Editors: Olawale Olayide, Volker Mauerhofer

Dear reader,

We hereby like to bring you the latest information about recent activities and news about our Society and direct your attention to interesting developments and up-coming events.


1. Message from the President
2. ISDRS2018 Conference
3. ISDRS Best Paper Award
4. New ISDRS Topic Groups
5. New Institutional Member 'NTNU'
6. Bogota Conference Track Summaries
7. Symposium
8. Member's Essays


1. Message from the President

In this final Newsletter of this year we are happy to announce new initiatives and activities.

Board Elections 2017
But first we want to congratulate six new board members with being elected for the Board. They all bring in new experiences and perspectives and we are very happy for their willingness to strengthen the Society in the coming years. Let me introduce them:

• Sigurd Sagen Vildåsen, from the NTNU, Norway and active in the field of corporate sustainability, innovation and shared value creation. In his capacity as a board member of the Forum of Young Scholars in Sustainability (FYSS) he will contribute to an increased engagement, especially among members in the beginning of their research career in our society.

• Prof. Dr. Eduardo Wills-Herrera, from the Management School at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. We know him all now after his very successful chairing of the 2017 ISDRS Conference.

• Dr. Alexandra Franklin from the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) of Coventry University, UK, working in the fields of shared practice, placebased resource management, collaborative governance, rural development and human-animal relations.

• Dr. Harn Wei Kua, from the National University of Singapore, brings special focus to especially in the area of life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA).

• Prof. Dr. Francisco a. Comin, from the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology-CSIC, Spain with long-lasting experience in ecology, biodiversity and sustainable socio-ecological systems .

• Dr. Roberto Merli, from the Roma Tre University, Italy who is active in the field of environmental mangemnemt, technology innovation and sustainable production.

Also three board members were re-elected: Prof. Dr. Peter Dobers (Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden), Dr. Joachim Spangenberg (Sustainable Europe Research Institute SERI Germany) and Dr. Olawale Olayide (University of Ibadan, Nigeria).

Details about the boards can always be found on the website.

ISDRS Charter
Recently we also have revised to ISDRS Charter which has now been confirmed by a positive vote of the Green+ members. The new Charter can be found on the website.

Best Article Award
Looking forward I would like to emphasize an important new activity of the ISDRS, which requires your input als members or followers: we will start with the “Best Article Award” now, asking you for suggestion on the best journal article published in 2017 (see more details in this newsletter).

2018 Conference in Italy
The preparations for next years’ conference in Messina 13-15th June, 2018 are proceeding. Many of you have already submitted abstracts, but the deadline has been postponed to January 7, 2017. So please be quick if you still have to upload your abstract. You can also see the update about the keynote speaker on the conference website.

2019 Conference in Nanjing, China
We are also looking ahead, you can write down the date for the 25th ISDRS Confrence which will be in June 26-28th, 2019, organised by the School of the Environment, Nanjing University. 

Walter J.V. Vermeulen, President ISDRS


2. ISDRS 2018 Conference - Last Call for Abstracts

This is the latest call for abstracts for the ISDRS 2018 Conference in Messina - Don't miss it! You have until 7th of January to send in your abstract here.

Also, the Early Bird Deadline has been extended until February 28, 2018. Click here for more information


3. INVITATION to all our members and followers

The new ISDRS “Best Sustainable Development Article Award 2017”

What was the best journal article in 2017?

All members and followers of the ISDRS are invited to suggest candidates for the new ISDRS “Best Sustainable Development Article Award 2017”. We want to reward the best SD researchers and we want to help all researchers to find the best work in the field by flag shipping the best articles published.


What was the new article you read this last year, of which you thought:“Wow, this is what we need!!” 

We ask you to suggest us these best articles.

What kind of articles are we looking for? For the assessment, the Jury will use the following criteria:

• The article has been accepted and published (including online early view versions) in the year 2017 in a scientific peer-reviewed journal, accepted by commonly used scientific literature databases (like ISI, Scopus, etc.);

• The article should be in English;

• The content of the article addresses a sustainable development topic with an inter-disciplinary or transdisciplinary perspective;

• The article makes a well-defined contribution to academic debates and shows awareness of the complex nature of sustainable development;

• The article offers or at least provides hints for possible solutions to sustainability problems;

• The article enables positive societal impacts, bridging between science and society.

We work with a participatory approach: everyone connected to the ISDRS can suggest nominations for the ISDRS “Best Sustainable Development Article Award 2017”. The Award Jury will determine the short list of 10 nominated papers and after that again ISDRS members and followers can vote to select the best article. The winners will be honoured during the 2018 ISDRS Conference in Italy. The Jury includes ISDRS six Board Members and four ISDRS Green(+) members.

We do now have 2 ISDRS Green(+) members in the Jury, so we still invite ISDRS members to step forward to be part of the Award Jury. If you are interested in this role, please let us know: (

How can you submit your suggestion for the best article of 2017?

