Category: Environment & Climate

All sectors of modern society can have impacts from environment and climate changes. There are two “groups” of waste and pollution, those with general impacts on the environment and quality of life, and the other group with specific impacts on climate and weather through the so-called global warming. However, there can be some overlapping between these two groups and induced effects therein. Achieving sustainable socio-economic developments depends on keeping good records and information on how our environment and climate are changing in terms of space and time. Air, water and ecological qualities are very much related to the consumption pattern of our common natural resources on the earth, also how we deal with our waste from household, agriculture and industries. Furthermore, waste and pollution can exist in different forms (gas, liquid and solid), originate from various sources and follow different paths of dispersion, and ultimately have different fates. Upon dispersion in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, ecosphere and in aquatic systems, pollution continues to interact with the biotic and abiotic components of the environment. Such interactions introduce degradation in climate, weather and the environment. Greenhouse gases, primarily from fossil fuel burning, cause global warming. Other types of pollution, e.g. heavy metals, toxic chemicals, acidic gases, agricultural and industrial waste, cause degradation of life quality and other damaging effects on the environment, water and ecological systems. Because of the existing and emerging competition on natural resources, and the diverse consumption pattern by stakeholders and industries, there are constant needs for developing treaties, conventions, regulations and agreements on all levels and sectors to protect the climate and environment and to promote sustainable socio-economic developments.

Have UN-SDG any Impacts on R&D around the World? 

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.

https://www.iriweb.org/sites/default/files/2016GlobalR%26DFundingForecast_2.pdf

Mission Is Cloudy – 70 Years of UN & International Bureaucracy

Today 70 years and half a trillion dollars later after the creation of the UN, we are faced with several legitimate questions. What the UN, and its complex systems of International Bureaucracy, has achieved in practical terms, e.g. for the poor, environment, water, agriculture, food, illiteracy, energy, climate, biodiversity, quality of life and in particular water and air …… sustainable developments and many many more? Also, how the future would like in terms of these aspects? 

Well, the United Nations has saved millions of lives and boosted health and education across the world. But what happened with the billions of people that were added to the world population since WW-II, i.e. about 4.5 billions? Did the majority of these new comers got better life and future, escape poverty and illiteracy, get better health, education and employment? As majority of the growing population, i.e. billions of them, is taking place in developing countries, then we can ask: what about affordability and accessibility to the basic needs as defined by the 21-century standards? Did the developing countries advance in the same way as the developed world did after WW-II? Whatever the answer is, it remains imperative to ask what would be the impacts of such trends on the global sustainability and what the developed world, modern technology and R&D did to save the planet Earth from total collapse?

In this context, what would be the future role of UN and its complex, ineffective bureaucratic systems? How would the UN and its bureaucratic systems change from “know-about” systems to “know-how” organizations with effectively managed instruments of implementation? What would be the next practical plans for effective actions and measures to achieve the so-called UN-SDG?

In a changing world with new powers of Internet, Google, Apple, Amazon, Ali Express, …. and the whole web of Social Media Instruments what would be the new role of the UN and its bloated international bureaucracy with undemocratic and ineffective cost-benefits solutions for the majority of the world population in particular the affordability and accessibility to basic life needs according to the 21-century standards?

It is totally true what Dag Hammarskjöld said, the tragic second UN secretary general, who had it best “The United Nations was created not to lead mankind to heaven but to save humanity from hell”? Did the UN save humanity from hell? More interesting what did Dag Hammarskjöld mean by hell? The kind of hell Dag Hammarskjöld had in mind was not hard to imagine in the wake of world war, massive destruction and with the atom bomb’s shadow spreading across the globe. But these threats are now more or less over and new emerging hells are either existing or soon facing us. 

Since it was set up in 1945, the UN helped save millions from other kinds of hell, e.g. the deepest of poverty, save children die of treatable diseases, starvation and exposure to classical wars. The UN’s children’s organisation, Unicef, provided an education and a path to a better life for millions. The UN’s development programmes were instrumental in helping countries newly freed from colonial rule to govern themselves. But in the very shadow of these achievements and on wide-scale prespective, the UN agencies ‘broke and failing’ in face of an ever-growing refugee crisis, global poverty, climate change and global warming, environmental threats and ecological degradation, the very late introduction and the ineffective implementation of UN-SDG with ultra-slow transformation speed to more sustainable future for planet Earth.

