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Are conventional farming systems sustainable? Their impact on climate, global chemical pollution, human health, wildlife extinction and collapse of agro-ecosystems. Novel approaches to farming and food production.
The Reaching End Users project introduced orange sweet potatoes to farmers in northern Mozambique between 2006 and 2009, and the associated cluster randomized control trial found increased vitamin A intakes among targeted children and women of child-bearing age and reduced prevalence of vitamin A intake inadequacy. Yet little is known about whether successful agricultural-nutrition interventions have lasting effects. This study measures the lasting effects of the Reaching End Users project, three years after the project ended, on vitamin A intakes. To do so, dietary intake data were collected in the same 36 villages as the original study, focusing on both women of child-bearing age and children under 6 years old, the latter including both children who had been measured before as well as younger children (under 3 years old) in the same farmer groups. The dietary intakes are then converted to micronutrient intakes to compare treated households with control households. Vitamin A intakes remain higher in treated villages than in control villages among both children under 3 years old, who had not been born when the original intervention ended, and among mothers of child-bearing age. Differences in vitamin A intakes can wholly be attributed to differences in orange sweet potato intakes. Therefore the Reaching End Users project appears to have had lasting impacts on vitamin A intakes beyond the intervention period. Had the vine retention component been enhanced, lasting impacts could have been even larger.
The focus of this paper is the Neolithic of northwest Europe, where a rapid growth in population between ~5950 and ~5550 cal yr BP is followed by a decline that lasted until ~4950 cal yr BP. The timing of the increase in population density correlates with the local appearance of farming and is attributed to the advantageous effects of agriculture. However, the subsequent population decline has yet to be satisfactorily explained. One possible explanation is the reduction in yields in Neolithic cereal-based agriculture due to worsening climatic conditions. The suggestion of a correlation between Neolithic climate deterioration, agricultural productivity, and a decrease in population requires testing for northwestern Europe. Data for our analyses were collected during the Cultural Evolution of Neolithic Europe project. We assess the correlation between agricultural productivity and population densities in the Neolithic of northwest Europe by examining the changing frequencies of crop and weed taxa before, during and after the population “boom and bust.” We show that the period of population decline is coincidental with a decrease in cereal production linked to a shift towards less fertile soils.
Are insects the farm animal of the future? A key agenda for agricultural production systems is the development of sustainable practices whereby food and feed can be produced in an environmentally efficient manner. These goals require novel approaches to complex problems and demand collaboration between scientists, producers, consumers, government and the general population. The provision of feed for animals is a major contributor to land and water use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Further, overfishing and a reduction in available land and water resources on which crops can be grown has led to an increase in price of protein ingredients such as fish meals and oils and soybean meals. Determination of novel solutions to meet the feed protein requirements of production animals is key to the development of sustainable farming practices. The Australian pork industry aims to develop production systems that efficiently use available resources (such as feed and energy) and limit the production of emissions (such as manure waste and GHGs). Invertebrates (insects e.g. black soldier flies) are naturally consumed by monogastric and aquatic species, yet the large-scale production of insects for feed (or food) is yet to be exploited. Most insects are low producers of GHGs and have low land and water requirements. The large-scale production of insects can contribute to a circular economy whereby food and feed waste (and potentially manure) are reduced or ideally eliminated via bioconversion. While the concept of farm-scale production of insects as domestic animal feed has been explored for decades, significant production and replacement of traditional protein sources has yet to be achieved. This review will focus on the potential role of insect-derived protein as a feed source for the Australian pig production industry.
