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Final Test Questions

1. If an institution is delivering sustainability oriented products ( such as an NGO ) , should this institution be in itself sustainable (economically and environmentally ) ? This question tackles a very important subject which is , which is more important : the end or the means to the end. This question can have bigger implication on how governments or other large institutions tackle the sustainability issue.

2. Is it enough to introduce sustainability as a topic in school or should further measures be taken to lure the young generation into the sustainability issue? As we all know, shoving information into young minds doesn't always result in a positive manner. Sometimes , it takes a negative turn and drives people away. What other measures can be taken to educate the young people.

3. Sustainability indicators are required to measure the current state of sustainability. Which organizing body should be in charge of setting the indicators? We all agree that we need to measure sustainability, but who decides what to measure.

4. Is environmental sustainability only achievable in economically satisfied markets or can emerging economies also embrace the green movement? It is been highly debatable that humans start to consider the environment only after they have satisfied their economical needs. Therefore it is not possible for emerging markets to reduce their ecological footprint without reaching long term economical prosperity, which might then be too late for the planet. Is there another way to engage countries into adapting greener solutions without first going through the vicious industrial phase.

Personal Work (Sustainability Model)

Sustainability diagram (Group Work)

The developed model for measuring country´s sustainability on the 3 pillars. This model is applied to the countries of Ecuador and Lebanon as an example.

Articles

1: Annette Evans, Vladimir Strezov, Tim J. Evans.Assessment of sustainability indicators for renewable energy technologies. 22 April 2008.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032108000555

The non-combustion based renewable electricity generation technologies were assessed against a range of sustainability indicators and using data obtained from the literature. The indicators used to assess each technology were price of generated electricity, greenhouse gas emissions during full life cycle of the technology, availability of renewable sources, efficiency of energy conversion, land requirements, water consumption and social impacts. The cost of electricity, greenhouse gas emissions and the efficiency of electricity generation were found to have a very wide range for each technology, mainly due to variations in technological options as well as geographical dependence of each renewable energy source. The social impacts were assessed qualitatively based on the major individual impacts discussed in literature. Renewable energy technologies were then ranked against each indicator assuming that indicators have equal importance for sustainable development. It was found that wind power is the most sustainable, followed by hydropower, photovoltaic and then geothermal. Wind power was identified with the lowest relative greenhouse gas emissions, the least water consumption demands and with the most favourable social impacts comparing to other technologies, but requires larger land and has high relative capital costs.

2: Klaus Rennings , Hubert Wiggering.Steps towards indicators of sustainable development: Linking economic and ecological concepts. 3 June 1998

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800996001085

Conceptions of defining and measuring sustainable development can broadly be placed in two categories: weak and strong sustainability. The concept of weak sustainability is based on neo-classical economic theory and assumes that manufactured and natural capital are close substitutes. This means that costs of environmental deterioration (e.g., forest damage) can be compensated by benefits from manufactured capital (e.g., income). Thus, environmental damages are valued in monetary units. The concept of strong sustainability denies the degree of substitution that weak sustainability assumes, at least for some critical elements of natural capital. This paper pledges for strong sustainability indicators, especially for critical loads and critical levels. Since the costs and benefits of avoiding critical impacts have to be taken into account, a combination of strong and weak sustainability indicators—means a linkage of ecological (physical) and economic (monetary) approaches—should be suggested.

3: Bedřich Moldan , Svatava Janoušková, Tomáš Hák. How to understand and measure environmental sustainability: Indicators and targets.6 June 2011.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X11001282

The concept of sustainable development from 1980 to the present has evolved into definitions of the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic and environmental). The recent economic and financial crisis has helped to newly define economic sustainability. It has brought into focus the economic pillar and cast a question mark over the sustainability of development based on economic progress. This means fully addressing the economic issues on their own merits with no apparent connection to the environmental aspects. Environmental sustainability is correctly defined by focusing on its biogeophysical aspects. This means maintaining or improving the integrity of the Earth's life supporting systems. The concept of sustainable development and its three pillars has evolved from a rather vague and mostly qualitative notion to more precise specifications defined many times over in quantitative terms. Hence the need for a wide array of indicators is very clear. The paper analyses the different approaches and types of indicators developed which are used for the assessment of environmental sustainability. One important aspect here is setting targets and then “measuring” the distance to a target to get the appropriate information on the current state or trend.

4: Viet Dao, , Ian Langella1, Jerry Carbo. From green to sustainability: Information Technology and an integrated sustainability framework.16 February 2011

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963868711000035

Sustainability has increasingly become important to business research and practice over the past decades as a result of rapid depletion of natural resources and concerns over wealth disparity and corporate social responsibility. Within this realm, the so-called triple bottom line seeks to evaluate business performance on its impacts on the environment and interested stakeholders besides profitability concerns. So far, Management Information Systems research on sustainability has been somewhat constrained in the realm of green IT, which focuses mostly on the reduction of energy consumption of corporate IT systems. Using the resource-based view as the theoretical foundation, the manuscript develops an integrated sustainability framework, illustrating the integration of human, supply chain, and IT resources to enable firms develop sustainability capabilities, which help firms deliver sustainable values to relevant stakeholders and gain sustained competitive advantage. Particularly, the role of automate, informate, transform, and infrastructure IT resources are examined in the development of sustainability capabilities. The work calls for a bold new role of IT in sustainability beyond energy consumption reduction. Implications for future research and management practice on IT and sustainability are also discussed.

