Publications & Reviews

Sourcing Legally Produced Wood: A Guide for Businesses - 2018 Edition

As the political environment surrounding forest legality and illegal logging continues to change, World Resources Institute's Forest Legality Initiative has updated their 2014 legality guide to serve as a more comprehensive resource for businesses and government.

Combating illegal logging is important for protecting and managing forests and biodiversity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting economic development, and improving governance. Major international markets have established regulatory frameworks and requirements on the legality of timber: the United States’ 2008 Lacey Act Amendment; the 2012 Australia Illegal Logging Prohibition Act (AILPA); and the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), which came into effect in 2013. These laws require businesses to take steps to ensure their forest products are legal.

Social Sustainability, Climate Resilience and Community-Based Urban Development: What About the People?

Social Sustainability, Climate Resilience and Community-Based Urban Development: What About the People?
By Cathy Baldwin (Universities of Oxford, Oxford Brookes and Glasgow, UK) and Robin King (World Resources Institute and Georgetown University, USA)

Urban communities around the world face increased stress from natural disasters linked to climate change, and other urban pressures. They need to grow rapidly stronger in order to cope, adapt and flourish. Strong social networks and social cohesion can be more important for a community’s resilience than the actual physical structures of a city. But how can urban planning and design support these critical collective social strengths? This book offers blue sky thinking from the applied social and behavioural sciences, and urban planning. It looks at case studies from14 countries around the world – including India, the USA, South Africa, Indonesia, the UK and New Zealand – focusing on initiatives for housing, public space and transport stops, and also natural disasters such asflooding and earthquakes. Building on these insights, the authors propose a ‘gold standard’: a socially aware planning process and policy recommendation for those drawing up city sustainability and climate change resilience strategies, and urban developers looking to build climate-proof infrastructure and spaces. This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of urban studies, resilience studies and climate change policy, as well as policy-makers and practitioners working in related fields.

Cathy Baldwin is an Applied Social and Behavioural Scientist and Public Health Consultant, Research Associate at the University ofOxford, and Visiting Researcher at Oxford Brookes University, UK.

Robin King is Director of Knowledge Capture and Collaboration at theWorld Resources Institute (WRI), and Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University, USA.

The publishers offer a 60 days free online access to this applied interdisciplinary book (social science, psychology, urban planning and public policy) about building cities and infrastructure to strengthen social networks and social cohesion in communities affected by climate change:

Access here: 

Chronicling Auroville

A selection of articles from Auroville Today 2006-2018

For the last 30 years, Auroville Today, a monthly periodical, has been documenting and commenting upon events in the international community of Auroville, south India, for people all over the world. Auroville is not an easy place to understand as it has so many dimensions. Founded in 1968 with an aspiration to create geniune human unity between peoples and cultures and to further global evolution, it is also an experimental proving ground for new initiatives in governance, economy, education, city planning, commerce, renewable energy and environmental restoration, among other things.

A living laboratory like Auroville can be a messy place - experiments do not always work out - but part of its fascination is the willingness of its residents, coming from more than 50 countries, to go on trying out new approaches in a world that badly needs such experimentation, as well as a new compass, to chart its future.

This compilation covers the past twelve and a half years of Auroville's development. It gives a taste of the challenges, frustrations and joys of trying to live the future in a community that, in its longevity and diversity, is unique in the world.

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Assessment and Model of Green Jobs Potential in India

Date issued: 09 August 2018
Author:  National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER, India) for the International Labour Organization. Project Leader: Anushree Sinha

The key purpose of this study is to understand the prevalence of green jobs in India by developing a national-level green input-output (IO) table. Six sectors are specifically analysed: the four green sectors of forestry and logging, watershed development, wind energy, and metro transport services, and the two related sectors of wind turbine generator (WTG) manufacturing and rail transport services (other than metro). An IO table with the “new” green sectors is obtained through a hybrid method that uses various sources of data: primary-level data collected for the new green sectors, published and unpublished secondary data, and other information gathered from experts and specialists. This new IO table is used as the base table for developing a green sector-aware IO model. The output and employment multipliers of the relevant sectors are obtained using the input-output model constructed by introducing the “new” green sectors (disaggregated from existing relevant ‘mother’ sectors of the national IO table). The model so developed is used to explore the issue of investment in green sectors and the resulting employment and growth effects. The study examines the employment generation potential of the green and related sectors, as well as the structure of such employment, in terms of shares of informal and formal employment and gender distribution.

