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Special Issue "Sustainability and Institutional Change"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Volker Beckmann

Faculty of Law and Economics & Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald, Grimmer Str. 88, 17487 Greifswald, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +49 3834 86 4122
Fax: +49 3834 86 4107
Interests: institutional change; institutional economics; environmental and resource economics; governance of natural resources; agricultural and land economics; conservation; technology adoption; sustainable land management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The idea of sustainability is about to transform the institutions of societies, slowly but significantly. Often, the adjustment seems just rhetoric, being little more than adding an adjective to an established policy or business practice; increasingly however, it involves a considerable modification in the set of rules, for instance with respect to policy making procedures, property rights in natural resources or the sourcing decisions of business. As the concept of sustainability can be applied to almost all human activities, it has the potential to affect the “rules of the game” at very different levels and spatial scales, ranging from international policy, to nation states and local communities as well as from individuals to households and companies. Thus, the idea, vision or meta-rule of sustainability triggers complex top-down and bottom-up, intended and spontaneous processes of institutional changes whose dynamics and consequences are still poorly understood. This special issue of Sustainability therefore seeks answers to the following questions: How has sustainability been institutionalized at different levels and spatial scales of societies? Is sustainability about to become a social norm, an ethical imperative, a policy and legal principle, or a standard in business and contracting? Have new governance structures been created to support its implementation? What kind of experiences, success and failures, have been gained? What were factors that supported or hampered change? Have institutional changes aiming at sustainability achieved their objectives? Have they had unintended or even adverse side effects? What lessons are to be learnt? We invite scholars mainly from the different social science disciplines to contribute to this special issue. We request for rigours theoretical reasoning and sound empirical analysis based on or related to the theory of institutional change as developed by Douglass C. North, Oliver E. Williamson, Elinor Ostrom and others. We welcome review papers, conceptual and theoretical contributions, and foremost original research papers on the subject.

Dr. Volker Beckmann
Guest Editor

Submission

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. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as 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 refereed through a 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 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs).

Keywords

  • sustainability
  • sustainable development
  • institutional change
  • new Institutionalism
  • institutional Economics
  • ethics and social norms
  • ideology
  • public policy
  • property rights and law
  • governance structures
  • business and contracting
  • consumer behaviour
  • entrepreneurship

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle Street-Level Bureaucrats at Work: A Municipality-Level Institutional Analysis of Community-Based Natural Resource Management Implementation Practice in the Pasture Sector of Kyrgyzstan
Sustainability 2015, 7(3), 3146-3174; doi:10.3390/su7033146
Received: 9 September 2014 / Revised: 4 March 2015 / Accepted: 9 March 2015 / Published: 16 March 2015
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Abstract
The article looks into lowest-level policy implementers’ (street-level bureaucrats’) role in donor-initiated natural resource governance reforms. The article employs an institutional analysis framework with a specific policy implementation focus. A multiple case study reviews a resource user information campaign during the early phase
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The article looks into lowest-level policy implementers’ (street-level bureaucrats’) role in donor-initiated natural resource governance reforms. The article employs an institutional analysis framework with a specific policy implementation focus. A multiple case study reviews a resource user information campaign during the early phase of a community-based pasture management reform in Kyrgyzstan. It finds implementation rule simplification by policy implementers at the expense of full resource user involvement as a result of an insufficient contextual fit of the formal information rules. The results emphasize the need of well-designed implementation rules in order to ensure full and equitable resource user involvement in community-based natural resource management (CBNRM). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Figures

Open AccessArticle Can the Concept of Integrative and Segregative Institutions Contribute to the Framing of Institutions of Sustainability?
