and measures of the pilling threats and degradation on earth’s environmental and climate systems.
Now the UNEP releases its recent GEO-6 Regional Assessment documents, May 2016. The Networking of “sustain-earth.com” got this information also from Hussein Abaza, an excellent Reporter on sustainability issues and Director at Centre for Sustainable Development Solutions “CSDS”, Cairo, Egypt.
A series of regional reports on the state of the planet’s health deliver the message that environmental deterioration is occurring much faster than previously thought and action is needed now to reverse the worst trends. The ‘Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6): Regional Assessments,’ published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), is a compilation of six reports examining environmental issues affecting the world’s six regions: the Pan-European region, North America, Asia and the Pacific, West Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and Africa.
The release of the regional assessments coincides with the second session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2), which is convening in Nairobi, Kenya, from 23-27 May 2016. The Pan-European assessment will be launched at the eighth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference in Batumi, Georgia, on 8 June 2016.
The assessments found that the regions share a range of common environmental threats, including climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, population growth, rapid urbanization, rising consumption levels, desertification and water scarcity, which all must be addressed in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The assessments involved 1,203 scientists, hundreds of scientific institutions and more than 160 governments, and are based on scientific data and peer reviewed literature. The regional assessments will inform GEO-6, which will be released before 2018 and will provide an assessment of the state, trends and outlook of the global environment.
The GEO-6 LAC assessment notes the strong impact of emissions from agriculture in the region, including an increase in nitrous oxide emissions of about 29% between 2000 and 2010 from soils, leaching and runoff, direct emissions and animal manure, and an increase in methane emissions of about 19% due to the plethora of beef and dairy cattle. Regarding air pollution, the assessment points to particulate matter (PM) concentrations above World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. In addition, Andean glaciers, which provide water for millions, are shrinking. The LAC region has eliminated lead in gasoline and made headway in reducing ozone-depleting substances.
Approximately 41% of all reported natural disasters over the last two decades have occurred in the Asia and the Pacific region, according to the regional assessment. In Southeast Asia, more than one million hectares is deforested annually. Other environmental issues discussed in the report reference that: approximately 30% of the region’s population drinks water contaminated by human feces; water-related diseases and unsafe water contribute to 1.8 million deaths annually; uncontrolled dumping is a significant source of disease; and population growth, a growing middle class and urbanization have led to higher emissions, ill-managed waste and increased consumption.
In West Asia, an increase in degraded land and the spread of desertification are among the region’s most pressing challenges, as they lead to an increase in water demand, over-exploitation of groundwater resources and deteriorating water quality. In addition, conflict and displacement are having severe environmental impacts, such as heavy metals from explosive munitions and radiation from missiles leaching into the environment, and increased waste production and disease outbreaks. Almost 90% of municipal solid waste is disposed of in unlined landfill sites and is contaminating groundwater resources. The report estimates that air pollution alone caused more than 70,000 premature deaths in 2010.
In Africa, air pollution accounts for 600,000 premature deaths annually. The report also highlights that 68% of the population had clean water in 2012. In addition, inland and marine fisheries face over-exploitation from illegal, under-reported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. According to the report, around 500,000 square meters of land in Africa is being degraded by soil erosion, salinization, pollution and deforestation. African megacities, such as Cairo, Kinshasa and Lagos, have inadequate sanitation services.
In North America, environmental conditions, including air pollution, drinking water quality and well-managed protected areas, have improved due to policies, institutions, data collection and assessment and regulatory frameworks. However, aggressive hydrocarbon extraction methods can lead to increased emissions, water use and induced seismicity, while coastal and marine environments are experiencing, inter alia, ocean acidification and sea-level rise. Climate change is exacerbating the drought in California by approximately 15-20%, and Hurricane Sandy, in 2012, was directly responsible for approximately 150 deaths and US$70 billion in losses. However, mitigation efforts are having a positive impact; for example, solar deployment made up 40% of the market for new electricity generation in the US in the first half of 2015, and solar now powers 4.6 million homes. In the Arctic, warming has increased at twice the global average since 1980, and over the past twenty years, summer sea ice extent has dramatically decreased, which has, inter alia, created new expanses of open ocean, enabling more phytoplankton to bloom and alter the marine food chain.
