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Special Issue "6th World Sustainability Forum - Selected Papers"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Manfred Max Bergman

Chair of Social Research and Methodology, Department of Social Sciences, University of Basel, Petersgraben 11, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: empirical research on society and economy, leadership, industry initiatives, sustainable consumption, mobility, and corporate responsibility

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The adoption of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015 was accompanied by what insiders considered an optimism they have not experienced in relation to UN resolutions before. The relative efficiency in the drafting, the lack of trenches between East and West, or between North and South, and the unanimity of support of the 193 countries speak volumes. In stark contrast, sustainability and dealing with it could be the poster child for what Robert Horn called a social mess (2007: 6): “a set of interrelated problems … resistant to analysis and, more importantly, to resolution.” Characteristics of a social mess generally, and sustainability specifically, include an absence of a unique and correct solution, interrelatedness of problems, ideological constraints, multiple possible intervention points, resistance to change, value conflict, and political and economic constraints. While these are excellent ingredients for a thorough academic debate, the issues underpinning the sustainability debate are so urgent that, beyond academic reflection and research, much more is necessary than what academics, political leaders, administrators, industry, nations, communities, and individuals are habitually prepared to do.

Based on the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development, adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, sustainability refers to the “collective responsibility to advance and strengthen the interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development—economic development, social development and environmental protection—at the local, national, regional and global levels.” Conference topics at this forum may include food, nutrition, agriculture, water, technology, energy, economics, sustainable cities, land management, migration, lifestyles and consumption, business and management, and corruption.

The World Sustainability Forum 2017, held in South Africa, aims at contributing not only to international debates but, more specifically, to enable an exchange, which sensitises the international community to the urgency, specifics, and existent knowledge base of sustainability on the African continent, and the African research community about international perspectives on sustainability. To do justice to the topic, we aim to include contributions not only from national and international academic perspectives, but we also hope to attract a diverse audience that includes members from the political and business sectors. For better or worse, the next few decades will be marked by a profound engagement in sustainability research and policy—and Africa is profoundly influencing and being influenced by global developments. This is an excellent opportunity for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers to engage with this topic, to become aware of the urgency of the issues, and to recognize individual, collective, and national opportunities associated therewith.

As part of the output of this conference, we plan to publish a Special Issue in Sustainability, as well as edited books, for the thematic areas. We, the chairs of the conference as well as the organizing institutions, are looking forward to welcoming you at the 6th World Sustainability Forum in Cape Town/South Africa from 27 to 28 January 2017.

