Understanding and conceptualizing how urban green and blue infrastructure affects the food, water, and energy nexus: A synthesis of the literature
Rodrigo A. Bellezonia, Fanxin Meng, Pan Hec, Karen C.Seto
Summary: The interactive dynamics in the food, water, and energy system as a nexus (FWEN) are critical to the sustainable development of global cities, and they can be mediated by green and blue infrastructure (GBI) in the urban area. Here we provide a comprehensive literature review to examine how GBI affects FWEN in urban centers, an area which is currently understudied. In order to do this, we undertake a systematic review of the literature using a meta-analytic approach and topic modelling. Based on our synthesis, we develop a conceptual framework of the key links between urban GBI and FWEN and the direction and magnitude of the relationship. We found that GBIs can benefit food supply, energy saving, and climate change mitigation but at a price of food safety and water contamination. Well-designed urban construction can help curb the negative effects. Therefore, we need to make deliberate and integrative policy to link GBI with each element in urban FWEN. Moreover, the focus of studies on GBIFWEN links is also heterogeneous across cities: urban agriculture and food security are priorities in cities located in Africa and Asia as well as in lower income and larger cities (but not metropolitan areas), while the cooling effect of green space has been a focus for cities of middle or high income. Finally, current research focuses on isolated analysis, lacking integrated studies needed for decision making supporting tools. While isolated analyses lead to connectivity failures and can result in adverse impacts, integrated analyses can identify interdependencies of environmental resources between parts of a cycle and across different scales, which can increase resource efficiency and minimize environmental degradation. Therefore, our key findings point out the importance of linking the effects of GBI on each component of FWEN in both research and policy making.
Effects of COVID-19 on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Kalterina Shulla, Bernd-Friedrich Voigt, Stefan Cibian, Giuseppe Scandone, Edna Martinez, Filip Nelkovski, Pourya Salehi
Summary: Global crises caused by the pandemic of COVID-19, since early 2020, can compromise the world commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This study discusses critical aspects of the global pandemic for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More precisely, we analyze how the new circumstances created by the pandemic have affected the interdependencies between SDGs. Following a synopsis of the current literature, we focus on effects regarding SDG3 (Health & Well-Being), SDG4 (Quality Education), SDG8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth), SDG12 (Consumption & Production) and SDG13 (Climate Action). Following a qualitative research approach, we based our analysis on moderated focus group discussions (FGD). Our observations reveal a unique pattern of interconnectedness between SDGs that can be related to COVID-19 consequences. Qualitative interpretations of focus group discussions also depict, that additional spillover effects can be obstacles for achieving SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 9 (Infrastructure & Innovation) and SDG 10 (Reducing Inequalities), SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals), SDG 11 (sustainable cities). Therefore, we consider the interdependent implications and recent trends in international development related to sustainability as a useful framework in the post-pandemic recovery period.
Urban green and blue infrastructure: A critical analysis of research on developing countries
Laura Silvia Valente de Macedo, Marc Eric Barda Picavet, José Antonio Puppim de Oliveira, Wan-YuShih
Summary: This article reviews the current status of research on urban green and blue infrastructure (GBI) in developing countries. We critically analyzed a total of 283 papers addressing urban GBI in selected developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), published between 2015 and 2019. The review aimed to a) analyze publication trends and typologies of urban GBI; b) identify innovative problem-solving measures using urban GBI, and c) understand priorities, differences and similarities in the deployment of urban GBI between the regions. The article identifies a growing interest in the urban GBI concept in the Global South, with a focus on local sustainable development. Urban GBI aims to address issues of urban greenery, land use policies, food security and poverty alleviation. There is a large variation in the number of articles across regions, with Asia, and particularly China, as the subject having a much larger number of publications when compared to LAC and Africa. We found that the focus of research topics varied between regions, reflecting regional development needs, so that urban agriculture research predominated in Africa, and green spaces and parks in Asia and LAC. GBI is still not implemented as a low-impact development or innovative strategy, except in China, where researchers have examined several cases of systemic GBI use for addressing urban issues. More recently, studies began exploring the linkages between nature and cities in light of global environmental issues such as biodiversity loss and climate change. We conclude with recommendations to further examine empirical evidence of urban GBI deployment and its outcomes in the Global South, that could contribute toward conceptualizing natural resource management in a multi-scalar, multi-dimensional, and multidisciplinary framework.