Sustainability 2015, 7(1), 584-611; doi:10.3390/su7010584
Received: 18 February 2014 / Accepted: 21 November 2014 / Published: 7 January 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1393 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper begins with the question “What is special about those institutions that bring about sustainability”? In an attempt to answer this, I use the Institutions of Sustainability (IoS) framework, which structures sustainability analytically according to four main categories, namely: transactions, actors, institutions
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This paper begins with the question “What is special about those institutions that bring about sustainability”? In an attempt to answer this, I use the Institutions of Sustainability (IoS) framework, which structures sustainability analytically according to four main categories, namely: transactions, actors, institutions and governance structures. I then argue that sustainability has to do with balancing two sorts of costs an actor may face while being constrained by institutions. One is the costs from the integrative effects of institutions on his individual decision making. The other is the costs from the segregative effect of institutions. In this way, sustainability can be understood as societies’ compromise between institutions that integrate individual actors’ decisions in a wider system, holding them fully responsible for more or less all of the effects of their choices and those institutions that partly free individual decision makers from parts of such responsibilities. If a governance problem is characterized by a high degree of “decomposability”, segregative rules may be sufficient. The more a governance problem is characterized by complexity due to low modularity and high functional interdependencies, the more accurate integrative rules may be. The paper concludes by identifying “sustainability area of institutional embedding” as a regulative idea in understanding sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle Social Investment for Sustainability of Groundwater: A Revealed Preference Approach
Sustainability 2014, 6(9), 5598-5638; doi:10.3390/su6095598
Received: 4 March 2014 / Revised: 23 July 2014 / Accepted: 31 July 2014 / Published: 27 August 2014
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Abstract
Groundwater is a form of natural capital that is valued for the goods it provides, including ecosystem health, water quality, and water consumption. Degradation of groundwater could be alleviated through social investment such as for water reuse and desalination to reduce the need
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Groundwater is a form of natural capital that is valued for the goods it provides, including ecosystem health, water quality, and water consumption. Degradation of groundwater could be alleviated through social investment such as for water reuse and desalination to reduce the need for withdrawals from groundwater. This paper develops a participatory planning process—based on combining revealed preference with economic optimization—to choose a desired future for sustaining groundwater. Generation of potential groundwater futures is based on an optimal control model with investment and withdrawal from groundwater as control variables. In this model, groundwater stock and aquatic health are included as inter-temporal public goods. The social discount rate expressing time preference—an important parameter that drives optimization—is revealed through the participatory planning process. To implement the chosen future, a new method of inter-temporal pricing is presented to finance investment and supply costs. Furthermore, it is shown that the desired social outcome could be achieved by a form of privatization in which the pricing method, the appropriate discount rate, and the planning period are contractually specified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle Institutionalization of Sustainable Development in Decision-Making and Everyday Life Practices: A Critical View on the Finnish Case
Sustainability 2014, 6(9), 5639-5654; doi:10.3390/su6095639
Received: 9 January 2014 / Revised: 12 August 2014 / Accepted: 18 August 2014 / Published: 27 August 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (515 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article discusses how the globally-established political concept of sustainable development has become institutionalized in both decision-making and people’s everyday lives in Finland over the last twenty years by focusing on “the logic of appropriateness” and how the notion of sustainable development as
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This article discusses how the globally-established political concept of sustainable development has become institutionalized in both decision-making and people’s everyday lives in Finland over the last twenty years by focusing on “the logic of appropriateness” and how the notion of sustainable development as a utopia opens possibilities for institutional change for the future. The logic of appropriateness provides a conceptual perspective for analyzing institutions and institutional change from a normative standpoint, with a focus on culturally-shared norms and rules. This conceptual perspective is used here to illustrate and argue that notions of sustainable development have not changed cultural understandings of appropriate norms and rules that responsible decision-makers or individual citizens identify in Finnish society. The significance of sustainable development, however, cannot and should not be dismissed. After twenty years, the notion of sustainable development still creates a radical foundation for social and institutional change. As a utopia, it has potential to nurture the vagueness of appropriate rules and identifications in decision-making and people’s everyday lives and to open unknown possibilities for institutional change and sustainable practices for a new future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle Personal Norms of Sustainability and Farm Management Behavior
Sustainability 2014, 6(8), 4990-5017; doi:10.3390/su6084990
Received: 21 February 2014 / Revised: 1 July 2014 / Accepted: 11 July 2014 / Published: 6 August 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (808 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We empirically study personal norms of sustainability, conceptualized according to the norm-activation theory and operationalized under the notion of strong ecological-economic sustainability. Our case study is commercial cattle farming in semi-arid rangelands of Namibia, a system that is subject to extensive degradation. Using
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We empirically study personal norms of sustainability, conceptualized according to the norm-activation theory and operationalized under the notion of strong ecological-economic sustainability. Our case study is commercial cattle farming in semi-arid rangelands of Namibia, a system that is subject to extensive degradation. Using survey data, we characterize farmers’ personal ecosystems and income norms, study their determinants, and analyze their impact on actual management based on the dual-preferences model. We find that ecosystem and income norms are heterogeneous across farmers and independent from each other. Furthermore, farmers with better environmental and financial farm conditions have more demanding norms. We find no evidence for a significant impact of norms on actual management, which provides an explanation for the observed degradation of the system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle Land-Development Offset Policies in the Quest for Sustainability: What Can China Learn from Germany?
