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Sustainability

Future of Cities: An Overview of the Evidence

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, May 9, 2016
Abstract in English: 
Cities matter to the UK’s future. They are already concentrations of population and employment, and will be home to much of the country’s future population and economic growth. Cities are centres of commercial, cultural, institutional, and socia life. In short, they are both central to the shaping and delivery of national policy objectives, and the locations where broad social, environmental and economic changes play out in practice.
UK cities are highly diverse, each with a distinctive history and its own set of relationships with its neighbours and with central government.
This Foresight project has developed a broad evidence base and consulted local actors to understand challenges and opportunities from those most experienced in the issues affecting UK cities. The single theme which runs throughout this work is providing the best possible evidence for national and city level decision-makers.
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66
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Reviewing the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - “Early Movers” Can Help Maintain Momentum

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Abstract in English: 
At the Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015 the heads of state and government of all the UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Several countries, including Germany, committed to move rapidly on implementation. During the UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) in July 2016, twentytwo countries volunteered to conduct national reviews of their implementation. Moreover, UN member states plan to adopt a resolution on the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda before that meeting. What initiatives would be most helpful for maintaining the momentum and making ambitious progress on implementing and reviewing the Agenda?
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4
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An Arctic Redesign: Recommendations to Rejuvenate the Arctic Council

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, March 14, 2016
Abstract in English: 
The Arctic Council was launched in 1996 as an informal, consensual, and cooperative mechanism without either legal personality or operational mandate. It was designed to enhance measures to collectively protect the Arctic’s environment and to explore sustainable development opportunities. The Arctic Council turns 20 years old in 2016, and it has grown larger and more complex - welcoming new observer states such as China and India, initiating two legally binding agreements on search and rescue and oil spill response, and creating a permanent Secretariat. As the increasingly dynamic Arctic environment undergoes vast physical and geopolitical transformations, is the 20-year old Arctic Council’s organizational structure adequate and fit for its purpose? Can the Council remain at the center of Arctic-related activities under its current mandate? Is a substantial rethink of the Council’s governance structure necessary to ensure its productivity and longevity for the next 20 years? This report considers these questions and outlines four possible scenarios and strategies for Arctic Council reform and repair, as well as the implications for the Arctic Council in the future.
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28
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Shaping the Future of Construction: A Breakthrough in Mindset and Technology

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Abstract in English: 
Multiple global megatrends are shaping the future of construction. Consider just two developments: first, 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to buildings (at the same time, the UK government has set a target for 2025 of 50% reduction in today’s level of greenhouse gas emissions in the country’s built environment); second, the population of the world’s urban areas is increasing by 200,000 people per day, all of whom need affordable housing as well as social, transportation and utility infrastructure. Such trends pose challenges but also offer opportunities; either way, they require an adequate response from the industry as a whole.
The report describes and promotes the effort needed by all stakeholders for the industry to fully realize its potential for change.
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64
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State of the World's Plants

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Abstract in English: 
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has released the first annual report on the State of the World’s Plants.
The report provides a baseline assessment of current knowledge on the diversity of plants on earth, the global threats plants face, the policies in place and their effectiveness in dealing with threats. The report has taken a year to produce and involved more than 80 scientists.
This is the first ever global assessment on the state of the world’s plants.
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84
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A US Strategy for Sustainable Energy Security

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, March 4, 2016
Abstract in English: 
The national energy system of the United States is aging and has to be renewed in a dynamic fashion to adapt to the transformative changes in the world of energy. Failure to do so will result in substantial economic disadvantage and national security vulnerabilities, and risk the United States’ position as the leading global power in the twenty-first century. The need for modernization represents a unique opportunity to upgrade the United States to a cutting edge system of energy hardware and software. Moreover, climate change is a severe threat to the United States and an existential one to much of the rest of humanity. Climate change represents an ever growing, direct risk to the American people as extreme weather events wreak havoc, rising sea levels engulf coastal cities, and natural beauties and wildlife habitats degrade.
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Strategic Foresight: How to Enhance the Implementation of 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in Developing Countries

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, January 18, 2016
Abstract in English: 
This publication is the third in a series of newsletters dedicated to raising awareness of global trends analysis and how future scenarios may affect Latin America. It summarizes a report by the UN Economic and Social Council on the importance of strengthening strategic predictive capabilities for policy makers, particularly in developing countries.

The report, Strategic foresight for the post-2015 development agenda, delineates the priorities of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development.

The summary accompanies a presentation by Dialogue senior fellow Sergio Bitar to the commission in May 2015 in Geneva, designed to complement the main ideas and proposals in their report. We are also pleased to include an essay by Amy Zalman, CEO and president of the World Future Society, on governance as it relates to anticipating global trends.
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10
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The Costs of Meeting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal Targets on Drinking Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

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Publication date: 
Saturday, January 16, 2016
Abstract in English: 
A dedicated goal for water has recently been endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly as part of the sustainable development goal (SDG) framework. This study provides an assessment of the global costs of meeting the WASH-related targets of Goal #6. The targets assessed include achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all (target 6.1), achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and ending open defecation (target 6.2). The estimates include 140 countries, or 85% of the world's population, focusing on developing countries. Costs estimated cover those of capital investment, program delivery, operations, and major capital maintenance.
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64
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The Future of Electricity in Fast-Growing Economies

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Abstract in English: 
Electricity markets in fast-growing economies face different challenges than those in more mature markets. Mature markets with stable demand for electricity are transitioning to a more sustainable mix of power generation technologies while continuing to support economic growth with affordable and secure power. Fast-growing markets are trying to serve voracious new demand for electricity as their economies grow, as more customers are connected to the grid and as per capita consumption grows.

This report recognizes the need for policy to balance the objectives in the Forum’s energy architecture triangle: security and accessibility, short- and medium-term affordability, and environmental sustainability. The fact that 1.2 billion people lacked access to electricity in 2012, combined with the scale of poverty, will inevitably focus attention on accessibility and affordability. But even as they make progress on achieving reliable universal access, fast-growing markets will need to develop roadmaps that take advantage of new technologies to make their power affordable while increasing environmental sustainability.
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Circular economy in Europe — Developing the knowledge base

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, January 18, 2016
Abstract in English: 
The report describes the concept of the circular economy and outlines its key characteristics. It draws attention to both the benefits and challenges in transitioning to such an economy and highlights possible ways to measure progress.

Europe is bound to the rest of the world through multiple systems that enable two-way flows of materials, financial resources, ideas and innovation. As a result, Europe's economic, ecological and societal resilience is and will continue to be significantly affected by a variety of global and interdependent social, economic, political, environmental and technological trends.

Global material resource use in 2030, for example, is expected to be twice that of 2010 (SERI, 2013), while the most recent United Nations forecast suggests that the global population is likely to exceed 11 billion by the end of the 21st century (UN DESA, 2015). With 7.2 billion people today, however, the planet is already struggling to meet humanity's demands for land, food and other natural resources, and to absorb its wastes. Indeed, there is evidence that some planetary boundaries, which define a safe operating space for human development, may already have been transgressed. These include the biosphere's integrity, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, climate change and land system changes
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42
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