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Lecture 1: Introduction to Sustainability Science and SDGs

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Lecture 1: Introduction to Sustainability Science and SDGs
Dr. Philip Vaughter (UNU-IAS)
2019 ProSPER.Net Young Researchers' School
4 March 2019

Published in: Environment
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Lecture 1: Introduction to Sustainability Science and SDGs

  1. 1. Sustainable Development and Sustainability Science DR. PHILIP VAUGHTER RESEARCH FELLOW UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY – INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCED STUDY OF SUSTAINABILITY MARCH 4TH, 2019
  2. 2. What is human development? Within the United Nations (UN) system, when development is discussed, it is often human development Human development can mean many different things to different people, but for the UN system, it is measured using the Human Development Index (HDI) The HDI is a composite index (score) of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank countries into four tiers of human development: ◦ Very High ◦ High ◦ Medium ◦ Low The HDI only looks at these three indicators – other parameters of human well-being are not evaluated by this method!
  3. 3. What is human development? The HDI was developed by economists Mahbub ul Haq and Amartya Sen in order to have an objective measurement for these parameters of human development by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) It is important to note that the Human Development Index is an index of potential human development (or the maximum level of human development that could be achieved if there were no inequality within a nation (UNDP, 2015) ◦ It is important to remember that the HDI is theoretical. It takes indicators, like the total income revenues within a nation, and divides this number by all people within the country. Whether or not income distribution actually is close to equal or not is not addressed in HDI measures – the HDI merely looks at total resources available and divides it by the population Inequality in nations’ development is accounted for in another index, the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI) - first published in 2016 - is a more accurate interpretation of development within a country as it accounts for inequality within a country
  4. 4. What is human development? A country scores higher in the HDI when: ◦ The lifespan of the average number of the population is longer ◦ The education level obtained by the average number of citizens is higher, and ◦ The GDP per capita is higher ◦ Remember: GDP is equally distributed in HDI, but this may not reflect reality for any given country With this in mind, the UN General Assembly passed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000
  5. 5. What happened during the MDGs? Trends for better health and longer lives in most regions Better access to food and water in most regions Reduced poverty – especially in China, Latin America, and small island states More children educated – though quality of education highly variable Increased equality (in some places)
  6. 6. How far have we come in human development?
  7. 7. How far have we come in human development?
  8. 8. How far have we come in human development?
  9. 9. How far have we come in human development?
  10. 10. However, our patterns of development have caused problems that threaten to undo our progress… The pollution we create causes changes in the atmosphere, contributing to climate change
  11. 11. However, our patterns of development have caused problems that threaten to undo our progress… We are polluting water systems, threatening future supply
  12. 12. However, our patterns of development have caused problems that threaten to undo our progress… We are harvesting our seas and our forests faster than they can be replaced
  13. 13. However, our patterns of development have caused problems that threaten to undo our progress… We are degrading our natural resources with the waste we generate
  14. 14. However, our patterns of development have caused problems that threaten to undo our progress… Mass number of extinctions are occurring around the planet
  15. 15. However, our patterns of development have caused problems that threaten to undo our progress… And as a population – we are still growing!
  16. 16. The world needs to change development practices if it is going to keep the progress it has made The idea is to not just develop, but to develop sustainably ◦ “Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Our Common Future, 1987) Growing wealth needs to mean we don’t do it at the cost of the environment – no one is rich on a dead planet Securing food and water now means we don’t sacrifice that security later – long term vs. short term thinking
  17. 17. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were created to meet this objective
  18. 18. The idea of sustainable development is that it makes environmental, social, and economic systems sustainable
  19. 19. Unfortunately, this is what tends to happen…
  20. 20. We need to get to here…
  21. 21. Sustainability Science “Sustainability science is an interdisciplinary approach for solving ongoing problems, and the quest for advancing both useful knowledge and informed action by creating a dynamic bridge between basic and applied research” (Clark, 2007). “A new field of sustainability science is emerging that seeks to understand the fundamental character of interaction between nature and society. Such an understanding must encompass the interaction of global processes with the ecological and social characteristics of particular places and sectors” (Kates et al., 2001)
  22. 22. Core Questions of Sustainability Science • How can the dynamic interactions between nature and society – including lags and inertia – be better incorporated into emerging models and conceptualizations that integrate the Earth system, human development, and sustainability? • How are long-term trends in environment and development, including consumption and population, reshaping nature-society interactions in ways relevant to sustainability? • What determines the vulnerability or resilience of the nature-society system in particular kinds of places and for particular kinds of ecosystems and human livelihoods? • Can scientifically meaningful “limits” or “boundaries” be defined that would provide effective warning of conditions beyond which the nature-society systems incur a significantly increased risk of serious degradation?