Prof. Dr. Manfred Max Bergman
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle The Environmental Mitigation Potential of Photovoltaic-Powered Irrigation in the Production of South African Maize
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1772; doi:10.3390/su9101772
Received: 14 August 2017 / Revised: 21 September 2017 / Accepted: 22 September 2017 / Published: 30 September 2017
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Abstract
Agriculture is under pressure to reduce its environmental impact. The use of renewable energy sources has potential to decrease these impacts. Maize is one of the most significant crops in South Africa and approximately 241,000 hectares are irrigated. This irrigation is most commonly
[...] Read more.
Agriculture is under pressure to reduce its environmental impact. The use of renewable energy sources has potential to decrease these impacts. Maize is one of the most significant crops in South Africa and approximately 241,000 hectares are irrigated. This irrigation is most commonly powered by grid electricity generated using coal. However, South Africa has high solar irradiation, which could be used to generate photovoltaic electricity. The aim of this study was to determine the environmental mitigation potential of replacing grid-powered irrigation in South African maize production with photovoltaic irrigation systems using Life Cycle Assessment. The study included the value chain of maize production from cultivation to storage. Replacing grid electricity with photovoltaic-generated electricity leads to a 34% reduction in the global warming potential of maize produced under irrigation, and—applied at a national level—could potentially reduce South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions by 536,000 t CO2-eq. per year. Non-renewable energy demand, freshwater eutrophication, acidification, and particulate matter emissions are also significantly lowered. Replacing grid electricity with renewable energy in irrigation has been shown to be an effective means of reducing the environmental impacts associated with South African maize production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 6th World Sustainability Forum - Selected Papers)
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Open AccessArticle Clean Technologies in Agriculture—How to Prioritise Measures?
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1303; doi:10.3390/su9081303
Received: 19 May 2017 / Revised: 14 July 2017 / Accepted: 21 July 2017 / Published: 26 July 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2272 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
As agriculture continues to be under pressure due to its negative environmental impacts, resource-efficiency and the use of clean technologies gain importance. Meanwhile, there is an abundance of technological solutions that help “clean” agriculture’s hotspots, either by reducing inputs, by producing renewable energy
[...] Read more.
As agriculture continues to be under pressure due to its negative environmental impacts, resource-efficiency and the use of clean technologies gain importance. Meanwhile, there is an abundance of technological solutions that help “clean” agriculture’s hotspots, either by reducing inputs, by producing renewable energy or by protecting ecosystems. Decisions about clean technologies remain difficult due to the variety of options, difficulties in cost-benefit calculations, and potential trade-offs in sustainability. We therefore addressed the issue of decision-making regarding clean technologies in agriculture. A multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) was used to rank the most sustainable technologies. Evaluation of 17 selected clean technologies was based on literature information and expert opinion. Wireless sensor irrigation networks, frequency converters for vacuum pumps and stable air conditioning, PV electricity and drip irrigation were the five technologies with the highest sustainability scores, outperforming the 12 other clean technologies. When all sustainability dimensions and criteria were equally weighted, PV electricity was superseded by variable speed drive technology for irrigation in the top five. This paper shows that MCDAs are a useful method for choosing between sustainable clean technology options. By applying different weighting, the MCDA can reflect the priorities of the decision maker and provide customised results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 6th World Sustainability Forum - Selected Papers)
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Open AccessArticle A Longitudinal Study of the Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on Firm Performance in SMEs in Zambia
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1300; doi:10.3390/su9081300
Received: 30 April 2017 / Revised: 14 July 2017 / Accepted: 21 July 2017 / Published: 26 July 2017
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Abstract
The aim of this study is to investigate the impact of corporate social responsibility on firm performance using a longitudinal design in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The reported study was conducted in a Sub-Saharan African developing country, Zambia. Data were collected from
[...] Read more.
The aim of this study is to investigate the impact of corporate social responsibility on firm performance using a longitudinal design in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The reported study was conducted in a Sub-Saharan African developing country, Zambia. Data were collected from 153 entrepreneurs in two surveys and changes in CSR and firm performance measures were analysed over a 12-month period using SmartPLS structural equation modelling. The findings show that the relationship between CSR and financial performance is significant. Further, the association between CSR and the two measures of firm performance (corporate reputation and employee commitment) was only partially significant over time. We discuss the relevance of these results for entrepreneurs, researchers and policy makers in understanding the outcomes of sustainability practices in SMEs in developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 6th World Sustainability Forum - Selected Papers)
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Open AccessArticle Toward a Theoretical Framework for Studying Climate Change Policies: Insights from the Case Study of Singapore
Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1167; doi:10.3390/su9071167
Received: 30 April 2017 / Revised: 26 June 2017 / Accepted: 28 June 2017 / Published: 4 July 2017
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Abstract
The world decided in December 2015 to take actions to reduce global warming. To contribute toward this goal, this research examines possible policy levers for inclusion in the climate change ratification plan. A case study of the measures taken by the Republic of
[...] Read more.
The world decided in December 2015 to take actions to reduce global warming. To contribute toward this goal, this research examines possible policy levers for inclusion in the climate change ratification plan. A case study of the measures taken by the Republic of Singapore, a low-lying 719.2 km2 island without natural resources in Asia, is conducted. Being vulnerable to climate change impact and yet having to balance her people’s needs and economic progress with limited resources, the measures taken by this small country could offer policy insights for small states and states without access to alternative energy sources. This research analyzes the online policy documents posted by eleven organizations to answer the main research question of identifying policy levers as theoretical constructs to form a framework that can be used to study climate change policies. A qualitative data analysis software, QSR NVivo 10, is used to classify the proposed nodes developed by the researchers using a system perspective integrating the insights from the key international climate change frameworks with the theoretical concepts from the model of pro-environmental behavior. The findings can offer insights toward developing a new contextual influence framework, which can help strengthen policy development and outcome measurement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 6th World Sustainability Forum - Selected Papers)
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Open AccessArticle Vision Development towards a Sustainable North Rhine-Westphalia 2030 in a Science-Practice-Dialogue
Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1111; doi:10.3390/su9071111
Received: 30 April 2017 / Revised: 9 June 2017 / Accepted: 18 June 2017 / Published: 26 June 2017
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Abstract
The paper presents the results of a participatory vision development process in the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in Germany. The vision development was part of a scientific research project that accompanied the development of a sustainability strategy for NRW at state
