Working group details

Working group: Economic and Financial Development Impacts on CO2 Emissions
Ibrahim Ari, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar
Discussion: Researchers and policymakers have extended their studies into interrelations among environmental pollution, particularly CO2  emissions, economic growth, and financial development. In line with this, the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) has drawn ever-growing attention for almost the last three decades because it provides essential statistical implications for countries’ development impact on the environment. However, the EKC studies reveal many controversial results in the literature, even for the same country, because of the period, data reliability and integrity, data proxies, noise within and across the variables, structural time breaks, and various econometric analysis. Therefore, we will discuss possible weaknesses and faults during the investigations of the interrelations mentioned in the beginning, and propose a well-defined statistical framework for the analysis.

Working group: Women Sustainability Forum
Isabel B. Franco, United Nations University - Institute for the Advanced Study of SustainabilityAustralia
Discussion: The Forum is aimed to discuss case studies, impact research and entrepreneurial endeavours concerning gender and sustainability indicators.  The way that women are represented or challenged within disruptive industries and challenging environments, the linkages with the industry and socio-environmental sustainability issues, attraction and retention of women in sustainability at the workplace and sustainable business models, women entrepreneurs and implications for their livelihoods, for example, are some of the topics this forum covers. 
Associated journal: Environmental and Sustainability Indicators

Working group: Historical Land Use Transitions: Implications for Environmental Sustainability
Victoria E. Espinoza-Mendoza, Universidad Maimónides, Argentina
Discussion:  Analyze land use transitions from different perspectives, considering a range of social, economic, political, cultural and environmental drivers and a variety of spatial and temporal scales. These include to address land management and key topics such as telecoupling systems, shifting cultivation, agriculture intensification and land use archetypes. The goal is to discuss a collaborative effort and create synergies between scientists around the world from a wide range of disciplines to publish results in related journals and share in person-meeting in Australia 2022.
Associated journals: Current Research in Environmental Sustainability; Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment

Working group: Surface Modelling of Nature Futures
TianXiang Yue, CAS, China
Discussion: A large variety of datasets, indicators and modelling tools are available from different sources. For optimal and efficient use of the datasets, indicators and modelling, they must be embedded into entire workflows, incorporating database, indicators, integrative modelling and visualization modules. Many modelling platforms have been developed in order to achieve this objective. There are a lot of challenges: 1) a few platforms allow to directly work with geographical vector data and to define multi-level models; 2) assembling all the existing simulation tools from the different phases of nature futures is not realized because a lack of combination of interpolation, upscaling, downscaling, data fusion, model-data assimilation and model coupling; 3) current modelling platforms are limited to a few facets of nature, nature’s contribution to people or driving forces of changes and could not meet the requirement of policy-making and decision-making support.
Surface modelling of scenarios is recognized as a powerful tool to examine how different pathways of sustainable development in future could affect nature and nature's contributions to people (IPBES, 2016). The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has supported the development of the Nature Futures Framework (NFF), which describes various desirable futures and nature’s contributions to people (Pereira et al. 2020). However, most scenario approaches often emphasize negative trends and drivers by now. They have explored impacts of society on nature, but have not explored the role of nature and related policies in driving development (IPBES, 2016; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005; Saito et al., 2019). The linkages between nature and nature's contributions to people have been underexplored (Cumming et al., 2005). Indigenous and local knowledge, which has long been invisible in global scenarios and models. Integrative modelling of nature futures has been a challenge, given the complexity of dynamic social–ecological systems (Pereira et al., 2010; Rosa et al., 2017). It is therefore clear that there is a need for new global scenarios for nature (Kok et al., 2016; Wyborn et al., 2020).
To overcome the weaknesses of current modelling platforms and the challenges of existing scenarios approaches, we propose a surface modelling platform for nature futures (SMP). For the SMP, in addition to surface, the most important terms include nature, nature’s contribution to people, drivers of change and scenarios. Nature refers to the natural world with an emphasis on the diversity of living organisms and their interactions among themselves and with their environment, including biodiversity, ecosystems, ecosystem structure and functioning, the evolutionary process, the biosphere, living natural resources (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005; Díaz et al., 2015). Nature’s contribution to people can be defined as all the contributions, both positive and negative, of living nature to people’s quality of life (Díaz et al., 2018). Drivers of change refer to all the external factors that cause change in nature, anthropogenic assets, nature’s contribution to people and a good quality of life, including institutions and governance systems and other indirect drivers, and direct drivers (both natural and anthropogenic) (IPBES, 2016). A surface refers to a raster expression of a region or one of its eco-environmental properties.

