Institute for Environmental Studies
Institute for Environmental Studies
PubMed | Environment Canada, INERIS, WatchFrag, Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology and 9 more.
Type: | Journal: The Science of the total environment | Year: 2016
Aquatic environments are often contaminated with complex mixtures of chemicals that may pose a risk to ecosystems and human health. This contamination cannot be addressed with target analysis alone but tools are required to reduce this complexity and identify those chemicals that might cause adverse effects. Effect-directed analysis (EDA) is designed to meet this challenge and faces increasing interest in water and sediment quality monitoring. Thus, the present paper summarizes current experience with the EDA approach and the tools required, and provides practical advice on their application. The paper highlights the need for proper problem formulation and gives general advice for study design. As the EDA approach is directed by toxicity, basic principles for the selection of bioassays are given as well as a comprehensive compilation of appropriate assays, including their strengths and weaknesses. A specific focus is given to strategies for sampling, extraction and bioassay dosing since they strongly impact prioritization of toxicants in EDA. Reduction of sample complexity mainly relies on fractionation procedures, which are discussed in this paper, including quality assurance and quality control. Automated combinations of fractionation, biotesting and chemical analysis using so-called hyphenated tools can enhance the throughput and might reduce the risk of artifacts in laboratory work. The key to determining the chemical structures causing effects is analytical toxicant identification. The latest approaches, tools, software and databases for target-, suspect and non-target screening as well as unknown identification are discussed together with analytical and toxicological confirmation approaches. A better understanding of optimal use and combination of EDA tools will help to design efficient and successful toxicant identification studies in the context of quality monitoring in multiply stressed environments.
Mysiak J.,Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei |
Surminski S.,Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment |
Thieken A.,University of Potsdam |
Mechler R.,International Institute For Applied Systems Analysis |
Aerts J.,Institute for Environmental Studies
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences | Year: 2016
In March 2015, a new international blueprint for disaster risk reduction (DRR) was adopted in Sendai, Japan, at the end of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR, 14-18 March 2015). We review and discuss the agreed commitments and targets, as well as the negotiation leading the Sendai Framework for DRR (SFDRR) and discuss briefly its implication for the later UN-led negotiations on sustainable development goals and climate change. © Author(s) 2016.
News Article | December 12, 2016
In his 49 years, Zablon Katende had never thought of leaving his hometown of Kipini in coastal Kenya. But now, looking at his dwindling mango trees, the farmer worries the harvest will not be enough to provide for his five children. “Every year there is less water,” he says, pointing at the murky Tana river which washes the shores of his village. Despite being Kenya’s longest river, the Tana is struggling to keep up with the country’s ever-growing demand for water and electricity. It is the backbone of the country’s economy, providing up to 80% of Nairobi’s water and half the country’s electricity through hydroelectric plants. Its water also irrigates thousands of hectares of cash crops such as tea, coffee and rice. However, erosion, pollution and excessive water capture are threatening the livelihoods of many who, like Katende, depend on the river. The government is currently planning to divert even more of Tana’s water for irrigation and power, but a study (pdf) by Wetlands International and the Vrije University in Amsterdam warns this management model is not ecologically sustainable. Despite concerns, Kenya’s government wants to use more of the Tana river’s resources to ensure economic prosperity for the country’s fast growing population. Known as Vision 2030, the plan includes 1m acres of monocultures, a 3km-long dam and a £28bn transportation corridor including a new port city in Lamu, near the Tana delta. Experts, however, warn the river’s resources are not unlimited. “Ignoring nature has a price,” says Julie Mulonga, programme manager of Wetlands International in Kenya. According to Mulonga, the government’s water management style focuses on the short-term benefit of industries around the capital, such as flower farms and breweries, and disregards the needs of people and animals downstream. The consequences are already being felt, especially in Tana’s delta where most locals live off fishing, raising cattle and growing sustenance crops. Without enough water, fish cannot breed, crops fail and animals are too emaciated to sell. “Without the river, nothing lives,” says Katende, who worries that the construction of another dam will mean even less water for his mango trees. Tourism is suffering, too. Tana’s delta is a wildlife refuge for hundreds of species, from hippos to monkeys. But water scarcity increases deforestation and animal poaching. What’s