183 results found
Giakoumis T, Voulvoulis N, 2023, Combined sewer overflows: relating event duration monitoring data to wastewater systems' capacity in England, Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, Vol: 9, Pages: 707-722, ISSN: 2053-1400
Water pollution caused by the frequent use of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) has been attracting increased media and political coverage in England as in other places in the world. Considering that each of the country's 14 346 CSOs has been assessed for their environmental risk potential, as defined by the Environment Agency, and they have each been permitted to act as a storm overflow is indicative of a more systemic problem than currently perceived. While looking at the duration and frequency of discharges from individual CSOs not much can be said about their causes nor about what needs to be done to reduce them, here through an extensive investigation of event duration monitoring (EDM) data for 2021 and 2020, CSO spills are shown to be an issue across all sewerage companies related to how they operate their systems. By analysing EDM data considering the type and location of CSOs, and the sewerage networks they are connected to, our findings reveal the chronic under capacity of the English wastewater systems as a fundamental cause behind the increased frequency and duration of CSO spills. Other than pumping stations, 82% of the CSOs with the maximum spill duration per system were located at storm tanks and inlets of treatment works and had on average significantly higher spill durations in systems with insufficient hydraulic capacity both in 2020 and 2021, suggesting that CSOs are used to protect the works under peak dry weather flow conditions. Such frequent, and in some cases independent of rainfall, use of CSOs, could have detrimental effects for the receiving environment, as well as put thousands of water users at risk.
Wan Rosely WIH, Voulvoulis N, 2023, Systems thinking for the sustainability transformation of urban water systems, Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, Vol: 53, Pages: 1127-1147, ISSN: 1064-3389
Several frameworks, concepts and indicators have been developed in the past decades to help policy makers and water managers improve the sustainability of urban water systems, but overall progress has been slow. Water-related challenges have been increasing, with the number of cities suffering from lack of access to safe water and sanitation expected to soar, exacerbated by population increases and dwindling availability. While it is widely acknowledged that these challenges require systemic solutions to address them in a more integrated way, the concept, in current urban water literature, remains ambiguous. Here, we examine the potential of systems thinking in addressing urban water challenges and review the shortcomings of conventional paradigms and current management practices. System thinking allows for understanding of the web of interrelations that create these challenges and rethinking assumptions about how change happens. We highlight its potential to empower policymakers, water managers, urban planners and other stakeholders to address the root causes of urban water challenges, to shape and influence the broader enabling environment and conditions for the uptake of sustainable practices leading to the sustainability transformation of urban water systems.
Voulvoulis N, 2022, Transitioning to a sustainable circular economy: the transformation required to decouple growth from environmental degradation, Frontiers in Sustainability, Vol: 3, ISSN: 2673-4524
The UN 2030 agenda of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envisions a future of inclusive equity, justice and prosperity within planetary boundaries, and places an important emphasis on ending poverty (SDG 1) and on sustainable economic growth (SDG 8). Target 8.4 refers to the need to improve global resource efficiency in consumption and production, and decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation, the ultimate goal of a sustainable circular economy. Here, we explore the potential of the transition to such an economy, and discuss the transformation required for moving away from our current model of consumption with its ever increasing generation of waste. The primary aim of such transformation is to rethink what we understand as growth, in order to redefine what is meant by progress and, in the process, redesign our economies, ultimately decoupling our prosperity from material consumption, carbon emissions and waste. Dematerialisation, servitisation, collaborative consumption and a shift from ownership to access have the potential to restructure the economics of consumption, accelerate decoupling, and help us to envision and potentially create a circular economy that delivers social, economic and environmental benefits for all. However, their current deployment without policy steer, public support and appropriate technology developments could turn to be a missed opportunity for ensuring sustainable economic growth fully aligned with sound environmental stewardship and social development, and the transition to a truly sustainable circular economy.
Kioupi V, Voulvoulis N, 2022, Education for Sustainable Development as the catalyst for local transitions towards the Sustainable Development Goals, Frontiers in Sustainability, Vol: 3, ISSN: 2673-4524
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is hypothesized to enable the transition to a sustainable future as envisioned by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To demonstrate the potential of ESD to facilitate such a transition, research was carried out between 2018 and 2020, using a systems thinking approach to enable educational communities develop their own visions around the SDGs through a participatory process of localisation of sustainability goals and targets and an alignment with formal educational outcomes. Three case studies implemented in a University and two Schools in the UK where evaluated as to their capacity to facilitate these transitions through the development of sustainability competences in their learners. Findings from the application of the systemic framework for transitions towards the SDGs through ESD and assessment tools for sustainability competence attainment in learners are discussed in depth. Important barriers and enablers of the process are identified, as well as leverage points to increase the effectiveness of interventions. This work aims to inform education practitioners and community stakeholders about the potential of ESD and practices they can adapt to their own needs and circumstances.