  23. 23. Core Questions of Sustainability Science • What systems of incentive structures – including markets, rules, norms, and scientific information – can most effectively improve social capacity to guide interactions between nature and society toward more sustainable trajectories? • How can today’s operational systems for monitoring and reporting on environmental and social conditions be integrated or extended to provide useful guidance for efforts to navigate a transition toward sustainability? • How can today’s relatively independent activities of research planning, monitoring, assessment, and decision support be better integrated into systems for adaptive management and societal learning?
  24. 24. Characteristics of Sustainability Science The Target (What) 1) The dynamic interactions between nature and society The Approach and Method (How) 2) Problem-driven and problem-solving efforts 3) Multi-criteria assessment and systems approach 4) Multi-, inter-, or trans-disciplinary characteristics 5) Adaptive management and social learning The Players (Who) 6) Collaboration between scientists and practitioners
  25. 25. Multidisciplinary and Interdisciplinary
  26. 26. Transdisciplinary Inquiry • Disciplinary: Epistemologies, assumptions, knowledge, skills, and methods within the boundary of a discipline • Eg. Physics; History; Psychology • Multidisciplinary: Using the knowledge/understanding of more than one discipline • Eg. Physics and History; Biology and Architecture • Interdisciplinary: Using the epistemologies/methods of one discipline with another • Eg. Biochemistry; Ecophilosophy; Astrophysics • Transdisciplinary: Focus on an issue such as pollution or hunger both within and beyond discipline boundaries with the possibility of new perspectives on collaboration with stakeholders/society
  27. 27. Transdisciplinary Inquiry
  28. 28. Research Proposal Development • A “good proposal” should: • Have a focused objective addressing a current need • Be well structured – if you confuse the reviewers, you don’t get funded! • Be methodologically rigorous – other scientists should be able to follow the steps and get similar results • Be achievable – better to under-promise and over-deliver rather than over-promise and under-deliver • Be clearly defined – offer relevant outcomes for identified stakeholders! • Be fundable – know who to ask for money and how much is appropriate to ask for!
  29. 29. Having a Focused Objective • Your task is to develop five research proposals on topics we cover in this year’s Young Researchers’ School: Ecosystem based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation • There are give research groups that have been assigned to develop a research proposal on the following topics related to this year’s theme: • Coastal storms (hurricanes and typhoons) • Earthquakes and landslides • Tsunamis • Urban flooding • Volcanoes • Aim to be interdisciplinary, focusing on cross-cutting issues that can tie together many of the disciplines that will be covered individually and from your own backgrounds, as well as transdisciplinary by collaborating with stakeholders other than other researchers • Address a current need: why is the topic you are assigned important and who is it important to?