5: Fredrik Bengtsson , Pär J. Ågerfalk. Information technology as a change actant in sustainability innovation: Insights from Uppsala. 18 November 2010

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963868710000508

This study investigates the effects of a sustainability initiative in a Swedish municipality viewed through the lens of actor network theory. The focus is on the consequences of committing to the implementation of a reporting and analysis system for IT-supported sustainability. This commitment involves several actor networks, both internal and external to the municipality. The study shows that, to implement successfully a sustainability initiative, a thorough understanding of organizational routines and standards is required to enrol the affected stakeholders. Information systems can play a central role as tools for improving sustainability indicators and routines, thereby constituting important change actants.

Philosophy course

Resume of last discussed book

Technology and especially the field of informatics and computer science has reached a stage in which it is capable of tackling sustainability problems. Tools of informatics and such can provide an automated sustainability or green solutions to everyday problems. From energy conservation to water monitoring to quality of air, different applications of computer science can drastically pave the way for a greener future.

Chapter 1:

There are multiple opportunities to achieve greening through IT Objectives. Computing and IT across disciplines should to promote sustainability in areas and systems in which advances in information and communications technology could have significant positive impact. Examples include Built Infrastructure and Systems is an area that includes buildings transportation systems and consumed goods. In addition to reductions that can be achieved in energy consumption, smarter water- and sewage-management systems in the built infrastructure can decrease water consumption and waste. Ecosystems and the Environment is another area where there is impact matters as well as Sociotechnical Systems. These previously mentioned systems are defined as the systems designed to aid in behavioral assistance and reinforcement and to provide information about progress. More concrete examples of IT in sustainability include smart electric grids , food systems and The development of sustainable and resilient infrastructures.

Chapter 2 :

The chapter discusses a Computer Science research agenda that tackles sustainability. According to the chapter there are 4 main areas of concentration. Measurement and instrumentation in which the focus should be on the selection of the measurement device, its placement and role in the encompassing system or process, and the interpretation of the readings it produces. The straightforward application of known techniques can be employed to collect the diverse instrumentation sources and deposit readings into a database for a specific setting or experiment. Another area of research is Information-intensive Systems in which Computer science has applied itself broadly to processes related to discrete forms of human-generated information. Many of these processes result in vast bodies of information that needs to be handled and analysed. Analysis, Modeling, Simulation, And Optimization is another research area discussed which points mostly to the development of models used to assess sustainability. Models permit the extraction of meaningful information from context-dependent, potentially noisy measurements and observations of complex, at best partially engineered, systems in the physical world. Models allow the many interrelated aspects to be decomposed into facets so that progress can be made in a somewhat incremental fashion. Human-Centered Systems is the final area discussed in the book in which the author indicates the need to situate technology innovation and practice within the context-specific needs of the people benefiting from or otherwise affected by that technology.

Chapter 3:

The chapter tackles the exploration of potential opportunities within the field of computer science to make significant progress on issues pertinent to sustainability. The challenge for IT experts and CS researchers is in ensuring that technologies and approaches represent usable, appropriate solutions; that they are highly effective; and that they take advantage of the deepest and most powerful insights that can be brought to bear. CS research in sustainability should be an interdisciplinary effort, with experts in the various fields of sustainability being equal partners in the research. Achieving universality in CS typically involves developing well-structured innovative solutions, applying them to the problem at hand, evaluating their efficacy, and using this evaluation to guide further improvement, enhancement, and new directions. Fast-moving iterative, incrementally evolving approaches to problem solving in computer science will be useful in solving sustainability challenges. There should be strong incentives at all stages of research for focusing on solving real problems whose solution can make a substantial contribution to sustainability challenges.

Social Movement

Social movements are defined by their ability to move large numbers of people to action to achieve structural and cultural transformation [local, regional, national, global]… Engaging a diverse range of communities and approaches simultaneously, social movements unite people through shared strategy, shared principles and shared goals.

A great application of social movement would be to get the inhabitants of my city in Lebanon to sort their garbage. Most of the current sorting happens in the garbage sites, an approach that is very expensive and ineffective. The first step to change the behavior would be to set up multiple garbage disposal cans representing different categories from organic to dry garbage to cartons etc.. This approach will render people aware of the different categories that exists in their garbage and causing them to evaluate their disposables. This step should be done on a municipality level . The second step would be to begin selling color branded garbage bags that help individuals sort the garbage in the household by assigning colors to different categories. Handouts should be given with the garbage bags detailing how the sorting process is done in simple and informative figures. This step can be organized by youth groups and different forms of scouts or NGO. After building the right tools for sorting , the third and final step is to sustain and maintain a healthy sorting habit in citizens. This step is fulfilled by citizen observations , in which the eyes of the neighborhood can monitor the sustainability of the garbage sorting.