Voulvoulis N, Giakoumis T, Hunt C, et al., 2022, Systems thinking as a paradigm shift for sustainability transformation, Global Environmental Change, Vol: 75, Pages: 102544-102544, ISSN: 0959-3780
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted as reference and universal guidepost for transitioning to Sustainable Development by the United Nations in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, are intended to be used as a set of interconnected goals and global targets for ‘Transforming our world’, as the 2030 Agenda is titled. This is a far more challenging task than business as usual; it requires systems thinking for understanding the conditions that generate and propagate sustainability challenges, moving away from the reductionist and anthropocentric thinking that created them in the first place. Taking a systems approach to addressing these challenges has been gaining currency with academics and policymakers alike, and here we make the case for holistic, integrated, and interdisciplinary thinking that challenges assumptions and worldviews, crucially based on public participation and engagement, to create the enabling conditions for sustainability to emerge. System transformations require interconnected changes to technologies, social practices, business models, regulations and societal norms, an intentional process designed to fundamentally alter the components and structures that cause the system to behave in its current unsustainable ways, a paradigm shift enabling the transition to sustainability.
Kioupi V, Voulvoulis N, 2022, The contribution of Higher Education to sustainability: The development and assessment of sustainability competences, Education Sciences, Vol: 12, Pages: 1-20, ISSN: 2227-7102
Universities can make a significant contribution to sustainability, and the development of sustainability competences in their graduates should be a key outcome of their courses. We propose an assessment framework for enabling and evaluating the attainment of sustainability competences in University students. We outline its six steps, offering tools on how to assess the alignment of University programs’ Learning Outcomes (LOs) to sustainability and how translate them into competences for sustainability. We provide approaches to evaluate existing assessment methods in terms of enabling students to develop and apply their competences, guidance on how to conduct the assessments to collect data on student performance and eventually how to use the data, and evidence collected to evaluate if the students are developing the intended competences. We illustrate the application of the assessment tool in a University case study and we draw conclusions on the evidence it offers to how higher education practitioners can benefit from its use.
Seethalakshmi PS, Charity OJ, Giakoumis T, et al., 2022, Delineating the impact of COVID-19 on antimicrobial resistance: An Indian perspective, Science of the Total Environment, Vol: 818, ISSN: 0048-9697
The COVID-19 pandemic has shattered millions of lives globally and continues to be a challenge to public health due to the emergence of variants of concern. Fear of secondary infections following COVID-19 has led to an escalation in antimicrobial use during the pandemic, while some antimicrobials have been repurposed as treatments for SARS-CoV-2, further driving antimicrobial resistance. India is one of the largest producers and consumers of antimicrobials globally, hence the task of curbing antimicrobial resistance is a huge challenge. Practices like empirical antimicrobial prescription and repurposing of drugs in clinical settings, self-medication and excessive use of antimicrobial hygiene products may have negatively impacted the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in India. However, the expanded production of antimicrobials and disinfectants during the pandemic in response to increased demand may have had an even greater impact on the threat of antimicrobial resistance through major impacts on the environment. The review provides an outline of the impact COVID-19 can have on antimicrobial resistance in clinical settings and the possible outcomes on the environment. This review calls for the upgrading of existing antimicrobial policies and emphasizes the need for research studies to understand the impact of the pandemic on antimicrobial resistance in India.
Pavanelli DD, Domingues DF, Hoch PG, et al., 2022, Transient Alterations in Streamwater Quality Induced by Pollution Incidents: Interim Losses Calculations and Compensation Alternatives Based on Habitat Equivalency Analysis, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Vol: 69, Pages: 576-587, ISSN: 0364-152X
Souliotis I, Voulvoulis N, 2021, Natural capital accounting informing water management policies in Europe, Sustainability, Vol: 13, Pages: 1-24, ISSN: 2071-1050
In the European Union, the Water Framework Directive provides a roadmap for achieving good water status and sustainable water usage, and a framework for the information, types of analysis, and interventions required by the Member States. Lack of previous knowledge in, and understanding of, interdisciplinary approaches across European countries has led to applications of corrective measures that have yielded less than favourable results. The natural capital paradigm, the assessment and monitoring of the value of natural capital, has the potential to convey information on the use of water resources and improve the connection between implemented measures and changes in the status of the resources, thus enhancing the effectiveness of policy interventions. In this paper, we present the natural capital accounting methodology, adapted to the requirements of the Directive, and demonstrate its application in two European catchments. Using economic methods, the asset value of two ecosystem services was estimated and associated with changes in water status due to policy instruments. Findings demonstrate that the asset value of water for residential consumption and recreational purposes fluctuates from year to year, influenced by current and future uses. Consequently, managing authorities should consider both current and emerging pressures when designing interventions to manage water resource sustainably.