Log in as member or follower* on the ISDRS website and follow the instructions on the Best Article Award page. Submit your suggestions before 15-2-2018

*: if you are not yet registered, please do so: see membership page


4. New Topic Groups - How to get involved? 

The ISDRS has restructured its topic groups slightly to align more with the UN-SDGs. The ISDRS is looking for scientists who want to get involved in these topic groups. If there is a topic group that particularly interests you, and you want to discuss the topic, work on any outputs or just want to meet researchers in the same field, send a message to

More specifically, we are looking for involvement in the following tracks:
- 2a: Provision, quality and access to education
- 4a & b: Climate Change & Energy 
- 5c: Food Security & Agriculture
- 6c: Infrastructure & Transportation
- 7a & b: Social-Economic Aspects of Sustainability

See for more information here


5. New Institutional Member 'NTNU'

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are gaining momentum at different levels and in different sectors of society. The vision of NTNU is “knowledge for a better world”, which implies being an active contributor to the SDGs.  

A major happening in 2017 to promote the SDGs was the NTNU Sustainability Science Conference. Participants and key note speakers from diverse disciplines and national contexts resulted in fruitful and inspirational experiences. In particular, we were all happy to attend the ceremony of the The Gunnerus Award in Sustainability Science  where Carl Folke from the Stockholm Resilience Centre was given a deserved place in the spotlight.

Another of NTNU’s activities in 2017 in the context of the SDGs was to become an institutional member of ISDRS. We see the society as platform for collaboration, and we will focus on engaging early-stage researchers. Towards the Messina conference in June 2018, the Forum of Young Scholars in Sustainability (FYSS) ( ) is working with the organizers to provide opportunities for young professionals to advance their research. This can be seen as the first step of a longer-term process of developing a Young Professional Group in ISDRS.

As newly elected board member, I am excited to develop further our society and especially activities for early-stage researchers. Moreover, I look forward to strengthening the collaboration between NTNU and ISDRS in general, and I am happy to discuss ideas and proposals for future work to progress implementation of the SDGs. 

Sigurd Sagen Vildåsen 

Board Member ISDRS, Research Fellow, NTNU


6. ISDRS 2017 Bogotá Conference - Track Summaries

One the ISDRS website you can review all the summaries of the last conference in Bogotá, here we present the first one of the special track in Bogotá. For all the track summaries, and the proceedings and book of abstract, please go here. These short reports are also displayed in the topic group pages.

Special track in Colombia: Sustainable development in post-conflict countries

These were two very interesting sessions about a new topic of research in sustainability studies:
the relationship between sustainability issues and post-conflict societies. An interdisciplinary
approach prevailed in the studies that were presented. Three studies researched the question of
how the end of armed conflict in Colombia will favor or not the process of deforestation in
remote regions of the country. Econometric approaches were used to assess the loss of forest
in municipalities where previous presence of the armed guerrilla FARC existed. Studies
highlight the importance of national parks and reserves as tools to prevent deforestation in these
areas. Another study that used a qualitative approach to this important question was also
presented. Authors concluded about the importance of integrating theoretical and
methodological approaches in order to discuss contradictory results.
Two additional studies introduced the question of how to implement innovative public policy
frameworks for sustainability in a post conflict situation in Colombia. The first one presented
how to involve rural communities affected by the conflict as well as ex-combatants to introduce
responsible new tourist projects in regions with huge biodiversity and special ecosystems.
Social, economic and cultural issues related to this question were presented. An innovative
governance model for territorial peace was also presented. The model proposes a bottom up
approach with community involvement and the formation of local leaders and the creation of
local agencies to steer the post-conflict efforts in regions and municipalities with a special
focus of attention to water governance and biodiversity issues.Another important study presented how to approach sustainability in post-conflict policies in the Northern Ireland case with a special emphasis in how to share political power between State and communities and different governmental levels. From an international perspective, another study discussed the different conceptual approaches and methodological processes worked by international cooperation programs related to post-conflict and sustainability. An interesting research was presented discussing how to relate social capital and capacity of association of rural communities in Colombia order to respond to contextual insecurity in rural areas and how these efforts to associate influence quality of life of individuals. The authors discussed at the end of the session how to integrate this new line of research into a systematic research effort that can lead to a Book that presents the ongoing research. The need to work out a conceptual approach that focus interdisciplinary approaches and themes was suggested.


7. SYMPOSIUM on Climate Change Adaptation in Africa 'Fostering African Resilience and Capacity to Adapt'

Ibadan, Nigeria. 14th and 15th of May 2018

The second “SYMPOSIUM ON CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION IN AFRICA” will focus on “enhancing Africa´s capacity to cope with climate change”, meaning that it will serve the purpose of showcasing experiences from research, field projects and best practice in climate change adaptation in African countries, which may be useful or implemented in other countries in the continent. 

Please read more about this exciting symposium here


8. Member's Essays

Essay A. Paper Saving - A Green Spark

As a part of environmental issues, government arranges many programs for saving energy, water, fuel, reducing waste, recycling and on many other factors. Saving paper is a good way to help save the environment. If you can ignite the passion you can make a real impact in reducing waste and saving natural resources.