more, local authorities worry that competition over water will lead to violent clashes between pastoralist and farming tribes, which in 2012 resulted in 50 deaths and forced several hotels to close. The Kenyan government rejects the suggestion that their plans are putting strain on the environment, communities and business that relies on the river. “There is no need to compete over water because all economic activities on the river are complementary,” says Robinson Gaita, director of irrigation and water storage at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. Gaita is overseeing the development of a new 10,000-acre maize farm near the middle section of the Tana, which he says is already improving food security. The government recently donated 62,000 bags of maize from this plantation to communities suffering from drought in the river’s delta. As for the colossal dam, Gaita says it will actually help downstream farmers like Katende because it will give the state the ability to prevent excessive flooding and increase the availability of water in case of drought – both of which are happening more frequently because of climate change. Private businesses could have a big role to play in the Tana’s conservation. Some of the country’s largest companies, including Coca-Cola and East African Breweries, have joined the Nairobi Water Fund, a scheme which aims to raise £8m to help preserve Tana’s ecosystems by planting trees or teaching farmers better soil-management practices. Nushin Ghassmi, communications manager for Frigoken, Kenya’s largest vegetable processing company, says working with the fund is important because “preserving our natural resources is crucial for our business survival”. Coca-Cola estimates the annual water treatment and filtration costs for their Nairobi bottling plant at more than $1m. Yet even with increased corporate responsibility, the Tana will continue to deteriorate if the government does not scale down its ambitious infrastructural projects, warns Pieter van Beukering, director of the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije University. If the economic benefits are not shared equally along the river this could also increase upstream migration. “Money follows water. And people follow money,” says Beukering. Many of Katende’s neighbours have already left Kipini looking for greener pastures for their cattle or cleaner waters for their nets. “But I’m a farmer,” says Katende, “I can’t abandon my land.” Instead he has joined a local conservation group to help raise awareness about the importance of preserving the Tana. Despite this year’s failing crop, he is hopeful. “We will find a way to give water to everybody,” he says. “We have to.” Sign up to be a Guardian Sustainable Business member and get more stories like this direct to your inbox every week. You can also follow us on Twitter.
Agency: Narcis | Branch: Project | Program: Completed | Phase: Social Sciences | Award Amount: | Year: 2007
Pesch U.,Technical University of Delft |
Huitema D.,Institute for Environmental Studies |
Hisschemoller M.,Institute for Environmental Studies
Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy | Year: 2012
In this paper we address the way boundary organizations can accommodate tensions in the science - politics interface. Literature on boundary organizations suggests that this type of organization can provide stability in science - politics interaction, but how these organizations function over a longer period of time is not a point of theoretical or empirical attention. We study a boundary organization, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (MNP), by analyzing the ideas that guided the foundation of the MNP and by analyzing two cases in which the MNP advised Dutch policy makers. In both cases the MNP had to adjust its boundary orientation because of changes in its institutional context. These findings show that the dynamics involved in boundary organizations should be included in academic research. We conclude by discussing two conceptual frameworks that may help to capture these dynamics: the notion of 'learning organizations' and a typology of roles of experts in politics. © 2012 Pion and its Licensors.
Kalfagianni A.,Institute for Environmental Studies |
Pattberg P.,Institute for Environmental Studies
Globalizations | Year: 2014
Private rule-setting organizations increasingly design, implement, and monitor rules and standards that prescribe behavior in the global governance for sustainability. In this article we develop criteria against which we evaluate the output legitimacy of these organizations along two dimensions on the basis of their acceptance by different constituencies. The internal dimension refers to the acceptance of the organization's rules and standards by the relevant target group, and is assessed on the basis of standard uptake and compliance. The external dimension signifies the ability of the organization to have broader political and socio-economic impact that reaches beyond the target group, and is evaluated on the basis of structural, cognitive, and regulatory effects. With reference to the Marine Stewardship Council and Friend of the Sea, our analysis illustrates that while claims by private organizations to output legitimacy are not unfounded in sustainability governance, they can also be contested when considered in a global context. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.