This chapter concludes Globalization Matters with one of the most pressing issues of all: what does it mean that, at the height of our capacities as humans to command technological change and produce the means of our existence many times over, we have reached a point in human history when we have the capacity to destroy the planet as we know it? This is the ultimate form of globalization—the globalization of our own possible demise. Two themes are discussed. First, the possibilities of military violence have been stretched to ongoing global proportions, whether it be annihilation through nuclear exchange, ragged attrition through a global war on terror, or disruption through localized transnational violence. Second, incremental and escalating ecological destruction has brought global debates to the point of pronouncing a new global epoch: ‘the Anthropocene’. The task of giving the term practical consequence has been constantly and actively deferred by most policy-makers. This chapter explores the uneven and fractured nature of these global process and debates, arguing that there is now too much at stake to leave it to those who think that nothing consequential needs to change.
This chapter focuses on intensifying urbanization as a global phenomenon. Each year, the equivalent of two cities the size of Tokyo are built; one in six urban dwellers live in slums; and we are heading towards that black figure of 2°C global warming (the subject of the next chapter). The twenty-first century has been already called the ‘Urban Century’, supposedly leaving behind the Century of Nation-States (the twentieth century) and the Century of Empires (the nineteenth century) as prior dominant forms. While it is certainly true that urbanization has become one of the dominant global trends, this prognosis is hyperbolic, missing the tensions between different levels and forms of governance. Cities across the world are crossed by global processes of ecological pressure, economic fragility, political contestation, and cultural questioning. All of this means that the current approach to ‘global cities’ is reductive and skewed. Here, we confront a shibboleth in scholarly writing—not only has the urbanization of the world been a long-term if massively accelerating process, but it should also be said that cities have long been the locus of globalization processes.
There is an urgent need to identify and develop cross-sectoral policies which promote and support a healthy, safe and sustainable food system. To help shape the political agenda, a critical first step is a shared definition of such a system among policy makers across relevant sectors. The aim of the present study was to determine how Australian policy actors define, and contribute to, a healthy, safe and sustainable food system.
A Delphi survey, consisting of two rounds, was conducted. Participants were asked how they define, and contribute to, a healthy, safe and sustainable food system (Round 1) and indicate their level of agreement with summary statements (Round 2).
This was an online Delphi survey conducted in Australia.
Twenty-nine and fourteen multisectoral and multilevel policy makers completed Round 1 and Round 2, respectively.
The definition included food processing regulation, environmentally friendly food production and access to nutritious food. All agreed that it was important for them to improve access and supply of healthy food and ensure healthy planning principles are applied.
There were cross-sectoral differences in definitions and contributions; however, critical consensus was achieved. The study contributes to the definition of key elements of a cross-sectoral food and nutrition policy to meet today’s environmental, health, social and economic challenges; however, further research using a more representative multisectoral sample is warranted.
Implementing the logical and ontological principles (dualism, mechanicism, reductionism, law of excluded middle, etc.) of modernity has brought forth an unsustainable world. An overcoming of these principles is proposed by mesology (Umweltlehre, fûdoron), centring on the concept of trajection and the existential operator as (als, en tant que).
Everyday Designing (ED) involves the re-use of existing products for new purposes. In order to gain an understanding of how people perceive and apply product elements as cues for everyday designing and level of appropriation when reusing product for the new purpose, an experiment was conducted. In the experiment, four everyday products were provided for repurpose. The 40 repurposed products from 10 participants were analyzed with the interviews and questionnaire. ED products were reborn with various purposes beyond the original functions of the products. The results indicate that there is a difference between perceived product elements as usual and product elements as cues for everyday designing. Materials and manipulability plays an important role in ED although form-centred perceptions were mainly observed. It seems that the product elements as ED cue and the prior experience of the product seem to affect the level of the product appropriation. Although this study has an exploratory character, it could provide design practitioners with a better understanding of users’ ED behaviour, which could contribute to discovering new insight of product and product sustainability.