Overall, recommendations of the assessments include, inter alia: strengthening intergovernmental coordination at the regional and sub-regional levels; improving gathering, processing and sharing data and information; enhancing sustainable consumption and production (SCP); harnessing natural capital in a way that does not damage ecosystems; implementing pollution control measures; investing in urban planning; reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and diversifying energy sources; investing in environmental accounting systems to ensure external costs are addressed; and building resilience to natural hazards and extreme climate events. [UN Press Release] [UNEP Press Release] [UNEP Knowledge Repository] [Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for Africa ] [Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for Asia Pacific] [Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for Latin America and the Caribbean ] [Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for North America] [ Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for West Asia] [ Full Regional Assessment for Africa ] [Full Regional Assessment for Asia Pacific] [Full Regional Assessment for Latin America and the Caribbean ] [Full Regional Assessment for North America ] [Full Regional Assessment for West Asia].
Now it remains to see how these “SMART GOALS” will be further put in an effective and fast implementation agenda of actions. They are still many unclear details as what, when, how and where these goals will be dealt with in particular who will do what, how and when. Though the UN-SDG seem to be more or less specific in general terms, they need to be successful and instruments have to be put in place to measure such success as what you can not measure is does not exist and what you can not measure you can not control. Unless these goals become successful they will be gone with the wind as many other smart UN goals.
Water is emerging more and more to be a global neccessity not only for the survival of life on planet Earth and improving our life quality on all scales and levels but also for providing young generation with meaningful jobs.
Sustain-earth.com continues to look far and deep in our future on planet Earth.
Where are we today in the process of promoting sustainability ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability). To know this we have to examine the existing situation.
There are needs to know the diverse parameters and factors governing the outcome of our efforts in relations to the goals of the ongoing “sustainability mission” as defined by the UN-SDG (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_Development_Goals). It is essential to have wide-range of global observations, enough infra-structures of instruments and global alternative of approaches for measuring and assessing our achievement in managing the process and promotion of sustainability (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_management). We have just to apply the simple role “what we can not measure does not exist” also “what we can not measure we can not control”.
There are many imperative questions in this context: how can we assess and measure sustainability? Do we have enough world-wide observation systems and tools? Are there enough appropriate instruments and approaches? Who is doing what, how and when? What are the spatio-temporal status of sustainability on regional and global scales? These questions and associated answers are not straightforward and far from being known everywhere, for everyone and whenever necessary for taking actions. So far, science, technology and R&D have not delivered sustainable answers for the addressed questions as if they did so, we did not need to be in the situation we have today and there is no warranty that they will do so in the future if we keep the addressed questions unanswered and keep going “business as usual”.
What we know today is focused on replacing fossil-fuel with renewables, which is in itself a slow process and far from filling the complete width of managing sustainability. Associated with this is merely a single but imperative parameter (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parameter), i.e. the “changes in global average surface temperature” with complex system of observations upon which various models can predict essential and important data about climate and weather under the prevailing global warming conditions (http://www.globalissues.org/article/233/climate-change-and-global-warming-introduction).
Even if science, technology and R&D did what they are supposed to do to fully support and promote sustainability on the global scale still there are political, socio-environment and economic obligations for appropriate management of sustainability according to the outcome of the Paris Conference in December 2015 (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_United_Nations_Climate_Change_Conference). It has already taken several decades to convince world politicians and policy-makers to recognise the threats from global warming though it was already known for many decades in science and technology circles. It is this time lag and slow communication between science, technology and R&D on the one hand and politics, socio-environment and economics on the other which causes severe threats for appropriate advances and successful implementation of the UN-SDG.
The outcome of the Paris Summit of 2015 (http://unfccc.int/meetings/paris_nov_2015/meeting/8926.php) is an alarming collective reminder of what we constantly failed to do to meet a growing number of global problems. Beneath global warming there is, indeed, an accelerating pile-up of complexity of old unsolved issues.
Historically, there have been three major global modifications for human settlement, migration and mobility on earth. These can even be decribed as tectonic transformations of our lifestyle, which have shaped and reshaped human life and affected human streams around the globe: agriculture, urbanization, and industrialization. These three can very well denote stages or phases of socio-economic developments without specific order though agriculture and food production are essential, central and common needs for us and will remain to be so. It is not strange that agriculture and food production were among the first activities for humans on earth, thereafter came industrialization and urbanization. However, science and technology were, and still are, natural prerequisites for any socio-economic development to take place anywhere. Implementation of innovations in science and technology is not straightforward, i.e. in the process of industrialization and urbanization, as it might seem in the first place. I do agree with Albert Einstein who is one of our great thinkers and philosophers of all times “The world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them.”
