Research Abstracts

Sustainable Development, Systems Thinking and Professional Practice

Stephen Martin is Visiting Professor at the Centre for Complexity and Change, Open University and the Centre for Active Learning, University of Gloucestershire, and an Honorary Professor of the University of Worcester. Email:

This article explores the impact of the sustainable development (SD) agenda on the occupational and professional needs of those who have undergone educational and training programmes in the environmental field either at the undergraduate or the postgraduate level or through relevant professional institutions’ continuing professional development programmes. It also describes a one-day workshop for the professions on sustainable development based on systems thinking and practice. The workshop provides a model for developing greater understanding and effective action in professional practices by using dialogue andinterprofessional learning to explore approaches to sustainability in a variety of business and professional contexts. It introduces the principles underpinning the concept of sustainability and provides tools to support the integration of SD into professional practices and organisational change.

Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, Vol. 2, No. 1, 21-30 (2008)

Towards action on social determinants for health equity in urban settings

Tord Kjellstrom: National Institute of Public Health, Ostersund, Sweden, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, Health and Environment International Trust, Nelson, New Zealand, E-mail:

Susan Mercado: WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, Manila, the Philippines, mercados@wpro.

More than half of the global population now live in urban settings. Urbanization can and should be beneficial for health. In general, nations with high life expectancies and low infant mortality rates are those where city governments address the key social determinants of health. Better housing and living conditions, access to safe water and good sanitation, efficient waste management systems, safer working environments and neighbourhoods, food security and access to services such as education, health, welfare, public transportation and child care are examples of social determinants of health that can be addressed through good urban governance. Failure of governance in today’s cities has resulted in the growth of informal settlements and slums that constitute unhealthy living and working environments for one billion people. A credible health agenda is one that benefits all people in cities, especially the urban poor who live in informal settlements. International agreements calling for urgent action to reduce poverty, such as the Millennium Development Goals, can only be met through national strategies that include both urban and rural commitments and involve local governments and the poor themselves. Health inequalities in urban areas need to be addressed in countries at all income levels. Urban development and town planning are key to creating supportive social and physical environments for health and health equity. Achieving healthy urbanization in all countries is a shared global responsibility. Eliminating deprived urban living conditions will require resources — aid, loans, private investments — from more affluent countries in the order of US$ 200 billion per year, no more than 20 per cent of the annual increase in GDP in high-income countries. Creating global political support for a sustained and well-funded effort for social, economic and health equity is one of the greatest challenges of this generation.

Environment and Urbanization,Vol.20, No 2, 551-574 (2008)

Microfinance for community development, poverty alleviation and natural resource management in periurban Hubli-Dharwad, India

Robert M Brook, School of the Environment and Natural Resources, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW, UK, r.m.brook@bangor. Karen J Hillyer, CAZS Natural Resources, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW, UK, G. Bhuvaneshwari, Department of Agronomy of University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad,

This paper reports on the findings of a study of a microfinance and community mobilization initiative in six villages in the periurban zone of Hubli— Dharwad in Karnataka state, southern India, where a number of self-help groups established by two NGOs were studied over a three-year period (2001—2004). Despite deliberate targeting of the poor and very poor sectors, their representation in the self-help groups was found to be no different from their proportions in the populations of the villages. (Targeting of women was more successful, with 64 per cent of members being female.) However, the poor and very poor were more actively involved in microcredit than members of the other wealth classes. Over the life of the project, the poor moved above the state poverty level and their household savings increased by 647 per cent. More than 77 per cent of the funds mobilized through this programme were raised through self help group subscriptions and a further 14 per cent came from linkages with banks. Findings point to the success of the NGOmediated self-help group model of community mobilization and microfinance provision relative to other models.

Environment and Urbanization Vol.20, No.1,149-163 (2008)

Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCEs): an overview

Author(s): Yoko Mochizuki, Zinaida Fadeeva

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education: Year: 2008; Volume: 9; Issue: 4; Page: 369 - 381; Publisher: Emerald Group

Publishing Limited Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to offer an overview of the United Nations University’s Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCE) initiative–the global process created to support the implementation of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development(DESD, 2005-2014)–and discuss the roles of institutions of higher education (IHEs) in RCE efforts. The paper provides a historical overview of the RCE initiative, clarifies the philosophy behind it, and describes the guiding principles for RCE establishment and operations. The paper reveals the UNU’s views about effective strategies to promote Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and discusses the roles of IHEs as partners within and among RCEs. Highlights the potential roles of IHEs in overcoming the compartmentalization of knowledge and linking policy and practice. The paper recognises that RCE is an evolving concept and calls attention to the RCE process as a promising example of “social learning” and “communities of practice”, and at the same time, of “knowledge management system”. The paper clarifies the expected functions of RCEs as multisectoral and interdisciplinary partnerships and “local-regional knowledge base” and exhorts local ESD stakeholders, including higher education institutions to use RCEs as value-adding learning networks at the local and global levels. The paper refines the RCE concept and offers practical advice to RCEs and RCE candidates. Opportunities are indicated for higher education institutions in contributing towards ESD and sustainable development through RCEs. For more information visit: Type=Issue&containerId=6013499

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