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Special Issue "Sustainable Development Goals: A Call for Frugal Innovations for a Resource-Scarce World"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2016)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Marko Keskinen

Water & Development Research Group, Aalto University, 02015 Espoo, Finland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: transboundary water management and governance; integrated approaches; science-policy-stakeholder interactions
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Minna Halme

Department of Management Studies, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: business models for sustainability , inclusive business, corporate responsibility
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Olli Varis

Water & Development Research Group, Aalto University, 02015 Espoo, Finland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: global water issues; impact assessment processes; water and development

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The United Nations will be launching the post-2015 development agenda soon. This agenda will consist of a set of goals that will outline the mainstream global development policies in the coming years. These Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have been effective through the years 2000-2015. Despite their limitations, the MDGs are often referred to as the most successful development attempt ever in human history: they provided clearly defined goals on selected themes, and in this way, focused global development efforts.

It is more than obvious that the market for the development of innovations (both technological and social),  which will be able to successfully address one or more of the SDGs, will soon be sky-rocketing. Some of the great drivers and prerequisites for these innovations are frugality and multi-directionality. The former term means that innovations must provide feasible ways of improving human and environmental sustainability under conditions that are essentially more resource-scarce than what we see today. The term “resources” refers to both natural and financial resources, but obviously not human resources.

The second term, multidirectionality, implies that the SDGs are designed for a far more complex world of interactions and transactions than the MDGs were. The MDGs reflected the split of the world between the developed and developing countries, and MDGs benchmarked the development of the latter ones and hence leaned on the traditional donor-recipient paradigm. As the SDGs are planned to address all nations, the interactions concerning SDGs can also be much more diverse and innovative than those concerning MDGs. Such interactions are expected to go different ways (including from poorer to more affluent countries) and also include a variety of actors from public, private, and civil society sectors.

This Special Issue addresses these emerging innovation opportunities from the reference points of the aforesaid two themes: from frugality (resource-scarcity) and from reverse innovation (i.e., when the direction of innovation is contrary to what is commonly expected, such that innovation developed in a resource-scarce context migrates to more affluent countries). The cases will focus on energy, water, and housing, as well as on their combinations. Whereas these three thematic areas do not cover the entire domain of the SDGs, many goals and targets will be directly or indirectly linked to them. The Special Issue will pay particular attention to various combinations of these and other areas in a multi- and interdisciplinary way.

References

UN (2012). Realizing the Future We Want for All, Report to the Secretary-General, UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda. http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/untaskteam_undf/report.shtml

UN (2013). A renewed global partnership for development, UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda. http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/untaskteam_undf/report2.shtml

UN (2014). Open Working Group proposal for Sustainable Development Goals. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?page=view&type=400&nr=1579&menu=35

Dr. Marko Keskinen
Prof. Dr. Minna Halme
Prof. Dr. Olli Varis
Guest Editors

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.

Keywords

  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • resource scarcity
  • innovation
  • frugality
  • water
  • energy
  • housing
  • business models inclusive business models