Sustainability 2014, 6(6), 3400-3430; doi:10.3390/su6063400
Received: 3 March 2014 / Revised: 15 May 2014 / Accepted: 16 May 2014 / Published: 28 May 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (689 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Land-development offset policies consist of measures that require compensation to be made for the negative impact of land development on agricultural production, ecological and environmental conservation, and the sustainability of economic and social development. However, when such policies are inappropriately designed, unexpected problems
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Land-development offset policies consist of measures that require compensation to be made for the negative impact of land development on agricultural production, ecological and environmental conservation, and the sustainability of economic and social development. However, when such policies are inappropriately designed, unexpected problems can result. This paper describes certain land-development offset policies that have recently been implemented in China, with a particular emphasis on three such policies: the Balancing Policy, the Linkage Policy, and the Integrated Policy. These well-intentioned environmental policies have led to unexpected ecological, social, and cultural problems. This paper also describes the core of German land-development policy, which features a distinctive compensation system that has been employed since the 1970s, and compares Chinese and German land-development policies to highlight differences in three main areas: policy purposes, governance structures, and fundamental institutions. The comparisons might help explain the unexpected outcomes in China, and they also lead to land-development offset policy recommendations for China in the near future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle Assessment of Agri-Environmental Externalities at Regional Levels in Finland
Sustainability 2014, 6(6), 3171-3191; doi:10.3390/su6063171
Received: 24 January 2014 / Revised: 13 May 2014 / Accepted: 15 May 2014 / Published: 26 May 2014
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Abstract
This study used a synthetic evaluation method to assess agri-environmental externalities at the regional level in Finland. The article developed a relative measure that made it possible to rank the 15 regions studied for seven agri-environmental indicators, which were based on the preferences
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This study used a synthetic evaluation method to assess agri-environmental externalities at the regional level in Finland. The article developed a relative measure that made it possible to rank the 15 regions studied for seven agri-environmental indicators, which were based on the preferences of the evaluators. The results indicated significant differences in the provision of public goods between the regions. The provision of public goods tended to increase over the 10-year study period. The results were robust with respect to changes in preferences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle The Role of Economics and Democracy in Institutional Change for Sustainability
Sustainability 2014, 6(5), 2755-2765; doi:10.3390/su6052755
Received: 17 February 2014 / Revised: 23 April 2014 / Accepted: 26 April 2014 / Published: 12 May 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (571 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Institutional change for sustainable development does not happen by itself. Individuals and organizations function as actors to influence development processes. Reference is made to a “political economic person” (PEP) guided by her/his “ideological orientation” and “political economic organization” (PEO), guided by its “mission”.
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Institutional change for sustainable development does not happen by itself. Individuals and organizations function as actors to influence development processes. Reference is made to a “political economic person” (PEP) guided by her/his “ideological orientation” and “political economic organization” (PEO), guided by its “mission”. Leaving present unsustainable trends behind is a matter of politics and ideology and even power positions, where democracy plays a crucial role. The perspectives of influential (and other) actors are essential in facilitating (or hindering) change. I will discuss ideas of the role of science in society, mainstream neoclassical economics in relation to institutional economics in the spirit of K. William Kapp and Gunnar Myrdal as well as neo-liberalism as ideology (where neoclassical economics has contributed to strengthen the legitimacy of neo-liberalism). Various aspects of inertia and flexibility in institutional change processes, such as path dependence, are discussed. Emphasis is on the role of economics and how a strengthened democracy can open the door for a degree of pluralism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle “Sustainability State” in the Making? Institutionalization of Sustainability in German Federal Policy Making
Sustainability 2014, 6(5), 2623-2641; doi:10.3390/su6052623
Received: 3 March 2014 / Revised: 24 April 2014 / Accepted: 24 April 2014 / Published: 5 May 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (711 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
More than two decades after the Rio-conference on environment and development in 1992, sustainable development remains a big challenge. Politics and administration, especially in democratic societies, have a specific responsibility in coordinating sustainable development. In order to fulfill this role, the regulative idea