  30. 30. Having a well structured proposal
  31. 31. What is the big deal about methodology? • A clear methodology section is one of the most critical parts of a research proposal • It is also the part that even the most experienced researchers have difficulty in writing! • The purpose of a methodology section is to: • Explain how the data was generated • Explain how the data was analyzed • When writing a methodology, it is critical to provide enough information so that others can repeat the experiment/study and reproduce the results, or understand the context the results were generated in so that the audience can judge whether your conclusions are valid • When writing a methodology, try to be direct and precise as possible • Make sure to operationalize any terminology used so that the audience can follow the methodology clearly
  32. 32. Steps in writing a methodology 1) Research background 2) Goals and objectives of the research 3) Propose methodology 4) Determine sources of data 5) Develop at timeline
  33. 33. Steps in writing a methodology 1) Research Background •This is a reference back to the literature review on the given topic, explaining what methodologies have been used by other researchers to examine the same or similar topics • These methodologies do not necessarily have to be incorporated into the study, but it is a good idea to acknowledge them and explain why or why not they are appropriate for the given study • Note: This is an important early step, but it not research, it is review 2) Goals and Objectives of Research • In this section, lay out the research objective of the given study • Try and avoid vague terms here – just clearly state what you will and will not be doing within the scope of the research
  34. 34. Steps in writing a methodology 3) Propose a Methodology •Present a rationale for why a given methodology was chosen to investigate the given topic • Helpful tip– present a flow chat or some form of visual aid to illustrate the methodology being presented 4) Determine Sources of Data • Explicitly state what the sources of data will be • Explicitly state what type of data will be collected from the sources • Explain how this data will be gathered, including type of sampling techniques or equipment used in the collection process • If any measurements or categorizations are made during data collection, explain briefly how these were made
  35. 35. Steps in writing a methodology 5) Develop a Timeline •Develop a timetable for completion of the various stages of work for the methodology (e.g., methodology development, data collection/fieldwork, data processing, analysis, results interpretation, etc.)
  36. 36. Types of Data, Types of Methods • Typically, researchers choose from three methodological approaches: 1) Quantitative 2) Qualitative 3) Mixed
  37. 37. Quantitative Research Methods • Quantitative research methods are characterized by the collection of information which can be analyzed numerically • Results are typically presented using statistics, tables, and/or graphs • Because quantitative data is numeric, the collection and analysis of representative samples is commonly used • The more representative the sample, the more likely the quantitative analysis will reflect results that can be generalized • However, even if a sample is representative, quantitative data can be useless unless the data collection instruments are appropriate, well designed, and clearly explained to the users of the data • Example: Data collected using poorly designed questionnaires may solicit huge amounts of data but result in much of it being unusable because it is impossible to generalize • All too often, designers of data collection tools frame qualitative questions quantitatively and vice versa
  38. 38. Quantitative Research Methods Strengths of Quantitative Methods • Numeric estimates • Opportunity for relatively uncomplicated data analysis • Data which are verifiable • Data which are comparable between different communities and locations • Data which do not require analytical judgement beyond consideration of how information will be presented in the dissemination process Weaknesses of Quantitative Methods • Gaps in information – ex., data which are not included in collection cannot be included in analysis • Labor intensive data collection process • Often, limited participation by populations affected in the information collection process
  39. 39. Qualitative Research Methods • Qualitative research is by definition exploratory – it is used when we don’t know what to expect, how to define an issue, or there is a lack of understanding of why and how variables are affected • Qualitative data is useful for exploring both groups and individual entities, and can generate case studies and summaries rather than lists of numeric data • Qualitative data are often textual observations that portray attitudes, perceptions, or intentions • Qualitative methods and analysis provide added value in exploring intangible factors • For example, cultural expectations, gender roles, and individual feelings • Sample size must be big enough to assure inclusion of most or all of the variance in the data • Often times, the number of sample sites, groups, or categorizations becomes obvious as assessment progresses and new categories, themes, and explanations stop emerging from the data – this is called theoretical saturation
