Sustainable Futures

Sustainable Futures at SEI-US

Latest Projects

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Urban Metabolic Mapping: Securing the Biophysical Foundation of Indian Cities

Staff: Mehta, V. ; Kemp-Benedict, E. ; Briggs, J.; Wang, D.
Date: 2011-ongoing
Client/Funder: SEI IPS funds

Research Area(s): Water Resources ; Sustainable Futures

Description: The objective of this project is to develop a systems perspective of energy, water and material flows in Indian cities, and to provide information and deliberative modeling to the public via a geospatial web-based service. In collaboration with Indian Institute of Management and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, the researchers seek to understand and communicate the socio-economic drivers of consumption in Indian cities.
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Inequality and Sustainability

Staff: Kemp-Benedict, E. ; Kartha, S. ; Stanton, E.A. ; Fencl, A. ; Olson, K. ; Davis, M. ; Dawkins, E.; Matin, N.
Date: 2011-ongoing

Research Area(s): Sustainable Futures

Description: While a privileged few enjoy unprecedented levels of wealth, a large share of the global population still lacks access to basic resources. This project seeks to understand how different kinds of inequality – between individuals, groups, and countries – affect the prospects for long-term sustainability, and to apply that knowledge to practical, policy-relevant questions.
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Related Publication(s): Political Regimes and Income Inequality
Inequality, Trust, and Sustainability
The Tragedy of Maldistribution: Climate, Sustainability, and Equity

Long range Energy Alternatives Planning System (LEAP)

Staff: Heaps, C. ; Sieber, J. ; Clark, V. ; U.K. Energy Research Centre (UK ERC); International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Energy Research Center at the University of Cape Town (ERC, UCT)
Date: 2001-ongoing

Research Area(s): Energy Modeling ; Sustainable Futures

Description: LEAP, the Long range Energy Alternatives Planning System, is SEI’s widely used software tool for energy policy analysis and climate change mitigation assessment. LEAP has been adopted by hundreds of organizations in more than 190 countries. Its users include government agencies, academics, non-governmental organizations, consulting companies, and energy utilities. It has been used at many different scales ranging from cities and states to national, regional and global applications. This year has seen major efforts to develop a new version of LEAP, and to make the techniques built into LEAP available to a wider audience. The new version will include new least-cost energy planning capabilities (developed in partnership with the IAEA, the U.K. ERC and others), new techniques for modeling of seasonal and time-of-day variations in demand and supply (see graphic below), a revamped file format that will support use of the system by large teams of users, and a new web-based tool that will allow results to be uploaded to a web site for interactive viewing. The new version of LEAP (LEAP2011) was released in May 2011; the new web-based tool will be following shortly.
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Related Publication(s): Energy Planning and Policy Analysis - LEAP

Mekong Futures Project – Northeast Thailand

Staff: Kemp-Benedict, E. ; Mikhail, M. ; Krittasudthacheewa, C. (SEI Asia); Polpanich, O. (SEI Asia); University of Khon Kaen, CSIRO
Date: 2010-ongoing
Client/Funder: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)

Research Area(s): Sustainable Futures ; Water Resources

Description: This project is a component in a larger AusAID and CSIRO-funded project on Mekong Futures. The study will apply multiple-objective planning methods to construct an integrated framework for supporting decision-making for sustainable livelihoods in Northeast Thailand. As the most impoverished agricultural region, NE Thailand has been a top priority for national development schemes, which have improved household living standards dramatically. Despite this achievement, household incomes in the region continue to depend heavily on agricultural commodities, while continually increasing energy and food demands are driving a marked change of land-use. The project team will engage with the existing decision-making process of River Basin Authorities to provide decision support in exploring long-term trends, challenges, and opportunities for the region

Integrating Uncertainty into Water Resources Planning in California

Staff: Purkey, D. ; Mehta, V. ; RAND Corporation; El Dorado Irrigation District
Date: 2009-2011
Client/Funder: California Energy Commission

Research Area(s): Water Resources ; Sustainable Futures

Description: As part of continued collaboration with the El Dorado Irrigation District initiated under the NOAA project, SEI worked with partners to implement a planning process leading to the development of a legislatively mandated Urban Water Management Plan that takes consideration of uncertainties facing EID. In addition to considering climate and socio-economic uncertainty, SEI integrated changing risks of catastrophic wildfire on watershed hydrology into the EID WEAP application.

Participatory Scenarios for Smallholder Timber Plantations in Vietnam

Staff: Kemp-Benedict, E. ; Mehta, V. ; Huber-Lee, A.
Date: 2010
Client/Funder: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

Research Area(s): Sustainable Futures

Description: SEI collaborated with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Forest Science Institute of Vietnam to carry out a participatory scenario building workshop on trends pertaining to smallholder timber plantation development in Phu Tho and Binh Dinh, Vietnam, using data collected by CIFOR and partners.

Scenario Analysis Working Group: CCICED Task Force on Ecosystem Service and Management Strategy

Staff: Li, L. ; Kemp-Benedict, E. ; Liu, W.; Soussan, J. (all SEI Asia)
Date: 2010
Client/Funder: China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED)

Research Area(s): Sustainable Futures

Description: The goal of the Task Force is to enhance the contribution of ecosystem service management to the future sustainable development of China, with a particular focus on the sustainable management of forests, wetlands and grasslands, based on ecosystems services principles. The work aimed to improve the understanding of policy makers on the contribution of ecosystems services to national development and identified policies and actions at national, provincial and local levels that help sustain and enhance ecosystems services flows from forests, wetlands and grasslands.