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ASU helps national parks with sustainability dilemma

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

August 24, 2016

Researcher Dave White and students smiling at Yosemite National ParkAs the National Park Service marked its centennial in August 2016, the federal agency considered its twin mandates of preserving the most beautiful and historic sites in the country while ensuring that everyone gets an opportunity to see them. How can it accommodate growing numbers of visitors in a sustainable way?

Thankfully, the research of ASU sustainability experts like Megha Budruk, Dave White and Paul Hirt can help NPS better understand the natural systems it protects. These scientists – along with other faculty and students – have studied a range of questions including visitor use, the role of technology in saving the parks and the changing nature of interpretation.

Teaching water lessons on Main Streets across America

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News DCDC News

August 23, 2016

Birds sitting on a damThe "Museum on Main Street," conceived by the Smithsonian Institution, brings exciting exhibits to small towns throughout the United States. Among these exhibits is WaterSim, an interactive water management tool developed by researchers at ASU's Decision Center for a Desert City.

According to School of Sustainability Dean Chris Boone, “WaterSim America is a great platform to educate the broader public on what they can do as individuals and groups to manage water in ways that lead to positive change.”

WaterSim achieves this by simulating the impacts of factors like population growth and drought on a given state's water supply and demand. Users then respond to challenges by selecting policies that steady their state’s water system.


Polynesian Voyaging Society Continues the Worldwide Voyage in a Sustainable Way


August 22, 2016

The goal of the worldwide voyage is to help people find the inspiration to turn that aloha towards our planet.
The goal of the worldwide voyage is to help people find the inspiration to turn that aloha towards our planet.

We can't see ahead very well, but we can see behind very well. We are sailing in the wake of our ancestors.

“Can we have chocolate for breakfast” asked young students at the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) Learning Center? Miki Tomita, Director of Educational Programs at the PVS Learning Center, calmly tells the students to put the chocolate away and continue with their activities. Miki is one of the many voyaging crew members working to prepare these young children for the future of voyaging. We asked Miki to share with us the symbolism of voyaging and sustainability.

What sustainability issue would you want to solve in your lifetime?

If we invest time, energy, resources and love into education, then instead of solving one problem we can solve them all. Our children can help us to solve what we have not been able to in our generation. The most inspirational thing about this voyage is that education is the primary driver. We get to explore and uncover what people all around the world are doing to help educate the next generation to make the world a better place.

Can you share what the Worldwide Voyage entails?

The PVS Hawaiian voyaging canoes, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia, are on a five year, 60,000 nautical mile voyage to discover how local communities around the world are navigating toward a sustainable future. The Hawaiian name for this voyage, Mālama Honua, means “to care for our Earth.” Living on an island chain teaches us that our natural world is a gift with limits and that we must carefully steward this gift if we are to survive together.

What are the goals of the Worldwide Voyage?

One of the goals is continuing the traditions way finding, practicing Hawaiian values like mālama honua and aloha everywhere around the world.  Here in Hawaii we strive to live, breathe, and practice aloha everyday. Some know that they want to do something to care for our environment and resources, but haven’t found the pathway. Some people don’t yet fully understand their actions cause negative impacts. Nainoa Thompson, President of PVS and master navigator, believes the goal of the worldwide voyage is to help people find the inspiration to turn that aloha towards our planet; to launch 10,000 voyages for a healthier planet.

How do navigators prepare and get selected for a voyage?

PVS has over 400 volunteers who were identified as eligible to train as crew for the Worldwide Voyage. Whether you start as an apprentice to a navigator or volunteer, you might get asked to go on a short sail and then build your experience form there. Captains and other leaders select from the pool of navigators based on voyage needs and local knowledge, while also ensuring different communities are represented.

One might feel fear, exhilaration, doubt or all three. Knowing that someone else on the crew or someone thousands of years before you may have stood on the deck, felt these same emotions and pushed through is profoundly transformational. You feel a connection with the people who were cultivating and practicing the spirit of voyaging for thousands of years. You feel a sense of “ohana” or family.

When you’re steering the canoe, it’s just as important to “back sight,” or turn around and look back. We follow the stars -- we look for signs in the environment that surrounds us. We have to physically turn around and look back to see the path that we’ve sailed. We can’t see ahead very well, but can see behind very well. We are sailing in the wake of the ancestors. The future is attempting to live in the wake of the ancestors.

Conservation through Traditional Knowledge: Embracing Hawaiian Proverbs, Values and Truths


August 22, 2016

The CI vision starts with the premise that the ocean has always been central to life in Hawaiʻi, providing food, cultural benefits and recreation.
The CI vision starts with the premise that the ocean has always been central to life in Hawaiʻi, providing food, cultural benefits and recreation.