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More than two decades after the Rio-conference on environment and development in 1992, sustainable development remains a big challenge. Politics and administration, especially in democratic societies, have a specific responsibility in coordinating sustainable development. In order to fulfill this role, the regulative idea of sustainability needs to be integrated into decision-making in politics and administration at all levels, from local to global. Taking this into account, we have analyzed the institutionalization of sustainability as a crosscutting and long-term challenge at the federal level in Germany. Based on a theoretical-conceptual framework deriving from democracy, bureaucracy and political steering/governance theory, we have employed qualitative methods to understand, in depth, how sustainability is integrated into political-administrative practice. In the present paper, we present key results and show that sustainability is not a routine practice at the federal level in Germany. We will conclude by giving an outlook on the structural and procedural options and argue for the need to develop a “sustainability state”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle Can Local Institutions Help Sustain Livelihoods in an Era of Fish Declines and Persistent Environmental Change? A Cambodian Case Study
Sustainability 2014, 6(5), 2490-2505; doi:10.3390/su6052490
Received: 11 February 2014 / Revised: 15 April 2014 / Accepted: 16 April 2014 / Published: 30 April 2014
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Abstract
This paper sets out to explore fishers’ perceptions of environmental change in coastal Cambodia and to then examine the role of local institutions in working with villagers to adapt to such challenges. The analysis shows that: (1) fishers observe species decline, irregular tides
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This paper sets out to explore fishers’ perceptions of environmental change in coastal Cambodia and to then examine the role of local institutions in working with villagers to adapt to such challenges. The analysis shows that: (1) fishers observe species decline, irregular tides and a change in weather patterns; and (2) local institutions have been working to address some of these issues through a series of resource management and livelihood projects for over a decade. We note that local institutions are well placed to deal with certain types of environmental change projects, such as protecting small patches of mangrove trees or creating fish sanctuaries, along with less controversial, tourism-related projects. It is impossible, however, for local institutions to tackle bigger issues, such as over-fishing or large-scale resource extraction. Fishing villages are dealing with multiple challenges (environmental change and beyond), which may make fishing a less viable option for coastal villagers in the medium to long term. As such, key policy responses include acknowledging and building upon the work of local institutions, enhanced support for patrolling at national and provincial levels, developing response scenarios for coastal environmental change, involving local institutions in scientific monitoring and piloting projects that consider fishing and non-fishing livelihoods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle Co-Producing Sustainability: Involving Parents and Civil Society in the Governance of School Meal Services. A Case Study from Pisa, Italy
Sustainability 2014, 6(4), 1643-1666; doi:10.3390/su6041643
Received: 30 January 2014 / Revised: 14 March 2014 / Accepted: 17 March 2014 / Published: 26 March 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1041 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is a rising awareness of the power of the public sector in enhancing sustainable consumption and production practices, in particular related to food procurement and its social, ethical, economical and environmental implications. School meal services have a high resonance in the debate
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There is a rising awareness of the power of the public sector in enhancing sustainable consumption and production practices, in particular related to food procurement and its social, ethical, economical and environmental implications. School meal services have a high resonance in the debate on collective catering services because of the implications on the education to sustainable dietary habits and the orientation of the production system. This contribution focuses on the reciprocal relationship between professionals and users of school meal services as a driver to mobilize new resources—according to the theory of co-production—that steer service innovation and a shift towards more sustainable practices. We illustrate this through a case study on the school meal system in Pisa (Italy), where the Canteen Committee represents an institutional arena for participation and empowerment of actors that has gradually gained a central role in shaping this school meal service. Despite the challenges and obstacles, the institutionalized co-production of services allows consolidation of trust among key players and the introduction of innovations in the service, in the form of several projects oriented to sustainability which would not take place without the joint effort of actors involved, parents in the first place. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle A Tale of Two (or More) Sustainabilities: A Q Methodology Study of University Professors’ Perspectives on Sustainable Universities
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1521-1543; doi:10.3390/su6031521
Received: 10 January 2014 / Revised: 12 March 2014 / Accepted: 13 March 2014 / Published: 20 March 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (850 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
If change for sustainability in higher education is to be effective, change efforts must be sensitive to the institutional culture in which they will be applied. Therefore, gaining insight into how institutional stakeholders engage with the concept of sustainable universities is an important
[...] Read more.