In last years, an increasing attention on environmental matters is registered. Companies face environmental matters to increase the environmental performances of their products, forced by numerous legislations, normative and protocols and induced to the growing attention of consumers toward environmentally friendly products. However, observing the industrial context, it emerges there are several barriers for implementation of eco-design strategies inside design departments. The paper presents a tool which aims at both providing a basic guide on environmental sustainability issues and favouring the knowledge sharing among the different actors of the product design process. The core of the tool is a repository in which company materials, organized and collected in different forms, are collected. The repository contains several parts: training, guidelines, knowledge and milestone, accordingly to the type, structure and form of materials stored. The eco-design tool functions, structure, and workflow are presented and then preliminary test cases are described.
Recent advances in sensing and networking technologies, namely the Internet of Things (IoT), have become key enablers of data-intensive design processes. However, the recent introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe has raised concerns that the GDPR might hamper data- intensive design processes. In this paper, we map the challenges of enabling ethical and compliant design of product-service systems with personal IoT data. Specifically, we present a 4-year project led by EON, an international energy provider, to design innovative home energy systems that leverage emerging technologies such as solar panels, electric vehicles and home batteries. We present our 6-stage approach to design, centred on IoT data. We highlight the barriers of responsible design with data and identify three novel trust principles for compliant use of personal IoT data in design (private-by-default, analytics transparency and Accountable analytics).
The scarce availability of water in highly populated cities is about to become a social problem. While the water service companies work on improving the distribution network in order to reduce losses, it is evident that one of the main problems is due to an excess of use of this resource by users. This consumption is relatively controlled when excessive consumption is clearly associated, in the consumer mind, with high costs. However, when users are in public places they tend to consume water because of a loss of correlation with costs. In this paper, we describe the design of a device to be installed in public environments, which aims to reduce the consumption of water. The device measures in real time the flow of water and sends the user visual and sound information trying to create a link between consumption and costs. The device has been installed in a university campus bathroom and has been tested. Test results show a reduction in water consumption, especially in the interactive prototype approach compared to the conventional treatment. Further modifications for future development of the interactive device is also discussed.
Do different sustainable design methods generate different sustainable design ideas? Do they also drive different product innovation ideas? This project empirically tested three design methods: The Natural Step, Whole System Mapping, and Biomimicry. Testing involved qualitatively categorizing 1,115 design ideas from 23 workshops for over 30 companies, including consultancies and manufacturers in consumer electronics, furniture, and apparel. The categorized ideas were then counted to determine if the different design methods caused different kinds of ideas. They did. For example, The Natural Step drove more ideas on green material choice, circular end of life, and social impacts, while Biomimicry drove more durability ideas and Whole System Mapping drove more cost reduction ideas, among other differences. Overall, The Natural Step generated the highest percentage of sustainability ideas, Biomimicry generated the most innovation ideas, and Whole System Mapping generated a balance of both. These preliminary results should help designers and engineers choose design methods suited to the types of design solutions they desire.
The emerging field of biomimicry and learning to design with and for nature has expanded in recent years through a diversity of educational programs. Inspiration following natural forms may give the appearance of being sustainable, but the question remains, how sustainable is it? Misunderstanding the function of these forms may leave designers with products not as sustainable as desired. Biomimicry education addresses these issues by integrating three essential elements into their design thinking phases and by using analogical transfer while doing so. This field learns from nature as model, nature as measure, and nature as mentor, throughout the design process. Through examination, analyses and verification of students designs and reflective processes at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, this research considers natures analogies in educational factors, determining which elements are influential when incorporating biomimicry into design education.
Building construction is one of the fastest growing industries in India and it puts a huge burden on its limited natural resources. Fired clay bricks are one of the major constituent materials for the construction industry and it produces a huge amount of greenhouse gases. This research tries to highlight the use of alternative materials and how they can be modulated to suit the Indian construction industry. Bio-brick or agro-waste based brick is one such material that has the potential to be a sustainable and cost-effective solution. It acts as good heat and sound insulator and at the same time has overall negative carbon footprint. Additionally, it also acts as a deterrent to stubble burning, prevalent in northern India which causes severe air pollution. Due to its low density, it reduces dead load in high rise structures, thereby making RCC construction more economical. The study also highlights the use of Bio-brick in various areas of a structure. Another important objective of this research is to inspire and motivate architects, designers, researchers and builders to encourage and support the development of such sustainable and eco-sensitive material in construction industry.