In its 70 years, the United Nations may have been hailed as the great hope for the future of mankind – but it has also been dismissed as a shameful organization with numbing bureaucracy, institutional cover-ups of corruption and undemocratic politics of its security council. Policies to go to war in the name of peace with no measures to clean up after collapse of states after wars and ineffective support for millions of victims.

These imperfections have now come to the surface and pressing the UN and its organisation to define its role in the 21st century. Tensions between western governments and developing countries have rippled across the organisation as ballooning costs drive the push for reform. The UN is overly bureaucratic and slow in the way it dealt with development issues. The UN has many organisations with overlapping mandates. It’s built systems on top of systems on top of systems with structures that protect the incompetence and ineffectiveness. Cooperation between organisations has been hindered by competition for funding, mission creep and by outdated business practises. This is clear in water, energy and environment sectors with many UN agencies are active and compete for limited resources without a clear collaborative framework. What we have now is another multiplication of targets and goals which are an extraordinarily comprehensive assessment of what’s needed to be done but there’s no operational clarity around them. Who’s going to do it? Who’s going to monitor it? Who’s accountable for it? The goals themselves are pretty impressive but it doesn’t say anything to the UN about what they should be doing.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/07/what-has-the-un-achieved-united-nations

But on the other hand the UN says it is the member states that fails to cooperate and to deliver effective local and regional solutions. The pile-up of mis- managements on local and regional scales is the major reasons for how the world looks like as it does today (http://m.sputniknews.com/world/20151023/1028980091/United-Nations-70-Years.html). 

So, in any case reforms are necessary and imperative to bring about remarkable changes for the majority of the world population. BUT WHAT,  HOW AND WHEN?

Sustainable Energy – Technology, Life-Style and Civilizations on Planet Earth

The history of technology (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_technology) involves invention, development and implementation of techniques, skills, methods and solutions with consideration to the best available knowledge and know-how. In the evolution of technology it was shaped and reshape by using different forms of energy: man and animal power (muscle’s energy); energy from plants in (agriculture revolution); energy from simple natural resources (fossil-fuel era); and the advanced use of natural resources (nuclear power). The history of technological evolution thus describe transformations in life-styles and civilizations. Throughout these historical transformations, humans realized not only the importance of energy for life and survival but more importantly the limitations, threats and negative impacts embedded in the different forms of energy and associated interactions in the life-cycles of production and consumption. More recently, we came about the needs to be able to master all problems, threats, negative impacts and possibly even control the future using technology (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology). This is the birth of sustainability and creation of green technologies with renewable and sustainable energy resources (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_energy) for the sake of protection and preservation of natural resources in particular aquatic, ecosystem and biodiversity, i.e. life and its quality on earth.

 In ecology, sustainability is the capacity to use our natural and essential resources for benefit of future generations as well (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability). However, from the geological perspective and biological evolution viewpoint, the future of the Earth can be extrapolated based upon the estimated effects of several long-term influences. This is indeed, very complex and can only be predicted without great details (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_of_the_Earth).

World Universities – From Mission Completed To Mission Impossible

It is very interesting to understand the role of universities and their mission in the past and in the present and how would such role and mission look like in the future. The universities around the world are undergoing several changes with new pressures and constrains as the world itself is becoming more and more dynamic, complex and unpredictable. With growing population, declining resources, increasing mobility of people, changing demography and diversification of the labor market. Also, with enhanced pressures on rapid transformation to sustainable socio-economies with strict policies for effective implementation of the UN-SDG it is hard to believe that the universities, their role, mission and in particular their interaction with other sectors will remain to be the same. Questions arise; how would universities look like in the future in particular their role to guide society and population into more sustainable future and economy at least on local and regional levels. In fact, sustainable future is what policy-makers, the populations, the market, new comers and professionals are eager to have and contribute in.

Until the 19th century, religion played a significant role in university curriculum; however, the role of religion in research and university affairs decreased in the 19th century, and by the end of the 19th century, the German university model had spread around the world. Universities concentrated on science in the 19th and 20th centuries and became increasingly accessible to the masses. The move from Industrial Revolution to modernity saw the arrival of new civic universities with an emphasis on science and engineering.