Working group: Ghost Market: Governing Transitions
Demetrio Miloslavo Bova, University of Warsaw, Poland
Discussion: The ‘ghost market’ is a general two-part environmental economic policy useful to govern the transition to a sustainable socio-economic paradigm. It is composed of two main points. Firms pay a tax which is proportional to the pollution and these taxes are redistributed according to the reduction of emissions. Taxing the actual level of pollution generates a demand-type impulse for the reduction of pollution since the higher the amount collected the higher the potential gain by supplying a pollution reduction. Such a mechanism entails an incentive for the cost-efficient reduction of emissions without the limits of the emission trading: it is achieved without intrafirm transactions, there is no space for bargaining power and there are no initial allocation issues. Furthermore, by introducing and accounting the emission absorption as a reduction of pollution, the net emission may tend to stabilize at zero. Such a system is dynamic and allows the market to adapt freely to contingent situations without imposing any quantitative reducing the pollution in the most efficient and cost-effective way and according to the urgency of the pollution reduction or the damage generated.
Aims: The work group cooperation will entail a reciprocal growth and contamination that hopefully will entail durable and profitable working relationships. Its main aims are:
2.1.1 Short term Cooperate to perfectionate the policy by involving heterogeneous experiences. All the improvements will flow into the paper.
2.1.2 Medium term Set up a way to achieve both the publication and to propose its implementation.
Associated journal: Climate Change Ecology; Ecological Economics   

Working group: A Common Asset Trust for Global Ocean Stewardship
Marcello Hernández, Australian National University, Australia
Discussion: The ocean represents a blue natural capital in which the entire humanity depends at different levels. It provides an important source of protein to humans, shipping routes for trade, sequester carbon that otherwise would increase the effects of climate change and produce a large proportion of all the oxygen we breath, to cite a few among the many ecosystem services it delivers to society. Yet, the ocean faces increasing threats such as fisheries overexploitation, climate change, and pollution from oil exploration and plastic waste. These treats to the ocean health are largely based on an inefficient management approach, especially in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), where Hardin’s tragedy of the commons have reached a global scale. The ocean is perhaps one of best example of the global commons that require urgent and novel approaches for its sustainable stewardship.

The roots of this weak management can be traced back to our wrong vision of the economy, which aims at infinite economic growth without taking in consideration the biophysical limits of the Earth System. Leaving the ABNJ as open access capital without a strong property or management scheme (e.g. global community management) will let certain sectors and countries to deplete the ocean to still unknown tipping points in which both social and ecological disasters could happen.

There are currently some emergent efforts to tackle global degradation of the ocean in ABNJ. For example, the General Assembly of the UN decided through its resolution 72/249 of 24 December 2017 to convene an Intergovernmental Conference to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of ABNJ, with a view to developing the instrument as soon as possible. The Conference will meet for four sessions. The first session was convened from 4 to 17 September 2018 and the second session from 25 March to 5 April 2019. The third session was convened from 19 to 30 August 2019. The General Assembly decided to postpone the fourth session due to the global health crisis from COVID-19.

Another example is the start in 2021 of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development with the goal of provide a common framework to ensure that ocean science can fully support countries’ actions to sustainably manage the Oceans and more particularly to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Building on the current momentum of ocean advocacy and the emergent of new ideas for its sustainable management, we propose to design a general framework of a Common Asset Trust for the oceans called the Ocean Trust (OT) as a complement or even substitution of the current proposals to manage marine natural capital in ABNJ.
Key research questions:

  • Who are the main social and economic beneficiaries of the ABNJ?
  • Who are the main users and/or exploiters of the ABNJ?
  • What are the main telecoupling effects between beneficiaries and exploiters of the ABNJ?
  • What current experiences can help build the case for the OT?
  • What are the main funding sources of the OT?
  • Which are the most effective ways of using the revenues generated by the funding sources?
  • What type of institutional arrangement is the most appropriate to manage the OT and its financial mechanism, considering its global scope and therefore its inherent complex politics?
  • How would the OT promote a sustainable blue economy at multiple spatial scales?

Working group: Animal-Forest interaction: An Ecological Perspective of Tropical Biodiversity 
Susanta Kumar Chakraborty, Vidyasagar University, India
Discussion: The tropical  forests representing only a smaller fraction ( about 6 % ) of earth's land surface harbor a diversified biodiversity components , especially by the vivid presence of innumerable buttressed trees which support the lives of fragile but sensitive epiphytic orchids and ferns , lakhs of insect, herpetofauna  and birds species, the magnificent and charismatic wild fauna including tiger and the anthropoid apes in their unique ecological set ups structured by the narrow equatorial belt , extending  to about fifteen degrees north and south of the equator. The tropical mangrove forest representing most dominant structural components of mangrove ecosystem is very unique in respect of ecosystem functioning as it involves two subsystems --aquatic estuarine and mangrove forest subsystems , the continuous interactions between the two ensure higher biological productivity , making the mangrove ecosystem as the most productive ecosystem of the world .

