Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society

Dear Subscribers,

GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society 3/2016 has just been released. The latest issue features, amongst others, award-winning works of young researchers, and in the field of transdisciplinarity. Cultural Values and Climate Change - the winning entry of the 2016 GAIA Masters Student Paper Award - shows the crucial relations between cultural values and effective strategies for adapting to the challenges of climate change. The GAIA special is dedicated to the 2015 td-award of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences showcasing six Exemplary Transdisciplinary Projects. Based on a study of the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag, Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services demonstrates the political and institutional implications of an economic approach to ecosystem services.
We would like to thank authors, reviewers and board members for their contributions to our journal. We hope you will enjoy browsing through the table of contents below.

Your Editorial Team
Almut Joedicke, Ulrike Sehy, Tobias Mickler, Martina Blum

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Stickstoffemissionen aus Abgasen: eine Failed-State-Situation >
Nitrogen Emissions from Exhaust Gases: A Failed State Situation
Luhmann, Hans-Jochen
reading sample >

Toolkits for Transdisciplinarity - Toolkit #5 Change > (open access)
Bammer, Gabriele

Bürger ohne Eigenschaften? Die Weltbürgerbewegung gendersensibel verstehen >
Citizens without Qualities? Challenging Gender-sensitive Narratives of Transformation
Biesecker, Adelheid, Breitenbach, Sarah, von Winterfeld, Uta

Beyond Planned Obsolescence. Product Lifespans and the Challenges to a Circular Economy >
Wieser, Harald
reading sample >

Shrinking product lifespans, whose side-effects include increased natural resource use and greenhouse gas emissions, are negatively impacting the environment. The circular economy and bans on built-in obsolescence are widely embraced as solutions to today's "throwaway society". The serious limitations of both strategies, however, can be illustrated by analysing a marketing campaign of the Austrian mobile phone provider T-Mobile. A successful policy to encourage longer product lifespans requires measures beyond bans on built-in obsolescence together with a circular economy model accounting for both efficiency and sufficiency.

Forschen für nachhaltige Entwicklung. Kriterien für gesellschaftlich verantwortliche Forschungsprozesse > (open access)
Research for a Sustainable Development. Criteria for Socially Responsible Research Processes
Helming, Katharina, Ferretti, Johanna, Daedlow, Katrin, Podhora, Aranka, Kopfmüller, Jürgen, Winkelmann, Markus, Bertling, Jürgen, Walz, Rainer

Research plays an essential role in shaping sustainable development. The social responsibility of research is reflected not only in its content but also in the way it is conducted. We have developed a framework comprising eight criteria for socially responsible research processes. This framework systematizes how to carry out such research and addresses requirements relating to social responsibility in research processes of all research fields. It also outlines how to discuss and tackle conflicting goals.

Ayni, Ayllu, Yanantin and Canincha. The Cultural Values Enabling Adaptation to Climate Change in Communities of the Potato Park, in the Peruvian Andes > (open access)
Walshe, Rory, Argumedo, Alejandro

Rural communities in the Peruvian Andes are already feeling the negative impacts of climate change, further impacts are expected to arrive comparatively early and be particularly damaging for indigenous communities in the mountains. Therefore there is a pressing need to ensure effective and sustained adaptation is under taken. Rural communities studied in the Potato Park in the Cusco Region of Peru are shown to possess a number of cultural values, in Quechua known as ayni, ayllu, yanantin and chanincha. These form the foundation of the community's ability to successfully respond to the challenges presented by climate change. The limited current adaptation strategies and methods not only neglect these values but also undermine and erode them. Future strategies should instead complement, maintain and utilise these values.

The Economic Approach to Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity: Policy Design and Institutions Matter >
Hansjürgens, Bernd, Kehl, Christoph, Loft, Lasse

Economic approaches continue to gain traction in biodiversity policy, particularly encouraged by the TEEB initiative (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity). While proponents of this paradigm shift consider it a win-win situation for nature and humans, its critics fear counterproductive effects of an increased commodification of nature. This article demonstrates the political and institutional implications of economic valuation and the use of economic instruments, and discusses challenges for policy implementation. Our results show, first, that economic valuation can be a worthwhile tool for assessing the value of nature, but its results must be interpreted carefully, and second, that it is important to consider the economic approach in its anthropocentric framework and to focus on the careful design of biodiversity-related economic instruments.


Exemplary Transdisciplinary Projects - swiss-academies award for transdiscipliary research 2015 > (open access)
Zinsstag, Jakob, Perrig-Chiello, Pasqualina, Paulsen, Theres, Truffer, Bernhard (Members of the Jury of the Swiss td-award)

The Network for Transdisciplinary Research (td-net) of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences seeks to foster transdisciplinary research and showcase new approaches addressing topics of societal relevance and impact. The Jury honours the awardees and encourages them to go on contributing to the maturation of their fields.

GREEN DENSITY. A Transdisciplinary Research and Teaching Project for the Design of Sustainable Neighbourhoods > (open access)
Rey, Emmanuel, Lufkin, Sophie

The GREEN DENSITY transdisciplinary research and teaching project focuses on the Waldstadt sector, a strip of forest bordering the city of Bern. This strategic site, likely to host new inhabitants and jobs close to public transport, is particularly adapted to explore urban densification issues. The objective is to experiment, compare and evaluate diverse possible urban forms for the development of such a site. The process includes the elaboration of six urban and architectural visions from students' projects developed within Rey's studio at Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and their transdisciplinary multi-criteria assessment.

