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1. Think a sustainable issue (different from RP1) that the planet faces. Give an introduction of the issue. Put your idea about systematic design in the context of sustainability. Discuss the different sustainable design criteria.

2. Discuss a sustainable solution of the issue. Identify stakeholders, their interests and values in the proposed solution.

3. You have to discuss the data interpretation/results and put your concluding remarks.

4. In Part 2 of RP2, you have to address the socio-ecological aspect of the sustainable issue that you considered in Part 1 of RP2.

5. What is your idea of self-awareness of socio-ecological thinking process and values?

6. Discuss the uncertainty aspect of the considered sustainable solution approach that you devised in Part 1 of RP2.

Causes of Land Contamination

The sustainable issue that will be discussed here by me is the contamination of land, i.e., the pollution of land, which hinders the management of sustainability. The planet is currently facing sustainability issues related to the contamination of land and I think it is a major problem in the recent times, which has created imbalance in nature and deteriorated the environmental health and wellbeing too. I have conducted various researches and found that the anthropogenic activities have caused pollution to land by releasing harmful substances and toxic materials, which has not only deteriorated the health of individuals but also has deteriorated the environment condition by creating adverse health effects (Houand Al-Tabbaa 2014). It is even found that cancer has increased largely with the contamination of land and even caused damage to the ecological systems, which is a major challenge to the modern society with multiple contaminated sites all around. The rise of industrialization is one of the major causes of widespread land contamination and it has even affected the shallow groundwater to get polluted.

Due to the poor management and disposal of wastes also, the land has been contaminated and with the concentration of oil, hazardous substances and toxic materials, the contamination has brought adverse effects furthermore (Bardoset al. 2016). The land contamination not only affects the groundwater and surface water, but also has the soil vapor has created scopes for contamination through infiltration of indoor spaces of buildings. The humans are even exposed to this contamination of land, which has created adverse health effects as well as affected the environment, which created bad reputation of the companies that disposed the hazardous substances and toxic materials (Döberl, Ortmannand Frühwirth 2013).

The sustainable design criteria include various principles:

  • Optimization of the potential of the site
  • Reducing the consumption of non-renewable energy
  • Utilize the environmentally friendly products and services
  • Conservation of water and natural resources
  • Improve the quality of environment and maintain the highest health standards

The systematic design has been made by me based on the sustainability to ensure that various approaches are undertaken for maintain the environmental standards and protect the environment from pollution and other harmful effects caused due to land contamination.  I think that system design should involve collaborative and multi-stakeholder processes to ensure flexibility and determine the feasibility of sustainability design considering the scale, social complexity and integration (Cundyet al. 2013). The systems thinking, and design thinking are linked to develop competencies and visualize the practices involving the stakeholders. This would facilitate group thinking and create probable measures for keeping the environment safe through prevention of land contamination.

The contamination of land should be avoided to the utmost level possible and this could be possible by controlling or limiting the release of harmful and toxic substances to the environment. This would prevent the uncontrolled release of hazardous substances as well as stop the adverse effects that might be caused, furthermore prevent risks to human health and harms that might be associated with the ecological receptors. Probable solutions include keeping the environment clean through cleaning up of the contaminated land or site and preventing exposure to the human beings as well. The risk reduction procedures should be implemented for targeting the source of contaminants polluting the land and limiting access to the contaminated land through signage, site security or by fencing (Mench, Wittersand Vangronsveld 2013). The capping of contaminated soil could also prevent contact of harmful substances in the contaminated land to the human beings and the introduction of new plants in those areas should provide temporary solutions to prevent direct contact as well.

Impact of Land Contamination

The sustainable land management movement could be another solution that considered the risk-based land management framework to optimize the social, economic and environmental factors for remediation measures. I have participated in such movements and campaigns previously as well and found that it is a good place for the various stakeholders to get engaged and discuss about certain matters for generating new ideas to protect environment (Söderqvistet al. 2015). It has also provided contaminated land statutory guidance to support preservation of natural resources and limiting the usage of resources for ensuring that the land is protected, and the environment is kept safe too.