Jack Kittinger, Senior Director of the Conservation International (CI) Hawaiʻi Program, works to protect Hawaiʻi’s natural resources for the benefit of the state’s communities. Today he’s taken a short break from the sun and the surf to meet with partners in Washington D.C. to advance this mission. We caught up with Jack for an interview as he navigated through the DC Metro System on his way to key meetings.

What have you learned about traditional knowledge in Hawaiʻi?

Threats such as overfishing, coastal development and harmful runoff have weakened ocean health — and essential marine populations.
Threats such as overfishing, coastal development and harmful runoff have weakened ocean health — and essential marine populations.

It’s extremely important to recognize that indigenous people are the first stewards – this is becoming globally recognized. People that have co-evolved with transformed ecosystems have developed amazing knowledge sets and practices, which ensured the survival and health of people and nature. The challenge we face is how to implement traditional knowledge in conventional management, in an ever-changing world where the scale of threats is shifting. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a forest, grasslands, or coral reefs – the single biggest challenge is getting a disparate set of community members to engage in collective action for mutual benefit. Traditional knowledge has much to offer in telling us how to adapt and evolve. This is both our biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity.

 Did you pick-up any Hawaiian phrases or sentiments that embody the culture of conservation?

Like most people that live and work in Hawaii, I have tremendous respect for the values and practices of Native Hawaiian culture. I am honored to have been invited to work with communities across the pae‘āina (the archipelago). The legacy of understanding and preserving cultural mores, values, and practices is shared in the incredible archives of scholars such as Mary Kawena Pukui, but also in the living traditions of communities, and in the evolving scholarship by Native Hawaiian writers and researchers. The repository of Native Hawaiian language newspapers, for example, is giving us guidance on very contemporary challenges such as climate change. This knowledge source is a gift from previous generations to ours.

One of my favorite mo‘olelo (proverbs) that comes to mind when applying traditional knowledge to conservation is “I ka wā ma mua, ka wā ma hope,” which loosely translates to “we look to the past as a guide to the future.” This proverb embodies the Hawaiian perspective on experience and time – that the past is in front of you and the future is behind you. We may not be able to see the future, but we can see and learn from the past.

Can you tell us about a recent partnership between CI and Arizona State University?

After meeting with ASU President Michael Crow, it was clear that CI embraces many of the same values that ASU and the President shares. We are working together to make a difference. We share a common vision for success – to create a real-world positive impact in our communities. We are laser focused on this work and will showcase our vision for collective impact at the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi this year.

ASU and CI will host a joint workshop entitled “Coordinating Conservation and Development for Collective Impact: An Introduction” on September 3, 2016 from 11 am – 1 pm. Continued improvement of human well-being is only possible with healthy ecosystems to depend upon. IUCN attendees are encouraged to join this session and learn how to develop a framework to address challenges and opportunities of integrating biodiversity with sustainable human development.

Big Ideas on the Big Island II – Shining a light on Sustainability in Culture and Business


August 22, 2016

From left to right, Moderator Chris Boone engaging with fellow panelists Greg Chun and Miki Tomita, while Bryan Brayboy addresses the crowd.
From left to right, Moderator Chris Boone engaging with fellow panelists Greg Chun and Miki Tomita, while Bryan Brayboy addresses the crowd.

What would it take to promote human prosperity and well-being for all, while protecting and enhancing the Earth’s life support systems? Hundreds of community members and leaders gathered at the second biennial Big Ideas on the Big Island Conversations to tackle this question by shining a light on the role of culture, values, and business in creating a sustainable future. Hosted at the Hualālai Resort in March 2016, this two-day event showcased two inspiring and engaging panel discussions entitled “Values, Sustainability, and Solutions” and “Business, Sustainability, and the Bottom Line.”

From left to right, Jacqui Hoover sharing about public-private partnerships with support from moderator Gary Dirks and fellow panelists Sheila Bonini, Bruno Sarda, and Jin-Yong Cai.
From left to right, Jacqui Hoover sharing about public-private partnerships with support from moderator Gary Dirks and fellow panelists Sheila Bonini, Bruno Sarda, and Jin-Yong Cai.

Chris Boone, Dean of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University (ASU), kicked off the first day with the panel on “Values, Sustainability, and Solutions.” Four panelists explored how diverse cultures and values can be useful for designing strategies for sustainability.

