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Concept: Sustainable development


The signature and almost unique characteristic of microbial technology is the exceptional diversity of applications it can address, and the exceptional range of human activities and needs to which it is and can be applied. Precisely because sustainability goals have very diverse and complex components and requirements, microbial technology has the ability to contribute substantively on many levels in many arenas to global efforts to achieve sustainability. Indeed, microbial technology could be viewed as a unifying element in our progress towards sustainability.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Species, Sustainability, United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, Ecological economics, Sustainable development, Natural capital


Recent expansion of the scale of human activities poses severe threats to Earth’s life-support systems. Increasingly, protected areas (PAs) are expected to serve dual goals: protect biodiversity and secure ecosystem services. We report a nationwide assessment for China, quantifying the provision of threatened species habitat and four key regulating services-water retention, soil retention, sandstorm prevention, and carbon sequestration-in nature reserves (the primary category of PAs in China). We find that China’s nature reserves serve moderately well for mammals and birds, but not for other major taxa, nor for these key regulating ecosystem services. China’s nature reserves encompass 15.1% of the country’s land surface. They capture 17.9% and 16.4% of the entire habitat area for threatened mammals and birds, but only 13.1% for plants, 10.0% for amphibians, and 8.5% for reptiles. Nature reserves encompass only 10.2-12.5% of the source areas for the four key regulating services. They are concentrated in western China, whereas much threatened species' habitat and regulating service source areas occur in eastern provinces. Our analysis illuminates a strategy for greatly strengthening PAs, through creating the first comprehensive national park system of China. This would encompass both nature reserves, in which human activities are highly restricted, and a new category of PAs for ecosystem services, in which human activities not impacting key services are permitted. This could close the gap in a politically feasible way. We also propose a new category of PAs globally, for sustaining the provision of ecosystems services and achieving sustainable development goals.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Species, Natural environment, Ecosystem, Sustainability, Millennium Development Goals, Ecological economics, Sustainable development


Household surveys undertaken in Niger since 1998 have revealed steady declines in under-5 mortality which have placed the country ‘on track’ to reach the fourth Millennium Development goal (MDG). This paper explores Niger’s mortality and health coverage data for children under-5 years of age up to 2012 to describe trends in high impact interventions and the resulting impact on childhood deaths averted. The sustainability of these trends are also considered.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Child, Childhood, United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, Child mortality, Sustainable development, African Development Bank


Representatives of national governments are now coming together to set the next development agenda, under the umbrella of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as the era of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) concludes. In order to attain the new goals, it may help to revisit what worked - and what didn’t - in achieving the successes of the MDGs over the past 15 years. In 2000, a total of 189 heads of state signed the Millennium Declaration establishing eight development goals for 2000 through 2015. Within these eight goals, 21 targets were identified, and a monitoring framework with 48 indicators . . .

Concepts: United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, International development, 2005 World Summit, United Nations Millennium Declaration, Sustainable development


In 2012, world leaders will meet at the Rio+20 conference to advance sustainable development–20 years after the Earth Summit that resulted in agreement on important principles but insufficient action. Many of the development goals have not been achieved partly because social (including health), economic, and environmental priorities have not been addressed in an integrated manner. Adverse trends have been reported in many key environmental indicators that have worsened since the Earth Summit. Substantial economic growth has occurred in many regions but nevertheless has not benefited many populations of low income and those that have been marginalised, and has resulted in growing inequities. Variable progress in health has been made, and inequities are persistent. Improved health contributes to development and is underpinned by ecosystem stability and equitable economic progress. Implementation of policies that both improve health and promote sustainable development is urgently needed.

Concepts: Environment, Geography, Economics, Sustainability, Economic growth, Ecological economics, Sustainable development, Economic development


The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for a comprehensive new approach to development rooted in planetary boundaries, equity, and inclusivity. The wide scope of the SDGs will necessitate unprecedented integration of siloed policy portfolios to work at international, regional, and national levels toward multiple goals and mitigate the conflicts that arise from competing resource demands. In this analysis, we adopt a comprehensive modeling approach to understand how coherent policy combinations can manage trade-offs among environmental conservation initiatives and food prices. Our scenario results indicate that SDG strategies constructed around Sustainable Consumption and Production policies can minimize problem-shifting, which has long placed global development and conservation agendas at odds. We conclude that Sustainable Consumption and Production policies (goal 12) are most effective at minimizing trade-offs and argue for their centrality to the formulation of coherent SDG strategies. We also find that alternative socioeconomic futures-mainly, population and economic growth pathways-generate smaller impacts on the eventual achievement of land resource-related SDGs than do resource-use and management policies. We expect that this and future systems analyses will allow policy-makers to negotiate trade-offs and exploit synergies as they assemble sustainable development strategies equal in scope to the ambition of the SDGs.