Urbanization is a major effect of the expansion of industrialization, and both urbanization and industrialization are very much dependent on science, technology and education. Urbanization, however, unlike industrialization has different dynamics and evolution, and can be much more dependent on policy-making and management, at least in terms of socio-economic planning. Even though, the simple definition of urbanization, i.e. the process by which towns and cities are formed and become larger as more and more people begin living and working in central areas (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/urbanization), the full definition does involve the quality or the state or the process of becoming urbanized. Increasing urbanization is hardly a new phenomenon, this has been happening since the time of the first city, somewhere between 6,500 and 8,000 years ago. Urbanization was even associated with many glorious and famous civilization, e.g. in ancient Egypt that brought excellent examples of harmony, social and cultural developmemts. Among important new issues that make us to re-think and re-consider what urbanisation brought with it: are sustainability; the implementation of UN-SDG; the emerging needs for adaptation to the post fossil-fuel era and what urbanization should be in terms of preservation and protection of water, energy and natural resources.
Post-agricultural urbanization caused dramatic increase in population in cities and towns versus rural areas. A process that began during the industrial revolution, when workers moved towards manufacturing hubs in cities to obtain jobs in factories as agricultural jobs became less and less common. Urbanization in China, for example, has brought hundreds of millions of people from rural locations to the bustling coastal metropolises. The effects of urbanization, however, are more tangible and better recognized than those of agricultural land-use; e.g. air pollution and increasing child asthma; forced choice between rural hopelessness and urban despair; does urbanization creates a good living places for all citizens and people, particularly families; increased loads of sewage discharge into the streams. Above all, the severe expansion of slums within and around major/mega cities and towns.
Across the world, slums are home to a billion of people, one in seven of the world’s population. By 2050, according to the United Nations, there could be three billion. The slum is the filthy secret of the modern mega-city, the hidden achievement of 20 years of untrammelled market forces, greed, neglect and graft (http://www.newstatesman.com/global-issues/2011/08/slum-city-manila-gina-estero). Megacities will often turn into Megaslums under the coming and increasing urbanisation, fueled by migration and differential birthrates. We see this occurring first of all in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. As current immigration trends continue, we will see the emergence of true Megaslums in Europe, North America, Oceania, and even in Japan and other presently low-migrant wealthy nations that are losing the demographic race (https://alfinnextlevel.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/urban-world-utopia-or-global-dysgenic-idiocracy/).
For older cities in developed countries – London, Paris or New York – urbanization took place gradually over a century and with tight interactions with industries and engagenment from research, technology and education. They had time, resources, know-how and knowledge to adjust. In contrast, in developing Asian, intense urbanization is taking place within few short decades in random fashion and completely degenerated from supporting infra-structures and with complete absence of public and basic services, e.g. education, health, transport, water and sanitation. Unlike the Western cities that urbanized earlier, developing Asian cities simply do not have the administrative, management, institutional and financial capacities to manage urbanization and resulting socio-economic upheaval within such short periods. Urbanization is, indeed a complex challenge, with implications that are difficult to forecast especially in the absence of coordinated policies, management and administration (http://thediplomat.com). Most disastrous consequences arise with rapid and random urbanization in the developing countries (http://www.iied.org/study-warns-failure-plan-for-rapid-urbanisation-developing-nations). Governments in Africa and Asia must have strict plans for urbanization or risk harming the future prospects of hundreds of millions of their citizens with knock-on effects worldwide. They should heed lessons from Brazil whose failure in the past to plan for rapid urban growth exacerbated poverty and created new environmental problems and long-term costs that could have been avoided (http://knowledge.zurich.com/risk-interconnectivity/the-risks-of-rapid-urbanization-in-developing-countries/).
By 2050 more than two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities, while the many benefits of organized and efficient cities are well understood, we need to recognize that this rapid, often unplanned urbanization brings risks of profound social instability, risks to critical infrastructure, potential water crises and the potential for devastating spread of disease. These risks can only be further exacerbated as this unprecedented transition from rural to urban areas continues. The increased concentration of people, physical assets, infrastructure and economic activities mean that the risks materializing at the city level will have far greater potential to disrupt society than ever before (http://www.afdb.org/en/blogs/afdb-championing-inclusive-growth-across-africa/post/urbanization-in-africa-10143/). Urbanization in Africa has largely been translated into rising slum establishments, increasing poverty and inequality. However, there are large variations in the patterns of urbanization across African regions. The relatively fewer slums in North African countries is mainly attributed to better urban development strategies, including investment in infrastructure and in upgrading urban settlements. More broadly, 60% of African citizens live in places where water supplies and sanitation are inadequate. As most of the migrants from rural areas are uneducated/unskilled, they end up in informal sector with low income and intermittent, and naturally seek for shelters or become tenants of slum landlords. Many African cities have, therefore, to deal not only with slum proliferation but also with increasing insecurity and crime. Weak institutions have contributed to poor urban enforcement, resulting in dysfunctional land and housing markets, which in turn has caused mushrooming of informal settlements. Furthermore, African governments have neglected the key drivers of productivity which include small and medium-size enterprises, human resource and skills development, and technological innovation. These factors are essential in advancing predominantly informal, survivalist and basic trading activities to higher value-added work (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=35556&Cr=URBAN&Cr1#.VtsxxUV86nM).