Helingerova M.,University of South Bohemia |
Frouz J.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic |
Frouz J.,Institute for Environmental Studies |
Santruckova H.,University of South Bohemia
Ecological Engineering | Year: 2010
Microbial activity reflects soil conditions and degree of development. The aim of this study was to compare microbial properties of reclaimed and unreclaimed post-mining soil. Microbial biomass, microbial respiration, and cellulose decomposition were quantified in two chronosequences of post-mining sites located in the Sokolov brown-coal mining area. The first chronosequence consisted of five sites reclaimed with an alder plantation (Alnus glutinosa, Alnus incana), and the other consisted of five unreclaimed sites naturally colonized by local vegetation (especially Salix caprea, Betula pendula and Populus tremula). The spoil material of all the studied sites consisted of tertiary clays without any topsoil cover. Microbial respiration per unit of soil mass as well as per unit of soil area decreased as site age increased. Microbial biomass, whether expressed as a function of soil mass or area, increased with site age in both reclaimed and unreclaimed sites. When expressed per m2, proportion of deeper soil layers (5-10 cm) on overall microbial biomass in 0-10 cm layer increased with site age. This increase was more pronounced in reclaimed than in unreclaimed sites. Cellulose decomposition was highest in 8-year-old sites in the reclaimed chronosequence and in 17-21-year-old sites in the unreclaimed chronosequence. The cellulose decomposition rate was higher in reclaimed than in unreclaimed sites. In reclaimed sites, the decomposition rate depended on air temperature, while in unreclaimed sites other factors, such as moisture deficiency, seemed to drive decomposition rate in some locations. Overall, microbial activity increased faster in reclaimed than in unreclaimed sites, and this difference was most evident in younger sites. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
de Boer J.,Institute for Environmental Studies |
de Witt A.,Technical University of Delft |
Aiking H.,Institute for Environmental Studies
Appetite | Year: 2016
This paper explores how the transition to a low-carbon society to mitigate climate change can be better supported by a diet change. As climate mitigation is not the focal goal of consumers who are buying or consuming food, the study highlighted the role of motivational and cognitive background factors, including possible spillover effects. Consumer samples in the Netherlands (n = 527) and the United States (n = 556) were asked to evaluate food-related and energy-related mitigation options in a design that included three food-related options with very different mitigation potentials (i.e. eating less meat, buying local and seasonal food, and buying organic food). They rated each option's effectiveness and their willingness to adopt it. The outstanding effectiveness of the less meat option (as established by climate experts) was recognized by merely 12% of the Dutch and 6% of the American sample. Many more participants gave fairly positive effectiveness ratings and this was correlated with belief in human causation of climate change, personal importance of climate change, and being a moderate meat eater. Willingness to adopt the less meat option increased with its perceived effectiveness and, controlling for that, it was significantly related to various motivationally relevant factors. The local food option appealed to consumer segments with overlapping but partly different motivational orientations. It was concluded that a transition to a low carbon society can significantly benefit from a special focus on the food-related options to involve more consumers and to improve mitigation. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
PubMed | Institute for Environmental Studies and Technical University of Delft
Type: | Journal: Appetite | Year: 2016
This paper explores how the transition to a low-carbon society to mitigate climate change can be better supported by a diet change. As climate mitigation is not the focal goal of consumers who are buying or consuming food, the study highlighted the role of motivational and cognitive background factors, including possible spillover effects. Consumer samples in the Netherlands (n=527) and the United States (n=556) were asked to evaluate food-related and energy-related mitigation options in a design that included three food-related options with very different mitigation potentials (i.e. eating less meat, buying local and seasonal food, and buying organic food). They rated each options effectiveness and their willingness to adopt it. The outstanding effectiveness of the less meat option (as established by climate experts) was recognized by merely 12% of the Dutch and 6% of the American sample. Many more participants gave fairly positive effectiveness ratings and this was correlated with belief in human causation of climate change, personal importance of climate change, and being a moderate meat eater. Willingness to adopt the less meat option increased with its perceived effectiveness and, controlling for that, it was significantly related to various motivationally relevant factors. The local food option appealed to consumer segments with overlapping but partly different motivational orientations. It was concluded that a transition to a low carbon society can significantly benefit from a special focus on the food-related options to involve more consumers and to improve mitigation.
News Article | November 2, 2016
Highly dependent on the different aspects of global change, variations in ecosystem services supply can also have direct impacts on human well being. A new article published in the open access journal One Ecosystem assesses the relationships between climate and land use change and ecosystem services supply in Europe, to pave the way on research connecting them to adaptation and human well being in a changing world. Ecosystem services arise when ecological structures or functions contribute toward meeting a human demand. With global change impacting biodiversity and ecosystems properties, ecosystem services supply are also likely to be affected, consequently impacting various aspects of human well being. In this context, assessing the possible bio-physical impacts of the ongoing and future changes in climate and land use becomes highly relevant for designing mitigation and adaptation policies. While undergoing a comprehensive climate and land use impact assessment continues to be a demanding research challenge due to the large knowledge gaps, in their new paper, the team of scientists from the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy and the Institute for Environmental Studies at the VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands, present a first of its kind spatially explicit preliminary assessment of the changes in ecosystem services supply as a function of these global change drivers. Carried out for the mainland of the 28 Member States of the European Union, the focus of this analysis is on regulating ecosystem services, due to their direct dependency on the proper functioning of ecosystems. Focusing on three regulating services: air quality regulation, soil erosion control, and water flow regulation, the new research presents an assessment of changes related to global change and their projected impacts, positive or negative, on human well being in the different European regions. "Considering both land use projections and climate change scenarios in our research, in principle, enabled us to capture the main pressures acting on ecosystems and their services, thus enhancing the suitability of this approach to generate policy-relevant information," explains the authors. "Yet, this study is only preliminary and a stepping stone for further research, needed not only to expand the analysis to other ES, but also to incorporate processes and scaling properties of the systems considered as they become available, and to account for spatial dependencies." Polce C, Maes J, Brander L, Cescatti A, Baranzelli C, Lavalle C, Zulian G (2016) Global change impacts on ecosystem services: a spatially explicit assessment for Europe. One Ecosystem 1: e9990. https:/