  40. 40. Qualitative Research Methods Strengths of Qualitative Methods • Rich and detailed information • Perspectives that include specific cultural and social contexts (the human voice) • Inclusion of diverse cross-sections • Data collection which can be carried out with limited resources • Data collection which can be carried out with limited respondents Weaknesses of Qualitative Methods • Results in data which are not objectively verifiable • Requires a labor intensive analysis process (categorization, recording, etc.) • Needs skilled data collectors for both consistency and nuance
  41. 41. Mixed Research Methods • A combination of both quantitative and qualitative research methods for investigating a given research question • Teams are often composed of an expert in quantitative research, an expert in qualitative research, and someone who has worked in mixed research to help with dialogue • Whether or not the research is interdisciplinary depends on the discipline each of the given researchers is from – mixed methods is not inherently interdisciplinary as different types of research methods can be used in the same discipline
  42. 42. Mixed Research Methods Strengths of Mixed Methods • Narrow views are often misleading, so approaching a subject from different perspectives (paradigms) may help to gain a more holistic view • There are different levels of social research, and therefore different methodologies may have particular strengths for different levels • Mixed methods fit well with pragmatism – the idea that knowledge is useful when it has practical purposes; therefore, different recipients of the knowledge can either engage from a quantitative or qualitative perspective, widening the researchers’ potential audience • Also, potential for multiple types of validations! Weaknesses of Mixed Methods • Some research perspectives (paradigms) may be seen as at odds with each other, and therefore incompatible for a research team • Cultural issues affect world views of researchers, and this may impact comparable analysis in mixed method research • It is often easier for researchers to move from quantitative to qualitative methodologies in their training, and not the reverse
  43. 43. Achievable Research Proposals • All proposed activities for a research proposal should be achievable with the time and resources available to the researcher or research team • Often, researchers think they can take on more than they can finish in a given timeframe • Remember, just because it is important does not mean you or your team have the capacity to do it • Take careful stock of who can do what by when! • Remember, it is better to under-promise and over-deliver than over-promise and under-deliver! • Brainstorming – use free time tonight and tomorrow to discuss ideas • What themes are emerging in the group in relation to your assigned topic? • Scoping – use free time and assigned working time during the rest of the programme to develop your research questions(s) and how you will investigate them
  44. 44. Key Deliverables • Proposal Presentation – Tuesday, March 12th, 2019 • Send to Dr. Djalante and Dr. Vaughter • Research Proposal – Sunday, April 14th, 2019 • Send to Dr. Djalante and Dr. Vaughter • Both should include (overview in presentation and greater detail in written proposal): • Background and statement of research area/field • Insights from field visits and/or lectures • Research question(s) • Methods • Impacts and Outcomes • Timeline
  45. 45. Key Deliverables • During the development of your research proposals in the Young Researchers’ School, you should also aim to achieve the following: • Increase communication skills and problem solving while working in a diverse team of researchers • Remember – people in your team come from a variety of different nations, cultures, and identities different to you own – part of the training of the YRS is not only to learn to develop a research proposal, but to develop a research proposal together with a diverse team of scientists! • Develop organizational skills, including delegation • Remember – it is not feasible nor fair to put the majority of the work on any team member or members. We all have busy lives and a variety of commitments, but an unfair distribution of work is the quickest way for a research project to fall apart. Take careful stock of what each member can and cannot do in relation to developing the research proposal from the beginning! • Work to a deadline • Academics are notoriously late with everything – don’t be like that! It is better to submit work that is ‘good enough’ on time rather than strive for perfection and go past a deadline!
