Research and Resources

Explore sustainability-related research and resources here, including recently released reports, journal articles, online tools and databases. Use the left sidebar to filter resources by theme.

This latest edition of Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World series explores the rhetoric surrounding sustainability, including how the term ‘sustainable’ has become so widely used that it has become ‘sustainababble’, at best indicating a slightly less damaging practice or product than the conventional alternative. Some of the questions asked in the book include: is it time to abandon the concept altogether, or is there an accurate way to measure sustainability? If so, how can it be achieved? And if not, how is best to prepare for the inevitable ecological decline?

This new report by The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) proposes a new paradigm for sustainable development in order to ‘avert environmental and subsequent social and economic collapse’. The report argues that the current emphasis on an integrated consideration of environmental, social and economic components of sustainability is undermined by poor decision making, weak governance and institutional frameworks. The resulting factor is the prioritisation of economic growth over environmental and resource conservation.

New tool to calculate nitrogen footprint

By Bridget Elliott on 30th May 2013

A new web-based tool known as the N-Calculator has been developed by scientists at Lancaster, Virginia and Oxford universities, and allows anyone living in the UK to calculate their own ‘nitrogen footprint’. The tool asks users to enter information on topics such as their food consumption, transportation choices, and housing situation in order to calculate their likely effect on the environment in terms of nitrogen pollution. Nitrogen pollution is a major environmental problem that is causing significant damage to air and water quality across the UK.

YouGov on British climate change attitudes

By Bridget Elliott on 30th May 2013

This article outlines the results of YouGov’s annual tracker of British attitudes to renewable energy, and highlights that there is stable and overwhelming consensus in the belief that the planet is warming and humans are either wholly or partly to blame. This is despite a decline since the onset of economic crisis in the number of those who are interested in the issue or attach high urgency to it. According to results, 72% of the British public described themselves as interested in the issue of “global warming and climate change” in 2008, compared to just 59% in 2012.

Since 2007, the world has suffered three rounds of high food prices, caused by a variety of factors from extreme weather events to civil conflict. A recently-published study  looked at policy responses to price crises in the United States, the European Union and 14 middle- and low-income countries throughout Asia, Latin America, and Africa south of the Sahara, and indicated that poor policy decisions were also a significant contributing factor.

This new report provides an overview that sets out the drivers, benefits and vision for Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) in the UK and is based on findings from a collaborative project that included extensive consultation and a literature review to understand the role of WSUD in the UK. The report describes WSUD as the process of integrating water cycle management with the built environment through planning and urban design.

The Adaptation and Resilience to a Changing Climate Coordination Network (ARCC CN) has recently published this report based on the experiences of six ARCC projects. The study investigates how good collaboration between all partners contributes to better research outcomes. The report highlights that the benefits of effective collaboration are substantial, but working with the different expectations, aims and expertise of researchers and stakeholders can be difficult.

The CIRCLE-2 network has published a book of 22 case studies of implemented climate change adaptation measures.  CIRCLE-2 is a European Network of 34 institutions from 23 countries committed to funding research and sharing knowledge on climate adaptation and the promotion of long-term cooperation among national and regional climate change programmes. The book is designed to inspire science, policy and practice and it is hoped that it will assist in the branding of adaptation as a positive approach to facing climate change.

Net Balance, in collaboration with RMIT University and the City of Greater Geelong in Australia, has developed an ‘Adaptation Toolkit’ to assist organisations in prioritising their climate risks and adaptation actions. There are three separate tools that make up the toolkit.

KPMG launches Green Tax Index

By Bridget Elliott on 15th May 2013

The UK has recently been named by audit and tax advisory company, KPMG, as one of the six most active countries in using tax as a tool to drive sustainable corporate behaviour and achieve green policy goals. The findings are the result of KPMG’s Green Tax Index, a tool created to increase awareness of the ‘complex, fragmented and rapidly evolving’ green tax landscape worldwide. The index analyses green tax incentives and penalties in 21 major economies, focusing on key policy areas such as energy efficiency, water efficiency, carbon emissions, green innovation and green buildings.