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Doctoral defence in Environment and Natural Resources - Ingunn Gunnarsdóttir

Doctoral defence in Environment and Natural Resources  - Ingunn Gunnarsdóttir - Available at University of Iceland
Tue, 15/12/2020 - 14:00 to 16:00

Veröld - Hús Vigdísar

Room 023

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Ph.D. student: Ingunn Gunnarsdóttir

Dissertation title: Towards sustainable energy development: sustainability indicators and stakeholders

Opponents: Dr. Anthony Patt, Professor in Climate Protection and Adaptation at ETH Zürich, Switzerland
Dr. Dalia Streimikiene, Senior Researcher at the Lithuanian Energy Institute

Advisor: Dr. Brynhildur Davíðsdóttir, Professor in Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Iceland

Also in the doctoral committee:
Dr. Ernst Worrell, Professor at Utrecht University, the Netherlands
Dr. Sigurbjörg Sigurgeirsdóttir, Professor at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Iceland

Chair of Ceremony: Dr. Anna Dóra Sæþórsdóttir, Professor and the Head of the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Iceland

Sustainable energy development is a cross-cutting policy objective with the ultimate aim of a sustainable energy future. However, what that future involves and how it can be reached is unclear. The aim of this PhD thesis is to address the question of what a sustainable energy future entails and how stakeholders can track progress towards sustainable energy development. The concept of sustainable energy development is inherently vague, and its meaning has evolved considerably. In this research, two approaches were developed to capture the meaning of sustainable energy development. A general definition of the concept was captured through a comprehensive literature review with citation analysis and a context-specific definition through stakeholder engagement. While these two definitions largely aligned, they also highlighted that sustainable energy development can vary significantly between energy systems. A mixed approach of semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and a Delphi survey was demonstrated as a useful approach to identify opportunities and pressing challenges for energy development within a particular setting.

A thorough review of existing indicators for sustainable energy development and indicator selection methodologies showed that there is room for improvement. Therefore, a new approach to indicator selection rooted in stakeholder engagement was developed. Based on stakeholder input, a context-specific set of indicators for sustainable energy development can be selected that reflects the relevant challenges and priorities. Thereby, stakeholders’ ownership and acceptance of the resulting indicators can be increased. A successful set of sustainability indicators can be used to monitor progress, inform actions, and communicate issues. The integration of sustainability indicators, a dynamic model and multi-criteria decision analysis can enable the analysis of alternative energy futures and identification of a desirable development path.

About the doctoral candidate: Ingunn was born in the U.S. in 1990 but grew up in Iceland with her three brothers. She returned to the U.S. for university studies, earning a B.A. degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Furman University and an MPA degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University. Currently, Ingunn lives in Kópavogur with her partner Mikael Dubik.

Ingunn Gunnarsdóttir

Doctoral defence in Environment and Natural Resources  - Ingunn Gunnarsdóttir