  46. 46. Exemplar – Delhi Metro Research Proposal CHRISTOPHER DOLL & OSMAN BALABAN PROSPER.NET YOUNG RESEARCHERS’ SCHOOL 3RD OF AUGUST, 2011 – HOSEI UNIVERSITY
  47. 47. 50 RESEARCH PLAN TEMPLATE 1 Research Questions and Outcomes AREA/FIELD OF RESEARCH: identify broad topic area and brainstorm a list of possible questions, issues and problems that you will need to investigate. Then try to narrow this down to a more specific Research Focus. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM: While it is known that …………………………….. Research has yet been conducted to ......... PURPOSE: Therefore the overall goal/purpose of this research is to ……… RESEARCH QUESTION: Therefore the research question to be answered by this research is ……… OUTCOMES/DELIVERABLES : The expected outcomes of this research will include: Global and local environmental problems are pressing for sufficient attention and prompt actions. The growth of cities and continual increase in urban population in developing countries are expected to intensify these problems under business-as-usual scenarios. However it’s not easy to convince developing countries to leave BAU scenarios and undertake actions to tackle both global and local environmental problems. Even if they are willing to do so, their economic and human resources may not suffice to create a significant change. Considering this challenge, several new concepts are being developed specifically to address the multiple urban challenges in coordinated and less costly manner. In this respect, ‘co-benefits approach’, which promotes the implementation of policies that bring multiple benefits at a time, has started to gain attention of researchers and policy-makers. The approach is argued to overcome the current challenges in cities of developing countries at relatively lower costs when compared to the costs that were borne by today’s developed countries. Hypothetically we know that policy initiatives in certain sectors can generate global and local environmental benefits simultaneously. The two main sectors in which policies and initiatives could result in co-benefits are solid waste management and transportation. However in present we know very little about the current level of co-benefits generated by certain initiatives and also we have limited knowledge and instruments to calculate or quantify co-benefits. Sufficient research has yet been conducted to find out the extent to which current projects have generated co-benefits and to develop methodologies to quantify co-benefits. Therefore this research set out to address and fulfill this gap in our knowledge and to improve our understanding of the links between co-benefits approach and policies in certain urban sectors To develop a methodology to quantify the environmental co-benefits of urban transportation initiatives and to apply this methodology to calculate the co-benefits of Delhi Metro Project. What have been the environmental co-benefits of Delhi Metro Project and how can these benefits be calculated? 1. Calculations on different environmental benefits generated by Delhi Metro Project. 2. A methodology or an evaluation tool that can be used to assess the effectiveness of transportation projects in generating co-benefits in different contexts. 3. A sound understanding of the role of urban transportation sector in tacking global and local environmental problems.
  48. 48. 51 RESEARCH PLAN TEMPLATE 2 Goals and Objectives RESEARCH QUESTION (from T1): OUTCOMES/DELIVERABLES (from T1): OBJECTIVES: To achieve the research goal or answer the research question, the study will address the following objectives: 1. To 2. To 3. To What have been the environmental co-benefits of Delhi Metro Project and how can these benefits be calculated? 1. Calculations on different environmental benefits generated by Delhi Metro Project. 2. A methodology or an evaluation tool that can be used to assess the effectiveness of transportation projects in generating co-benefits in different contexts. 3. A sound understanding of the role of urban transportation sector in tacking global and local environmental problems. find out/calculate how many tones of GHG emissions have been reduced after Delhi Metro started to operate. find out/calculate how much of air pollutants (SOx, NOx, PM10 etc.) have been reduced after Delhi Metro started to operate. develop a methodology or a tool for quantification of global and local environmental co-benefits of a metro system.
  49. 49. 52 RESEARCH PLAN TEMPLATE 3 Specific research questions Identify the specific research questions that you will need to ask to find and analyse the information that will help you achieve each objective. They may include a range of What, Why, Impact and Action focused questions and should reflect a sequence that can guide the sequence of data collection and analysis steps. In the third column, reflect on any issues you are aware of either in initial scope or implications if for whatever reason a certain question cannot be fully answered Research objectives (from T2) Specific research questions What are the assumptions or known issues involved and therefore the limitations with this approach; is that satisfactory to set the boundary of the thesis? 1. 2. 3. To find out/calculate how many tones of GHG emissions have been reduced after Delhi Metro started to operate. 1.1 What is the linkage between a metro system and GHG emissions? 1.2 What specific aspects of a metro system could help to reduce GHG emissions? 1.3 How and which GHGs could be reduced through the operation of a metro system? To find out/calculate how much of air pollutants (SOx, NOx, PM10, etc.) have been reduced after Delhi Metro started to operate. 2.1 What is the linkage between a metro system and air pollution? 2.2 What kind of air pollutants could be reduced by a metro system and how? 2.3 What are the annual amounts of reduction in different air pollutants due to the Delhi Metro? To develop a methodology or a tool for quantification of global and local environmental co-benefits of a metro system. 3.1 What are the current tools and methodologies available to make such quantification? 3.2 What are the strengths and weaknesses of current tools and methodologies? 3.3 What kind of data is required to develop such methodology and what are the possible ways of collecting that data?