Concepts: Economics, Policy, Sustainability, United Nations, Economic growth, Millennium Development Goals, Sustainable development, Natural capital


The economic and man-made resources that sustain human wellbeing are not distributed evenly across the world, but are instead heavily concentrated in cities. Poor access to opportunities and services offered by urban centres (a function of distance, transport infrastructure, and the spatial distribution of cities) is a major barrier to improved livelihoods and overall development. Advancing accessibility worldwide underpins the equity agenda of ‘leaving no one behind’ established by the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. This has renewed international efforts to accurately measure accessibility and generate a metric that can inform the design and implementation of development policies. The only previous attempt to reliably map accessibility worldwide, which was published nearly a decade ago, predated the baseline for the Sustainable Development Goals and excluded the recent expansion in infrastructure networks, particularly in lower-resource settings. In parallel, new data sources provided by Open Street Map and Google now capture transportation networks with unprecedented detail and precision. Here we develop and validate a map that quantifies travel time to cities for 2015 at a spatial resolution of approximately one by one kilometre by integrating ten global-scale surfaces that characterize factors affecting human movement rates and 13,840 high-density urban centres within an established geospatial-modelling framework. Our results highlight disparities in accessibility relative to wealth as 50.9% of individuals living in low-income settings (concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa) reside within an hour of a city compared to 90.7% of individuals in high-income settings. By further triangulating this map against socioeconomic datasets, we demonstrate how access to urban centres stratifies the economic, educational, and health status of humanity.

Concepts: Africa, Poverty, Urban area, Sustainability, United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, Sustainable development, Human Development Index


It is argued that trophy hunting of large, charismatic mammal species can have considerable conservation benefits but only if undertaken sustainably. Social-ecological theory suggests such sustainability only results from developing governance systems that balance financial and biological requirements. Here we use lion (Panthera leo) trophy hunting data from Tanzania to investigate how resource ownership patterns influence hunting revenue and offtake levels. Tanzania contains up to half of the global population of free-ranging lions and is also the main location for lion trophy hunting in Africa. However, there are concerns that current hunting levels are unsustainable. The lion hunting industry in Tanzania is run by the private sector, although the government leases each hunting block to companies, enforces hunting regulation, and allocates them a species-specific annual quota per block. The length of these leases varies and theories surrounding property rights and tenure suggest hunting levels would be less sustainable in blocks experiencing a high turnover of short-term leases. We explored this issue using lion data collected from 1996 to 2008 in the Selous Game Reserve (SGR), the most important trophy hunting destination in Tanzania. We found that blocks in SGR with the highest lion hunting offtake were also those that experienced the steepest declines in trophy offtake. In addition, we found this high hunting offtake and the resultant offtake decline tended to be in blocks under short-term tenure. In contrast, lion hunting levels in blocks under long-term tenure matched more closely the recommended sustainable offtake of 0.92 lions per 1000 km2. However, annual financial returns were higher from blocks under short-term tenure, providing $133 per km2 of government revenue as compared to $62 per km2 from long-term tenure blocks. Our results provide evidence for the importance of property rights in conservation, and support calls for an overhaul of the system in Tanzania by developing competitive market-based approaches for block allocation based on long-term tenure of ten years.

Concepts: Mammal, Lion, Sustainability, Hunting, Property, Allocation, Sustainable development, Lions


The concept of the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) was established in the aftermath of the Millennium Development Goals. Here, we summarize the emergence of several new post-2010 global health documents and policies, and how they may alter the way we frame the world’s major NTDs since they were first highlighted. These documents include a new Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study that identifies visceral leishmaniasis and food-borne trematode infections as priority diseases beyond the seven NTDs originally targeted by preventive chemotherapy, a London Declaration for access to essential medicines, and a 2013 World Health Assembly resolution on NTDs. Additional information highlights an emerging dengue fever pandemic. New United Nations resolutions on women and the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have not yet embraced NTDs, which may actually be the most common afflictions of girls and women and represent a stealth cause of NCDs. NTDs also have important direct and collateral effects on HIV/AIDS and malaria, and there is now a robust evidence base and rationale for incorporating NTDs into the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. “Blue marble health” is an added concept that recognizes a paradoxical NTD disease burden among the poor living in G20 (Group of Twenty) and other wealthy countries, requiring these nations to take greater ownership for both disease control and research and development. As we advance past the year 2015, it will be essential to incorporate global NTD elimination into newly proposed Sustainable Development Goals.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Malaria, Poverty, World Health Organization, United Nations, Global health, Millennium Development Goals, Sustainable development


Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is one of the key instruments for implementing sustainable development strategies in planning in general; in addition to being used in sectoral planning, it can also be used in other areas such as waste management planning. SEA in waste management planning has become a tool for considering the benefits and consequences of the proposed changes in space, also taking into account the capacity of space to sustain the implementation of the planned activities. In order to envisage both the positive and negative implications of a waste management plan for the elements of sustainable development, an adequate methodological approach to evaluating the potential impacts must be adopted and the evaluation results presented in a simple and clear way, so as to allow planners to make relevant decisions as a precondition for the sustainability of the activities planned in the waste management sector. This paper examines the multi-criteria evaluation method for carrying out an SEA for the Waste Management Plan for the city of Belgrade (BWMP). The method was applied to the evaluation of the impacts of the activities planned in the waste management sector on the basis of the environmental and socioeconomic indicators of sustainability, taking into consideration the intensity, spatial extent, probability and frequency of impact, by means of a specific planning approach and simple and clear presentation of the obtained results.

Concepts: Management, Sustainability, Recycling, Sustainable development, Sustainable living