Air pollution is linked with many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Strategies aiming at the improved air quality interact directly with climate mitigation targets, access to clean energy services, waste management, and other aspects of socio-economic development.

The size and structure of the socioeconomic metabolism are key for the planet’s sustainability. In this article, we provide a consistent assessment of the development of material flows through the global economy in the period 1900–2015 using material flow accounting in combination with results from dynamic stock-flow modelling.

Competition over limited water resources is one of the main concerns for the coming decades. Although water issues alone have not been the sole trigger for warfare in the past, tensions over freshwater management and use represent one of the main concerns in political relations between riparian states and may exacerbate existing tensions, increase regional instability and social unrest. Previous studies made great efforts to understand how international water management problems were addressed by actors in a more cooperative or confrontational way.

India has among the highest lost years of life from micronutrient deficiencies. We investigate what dietary shifts would eliminate protein, iron, zinc and Vitamin A deficiencies within households’ food budgets and whether these shifts would be compatible with mitigating climate change. This analysis uses the National Sample Survey (2011–12) of consumption expenditure to calculate calorie, protein and the above micronutrient intake deficiencies and relate them to diets, income and location.

Recent years have shown increased awareness that the use of the basic resources water, food, and energy are highly interconnected (referred to as a ‘nexus’). Spatial scales are an important but complicating factor in nexus analyses, and should receive more attention – especially in the policy-oriented literature. In this paper, we ‘unpack' the nexus concept, aiming to understand the differences between water, food and energy resources, especially in terms of spatial scales.

Food retailers and manufacturers are increasingly committing to address agricultural sustainability issues in their supply chains. In place of using established eco-certifications, many companies define their own supply chain sustainability standards. Scholars remain divided on whether we should expect such company-led programs to affect change. We use a major food retailer as a critical case to evaluate the effectiveness of a companyled supply chain standard in improving environmental farm management practices.

This paper investigates the adoption of discourses on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) across different national contexts. It draws on institutional theories to develop and test a number of hypotheses on the role of shared beliefs and politico-economic institutions in determining the discursive choices of policy actors. The results show that win–win ecological modernization discourse, embraced by powerful government agencies and international actors, dominates national REDD+ policy arenas.

Urban growth is increasing the demand for freshwater resources, yet surprisingly the water sources of the world’s large cities have never been globally assessed, hampering efforts to assess the distribution and causes of urban water stress. We conducted the first global survey of the large cities’ water sources, and show that previous global hydrologic models that ignored urban water infrastructure significantly overestimated urban water stress.

Delhi with fast-growing rate of urbanisation is the second most water-stressed cities in the world according to this new research published in Global Environmental Change Journal which has mapped 500 large cities to determine how global urbanisation is affecting water supplies. Kolkata (6), Chennai (18), Bangalore (19) and Hyderabad (20) are also listed in this first global survey of the large cities’ water sources.

As part of the Copenhagen Accord, Annex I Parties (industrialised countries) and non-Annex I Parties (developing countries) have submitted reduction proposals (pledges) and mitigation actions to the UNFCCC secretariat. Our calculations show that if the current reduction offers of Annex I and non-Annex I countries are fully implemented, global greenhouse gas emissions could amount to 48.6–49.7 GtCO2eq by 2020. Recent literature suggests that the emission level should be between 42 and 46 GtCO2eq by 2020 to maintain a “medium” chance (50–66%) of meeting the 2 °C target.