The stakeholders are social workers, land examining experts and pollution experts along with the shareholders or investors who have invested largely on prevention of land contamination and ensuring that the harmful substances are released is less within the environment. The stakeholders are involved in cleaning up the contaminated sites and management treatment of wastes, storage and its disposal in garbage commonly used in localities, yard waste and by construction and demolition materials for incineration (Schädleret al. 2013). This would not only maintain high quality air but would also keep the groundwater safe and healthy. The natural resources will be preserved, and the stakeholders can provide a helping hand to it for managing wastes.

The new landfills should be constructed in the agricultural areas, which are the major concerns of the regional authorities. They are responsible for communicating the details of the project to the local people and especially the wealth farmers. When the farmers and nearby individuals would communicate with the technical experts, they would be able to manage the wastes and at the same time prevent land from being contaminated (Houet al. 2014). The small group of stakeholders comprises of environmental consultant, who act as intermediates between the farmers and the technical authorities. The authorities provide permission to the group to visit the site and check the Control operations and Quality assurance in that place. Due to this, the local people who participated in the project regarding landfill construction could feel that they had contributed to the process of decision making regarding contaminated land prevention. The results of management of wastes to prevent pollution to land should show good results (Rosénet al. 2015).

Finding a way to clean up the contaminated land can only be successful with the engagements of stakeholders like the Environmental Council and the local community, land owners, officers and technical experts from Groundwork and the Environment Agency, RCT and National Assembly as well. The meetings with the various stakeholders should be held so that their significant interests are expressed. The social workers could state the potential risks of contaminated land to people to make them aware whereas the regulator agencies should manage the remediation activities. The sustainability concepts were communicated with the site managers where the land has been contaminated; furthermore provided technical guidance to strive towards a sustainable remediation measure (Norin, Bergknutand Döberl 2015). The interests of stakeholders include withdrawing the pressures in exchange of the sustainable remediation practices and even view the existing legislations, laws and regulations of preventing land contamination as a regulator barrier to sustainable remediation. The site owners and investors are other stakeholders who demand subsequent profit by cleaning up the land and create good environment through development eco-friendly parks and gardens (Bardos 2014).

Solutions to Prevent Land Contamination

As I have previously stated in the first section, the sustainability issue is the contamination of land. There are multiple effects caused by land contamination including impacts on social and economic components of the society. The land is also contaminated with improper irrigation facilities and it can affect the agricultural areas by deteriorating the ecology and long-term viability of the irrigation too. The ground water beneath the soil becomes contaminated and it can cause severe health hazards to people as well who often use the ground water for domestic purposes. The natural vegetation of the lands that are contaminated will likely go through unexpected changes and the composition caused by salinisation and water logging, which has also sometimes lead to wildlife destruction and scarcity of natural resources (Hallstedt, Thompsonand Lindahl 2013). The ecological or environmental hazards caused due to land contamination could be lack of soil productivity due to the water logging and salinisation, pollution of water resources and even damaging the ecosystem by creating serious health related risks.

Socio-ecological metabolism approach

Strategy for land usage

Benefits obtained

Socio-ecological aspect

Intensification of land usage

The biodiversity, carbon conservation and reduction of pollutants spread on land

The intensification might lead to higher consumption of natural resources and triggers the usage of more land though it is to be considered that the product should increase as well.

Bio-energy usage

The preservation of natural resources and fossil fuels

Increased deforestation and global emissions along with lack of food security and for people who live from continuation of agriculture.  

Reducing the emissions from deforestation

Decreasing carbon emissions and generating income in the rural communities

Decrease in net income, self-reliance and management of food security in the rural areas with high level of dependence external markets (Reisch, Eberleand Lorek 2013).

Organic farming

Decrease in use of resources and using renewable resources to prevent waste disposal in land

In case it is not linked properly with the reduced consumption of natural resources, the deforestation could increase, and it could affect the climatic conditions too. The higher demand for organic farming should also reverse the effect of saving carbon emissions to the environment.