Gomez-Gonzalez MA, Koronfel MA, Pullin H, et al., 2021, Nanoscale chemical imaging of nanoparticles under real-world wastewater treatment conditions, Advanced Sustainable Systems, Vol: 5, ISSN: 2366-7486
Understanding nanomaterial transformations within wastewater treatment plants is an important step to better predict their potential impact on the environment. Here, spatially resolved, in situ nano-X-ray fluorescence microscopy is applied to directly observe nanometer-scale dissolution, morphological, and chemical evolution of individual and aggregated ZnO nanorods in complex “real-world” conditions: influent water and primary sludge collected from a municipal wastewater system. A complete transformation of isolated ZnO nanorods into ZnS occurs after only 1 hour in influent water, but larger aggregates of the ZnO nanorods transform only partially, with small contributions of ZnS and Zn-phosphate (Zn3(PO4)2) species, after 3 hours. Transformation of aggregates of the ZnO nanorods toward mixed ZnS, Zn adsorbed to Fe-oxyhydroxides, and a large contribution of Zn3(PO4)2 phases are observed during their incubation in primary sludge for 3 hours. Discrete, isolated ZnO regions are imaged with unprecedented spatial resolution, revealing their incipient transformation toward Zn3(PO4)2. Passivation by transformation(s) into mixtures of less soluble phases may influence the subsequent bioreactivity of these nanomaterials. This work emphasizes the importance of imaging the nanoscale chemistry of mixtures of nanoparticles in highly complex, heterogeneous semi-solid matrices for improved prediction of their impacts on treatment processes, and potential environmental toxicity following release.
Souliotis I, Voulvoulis N, 2021, Incorporating ecosystem services in the assessment of water framework directive programmes of measures, Environmental Management (New York): an international journal for decision-makers, scientists and environmental auditors, Vol: 68, Pages: 38-52, ISSN: 0364-152X
The EU Water Framework Directive requires the development of management responses aimed towards improving water quality as a result of improving ecosystem health (system state). Ecosystems have potential to supply a range of services that are of fundamental importance to human well-being, health, livelihoods and survival, and their capacity to supply these services depends on the ecosystem condition (its structure and processes). According to the WFD, Programmes of Measures should be developed to improve overall water status by reducing anthropogenic catchment pressures to levels compatible with the achievement of the ecological objectives of the directive, and when designed and implemented properly should improve the ecological condition of aquatic ecosystems that the delivery of ecosystem services depends on. Monitoring and evaluation of implemented measures are crucial for assessing their effectiveness and creating the agenda for consecutive planning cycles. Considering the challenges of achieving water status improvements, and the difficulties of communicating these to the wider public, we develop a framework for the evaluation of measures cost-effectiveness that considers ecosystem services as the benefits from the reduction of pressures on water bodies. We demonstrate its application through a case study and discuss its potential to facilitate the economic analysis required by the directive, and that most European water authorities had problems with. Findings demonstrate the potential of the methodology to effectively incorporate ecosystem services in the assessment of costs and benefits of proposed actions, as well as its potential to engage stakeholders.
Hunt C, Wilson HL, Voulvoulis N, 2021, Evaluating alternatives to plastic microbeads in cosmetics, Nature Sustainability, Vol: 4, Pages: 366-372, ISSN: 2398-9629
In our haste to ban or regulate unsustainable and environmentally damaging materials and chemicals, we may overlook dangers posed by their substitutes. In light of the scientific evidence regarding the fate, persistence and toxicity of microplastics in the marine environment, many countries have banned the sale of rinse-off cosmetics containing plastic microbeads to prevent their release to the environment. However, the wider lifetime environmental impacts of the potential substitutes have not up to now been considered, and care must be taken so that the environmental costs of using them do not potentially outweigh the benefit resulting from the bans. In this study, we use Life Cycle Assessment to compare the environmental performance of a wide range of potential alternatives. The study investigates the quantities of these materials required, and the human health and environmental impacts of their manufacture, transport and inclusion in cosmetics. We highlight that long-term environmental and human health effects of their disposal are unknown and are thus excluded from the Life Cycle Assessment. In support of the responsible replacement of plastic microbeads in cosmetics, we identify several alternatives that will perform better, as well as substitutes that could pose additional risks and have undesirable effects.