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Transforming Travel

Book Review: "Transforming Travel - Realising the potential of sustainable tourism"

"Transforming Travel - Realising the potential of sustainable tourism"

Author: Jeremy Smith

CABI, ISBN 978-1-786-39419-4, Paperback, 124 pages, December 2017

A detailed survey of good practices in the hotel and some other sub-sectors of the Travel industry with an “instead-of-cursing-the-darkness-light-up-a-candle” attitude. The author, a leading travel and environment journalist, explains from the outset that this concise publication is not meant to be “a book exposing the ills of tourism”. What it is is uplifting and pleasant to read, avoiding jargon and a rigid academic presentation, without sacrificing accurate details and footnotes or a basic analysis of underlying issues. It includes direct, thought-provoking direct questions (e.g. Can hotels become water neutral?) and provides answers based on facts rather than endless theories. Academic readers may, of course, take issue with some of the sources, which apart from valuable first-hand experiences and a thorough literature review, unavoidably include company press releases. As a green ideas guide and tool book for tourism administrators, decision-makers, green tourism entrepreneurs and eco-friendly hotel managers (especially in large chains with long arms and big pockets where anything is possible) the book succeeds 100%. Equally so for conscious, responsible travellers. It serves as a useful record of green tourism progress (and indirectly of lack thereof) so far, a detailed picture documenting “what”, rather than a movie explaining “why”.

Country of Contradictions

Book Review: "Country of Contradictions: Costa Rica - Early Ecotourism"

“Country of Contradictions, Costa Rica: Early Ecotourism”

Author: Rexford Govorchin

Amazon, Kindle eBook Edition & Paperback, August 2016, ISBN: 978-1520715193

An engaging, first-person narrative of Costa Rica’s budding Tourism sector during 1979-1984, a particularly turbulent time for Central America, a mix of business history and historical novel. It reveals the close connection between the emergence of Costa Rican Ecotourism and the boom and bust fortunes of Lineas Aereas Costariccenses (LACSA), the flag carrier at the time. We follow the author's exertions at an incredibly detailed, almost daily, level - most probably based on well-organised diary notes. Rex Govorchin, the narrator, was a Marketing Manager for LACSA from 1979 until he was dismissed in 1984 as the airline was about to go bust, hit by competition in the context of the new US Open Skies policies as well as higher oil prices after the Second Oil Shock.

Sustainable Tourism on a Finite Planet

Book Review: "Sustainable Tourism on a Finite Planet"

Sustainable Tourism on a Finite Planet. Environmental, Business and Policy Solutions.

Author: Megan Epler Wood

Routledge, ISBN 978-1-138-21761-4, January 2017, Hardback/Paperback/E-book, 327 pages.

If you were elected to public office and suddenly installed as head of the tourism ministry without previous professional experience of the travel sector (it does happen) and only a vague idea of sustainability, then this densely written book can be your crash course on how the tourism sector works and what exactly it would take – and how difficult it really is - to make it sustainable. But it is an equally useful and thought-provoking work for seasoned and aspiring tourism sustainability professionals, as it includes detailed praise and criticism of a wide range of stakeholders trying, some harder than others, to make tourism greener.

Book Review: "The Encyclopedia of Sustainable Tourism"

Encyclopaedia of Sustainable TourismThe Encyclopedia of Sustainable Tourism

Edited by Carl Cater, Brian Garrod and Tiffany Low
CABI International, ISBN 9781780641430, October 2015, Hardback, 662 pages.

This, like many quality encyclopaedias, is a fine example of "crowdwriting", in this case a collaborative effort by 163 Contributors from 28 countries in 5 continents. This reference work was originally meant for publication in 2013, to follow the release of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria in 2012 but there were delays as at least two members of the editorial board, we are told, had to peer-review each entry. But it paid off as the style is on the one hand largely consistent and on the other hand you can refreshingly still detect subjective opinions e.g. “the world's largest concentration of tourist traps is Las Vegas”.

Book Review: "Volunteer Tourism - Popular Humanitarianism in Neoliberal Times"

Volunteer Tourism - Popular Humanitarianism in Neoliberal Times

Author: Mary Mostafaneszhad
Ashgate, ISBN 978-1-4094-6953-7, August 2014

There are still a few academic books, about a dozen, on Volunteer Tourism (VT), despite its rapid growth, so this monograph is a welcome as well as useful, if over-critical, addition. Right from the start, the reader may get the impression that the authors' disposition is rather polemic with VT being portrayed as a form of “neoliberal activism”, an aspirin / weak substitute offered by “Neoliberal Capitalism” and the global north to a global south debilitated by “structural adjustment programs, state pullbacks and privatization schemes” (p.3). Other controversial introductory statements include that “Tourism is first and foremost a commodity, albeit an intangible one” (p.25) and may reinforce an impression of hostility towards tourism as a whole.

Review of 'Trade in Ecosystem Services'

Trade in Ecosystem Services'Trade in Ecosystem Services – When 'payment for environmental services' delivers a permit to destroy'

by Jutta Kill, World Rainforest Movement, April 2014, 34 pages 

Albert Einstein, as this informative report reminds us, famously observed that "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." A fundamental (philosophical as well as practical) question when it comes to evaluating the commercial practice described as "Trade" or "Payment" for "Environmental" or "Ecosystem" "Services (PES), therefore is "Is Nature, which certainly counts (and is no longer an 'externality' even for the most unreformed-uninformed economists), countable?