Based on the socio-ecological thinking process, it is to be believed that the natural resource base that maintains steady food production is degrading day by day and it has been due to the higher population rate and agricultural activities. The agricultural activities needed for managing enough food has also become a threat to the various prospects of sustainable development in many countries all over the world. From various sources, I found that sustainable agriculture is the solution to the issue that can conserve the natural resources and manage proper orientation of institutional change and technological aspects for ensuring continuous satisfaction of the needs of human beings both at present and in future. The socio-ecological thinking process involves development of sustainability in the agriculture and forestry that can conserve the land and prevent it from getting contaminated, which is both socially as well as economically acceptable nowadays (Van Kerkhoff 2014). The excessive demands for the natural resources that are scarcely found have been the causes of land pollution or contamination along with disposal of wastes without treatment. I have gained self-awareness about how the environment is degrading every day and it is high time for us to think how it can be protected and the land contamination is stopped. Our objective of soil conservation is to prevent contamination of land by keeping it clean and develop an economic base that can make it more beneficial and profitable for conserving and protecting the natural resources (Houand Al-Tabbaa 2014).

The land usage intensification, which is considered as a major sustainable solution to land contamination can result in increasing the natural resources consumption. For me, the use of bio-energy solution could also suffer from problem to the extent that it increases the deforestation chances and reduces the afforestation and it can directly affect the people whose income sources are the agricultural activities. The emissions caused due to deforestation might make the rural areas fully dependent on the external markets for fulfilling their needs and the process would be higher as well for the products (Cundyet al. 2013). I think that in case, the organic farming approach is not interconnected with the natural resources consumption, it may instead reverse the solution to prevent carbon emissions, furthermore create changes to the climatic conditions and affect the soil production too.


Bardos, P., 2014. Progress in sustainable remediation. Remediation Journal, 25(1), pp.23-32.

Bardos, R.P., Bone, B.D., Boyle, R., Evans, F., Harries, N.D., Howard, T. and Smith, J.W., 2016. The rationale for simple approaches for sustainability assessment and management in contaminated land practice. Science of the Total Environment, 563, pp.755-768.

Cundy, A.B., Bardos, R.P., Church, A., Puschenreiter, M., Friesl-Hanl, W., Müller, I., Neu, S., Mench, M., Witters, N. and Vangronsveld, J., 2013. Developing principles of sustainability and stakeholder engagement for “gentle” remediation approaches: The European context. Journal of environmental management, 129, pp.283-291.

Döberl, G., Ortmann, M. and Frühwirth, W., 2013. Introducing a goal-oriented sustainability assessment method to support decision making in contaminated site management. Environmental science & policy, 25, pp.207-217.

Hallstedt, S.I., Thompson, A.W. and Lindahl, P., 2013. Key elements for implementing a strategic sustainability perspective in the product innovation process. Journal of Cleaner Production, 51, pp.277-288.

Hou, D. and Al-Tabbaa, A., 2014. Sustainability: a new imperative in contaminated land remediation. Environmental Science & Policy, 39, pp.25-34.

Hou, D., Al-Tabbaa, A., Chen, H. and Mamic, I., 2014. Factor analysis and structural equation modelling of sustainable behaviour in contaminated land remediation. Journal of cleaner production, 84, pp.439-449.

Reisch, L., Eberle, U. and Lorek, S., 2013. Sustainable food consumption: an overview of contemporary issues and policies. Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, 9(2), pp.7-25.

Rosén, L., Back, P.E., Söderqvist, T., Norrman, J., Brinkhoff, P., Norberg, T., Volchko, Y., Norin, M., Bergknut, M. and Döberl, G., 2015. SCORE: a novel multi-criteria decision analysis approach to assessing the sustainability of contaminated land remediation. Science of the Total Environment, 511, pp.621-638.

Schädler, S., Finkel, M., Bleicher, A., Morio, M. and Gross, M., 2013. Spatially explicit computation of sustainability indicator values for the automated assessment of land-use options. Landscape and Urban Planning, 111, pp.34-45.

Söderqvist, T., Brinkhoff, P., Norberg, T., Rosén, L., Back, P.E. and Norrman, J., 2015. Cost-benefit analysis as a part of sustainability assessment of remediation alternatives for contaminated land. Journal of environmental management, 157, pp.267-278.

Van Kerkhoff, L., 2014. Developing integrative research for sustainability science through a complexity principles-based approach. Sustainability Science, 9(2), pp.143-155.

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