Hunt CF, Voulvoulis N, 2021, Chemical Pollution of the Aquatic Environment and Health, ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTANT EXPOSURES AND PUBLIC HEALTH, Vol: 50, Pages: 39-69, ISSN: 1350-7583
Hunt C, Voulvoulis N, 2021, Chemical Pollution of the Aquatic Environment and Health, Environmental Pollutant Exposures and Public Health, Editors: Harrison, Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry, Pages: 36-69, ISBN: 978-1-78801-895-1
The dramatic increases in industrialisation over the past three centuries have changed human exposures to both natural and synthetic chemicals. There is mounting unease about the risk to the environment and human health of synthetic chemicals, on top of the well-known risks associated with both naturally occurring and man-made chemicals when at high concentrations (e.g. poisoning from natural arsenic concentrations in groundwater in Bangladesh and mercury from industrial discharges in Minamata, Japan, respectively). Modern industrial chemicals can be persistent in the environment and bioaccumulate in wildlife, with trace concentrations released into the aquatic environment building up over time and polluting the food chain. Cocktails of these chemicals have unknown effects that even at very low levels may still have significant and widespread adverse environmental and human health consequences (e.g. cancer risk and impaired reproductive development) from chronic exposure. Most recently, microplastics and nanoparticles in the aquatic environment have been recognised as a threat, both directly and as vectors for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) adsorbed onto their surfaces. Although some progress has been made in managing risks to human health from exposure to aquatic chemical pollution, we must be ever aware of the changing nature of these threats.
Ruggero F, Porter AE, Voulvoulis N, et al., 2020, A highly efficient multi-step methodology for the quantification of micro-(bio)plastics in sludge., Waste Management and Research, Vol: 39, Pages: 956-965, ISSN: 0734-242X
The present study develops a multi-step methodology for identification and quantification of microplastics and micro-bioplastics (together called in the current work micro-(bio)plastics) in sludge. In previous studies, different methods for the extraction of microplastics were devised for traditional plastics, while the current research tested the methodology on starch-based micro-bioplastics of 0.1-2 mm size. Compostable bioplastics are expected to enter the anaerobic or aerobic biological treatments that lead to end-products applicable in agriculture; some critical conditions of treatments (e.g. low temperature and moisture) can slow down the degradation process and be responsible for the presence of microplastics in the end-product. The methodology consists of an initial oxidation step, with hydrogen peroxide 35% concentrated to clear the sludge and remove the organic fraction, followed by a combination of flotation with sodium chloride and observation of the residues under a fluorescence microscope using a green filter. The workflow revealed an efficacy of removal from 94% to 100% and from 92% to 96% for plastic fragments, 0.5-2 mm and 0.1-0.5 mm size, respectively. The methodology was then applied to samples of food waste pulp harvested after a shredding pre-treatment in an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in Italy, where polyethylene, starch-based Mater-Bi® and cellophane microplastics were recovered in amounts of 9 ± 1.3/10 g <2 mm and 4.8 ± 1.2/10 g ⩾2 mm. The study highlights the need to lower the threshold size for the quantification of plastics in organic fertilizers, which is currently set by legislations at 2 mm, by improving the background knowledge about the fate of the micro-(bio)plastics in biological treatments for the organic waste.