Occupying  and extending  only very  limited extents, no other terrestrial habitats can be compared  with  tropical forests in respect of the rich diversity and density  of wildlife, both fauna and flora . The cacophony of howls and screams of the arboreal animals at dawn and dusk in the large trees of many tropical forests is appeared to be the regular phenomenon and many such wonderful creatures spend even whole of their lives high in the trees, without ever stepping down on the ground. The forest having some open spaces among the canopies permit the  sunlight to penetrate to the ground promoting more profuse  undergrowth  which in turn act as the reservoir of nutrients and shelter of so many other faunal components including insects , reptiles , herbivores  etc. because of the availability of profuse shrubs , herbs , grasses and climbers . The forests in the mangrove ecosystem by virtue of  specialized eco-dynamics resulted  due to the continuous interactions of water , plants , animals , soils and air provide an array of ecological niche and habitats triggering and promoting the growth and propagation of galaxy of  fauna and flora in the form of large halophytes , planktons ,benthos , insects , reptiles , birds and large mammals like tiger.

The equatorial locations of these forests, tropical and mangrove ensure the profuse supply of  of sunlight, increase the day length and  enjoys higher rainfall. The combination of intense rainfall and high average temperatures, exacerbated by forest evaporation and transpiration,  thereby create extreme conditions for developing higher humidity throughout  the year and variations in the  intensity of humidity , rainfall and temperature ultimately structure and develop  different types of tropical forests which can be structurally distinguished from one another and follow varied form of forests-animals interactions . In such context , the session will discuss about the ecodynamics of  tropical forest systems giving emphasis on the functional contribution vis-a-vis ecosystem services rendered by  the structural components of such ecosystems .

Working group: Microplastics in Waterways and Wastewater: Occurrence, Detection, Characterization and Possible Solution
Tanveer Adyel, Monash University, Australia
Discussion: Rapid increasing production and utilization of microplastics (MP), often defined as plastic particles <5mm, raise concerns about the environmental risks globally. There is an urgent need to tackle MP pollution; however, there is little information available on how to do so.

This synthesis working group will invite prominent and emerging microplastics researchers around the globe. These researchers will be covering all geographical domain. Invited researchers along with regular EcoSummit Online 2021 participants, will discuss current trend of microplastics research around the globe and future direction. Moreover, technological constraints and challenges in this research area will also be discussed.

Invited participants of this synthesis working group will discuss and collaborate to formulate idea to generate journal special issue. The results and updates of the working group will be presented at EcoSummit 2022 in the Gold Coast, Australia.  

Working group: Resilience and Adaptation Measures in Wetlands
Lydia Biri Nasimiyu, Technical University of Kenya Nairobi, Kenya
Discussion: Background Information: Generally, wetlands support over 1 billion people all over the world. However, the rising and shrinking levels of these wetlands have affected the ecology and socio-economic livelihoods attained from these wetlands. Freshwater wetlands have been affected by the rising and shrinking levels of water levels. For example, it has been reported of rising levels along Lake Victoria in Africa and also in East Jakarta in Indonesia thus causing ‘backflow’ of water n return displacing communities, also there has been reported of diseases outbreak such as cholera and malaria. In early 2000, reported droughts have resulted to shrinking of water levels globally. This has also resulted to water insecurity issues especially to the community and wildlife surrounding the wetlands. Statement of the Research Problem Drought and flood risks remain one of the main key issues that distract poverty alleviation projects. When these disasters approach, not aligned in policies or through forecasting and prediction but handling the situation as it is. These disasters are usually managed after being affected – property destroyed, lives lost and economy of the regions affected. The money/ funds meant for alleviating poverty projects are hence channelled to manage these disasters e.g. movement of households from flood prone areas to higher regions, repair of roads and property after the floods, food contribution to both flood and drought affected areas, etc. This hence remains a vicious circle in managing these disasters.

Main Objective:
The goal for this working group is to identify and develop the resilience and adaptation measures from the physiological changes of wetlands due to climate change. Specific themes to be addressed include;
a) Understand the adequate changes and process of Wetlands using the historical data.
b) Remote sensing technology and indigenous knowledge to learn from the wetlands’ resilience.
c) Flood-drought models that can demonstrate the pulsing damage of selected areas of a wetland.
d) Resetting values and priorities in wetlands management in favor of human wellbeing.

Expected Findings:
The expected findings achieved are;
a) Understand the adequate changes and process of Wetlands using the historical data. Historical data (Physical data – water level fluctuations, temperature variations). Historical impacts - direct and indirect impacts of flooding and drought will be measured in relation to economy and property lost variations.
b) Using technology (InSAR & UAV) and indigenous knowledge to learn from the wetlands’ resilience. Interferometry Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and drones for optical imagery will be used for mapping and monitoring flood and drought prone areas of selected areas. Understanding survival strategies of flood adapted organisms will enlighten the decisions to be undertaken especially in managing the political decisions especially in transboundary wetlands.
c) Flood-drought model that demonstrates the pulsing damage of selected areas of wetlands. Understanding the hydrological dynamics of wetlands will enable people to adapt the rhythm of waters rather than fighting against the waters.
d) Reset values and priorities in wetlands management in favor of human wellbeing. Survival strategies to flood and drought e.g. migratory strategies and development of structures will address the primary users of wetlands first before the second users.