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The paper presents the results of a participatory vision development process in the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in Germany. The vision development was part of a scientific research project that accompanied the development of a sustainability strategy for NRW at state level. The Sustainability Strategy NRW was adopted in July 2016 and contains parts of the vision developed in the research project: Sentences from the narrative text vision and proposed targets and indicators that back-up the vision for a sustainable NRW in 2030 were used by the state of NRW. The vision was developed in iterative steps in three consecutive dialogue rounds with different stakeholders from science and practice. The paper presents the methodological approach and the results of the vision formulation process. The paper discusses the lessons learned from the vision development—from both practical and theoretical perspectives of transition management. The paper explores the relevance of setting ambitious targets for sustainable development as part of a state strategy by taking the proposed target of a “4 × 25% modal split” by 2030 as an example. The project demonstrated that a participatory approach for vision development is time and resource consuming, but worth the effort as it improves the quality and acceptance of a vision. Furthermore, the project demonstrated that transformative science contributes valuable inputs for sustainability transitions and for facilitating participatory vision development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 6th World Sustainability Forum - Selected Papers)
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Open AccessArticle The Future of North Rhine-Westphalia-Participation of the Youth as Part of a Social Transformation towards Sustainable Development
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 1055; doi:10.3390/su9061055
Received: 1 May 2017 / Revised: 9 June 2017 / Accepted: 14 June 2017 / Published: 18 June 2017
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Abstract
The future belongs to the youth, but do they really have a say in it? Learning processes with regard to a successful socio-ecological change must start in childhood and adolescence in order to succeed in social transformation. The youth cannot be a passive
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The future belongs to the youth, but do they really have a say in it? Learning processes with regard to a successful socio-ecological change must start in childhood and adolescence in order to succeed in social transformation. The youth cannot be a passive part in a changing society—they have to be actively included in its design. When allowed to participate, young people can make important and effective contributions—which should not be reduced to sub-projects and opportunity structures. In a socio-political context, participation means involvement, collaboration, and commitment. In the context of intra- and inter-generational equity, as the core part of sustainable development, participation strategies should be developed that allow for a permanent and purposeful involvement of children and adolescents. Participation of young people is an important and appropriate step in strengthening those who are so strongly affected by the planning processes but are otherwise powerless. A successful involvement and participation of non-professional actors requires a target group-oriented method, a supportive culture of participation, as well as clarity and decision latitude. Abiding by these rules leads to central results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 6th World Sustainability Forum - Selected Papers)
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Open AccessArticle Sustainability Multivariate Analysis of the Energy Consumption of Ecuador Using MuSIASEM and BIPLOT Approach
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 984; doi:10.3390/su9060984
Received: 26 April 2017 / Revised: 30 May 2017 / Accepted: 1 June 2017 / Published: 7 June 2017
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Abstract
Rapid economic growth, expanding populations and increasing prosperity are driving up demand for energy, water and food, especially in developing countries. To understand the energy consumption of a country, we used the Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM) approach. The
[...] Read more.
Rapid economic growth, expanding populations and increasing prosperity are driving up demand for energy, water and food, especially in developing countries. To understand the energy consumption of a country, we used the Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM) approach. The MuSIASEM is an innovative approach to accounting that integrates quantitative information generated by distinct types of conventional models based on different dimensions and scales of analysis. The main objective of this work is to enrich the MuSIASEM approach with information from multivariate methods in order to improve the efficiency of existing models of sustainability. The Biplot method permits the joint plotting, in a reduced dimension of the rows (individuals) and columns (variables) of a multivariate data matrix. We found, in the case study of Ecuador, that the highest values of the Exosomatic Metabolic Rate (EMR) per economic sector and Economic Labor Productivity (ELP) are located in the Productive Sector (PS). We conclude that the combination of the MuSIASEM variables with the HJ-Biplot allows us to easily know the detailed behavior of the labor productivity and energy consumption of a country. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 6th World Sustainability Forum - Selected Papers)
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Open AccessArticle The Role of Consumers in the Transition toward Low-Carbon Living
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 958; doi:10.3390/su9060958
Received: 28 April 2017 / Revised: 29 May 2017 / Accepted: 31 May 2017 / Published: 5 June 2017
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Abstract
Improvements in energy efficiency and production of renewable energy hold significant potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions of housing, which accounts for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In our research, we focused on the willingness of owners of detached houses to adopt
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Improvements in energy efficiency and production of renewable energy hold significant potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions of housing, which accounts for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In our research, we focused on the willingness of owners of detached houses to adopt renewable energy production systems of their own, and we examined perceived barriers to adopting these systems. The research was conducted using a survey and a life cycle assessment model. The survey covered three residential areas in Lahti, Finland, and the potential reductions in greenhouse gas emissions were estimated using a life cycle assessment model based on the survey results. The barriers to transformation were identified as a lack of knowledge in the following three areas: (1) the possible annual savings attained; (2) the costs of implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy production solutions; and (3) the technologies used in renewable energy production. The greenhouse gas emission reductions in the residential areas surveyed would amount to approximately 15% if the consumers implemented the solutions they considered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 6th World Sustainability Forum - Selected Papers)
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Open AccessArticle Techno-Economic Forecasts of Lithium Nitrates for Thermal Storage Systems
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 810; doi:10.3390/su9050810
Received: 24 March 2017 / Revised: 26 April 2017 / Accepted: 8 May 2017 / Published: 12 May 2017
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Abstract
Thermal energy storage systems (TES) are a key component of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants that generally use a NaNO3/KNO3 mixture also known as solar salt as a thermal storage material. Improvements in TES materials are important to lower CSP
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Thermal energy storage systems (TES) are a key component of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants that generally use a NaNO3/KNO3 mixture also known as solar salt as a thermal storage material. Improvements in TES materials are important to lower CSP costs, increase energy efficiency and competitiveness with other technologies. A novel alternative examined in this paper is the use of salt mixtures with lithium nitrate that help to reduce the salt’s melting point and improve thermal capacity. This in turn allows the volume of materials required to be reduced. Based on data for commercial plants and the expected evolution of the lithium market, the technical and economic prospects for this alternative are evaluated considering recent developments of Lithium Nitrates and the uncertain future prices of lithium. Through a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) analysis it is concluded that some of the mixtures could allow a reduction in the costs of CSP plants, improving their competitiveness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 6th World Sustainability Forum - Selected Papers)
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Other