Kioupi V, Voulvoulis N, 2020, Sustainable development goals (SDGs): assessing the contribution of higher education programmes, Sustainability, Vol: 12, Pages: 6701-6701, ISSN: 2071-1050
Universities are engines of societal transformation and can nurture future citizens and navigate them towards sustainability through their educational programmes. Here, we developed an assessment framework for educational institutions to evaluate the contribution of their educational programmes to sustainability by reviewing the alignment of their intended learning outcomes to the enabling conditions for a vision of sustainability based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The tool is based on a systemic grouping of the SDGs into eight sustainability attributes, namely, Safe Operating Space, Just Operating Space, Resilient Sustainable Behaviours, Alternative Economic Models, Health and Wellbeing, Collaboration, Diversity and Inclusion, and Transparency and Governance, and uses a word code developed specifically for each sustainability attribute to assess the coverage of the SDGs in master’s programmes’ learning outcomes. The tool uses multi-criteria analysis to compare and rank programmes according to the alignment of their learning outcomes to the sustainability attributes and their contribution to sustainability. It was first tested using data from a University’s eighteen master’s programmes on a range of subjects and subsequently applied to compare forty UK and European master’s programmes focusing on environment and sustainability. Findings demonstrate that even environmental programmes face some important gaps related to health, wellbeing, diversity, inclusion, and collaboration, amongst others, and reinforce the need for all universities to understand the contribution of their programmes to sustainability. The application of the tool can generate empirical evidence on the effectiveness of university programmes and establish a strong argument regarding the potential of education as a tool for achieving the SDGs.
Mariano S, Panzarini E, Inverno MD, et al., 2020, Toxicity, bioaccumulation and biotransformation of glucose-capped silver nanoparticles in green microalgae chlorella vulgaris, Nanomaterials, Vol: 10, Pages: 1-15, ISSN: 2079-4991
Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are one of the most widely used nanomaterials in consumer products. When discharged into the aquatic environment AgNPs can cause toxicity to aquatic biota, through mechanisms that are still under debate, thus rendering the nanoparticles (NPs) effects evaluation a necessary step. Different aquatic organism models, i.e., microalgae, mussels, Daphnia magna, sea urchins and Danio rerio, etc. have been largely exploited for NPs toxicity assessment. On the other hand, alternative biological microorganisms abundantly present in nature, i.e., microalgae, are nowadays exploited as a potential sink for removal of toxic substances from the environment. Indeed, the green microalgae Chlorella vulgaris is one of the most used microorganisms for waste treatment. With the aim to verify the possible involvement of C. vulgaris not only as a model microorganism of NPs toxicity but also for the protection toward NPs pollution, we used these microalgae to measure the AgNPs biotoxicity and bioaccumulation. In particular, to exclude any toxicity derived by Ag+ ions release, green chemistry-synthesised and glucose-coated AgNPs (AgNPs-G) were used. C. vulgaris actively internalised AgNPs-G whose amount increases in a time- and dose-dependent manner. The internalised NPs, found inside large vacuoles, were not released back into the medium, even after 1 week, and did not undergo biotransformation since AgNPs-G maintained their crystalline nature. Biotoxicity of AgNPs-G causes an exposure time and AgNPs-G dose-dependent growth reduction and a decrease in chlorophyll-a amount. These results confirm C. vulgaris as a bioaccumulating microalgae for possible use in environmental protection.
Giakoumis T, Vaghela C, Voulvoulis N, 2020, Chapter Six - The role of water reuse in the circular economy, Wastewater treatment and Reuse – Present and future perspectives in technological developments and management issues, Editors: Verlicchi, Publisher: Elsevier, Pages: 227-252
Water is at the core of sustainable development and is critical for socio-economic development, energy and food production, as well as healthy ecosystems and the benefits they deliver to us. Water and sanitation are vital for reducing the global burden of disease and improving the health, education and economic productivity of populations. Water reuse closes the loop between water supply and sanitation and provides an alternative water source. Wastewater treated to the right quality can replenish water supplies and reduce the demand and availability gap. The transition to a circular economy has the potential to transform current barriers to water reuse, and this chapter investigates its role in closing the loop in water management. Examining various advanced treatment technologies, we conclude that effective water reuse applications can deliver environmental, economic and social benefits. By the time recycled water has passed through the right combination of treatment processes, it is in fact cleaner than regular drinking water. The issue, however, comes down to how much people trust governments to make sure water is safe. As the public is becoming more environmentally aware—maybe more willing to accept “drinking toilet water,” the current prevailing perception of water reuse and main barrier to its widespread application.
Kioupi V, Voulvoulis N, 2019, Education for sustainable development: A systemic framework for connecting the SDGs to educational outcomes, Sustainability, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-18, ISSN: 2071-1050
The UN 2030 agenda of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envisions a future of inclusive equity, justice and prosperity within environmental limits, and places an important emphasis on education as stated in Goal 4. Education is acknowledged as a means for achieving the remaining Goals, with sustainability as a goal for education in target 4.7. However, the interconnectedness of the SDGs and the complexity of sustainability as a concept make it difficult to relate the SDGs to educational learning outcomes, with what Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) aims to achieve, left in ambiguity. Using systems thinking, we developed a framework that redefines ESD as a tool that can deliver the transformation required for society to reach a sustainable state. Using the SDGs as end points for this state, and through a participatory approach, education stakeholders and learners work together to construct a common vision of sustainability, identify the competences needed, and develop appropriate pedagogies and learning strategies. The framework allows for the development of evaluation tools that can support educational institutions to monitor and manage their progress in transforming societies towards sustainability.