Greg Chun from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa specializes in mediating difficult conversations especially when culture and traditions clash with development and change. Chun believes “the sustainability challenge before us is really more an issue of values than it is about science and technology.”

Bryan Brayboy, Special Advisor to the ASU President on American Indian Affairs and Director of the ASU Center for Indian Education, shared the importance of integrating indigenous knowledge, culture, and values with other discourses. “We can elevate the sustainability of indigenous populations around the world by embracing the intersection of culture, societal norms, and new discoveries,” Brayboy said. Higher education provides opportunities for life-long learners to promote prosperity for all while remaining grounded in cultural traditions.

Miki Tomita, Director of the Learning Center for the Polynesian Voyaging Society, described the significance of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, which seeks to engage communities worldwide on practicing how to live sustainably, while sharing Polynesian culture. By learning from the past and each other and creating global relationships, we can inspire action to care for Island Earth and discover wonders if Island Earth.

Prasad Boradkar, Co-Director of the Biomimicry Center at ASU, where students in design, business, engineering and sustainability partner with corporations to develop biologically inspired product concepts that benefit society and minimize environmental impacts. Boradkar stated that biomimicry embraces the Hawaiian concept of Aloha 'Āina, which means love of the land.

Following on the heels of an inspiring first session, Gary Dirks, Director of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, kicked of the second day by leading a panel discussion on “Business, Sustainability, and the Bottom Line.” Representatives from the private sector discussed their views on how business engages, innovates, invests, trains, and develops towards a prosperous future.

Bruno Sarda, former Director of Social Responsibility at Dell Inc., shared resourceful solutions for improving sustainability throughout Dell’s supply chain. Dell partners with organizations around the world to identify materials that can be repurposed for technology components. Since 2015, Dell has partnered with supplier SABIC to incorporate recycled carbon fiber in their products with the goal of removing 820,000 pounds of it from the landfill.

Sheila Bonini, Executive Director of The Sustainability Consortium, took the audience further up the supply chain and described efforts to trace the sustainability of thousands of consumer goods.

Jacqui Hoover, Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Island Economic Development Board, discussed the role of public-private partnerships and community involvement in advancing sustainability.

Jin Yong-Cai, former President of the International Finance Corporation, discussed the importance of finance in making or breaking alternative energy decisions.

At the conclusion of both panel discussions, members of the audience showed their support with a series of standing ovations. We hope that participants share this message and do their part so our collective action can lead to prosperity for our planet and our people.

About the Big Ideas on the Big Island Conversations

Fostered by Co-Chairs Julie Ann Wrigley, Jacquie Dorrance, Bennett Dorrance, Jr., and John DeFries, the Big Ideas on the Big Island Conversations is a collaborative opportunity for people from all walks of life to work together on new solutions to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future. Following the inaugural event in 2014, the Big Ideas network in Hawaiʻi has expanded to over 300 partners, stakeholders, and friends who are committed to advancing sustainability in Hawaiʻi and across the globe. Check out the Hawaiʻi Sizzle Reel for more information.

At the forefront of global biodiversity policy

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

August 20, 2016

Researcher sitting at the end of a boat looking out on the ocean where a whale tail is visible.As biodiversity is depleted, ASU oceanographer Leah Gerber – director of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes – guides a United Nations panel that helps policy makers navigate scientific literature on the topic.

Gerber was named coordinating lead author of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, a panel of scientists who will review the massive body of scientific literature around biodiversity and ecosystem services. The panel will organize the combined knowledge into a report that is both relevant and accessible to those who make decisions that impact plant and animal life.

The first authors’ meeting took place in Bonn, Germany, in August of 2016.


ASU researchers working to cool Phoenix down

UREx News

August 15, 2016

ASU researchers working to cool down phx Image 2Charles Redman, of the UREx SRN, speaks to KTAR news about the network and its plan to make cities, like Phoenix, more resilient towards heat.

Phoenix is known for its sweltering summer days and increasing daytime temperatures; however, its nighttime lows are increasing at an even more rapid pace. Redman explains that at some point we will cross a threshold of what people, plants, and animals can cope with, and it will come down to how we utilize our resources to find a solution.


Beating heat in future takes more than AC

UREx News

August 15, 2016

Beating Heat in Future ImageUREx’s Charles Redman, Nancy Grimm, and Paul Coseo contribute to an ASU Now article about solutions to prepare cities, like Phoenix, for an even warmer future and how UREx, a solution-oriented project, plans to make a difference.

Most people in the valley would agree that everyone relies primarily on air conditioning as their line of defense against heat; however, as temperatures increase we need to consider and come up with other methods of mitigating the effects of heat, such as green roofs or heat-resistant asphalt.