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Open AccessConference Report Teaching Sustainability Using an Active Learning Constructivist Approach: Discipline-Specific Case Studies in Higher Education
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1320; doi:10.3390/su9081320
Received: 30 April 2017 / Revised: 27 June 2017 / Accepted: 15 July 2017 / Published: 28 July 2017
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Abstract
In this paper we present our rationale for using an active learning constructivist approach to teach sustainability-related topics in a higher education. To push the boundaries of ecological literacy, we also develop a theoretical model for sustainability knowledge co-creation. Drawing on the experiences
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In this paper we present our rationale for using an active learning constructivist approach to teach sustainability-related topics in a higher education. To push the boundaries of ecological literacy, we also develop a theoretical model for sustainability knowledge co-creation. Drawing on the experiences of faculty at a major Southeastern University in the United States, we present case studies in architecture, engineering, geography, and marketing. Four Sustainability Faculty Fellows describe their discipline-specific case studies, all of which are project-based learning experiences, and include details regarding teaching and assessment. Easily replicated in other educational contexts, these case studies contribute to the advancement of sustainability education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 6th World Sustainability Forum - Selected Papers)
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Open AccessConcept Paper Making Fe0-Based Filters a Universal Solution for Safe Drinking Water Provision
Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1224; doi:10.3390/su9071224
Received: 16 May 2017 / Revised: 1 July 2017 / Accepted: 5 July 2017 / Published: 12 July 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2233 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Metallic iron (Fe0)-based filtration systems have the potential to significantly contribute to the achievement of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of substantially improving the human condition by 2030 through the provision of clean water. Recent knowledge on Fe
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Metallic iron (Fe0)-based filtration systems have the potential to significantly contribute to the achievement of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of substantially improving the human condition by 2030 through the provision of clean water. Recent knowledge on Fe0-based safe drinking water filters is addressed herein. They are categorized into two types: Household and community filters. Design criteria are recalled and operational details are given. Scientists are invited to co-develop knowledge enabling the exploitation of the great potential of Fe0 filters for sustainable safe drinking water provision (and sanitation). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 6th World Sustainability Forum - Selected Papers)
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