Gomez-Gonzalez MA, Koronfel MA, Goode AE, et al., 2019, Spatially resolved dissolution and speciation changes of ZnO nanorods during short-term in situ incubation in a simulated wastewater environment, ACS Nano, Vol: 13, Pages: 11049-11061, ISSN: 1936-0851
Zinc oxide engineered nanomaterials (ZnO ENMs) are used in a variety of applications worldwide due to their optoelectronic and antibacterial properties with potential contaminant risk to the environment following their disposal. One of the main potential pathways for ZnO nanomaterials to reach the environment is via urban wastewater treatment plants. So far there is no technique that can provide spatiotemporal nanoscale information about the rates and mechanisms by which the individual nanoparticles transform. Fundamental knowledge of how the surface chemistry of individual particles change, and the heterogeneity of transformations within the system, will reveal the critical physicochemical properties determining environmental damage and deactivation. We applied a methodology based on spatially resolved in situ X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM), allowing observation of real-time dissolution and morphological and chemical evolution of synthetic template-grown ZnO nanorods (∼725 nm length, ∼140 nm diameter). Core-shell ZnO-ZnS nanostructures were formed rapidly within 1 h, and significant amounts of ZnS species were generated, with a corresponding depletion of ZnO after 3 h. Diffuse nanoparticles of ZnS, Zn3(PO4)2, and Zn adsorbed to Fe-oxyhydroxides were also imaged in some nonsterically impeded regions after 3 h. The formation of diffuse nanoparticles was affected by ongoing ZnO dissolution (quantified by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) and the humic acid content in the simulated sludge. Complementary ex situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy confirmed a significant decrease in the ZnO contribution over time. Application of time-resolved XFM enables predictions about the rates at which ZnO nanomaterials transform during their first stages of the wastewater treatment process.
Voulvoulis N, Zogheib C, 2019, Climate change and the human-made water cycle: Implications for the UK water sector, Climate change and the human-made water cycle: Implications for the UK water sector, www.imperial.ac.uk/grantham, Publisher: The Grantham Institute, Briefing paper number 32
Climate change is already happening, and the UK’s climate will continue to change as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, with the long-term resilience of its infrastructure at risk.The water sector cannot adapt to the challenges of climate change in isolation, as policy effects in one sector will have indirect effects in others.Current demand pressures and reductions in abstraction licences – rights to draw water – are causing supply-demand deficits and this is coupled to the impacts of climate change. If no action is taken, the current high standards of service that is offered at a fair price, and without causing environmental damage, could soon be at risk.While impact on water flows might not yet be measurable, there is evidence to show that if water companies carry on with ‘business as usual’, we risk a future without enough water for people, business, farmers, wildlife and the environment.With water as the key medium that links atmospheric temperature rises to changes in human and physical systems, government, water companies and all the players in the wider sector need to play a more proactive role in accelerating the transition to a circular economy, while helping people, politicians and decision makers to understand and prepare for the risks of climate change.