  50. 50. 53 RESEARCH PLAN TEMPLATE 4 Sources, Collection, and Analysis of Data Plan for data collection and analysis to provide evidence for answering the research questions defined for each objective Specific research questions (from T3) Techniques of data collection Source of data Techniques of data analysis/ model development 1.1 What is the linkage between a metro system and GHG emissions? Interviews to collect data Delhi Metro Rail Corporation System boundary identification 1.2 What specific aspects of a metro system could help to reduce GHG emissions Literature review, expert interview Literature, experts System analysis 1.3 How and which GHGs could be reduce through the operation of a metro system? Literature review, expert interview Literature 2.1 What is the linkage between a metro system and air pollution? Literature and interview on the metro DMRC, City officials, published literature 2.2 What kind of air pollutants could be reduced by a metro system and how? Mode share and shift data Literature, Central Road Research Board, primary data 2.3 What are the annual amounts of reduction in different air pollutants due to the Delhi metro? Air pollution data Delhi Committee on Pollution Control, primary data collection Trend analysis, source apportionment study 3.1 What are the current tools and methodologies available to make such quantification? Literature review Literature Collect and classify 3.2 What are the strengths and weaknesses of current tools and methodologies? Literature review, expert interview Literature, experts, researchers’ own evaluations and observations Comparative analysis, sensitivity analysis, SWOT analysis 3.3 What kind of data is required to develop such methodology and what are the possible ways to collecting that data? Literature review, expert interview, panels Previously collected primary and secondary data Survey of data availability and access
  51. 51. RESEARCH PROPOSAL TEMPLATE 5A Plan for data collection and analysis to provide evidence for answering the research question Research objectives Focussed research questions Techniques data collection Source of data Techniques data analysis 1. To find out/calculate how many tones of GHG emissions have been reduced after Delhi Metro started to operate 1.1 What is the linkage between a metro system and GHG emissions? Interviews to collect data Delhi Metro Rail Corporation System boundary identification 1.2 What specific aspects of a metro system could help to reduce GHG emissions? Literature review, expert interview Literature, experts System analysis 1.3 How and which GHGs could be reduced through the operation of a metro system? Literature review, expert interview Literature 1.4 What is the annual amount of reduction in GHG emissions due to the Delhi Metro? Interviews to collect data Delhi Metro Rail Corporation System/Line calculation 2. To find out/calculate how much of air pollutants (SOx, NOx, PM10 etc.) have been reduced after Delhi Metro started to operate 2.1 What is the linkage between a metro system and air pollution? Literature and interview on the metro DMRC, City officials, published literature 2.2 What kind of air pollutants could be reduced by a metro system and how? Mode share and shift data Literature, Central Road Research Board, Primary Data 2.3 What are the annual amounts of reduction in different air pollutants due to the Delhi Metro? Air pollution data Delhi Committee on Pollution Control, Primary data collection Trend analysis, source apportionment study, 3. To develop a methodology or a tool for quantification of global and local environmental co- benefits of a metro system. 3.1 What are the current tools and methodologies available to make such quantification? Literature search Literature Collect and classify 3.2 What are the strengths and weaknesses of current tools and methodologies? Literature review and expert interviews Literature, experts, researchers own evaluations and observations `Comparative analysis, sensitivity analysis, SWOT analysis 3.3 What kind of data is required to develop such methodology and what are the possible ways of collecting that data? Literature search, expert interviews and panels Previously collected primary and secondary data Survey of data availability and access 3.4 What are the opportunities and barriers to develop and apply such methodology? Literature review and interviews Literature, experts, researchers own Cost analysis of acquiring data, potential
  52. 52. The Sustainable Development Goals
  53. 53. Thank you!

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