Relevant slideshare: https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/PECSweb/urbanization-brief-history-future-outlooks; https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/RajendraPSharma/urbanization-a-theoretical-view-perspectives-growth-cause-and-problems
Here is a short summary on How Slums Are The Fastest Growing “Lifestyle Communities”: http://www.theurbandeveloper.com/fastest-growing-suburbs-slums/
Education for Sustainable Development “ESD” or Sustainability Education (https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/your-university/sustainability/sustainability-education/esd) is about enabling every human being to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future. The Nordic countries have long traditions in meeting the needs for changing climates by being at high-latitudes where water change phase from being solid ice to liquid water. Also, where precipitation can be either snow or rain. The point here is the phase change of the water, as from the management point of view, has much technical requirements though the high abundance of water is a gift of nature to the Nordic countries. Though the temperatures at high-latitudes may have positive impacts on health, they are technically speaking not as friendly to live in as compared to lower latitudes. In terms of the sunshine and its seasonality the Nordic countries are not in same lucky situation as countries around the Mediterranean or even the equator. Another severe limitation for life at high-latitudes is temperature as the functioning and metabolism of life systems in particular for humans have their own conditions. The associated challenges in terms of water and energy, however, turned to be of great advantage for finding answers for confortable living for everyone where the baseline is long-term and large-scale survival. This is exactly the core of sustainability where its there pillars have to be in tact (economic, environment and social). To translate population challenges to individual solutions of complex problems under varying and shifting “economic, environment and social” conditions, instruments and tools for doing so have to be accessible and affordable for everyone but yet in communicative and structured manner. That is being defined in modern times as EDUCATION where its content, i.e. knowledge, is not static but now and then needs to be updated, structured or even improved. This dynamic part of education and knowledge “RESEARCH” is imperative and has to continuous and intensive. The world-wide recognition of sustainability as life-style promotes new global necessities in education and research. In this context, pedagogical issues at all stages and types of education and research have been recognized by being essential.
The Handbook of Research on Pedagogical Innovations for Sustainable Development is the outcome of a major conference in Finland celebrating ten years of work promoting education, especially teacher education, for sustainable development or sustainability. “Reorientation of teacher education towards sustainability through theory and practice. Proceedings of the 10th international JTEFS/ BBCC conference Sustainable development, University of Eastern Finland Reports and Studies in Education, Humanities, and Theology No 7, University of Eastern Finland Joensuu, 2013. The work in this conference has been done in parallel with the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UN DESD: 2005– 2014). The Conference followed UNESCO’s rigorous and open definition of Education for Sustainable Development.
The main areas of discussion were: Sustainable early childhood education (ECE) and preschool education; towards systemic and integrative research methodology in ESD studies; pedagogy of sustainable future: museums, forests and culture environments as platforms for 21st century learning; sustainable education issues in science education; sustainable ICT in education; adult education for sustainable development, arts, design and skills; home, health and well-being, tourism research – connections on well-being, education and sustainability; teacher education for inclusion; social pedagogy as a dimen- sion of sustainable life; sustainability in community practices; and Earth Charter: values and multicultural approaches to education for sustainable development.
Uncovering the whys: what motivates teachers and researchers to conduct education and research in particular towards systemic and integrative methodology, application and promotion of Sustainable Developments is of major global interest.
There are contradictory predictions about the fate of Dubai by 2100, i.e. uninhabitable or the center of the world. The temperature increase due to global warming can render life in the MENA region almost uninhabitable (http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/27/world/persian-gulf-heat-climate-change/; http://www.kippreport.com/fcs/abu-dhabi-dubai-and-doha-uninhabitable-by-2100/;
However, the population dynamics which is predicted to decrease in the Americas and Europe and to increase in the Asia and Africa. This will make Dubai to be the center of the world instead of London which is currently holds this status (http://gulfelitemag.com/dubai-set-become-centre-world-year-2100/; http://m.khaleejtimes.com/nation/general/dubai-to-be-centre-of-the-world-by-2100; http://m.arabianbusiness.com/dubai-set-become-the-centre-of-world-by-2100-gov-t-expert-predicts-581660.html).