In school and colleges there is a lot of misuse of paper by students and in offices. But if you think over on it, it is very harmful to environment. That’s why many people say ‘Think before print’. Yes it is a necessity and it is a need for our environment and ultimately for our future.

The facts you may know about paper use and recycling.         

• It is estimated that 95% of business information is still stored on paper

• Although paper is traditionally identified with reading and writing, communications has now been replaced by packaging as the single largest category of paper use at 41% of all paper used.

• The average daily web user prints 28 pages daily.

• 115 billion sheets of paper are used annually for personal computers

• When paper rots or is composted it emits methane gas which is 25 times more toxic than CO2.

• 3 cubic yards of landfill space can be saved by one ton of recycled paper

• Recycled paper requires 64% less energy than making paper from virgin wood pulp

• Recycling half the world's paper would free 20 million acres of forestland.

• Recycling 54 KG of newspaper will save one tree.

• Every ton of recycled paper saves about 17 trees and 324 liters of water is required to process the same.

• Recycling one ton of paper saves 682.5 gallons of oil, 7,000 gallons of water, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.

• Every tree provides oxygen enough for 3 people to breathe.

Let us think twice before print. And use as much as less paper and help the environment. Your spark can become a flame and change everything… 

By Prof. Abhijit C. Gurav, BSHD, MIT Aurangabad, India


Essay B. Getting beyond the messy conceptualization of CE
W.J.V. Vermeulen (1), D. Reike (1) and S. Witjes (2)

1 Utrecht University, Netherlands
2 Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands

In recent years the concept of Circular Economy has received fast growing attention, both in the worlds of science and of policy making. Some scholars and practitioners present it as a novelty, but we have to acknowledge that it builds on the legacy of predecessors, like waste recycling and separation, industrial ecology, eco-industrial parks and industrial symbiosis. Various concepts go back to the 1980’s, like the concepts of waste hierarchies (3R’s, 4R’s etc.) and cascading. The 3R’s concept has become common place in many national waste regulations all over the world.

At best, we can frame the renewed attention as ‘Circular Economy 3.0’. By doing this, it raises questions about what it takes from version 1.0 and 2.0 and what is new.

We just published an article in Resources, Conservation and Recycling, discussing this. For this review, we focussed on the various inputs from a range of academic disciplines into the discourses. We analysed 69 scientific articles that explicitly referred to a waste hierarchy in terms of a 3R, 4R or more. We see articles from various disciplinary backgrounds (like environmental sciences, engineering, logistics, policy studies and more). A remarkable finding is that in literature we see a messy cacophony around the 3 or more R’s as value retention imperatives (we rather not use the word ‘recycling’ anymore as overarching concept, see the article about why). In explaining what to do, these authors present a range from 3Rs to 10R’s, with the 5R’s version being the most often suggested. We see the same confusion also in policy documents: both the EU and the UN suggest a 3R’s approach, but the R’s have different meanings. This links to a more serious issue in the scientific literature on circular economy: when using a 3R’s to 10R’s waste hierarchy, scientists are really messing up, because they use 38 different ‘re-'-words in these hierarchies.

In our article, we intend to clean up this mess. Synthesizing the many contributions, we present a final 10R’s hierarchy (starting with the R0, being ‘refuse’ from the consumer perspective, and summing up to R9, the re-mining from old land-fills). By thorough comparison we sketch the variation of definitions of the 10 R’s and come to the best available definitions. 

We also present an integrated version of the value retention options mapping, including some of the loops that are often ignored (like the substantial leakages to less developed countries) and highlighting the role of new economic actors in the repairing, refurnishing and remarketing of products. The figure allows to give balanced attention to the (in many places already well organized) longer value retention loops, the middle long loops (where we now see many new business models initiated) and the short loops (with a key role for consumers and non-commercial activities).

We hope researchers and policy makers will benefit from our efforts to synthesize the formerly messy discourse. For the detailed discussion, we refer to the article itself:

Reike, Vermeulen and Witjes(2017) The circular economy: New or Refurbished as CE 3.0? — Exploring Controversies in the Conceptualization of the Circular Economy through a Focus on History and Resource Value Retention Options, in: Resources, Conservation and Recycling, (will be available as open source)

Or have a look on the Circular Economy topic group on the ISDRS website



This newsletter is presented by the International Sustainable Development Research Society on a regular base to all her registered Followers and Green(+) members. If you want to receive this newsletter, please register at:

Contributions to the newsletter and announcements of relevant activities are welcomed.

Please send any contribution to the co-editors:

Olawale Olayide, Volker Mauerhofer 

Followers and Green(+) members are invited to share innovative, creative and critical ideas about about the further enhancement of sustainable development in a short essay form. This would have a size of between 500-2000 words, follow the general rules of academic publishing (proper references etc.), but it would fill the gap between journal/conference abstracts and official journal publications.

Disclaimer; the ISDRS is not responsible for any content displayed on the websites that are hyperlinked in this newsletter.