Working group: New Ideas for Synthesis in Ecology and Environmental Sciences
Ignacio J. Diaz-Maroto, Universidade de Santiago De Compostela, Spain
Discussion: By the speedy growth of big data, synthesis in ecology and environmental sciences is now used to address ecological challenges and manage many of the most scientific environmental research issues. Regular advances in the science of environmental data create opportunities for new research questions, disciplines, perspectives, and data skills to tackle a variety of challenges as people continues to have widespread and changing impacts on our Earth planet.
This Synthesis Working Group aims to: i) build on the status of synthesis science, ii) explore emerging needs and opportunities in environmental science, iii) make possible expansive and convergent discourse, iv) produce a forward looking agenda for synthesis for the EcoSummit 2022.
Potential participants:
Synthesis Working Group is designed to bring together researchers and address an issue that requires their creative contributions and collaborative. The goal is to facilitate discussion and create a product to publish, if possible, in some of the journals supporting the EcoSummit.
The challenges and opportunities of synthesis to explore will be:
1) An opportunity to direct the new environmental challenges and respond properly to current questions about the environmental and social scientific research.
2) Scientific occasion to answer questions arising from the new challenges for our planet and humanity.
3) Exchanging outstanding ideas in a multidisciplinary context and with a receptive mind.

Working group: Human and Ecological Wellness Indicators
Paul Sutton, University of Denver, USA
Discussion: The University of Denver is embarking upon developing a People's Observatory for the Public Good (POPGood) which will have a flagship report and forum on a suite of spatially explicit indicators of human and ecological wellbeing. This report will complement and be juxtaposed with CU Boulder's Leeds Business School's annual assessment of business and economic trends and issues in Colorado by (1) developing a consensus set of measurable indicators of human and ecological wellbeing; (2) preparing an annual/biennial report of trends and related issues; and (3) convening an annual/biennial forum for the release of these findings and an opportunity for discussion concerning their significance.  Develop report in time for Earth Day 2021; go public with report and forum in 2021.

Working group: Integrated Participatory Systems Approach for Modelling Social-Ecological Systems
Russell Richards, University of Queensland, Australia, Oz Sahin, Griffith University, Australia
Discussion: This working group will focus on discussing modelling social-ecological systems, specifically those that use principles of integrative systems thinking, system dynamics and agent-based modelling. There is a growing realisation that models developed and used for social-ecological systems should dynamically integrate key drivers, processes and responses that interact within, and have feedback on, the system that is being investigated. Often, this integrative approach requires combining knowledge and data from a variety of sources, including the participation and collaboration of researchers from diverse domains, decision-makers and other stakeholders. It would also provide a forum for discussing how socio-economic variables are integrated into ecological modelling, including approaches used (and underpinning theory) and what challenges the inclusion of non-environmental dynamics bring to the modelling process and what are the emerging frameworks that are showing promise in this field.

Working group: World Futures 2050
Cynthia Winkworth, University of Otago Dunedin, New Zealand
Discussion: As researchers we tend to focus on specific problems, not so much on the broader future we can help create. But being able to articulate a range of futures can help focus our work, avoid distractions, and identify unique collaborations. Consider we are living in the 2050 future worlds your research aspires to. By developing skills in ‘futuring’ to find novel alignments with others, we can identify factors that encourage real change. Factors including, but not limited to: Resource Use, Lifestyle, Nature of work, Environmental Quality, Social Values, Travel and Communication, Governance, Nature of Economy, and Education. We will apply future studies thinking to develop our visions for the future, identify shared aspirations, and discuss what could be done individually and collectively, particularly when considering what future learners and leaders expect and need to create those futures.

Working group: Sustainable Universities 2050
Cynthia Winkworth, University of Otago Dunedin, New Zealand
Discussion: As researchers we tend to focus on specific problems, not so much on the broader future we can help create. But being able to articulate a range of futures can help focus our work, avoid distractions, and identify unique solutions. Considering a range of World Futures in 2050, what do future learners and leaders expect and need to create those futures? Do universities exist? What role, if any, do universities play? What do sustainable universities look like when considering, but not limited to, Research, Resource use, Physical infrastructure, Teaching, and ICT. Our collective aim will be to develop a shared vision for future sustainable universities globally, and identify what resources future leaders and learners will need to shape that reality (for example, knowledge, technology, time, etc)

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