Ideal research opportunity in Brazil for ASU students

Biodiversity News

August 10, 2016

Aerial view of the AmazonIf you are a graduate student and want to further conservation efforts in the Amazon while building relationships that could lead to future collaborations, explore the ASU Global Development Research (GDR) Program in Brazil. This program was created through a partnership between Arizona State University and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). All research, travel and living expenses are paid.

For more information, click here.

Designing a way to live in a world that's hot

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

August 5, 2016

Man wearing glasses and navy shirt, standing in the Arizona sunASU researchers are working on a range of long-term solutions to beat the Phoenix heat. Among them are members of the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network, like sustainability scientists Nancy Grimm and Chuck Redman.

According to Redman, solutions to challenges like heat need to come from a variety of places. He points to landscaping, water use and green roofs as opportunities for improved cooling. Grimm stresses the need to strengthen power infrastructure, our first line of defense against the summer heat. If temperatures trend upward toward 130 degrees, she says, it becomes even more crucial that our infrastructure can withstand both an increased demand for cooling and the heat itself.


Optimism in Cuba

UREx News

August 2, 2016

Optimism in Cuba 2Team of researchers marks ASU's first visit to the island nation with scientific cooperation, relationship building and mutual respect.


Project Grants for MSUS Students

Sustainability Connect News

August 1, 2016

Tiny House

The Stardust Center for Affordable Homes & the Family is offering grants to Master of Sustainability Solutions (MSUS) students who participate in MSUS Culminating Experience projects that focus on affordable housing and community well-being. Starting in Fall of 2016, applications for the $1,500 (per student/per semester) grants will be open.

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Study Calls for Clearer Communication of Climate Data


July 29, 2016

The question of how to improve communication between the the science community and emergency managers was a major focus of a Climate and Risk Management Workshop held at DEMA on July 13, 2016.

Nalini Chhetri, a Sr. Sustainability Scientist at the Wrigley Institute, was one of five lead investigators whose job was to help improve how climate science data—and the extremes it portends—is presented so as to inspire increased investment in risk mitigation and planning for severe weather events.


Sustainability scientist honored by Macedonian president


July 23, 2016

Senior Sustainability Scientist Kiril Hristovski is honored by Gjorge Ivanov, president of Macedonia, for his invaluable contribution to the preservation and affirmation of Macedonia's historical, cultural and spiritual traditions and values. 22 years ago, Hristovski was honored by then-US-president George Bush for academic achievement.


Fron Nahzi piece in The World Post


July 21, 2016

In a July 2016 commentary in The World Post, Fron Nahzi – global business development director for the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives' – describes the status of Kosovo's energy transition. He explains that though clean energy is seen as an attractive alternative to the current coal-powered system in that country, the cost of new infrastructure presents a challenge.


Seminar provides sunny outlook on solar in Kosovo

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Professional Training and Custom Sustainability Education

July 19, 2016

An old-looking power plantWhen asked to design a program on renewable energy and sustainability to be presented in Kosovo – a country that relies on two coal-fueled power plants – the School of Sustainability's Ryan Johnson gladly accepted.

Johnson, who directs the school's professional training and custom sustainability education efforts, then approached geographer Martin Pasqualetti and electrical engineer Ron Roedel because of their expertise in renewable energy, as well as with a similar program in the Middle East.

After studying Kosovo's great solar potential, the two professors presented their insights at a two-week seminar beginning in May 2016. Each day was split between presentations by Pasqualetti – a sustainability scientist who focused on the social aspects of transitioning to a new energy source – and Roedel, who focused on the technical aspects of renewable energy. Together, they demonstrated the value of renewable energy and interdisciplinary collaboration.


Thinking inclusively about improvements to slums

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

July 15, 2016

A wooden walkway winds through a slum built over waterDeveloped economies have historically attributed their growth and productivity to urbanization. But in the developing world, urbanization is often associated with negative outcomes like poverty and environmental degradation, says Senior Sustainability Scientist José Lobo.

In a May 2016 contribution to UGEC Viewpoints – a blog of the Urbanization and Global Environmental Change program, hosted by the ASU Wrigley Institute – Lobo considers how urban planning can be implemented to improve the slums of the developing world. He writes that traditional forms of urban planning can have tragic consequences, like evictions and relocations, and points to data collection and community engagement as means to sustainability.

Lobo, who co-leads the Slums, Neighborhoods and Human Development Cities project, also expressed his hope for slums in this January 2016 article, which appeared in ASU Now.