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Potential and Pitfalls of Frugal Innovation in the Water Sector: Insights from Tanzania to Global Value Chains
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 888; doi:10.3390/su8090888
Received: 30 June 2016 / Revised: 29 August 2016 / Accepted: 30 August 2016 / Published: 2 September 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1407 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Water is perhaps the most intertwined, and basic, resource on our planet. Nevertheless, billions face water-related challenges, varying from lack of water and sanitation services to hindrances on livelihoods and socio-economic activities. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize the broad role that water
[...] Read more.
Water is perhaps the most intertwined, and basic, resource on our planet. Nevertheless, billions face water-related challenges, varying from lack of water and sanitation services to hindrances on livelihoods and socio-economic activities. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize the broad role that water has for development, and also call for the private sector to participate in solving these numerous development challenges. This study looks into the potential of frugal innovations as a means for the private sector to engage in water-related development challenges. Our findings, based on a case study and literature review, indicate that frugal innovations have potential in this front due to their focus on affordable, no-frills solutions. However, we also recognize pitfalls related to frugal innovations in the water sector. Although the innovations would, in principle, be sustainable, deficiencies related to scale and institutional structures may emerge. These deficiencies are linked to the importance of water in a variety of processes, both natural and manmade, as well as to the complexity of global production-consumption value chains. Increasing the innovations’ sustainability impact requires broader acknowledgement of the underlying value chains and their diverse links with water. A holistic view on water can mitigate water-related business risks while increasing wellbeing on an individual level. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Implications of Reverse Innovation for Socio-Economic Sustainability: A Case Study of Philips China
Sustainability 2016, 8(6), 530; doi:10.3390/su8060530
Received: 31 December 2015 / Revised: 19 May 2016 / Accepted: 30 May 2016 / Published: 9 June 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (732 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The idea of reverse innovation, local innovation happening in emerging markets for the global market, has gained much academic and managerial attention in recent years. The purpose of this study is to understand how reverse innovation has successfully diffused into the product and
[...] Read more.
The idea of reverse innovation, local innovation happening in emerging markets for the global market, has gained much academic and managerial attention in recent years. The purpose of this study is to understand how reverse innovation has successfully diffused into the product and market development strategies at Philips Inc., a prominent multinational company (MNC) of the modern era. Furthermore, the study presents the success achieved by these innovations at both the domestic and global levels, along with their implications regarding socio-economic sustainability in emerging markets. In order to investigate the research questions, a case study of Philips China was conducted involving three product innovations that were found to be suitable examples of reverse innovation. After the study of extant literature on the topic, drawing from research databases, newspaper articles, and company press releases, five semi-structuredinterviews were conducted with key managers and a market practitioner to gain sufficient understanding for this exploratory study. Subsequent case analysis concludes that these innovations are examples of reverse innovation representing a new paradigm change in innovation flow. This flow of innovation from emerging markets to developed markets as confirmed by Corsi’s framework could potentially disrupt developed markets as well as contribute to ensure healthy living conditions for the population living in developing countries. If so, this represents a sustainable socio-economic change in-line with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of “ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.” This is relevant as Philips aspires to be a prominent private sector player in achieving the above-stated goal by defeating non-communicable disease and strengthening local healthcare systems. Full article
Open AccessArticle Crafting Sustainable Development Solutions: Frugal Innovations of Grassroots Entrepreneurs
Sustainability 2016, 8(1), 51; doi:10.3390/su8010051
Received: 16 September 2015 / Revised: 18 December 2015 / Accepted: 31 December 2015 / Published: 7 January 2016
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (846 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A shift in the entrepreneurial landscape is taking place brought about by grassroots innovators with little formal education and technological knowhow, living and working in penurious environments. This research represents an emerging third wave of literature on Bottom of the Pyramid innovation, where
[...] Read more.
A shift in the entrepreneurial landscape is taking place brought about by grassroots innovators with little formal education and technological knowhow, living and working in penurious environments. This research represents an emerging third wave of literature on Bottom of the Pyramid innovation, where products are offered for and by the underserved. Using primary and secondary data derived from four cases of grassroots entrepreneurs in the Indian Subcontinent, the study explores the phenomenon where resource scarce entrepreneurs craft solutions that are environmental friendly, with low overall ownership costs, and use locally available material. We argue that the grassroots phenomenon can be fruitfully exploited to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals proposed by the UN as a post-2015 strategy for the future of global governance. These innovations might have a tremendous impact not only in terms of serving unmet and ignored consumer needs, but also longer term impacts through enhanced productivity, sustainability, poverty reduction and inclusion promotion. Full article
Open AccessArticle Implications of Frugal Innovations on Sustainable Development: Evaluating Water and Energy Innovations
Sustainability 2016, 8(1), 4; doi:10.3390/su8010004
Received: 18 November 2015 / Revised: 16 December 2015 / Accepted: 18 December 2015 / Published: 23 December 2015
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (224 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Frugal innovations are often associated with sustainable development. These connections, however, are based on anecdotal assumptions rather than empirical evidence. This article evaluates the sustainability of four frugal innovations from water and energy sectors. For the purposes of the evaluation, a set of
[...] Read more.
Frugal innovations are often associated with sustainable development. These connections, however, are based on anecdotal assumptions rather than empirical evidence. This article evaluates the sustainability of four frugal innovations from water and energy sectors. For the purposes of the evaluation, a set of indicators was developed. Indicators are drawn from sustainable development goals by the United Nations and they encompass central dimensions of sustainability: ecological, social and economic. In this article, frugal innovations are compared to solutions that are currently used in similar low-income contexts. Studied frugal innovations were found more sustainable in terms of energy production and water purification capacity than the existing solutions. In terms of social sustainability, larger differences between innovations were found. For example, business models of frugal energy solutions focus on capacity building and the inclusion of marginalized low-income people, whereas business models of water purification solutions focus on more traditional corporate social responsibility activities, such as marketing awareness campaigns and cooperation with non-governmental organizations. Three major sustainability challenges for frugal innovators were identified: (1) the proper integration of material efficiency into product or service systems; (2) the patient promotion of inclusive employment; and (3) the promotion of inclusive and sustainable local industrialization. The article concludes that despite indisputable similarities between frugality and sustainability, it is problematic to equate the two conceptually. Full article

Review

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Open AccessReview Methodological Approach for the Sustainability Assessment of Development Cooperation Projects for Built Innovations Based on the SDGs and Life Cycle Thinking
Sustainability 2016, 8(10), 1006; doi:10.3390/su8101006
Received: 4 July 2016 / Revised: 7 September 2016 / Accepted: 28 September 2016 / Published: 10 October 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1981 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper describes a methodological approach for a sustainability assessment of development cooperation projects. Between the scientific disciplines there is no agreement on the term of “sustainability”. Whereas the definition of sustainability within the context of development cooperation frequently highlights the long-term success
[...] Read more.
This paper describes a methodological approach for a sustainability assessment of development cooperation projects. Between the scientific disciplines there is no agreement on the term of “sustainability”. Whereas the definition of sustainability within the context of development cooperation frequently highlights the long-term success of an intervention, the United Nations herald the inclusion of social, economic and environmental aspects. This paper proposes to bridge this gap by providing an analytical framework that uses nine impact category groups based on thematic priorities of sustainable development derived from the Sustainable Development Goals. Additionally, the long-term effectiveness of a project is taken into consideration. These impact category groups comprise the analytical framework, which is investigated by the Life Cycle Assessment and an indicator-based analysis. These data are obtained through empirical social research and the LCA inventory. The underlying concept is based on life cycle thinking. Taking up a multi-cycle model this study establishes two life cycles: first, the project management life cycle; and, second, the life cycle of a project’s innovation. The innovation’s life cycle is identified to have the greatest impact on the target region and the local people and is consequently of primary interest. This methodological approach enables an ex-post sustainability assessment of a built innovation of a development cooperation project and is tested on a case study on Improved Cooking Stoves in Bangladesh. Full article
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