As universities increasingly came under state control, the faculty governance model became more and more prominent. Although the older student-controlled universities still existed, they slowly started to move toward this structural organization. Control of universities still tended to be independent, although university leadership was increasingly appointed by the state. A university is in general (Latin: universitas, “a whole”) still an institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which grants academic degrees in various subjects and typically provides undergraduate and postgraduate education. The word “university” also means “community of teachers and scholars.” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/University). 

The University’s mission and core values
sustainable development is a concept that is not new, and yet it is complex and not easy to define. In 1987, the Brundtland report from the World Commission on Environment and Development defined it as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. With the birth of the UN-SDG, the role for higher education in sustainable development in becoming more and more critical in many aspects. Institutions now have the responsibility, more than ever before, to integrate sustainable development into all their teaching, research, community engagement and campus operation. A chain of many changes will gradually shape and reshape higher education and R&D around the world. So the mission of universities is far from being complete and has never been as complex as it is today (http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20150108194231213).

UN-SGD – Last Emergency Call For Intensive Care of Mother Earth

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.

2016-05-30 08.22.08

On the Road of UN-SDG -SWEDEN TEXTILE WATER INITIATIVE

COOPERATION FOR SUSTAINABILITY is imperative to put the world on the right track for achieving the UN-SDG. It is about global transformation of all sector activities and on all levels for shaping and reshaping our lifestyle to protect and preserve all life forms on earth.
Textile industries (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textile_industry) are among main sectors that contribute in major production of pollution and waste that threaten global freshwater resources.

Freshwater on our planet is precious and without sustainable management of such vital resource all life forms on planet earth will sooner or later vanish. Sweden Textile Water Initative brings together Swedish leather and textile companies in collaboration to reduce water, energy and chemical use in their supply chains.

The Sweden Textile Water Initiative announces the global results for the financial year ending 31 December 2015. The environmental, social and financial (the basic pillars of sustainability) results have surpassed expectations. Results have been collected from the Initiative’s scaled up global programme to increase efficient water, energy and chemical use at factory level in India, China, Bangladesh, Turkey and Ethiopia.

Among the goals and objectives of the Sweden Textile Water Initiative “STWI” are creating guidelines for increased sustainability worldwide. Based on the assumption that common guidelines pave the way for real change, STWI-guidelines provide suppliers with clear instructions on how to work towards improved water efficiency, water pollution prevention and wastewater management in production processes. The guidelines are available in English and Chinese. Visit the Guidelines page to learn more: http://stwi.se, http://smallbusiness.chron.com/kinds-pollution-textile-factories-give-off-77282.html

UN – World Water Day

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.

http://www.unwater.org/campaigns/world-water-day/en/
Sustain-earth.com continues to look far and deep in our future on planet Earth.

  

Managing Sustainability – Science, Technology, R&D Versus Politics, Socio-Environment, Economics

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.

  

From Megacities to Megaslums – Slums The Fastest Growing “Lifestyle Communities”

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/

  

Cairo, May 2016 – TEMPUS Symposia on Product Development Innovation & Industrial Systems and Operations

Please, note the forthcoming joint Symposia, Cairo, 3-5 May 2016, on Product Development Innovation “PDI”, and Industrial Systems and Operations Management “ISOM”, an outcome of EC-funded TEMPUS-collaboration (for 2014-2020 the new Erasmus+ aims to support actions in the fields of Education, Training, Youth and Sport with strong international cooperation dimension in the field of higher education http://eacea.ec.europe.eu/tempus) between universities in Germany, Italy, Sweden and Egypt. These Symposia are intended to fill the gaps in industrial engineering through bringing together industries and the academies including fostering networking, collaboration and joint efforts among the participants to identify major trends in Industrial Engineering today. For further information, please see 

(https://db.tt/AbfWfFJL; https://db.tt/TDrHYd7S; https://db.tt/xhig15Ui).
We look forward for joining us and being part of these interesting activities/
Dr. Farid El-Daoushy

Senior Professor, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Ångström Lab., Uppsala University