Hopkinson NS, Arnott D, Voulvoulis N, 2019, Environmental consequences of tobacco production and consumption (vol 394, pg 1007, 2019), LANCET, Vol: 394, Pages: 1324-1324, ISSN: 0140-6736
Brack W, Ait-Aissa S, Backhaus T, et al., 2019, Strengthen the European collaborative environmental research to meet European policy goals for achieving a sustainable, non-toxic environment, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES EUROPE, Vol: 31, ISSN: 2190-4707
To meet the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals and the European Union (EU) strategy for a non-toxic environment, water resources and ecosystems management require cost-efficient solutions for prevailing complex contamination and multiple stressor exposures. For the protection of water resources under global change conditions, specific research needs for prediction, monitoring, assessment and abatement of multiple stressors emerge with respect to maintaining human needs, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. Collaborative European research seems an ideal instrument to mobilize the required transdisciplinary scientific support and tackle the large-scale dimension and develop options required for implementation of European policies. Calls for research on minimizing society’s chemical footprints in the water–food–energy–security nexus are required. European research should be complemented with targeted national scientific funding to address specific transformation pathways and support the evaluation, demonstration and implementation of novel approaches on regional scales. The foreseeable pressure developments due to demographic, economic and climate changes require solution-oriented thinking, focusing on the assessment of sustainable abatement options and transformation pathways rather than on status evaluation. Stakeholder involvement is a key success factor in collaborative projects as it allows capturing added value, to address other levels of complexity, and find smarter solutions by synthesizing scientific evidence, integrating governance issues, and addressing transition pathways. This increases the chances of closing the value chain by implementing novel solutions. For the water quality topic, the interacting European collaborative projects SOLUTIONS, MARS and GLOBAQUA and the NORMAN network provide best practice examples for successful applied collaborative research including multi-stakeholder involvement. They provided inn
Hopkinson NS, Arnott D, Voulvoulis N, 2019, Environmental consequences of tobacco production and consumption, The Lancet, Vol: 394, Pages: 1007-1008, ISSN: 0140-6736
Voulvoulis N, Pavanelli DD, 2019, Habitat equivalency analysis, a framework for forensic cost evaluation of environmental damage, Ecosystem Services, Vol: 38, ISSN: 2212-0416
When environmental damage takes place, forensic experts investigate and undertake initial damage assessments. Determining damage costs can be challenging in terms of remedial action and of assigning monetary value to losses. We develop a Habitat Equivalency Analysis (HEA) framework to assess environmental damage costs and apply it to three case studies from the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest (BAR). Remediation costs have been used previously as proxies for valuing ecosystem services (ES). In this approach, interim losses, those ES not supplied till the damage is restored, are accounted as compensatory remediation costs, the costs of resource enhancement or creation that compensates for the loss in ES provision. We compared values derived here to those using an alternative valuation, based on a tropical forest’s average annual value (Int.$/ha/year), as described in the literature. Findings demonstrate the potential of the framework to account for interim losses, perpetual damages and the cost of remediation. Although the three study areas varied in the extent of damage and the remediation procedures, the damage cost per hectare was of the same order of magnitude and within a narrow range: 13,216; 28,024; and 19,681 (in 2017 Int.$/ha) for the Citrus; Sand Mining and Eucalyptus study areas respectively. The environmental damage costs per hectare appraised by the alternative valuation were higher and showed greater variation: 32,692; 139,389; and 38,260 (in 2017 Int.$/ha) respectively. The experimental data were shown to be within the range of theoretical results derived. As HEA valuation is solely based on ecosystem damage remediation principles, its application will provide a more robust platform for the evaluation of the total economic value of tropical forests, even in the early stages of damage assessments.
Voulvoulis N, Burgman M, 2019, The contrasting roles of science and technology in environmental challenges, Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, Vol: 49, Pages: 1079-1106, ISSN: 1064-3389
Sustainable development is widely recognised as an existential challenge. To address it, humanity needs to change its ways. However, people seem slow to act, not always understanding and often denying environmental imperatives, creating substantial social and psychological barriers. Social inertia and denial have been allegedly amplified by a public discourse increasingly distrustful of science. But is this discourse a rejection of science or an erosion of trust in how science is applied? The paper examines the main differences between environmental science and technology, reviews how the wider science- technology convergence has affected them and evaluates potential implications for sustainability challenges. We question whether the ‘convergence’ between environmental science and technology, could be behind the growing public dissatisfaction and distrust of environmental science and policies. Although environmental science plays a role in enabling understanding and communicating complexity, technology requires political, social and economic skills, beyond conventional disciplinary expertise. To avoid putting academic freedom at risk, environmental technologists, a new breed of professionals, should have a clear understanding of scientific capacity and uncertainty and be able to engage with stakeholders, policy makers and the public to design integrated, interdisciplinary and holistic solutions, and also better define the many environmental problems we face.