MontanAqua: Tackling Water Stress in the Alps. Water Management Options in the Crans-Montana-Sierre Region (Valais) > (open access)
Schneider, Flurina, Bonriposi, Mariano, Graefe, Olivier, Herweg, Karl, Homewood, Christine, Huss, Matthias, Kauzlaric, Martina, Liniger, Hanspeter, Rey, Emmanuel, Reynard, Emmanuel, Rist, Stephan, Schädler, Bruno, Weingartner, Rolf

Transdisciplinary research is considered an appropriate mode of knowledge production in the search for pathways towards a more sustainable governance of natural resources. However, the co-production of new knowledge between scientists of different disciplines and nonacademic stakeholders is a challenge that requires novel research designs, methods, and approaches. The MontanAqua team has tackled this challenge by designing and implementing an innovative process of co-production of knowledge. An important element of this process was an assessment and communication tool known as "the sustainability wheel".

Promoting Sanitation in South Africa through Nutrient Recovery from Urine > (open access)
Udert, Kai M., Etter, Bastian, Gounden, Teddy

The water utility of Durban, eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS), installed urine-diverting dry toilets to provide sanitation to under-served communities in rural and peri-urban areas. While faeces was treated by dehydration, urine was discharged into a soak away in the ground. EWS teamed up with the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and other partners in Switzerland and South Africa to valorise this resource. The VUNA project developed a sanitation system which produces a valuable fertiliser from urine, reduces pollution of water resources and promotes the acceptance of dry toilets.

A Transdisciplinary Approach to Research on Early Childhood Education > (open access)
Burger, Kaspar

There is much debate on early childhood education in research, politics, and society at large. Furthermore, early childhood education research and policy have become increasingly complex and multidimensional. Nonetheless, transdisciplinary research frameworks are still scarce. This report gives insights into a project that used a transdisciplinary approach, outlining its conceptualization and its potential for the definition and analysis of issues that transcend traditional boundaries between academic disciplines, academic and nonacademic knowledge production, and different domains of society.

Transdisciplinary Knowledge Integration within Large Research Programs > (open access)
Hoffmann, Sabine

Research is increasingly organized as large programs. A growing number of such programs produce a synthesis that links and relates scientific results of individual projects and integrates them into an overarching context. The synthesis thus creates an added value that goes beyond individual project results. Which methods and procedures are used to generate that added value? This paper presents methods and procedures of transdisciplinary knowledge integration that were applied within four thematic syntheses of the Swiss National Research Programme on Sustainable Water Management (NRP 61).

A Harmonic Way to Transdisciplinarity. Experience from Global Health Development > (open access)
Tanner, Marcel

Aiming at generating innovative solutions to mitigate global health challenges through working along the continuum from innovation to application harmonically leads to a transdisciplinary understanding of, and practice for, health and social development. The One Health approach is presented as a case study where a transdisciplinary concept and approach is validated in different social, cultural and ecological settings, and is subsequently put into public health practice leading to a measurable impact for human and animal health and well-being of the communities concerned.

"The Woodstock of Sustainability Science". Impulses from the Wuppertal Making Utopia Possible Conference Week >
Schneidewind, Uwe, Augenstein, Karoline, Stelzer, Franziska, Riechert, Dorle, Lucas, Luisa

Sozial-ökologische Forschung
Mit der Sektorkopplung die Wärmewende einleiten. Ein sozial-ökologischer Aufriss > (open access)
Cross-sectoral Solutions for the Transition of Heat Energy. A Social-ecological Approach
Betker, Frank

Humanökologie und Ernährungsökologie. Auf der Suche nach gemeinsamen Lösungen >
Human Ecology and Nutritional Ecology. In Search of Common Solutions
Teherani-Krönner, Parto, Rückert-John, Jana

Allianz Nachhaltige Universitäten in Österreich
Kompetent in die Zukunft. Die Forschungs-Bildungs-Kooperation zur Klimawandelbildung k.i.d.Z.21 und k.i.d.Z.21-Austria >
Competent into the Future. The Research-Education-Cooperation for Climate Change Communication k.i.d.Z.21 and k.i.d.Z.21-Austria
Stötter, Johann, Keller, Lars, Lütke-Spatz, Lara, Oberrauch, Anna, Körfgen, Annemarie, Kuthe, Alina

Die Energienachfrage steuern. Handlungsempfehlungen zur Nutzung von Smart-Meter-Daten >
Regulating Energy Demand. Recommendations for the Use of Smart Meter Data and Demand Side Management
Carabias, Vicente, Eschenauer, Ursula, Kuehn, Tobias, Lobsiger-Kägi, Evelyn, Mildenberger, Thoralf

MWK Baden-Württemberg
BaWü-labs on Their Way. Progress of Real-world Laboratories in Baden-Württemberg > (open access)
Wagner, Felix, Schäpke, Niko, Stelzer, Franziska, Bergmann, Matthias, Lang, Daniel J.

Helmholtz-Allianz ENERGY-TRANS
Die Energiewende im Ländervergleich. Deutschland und das Vereinigte Königreich verfolgen eigene Transformationspfade >
Comparing the Energy Transition in Germany and the United Kingdom
Fuchs, Gerhard

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