Conventional failure analysis ignores a growing challenge in the responsible implementation of novel technologies into engineered systems - unintended consequences, which impact the engineered system itself and other systems including social and environmental systems. In this paper, a theory for unintended consequences is developed. The paper proposes a new definition of unintended consequences as behaviors that are not intentionally designed-into an engineered system yet occur even when a system is operating nominally, that is, not in a failure state as conventionally understood. It is argued that the primary cause for this difference is the bounded rationality of human designers. The formation of unintended consequences is modeled with system dynamics, using a specific real-world example, and bifurcation analysis. The paper develops propositions to guide research in the development of new design methods that could mitigate or control the occurrence and impact of unintended consequences. The end goal of the research is to create a new class of failure analysis tools to manage unintended consequences responsibly to facilitate engineering design for a more sustainable future.
The desire to combine advanced user-friendly interfaces with a product personality communicating environmental friendliness to customers poses new challenges for car interior designers, as little research has been carried out in this field to date. In this paper, the creation of three personas aimed at defining key German car users with pro-environmental behaviour is presented. After collecting ethnographic data of potential drivers through literature review, information about generation and Euro car segment led to the definition of three key user groups. The resulting personas were applied to determine the most important interaction points in car interior. Finally, present design cues of eco-friendly product personality developed in the field of automotive design were explored. Our work presents three strategic directions for the design development of future in-car user interfaces named as a) foster multimodal mobility; b) emphasize the interlinkage economy - sustainable driving; and c) highlight new technological developments. The presented results are meant as an impulse for developers to fit the needs of green customers and drivers when designing user-friendly HMI components.
This paper tackles two questions. Our first question addresses the multi-actor activity that is visibly required for building radical innovations like eco-innovation. Our second question addresses the tricky issue of how to assess contribution to ecological transition when innovation projects are still in the fuzzy early-upstream phase. In this aim four research projects are selected and analyzed in this paper because they share a common scope—the development of new processes or materials tied to the conversion of biomass. Through the analysis of the actors interactions conducted in these projects, of their perimeters, of their sustainability objectives and of their results we show a limit of the eco-innovation capacity of these projects linked to the limits of their crossdisciplinarity.
Little study has been done on the adoption of End-of-Life (EoL) strategies on the medical devices industry, despite the reasons why it is an important area of study for the implementation of circularity. The rates of waste in the medical field are alarming and tend to grow. Though presenting a wide potential for EoL strategies implementation, the medical field is also inherently challenging, considering the rigid regulations and product's risk to patients life. This paper analyses 17 Product-Service System case studies identified in the literature. Eleven of them are from various fields of industry, whereas the other six are applied to the medical devices industry. The adoption of EoL strategies - namely repair, reconditioning, remanufacture and recycling - is analysed in each case and compared for the two categories of cases. This adoption is related to the sources of value creation in Circular Economy, to the PSS typology and, at last, special EoL treatment for medical devices is discussed.
In today's highly competitive market, product success is determined by two critical factors - innovation and sustainability. While innovation looks to rampantly satisfy the consumers' ever growing requirements with creative solutions, sustainability attempts to rationalise the precarious demands of desired requirements on economy, society and environment.
InDeaTe - Innovation Design database and Template, a web-based, design process guidance tool, supports design of sustainable systems by incorporating sustainability requirements into the design process. This paper investigates the potential of the tool to improve the usefulness of a design, one of the indicators of the creativity of the solutions, apart from its novelty. Comparative studies are conducted to assess the improvement of ‘requirement-satisfaction’,a proxy measure for usefulness. Upon introduction of the tool into the design process, significant improvements are reported, thereby reflecting the ability of InDeaTe to increase the usefulness of solutions and foster creativity in design.