Giakoumis T, Voulvoulis N, 2019, Water Framework Directive programmes of measures: Lessons from the 1st planning cycle of a catchment in England, Science of The Total Environment, Vol: 668, Pages: 903-916, ISSN: 0048-9697
The European Union's Water Framework Directive (WFD) required Member States to establish programmes of measures to achieve good water status formally by 2015, but on postponing the deadline by two six-year periods, by 2027 at the latest. With many Member States facing problems with developing such measures in the first planning cycle, and limited change in ecological status since the first river basin management plans were reported, we look at the implementation of the Directive in England, where only 17% of the surface water bodies were found at good status in 2015, a reduction of 4% since 2009. Using as a case study the Broadland Rivers catchment, we examine the measures taken for Cycle 1 and changes in the classifications of water body status, to investigate whether the way the measures were developed could have limited their potential to deliver WFD objectives. While the WFD was adopted to succeed and replace management practices targeting individually non-compliant element, findings indicate that little had changed in the way measures were developed. Although considerable progress has been made on the implementation of these measures, the limited progress in improving classifications demonstrates the limits of this approach and further makes the case for what the WFD was introduced for: the harmonised transposition of the Integrated River Basin Management paradigm, as the key for delivering good ecological status.
Mohamad Ibrahim IH, Gilfoyle L, Reynolds R, et al., 2019, Integrated catchment management for reducing pesticide levels in water: Engaging with stakeholders in East Anglia to tackle metaldehyde, Science of the Total Environment, Vol: 656, Pages: 1436-1447, ISSN: 0048-9697
In the agriculture intensive eastern region of England, plant protection products are widely applied to protect crops such as wheat and oilseed rape from pests and diseases, thus creating a risk of reaching nearby water courses through surface runoff. The EU Drinking Water Directive sets a stringent limit of 0.1 μg/l and 0.5 μg/l for individual and total pesticides respectively in treated potable water. However, peak metaldehyde levels have been persistently detected in raw water and reducing them to these limits has proven challenging and costly, in particular when using conventional treatment. In line with the EU Water Framework Directive, a more suitable approach and one adopted by the local water company, Anglian Water Services Ltd., would require moving towards mitigating pollution at source, preferably through participative action with multiple stakeholders in the agricultural industry. Initial findings demonstrate the potential of product substitution for reducing metaldehyde levels in surface waters. Reviewing Anglian Water's “Slug it Out” trial, we discuss key learnings derived from their experiences and make recommendations about the potential of the catchment approach to address the wider pesticide challenge.
Giakoumis T, Voulvoulis N, 2018, A participatory ecosystems services approach for pressure prioritisation in support of the Water Framework Directive, Ecosystem Services, Vol: 34, Pages: 126-135, ISSN: 2212-0416
The pressure and impact analysis is an important process in integrated river basin management and a key procedural element of the EU Water Framework Directive. It aims to inform both the assessment of water body status and the development of management responses. However, the Directive does not provide prescriptive guidance on how it should be carried out and during the 1st river basin cycle, its application proved to be a real challenge. Incorporating ecosystem services as indicators of impacts, a participatory framework for pressure prioritisation is presented here. While various methods exist for engaging stakeholders in river basin management, the framework allows for the ecosystem approach to be operationalised through a risk assessment perspective, in the context of the pressure impact analysis. Applying this to a case study in England, we demonstrate how a ranking of pressures can be delivered based on stakeholders’ perception of how the delivery of ecosystem services is affected by each pressure and incorporating their value as indicator of the magnitude of the impact. This approach allows for a more systematic way to effectively prioritise significant pressures and therefore select appropriate programmes of measures in line with the Directive's integrated river basin management paradigm.
Iacovidou E, Voulvoulis N, 2018, A multi-criteria sustainability assessment framework: development and application in comparing two food waste management options using a UK region as a case study, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, Vol: 25, Pages: 35821-35834, ISSN: 0944-1344
Preventing food wastage is a key element of sustainable resource management. But as food waste is still generated at high volumes, priority is placed on its proper management as a resource, maximising sustainability benefits. This study, by integrating a multi-criteria decision analysis with a sustainability assessment approach, develops a screening and decision support framework for comparing the sustainability performance of food waste management options. A structured process for selecting criteria based on the consideration of environmental, economic and social aspects related to region-specific food waste system planning, policy and management has been developed. Two food waste management options, namely the use of food waste disposal units, which grind food waste at the household’s kitchen sink and discharge it to the sewer, and the anaerobic co-digestion of separately collected food waste with sewage sludge, were selected for comparison due to their potential to create synergies between local authorities, waste and water companies, with local circumstances determining which of the two options to adopt. A simplified process used for assessing and comparing the two food waste management options in the Anglian region in the UK, indicated that there are benefits in using the framework as a screening tool for identifying which option may be the most sustainable. To support decision-making, a detailed analysis that incorporates stakeholders’ perspectives is required. An additional use of the framework can be in providing recommendations for optimising food waste management options in a specific region, maximising their sustainability performance.
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