If change for sustainability in higher education is to be effective, change efforts must be sensitive to the institutional culture in which they will be applied. Therefore, gaining insight into how institutional stakeholders engage with the concept of sustainable universities is an important first step in understanding how to frame and communicate change. This study employed Q methodology to explore how a group of professors conceptualize sustainable universities. We developed a Q sample of 46 statements comprising common conceptions of sustainable universities and had 26 professors from Dalhousie University rank-order them over a quasi-normal distribution. Our analysis uncovered four statistically significant viewpoints amongst the participants: ranging from technocentric optimists who stress the importance of imbuing students with skills and values to more liberal arts minded faculty suspicious of the potential of sustainability to instrumentalize the university. An examination of how these viewpoints interact on a subjective level revealed a rotating series of alignments and antagonisms in relation to themes traditionally associated with sustainable universities and broader themes associated with the identity of the university in contemporary society. Finally, we conclude by discussing the potential implications that the nature of these alignments and antagonisms may hold for developing a culturally sensitive vision of a sustainable university. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle A Comparison of Energy Transition Governance in Germany, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1129-1152; doi:10.3390/su6031129
Received: 6 January 2014 / Revised: 12 February 2014 / Accepted: 20 February 2014 / Published: 27 February 2014
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (922 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper reviews and analyzes the challenges of energy transition governance towards a low-carbon society as a political achievement. The main research question is how specific “transition governance approaches” (as advocated by transition theory) can be embedded/anchored in the policy-making logics and practices.
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This paper reviews and analyzes the challenges of energy transition governance towards a low-carbon society as a political achievement. The main research question is how specific “transition governance approaches” (as advocated by transition theory) can be embedded/anchored in the policy-making logics and practices. We analyze three country cases, known for their path-breaking efforts in the area: Germany (due to its pioneering role in the development and diffusion of renewable energy technologies), the Netherlands (due to its pioneering role in launching the transition management framework), and the United Kingdom (due to its pioneering role in adopting a long-term legislative commitment to a low-carbon future). The paper identifies best governance practices and remaining challenges in the following areas: (i) connecting long-term visions with short- and mid-term action; (ii) innovation (technological as well as social); (iii) integration (of multiple objectives and policy areas and levels); (iv) societal engagement; and (v) learning/reflexivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle Institutionalizing Strong Sustainability: A Rawlsian Perspective
Sustainability 2014, 6(2), 894-912; doi:10.3390/su6020894
Received: 17 October 2013 / Revised: 12 February 2014 / Accepted: 13 February 2014 / Published: 21 February 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (481 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The article aims to provide some ethical orientation on how sustainability might be actualized by institutions. Since institutionalization is about rules and organization, it presupposes ideas and concepts by which institutions can be substantiated. After outlining terminology, the article deals with underlying ethical
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The article aims to provide some ethical orientation on how sustainability might be actualized by institutions. Since institutionalization is about rules and organization, it presupposes ideas and concepts by which institutions can be substantiated. After outlining terminology, the article deals with underlying ethical and conceptual problems which are highly relevant for any suggestions concerning institutionalization. These problems are: (a) the ethical scope of the sustainability perspective (natural capital, poverty, sentient animals), (b) the theory of justice on which ideas about sustainability are built (capability approach, Rawlsianism), and (c) the favored concept of sustainability (weak, intermediate, and strong sustainability). These problems are analyzed in turn. As a result, a Rawlsian concept of rule-based strong sustainability is proposed. The specific problems of institutionalization are addressed by applying Rawls’s concept of branches. The article concludes with arguments in favor of three transnational duties which hold for states that have adopted Rawlsian strong sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle Governing Sustainability: A Discourse-Institutional Approach
Sustainability 2014, 6(1), 283-305; doi:10.3390/su6010283
Received: 23 October 2013 / Revised: 21 November 2013 / Accepted: 6 December 2013 / Published: 6 January 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (550 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The paper considers problems and possibilities connected with governing and realising the “transition to sustainability”—or at least to a more deeply resilient energy system. Conceptually its focus is on neo-institutional analysis and critical discourse analysis and the development of a discourse-institutional perspective. The
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The paper considers problems and possibilities connected with governing and realising the “transition to sustainability”—or at least to a more deeply resilient energy system. Conceptually its focus is on neo-institutional analysis and critical discourse analysis and the development of a discourse-institutional perspective. The first strand of the paper outlines the limitations of and potential insights into the governance of sustainability transitions that may be derived from adopting an approach based on a more thoroughgoing appreciation and application of work in sociology on neo-institutional theory. The second strand of the paper concerns discourse, recognising the role of text, discursive practice and social structures in framing the possibilities considered available and legitimate for governance. The two strands are brought together in a discourse-institutionalist framework, an approach that is illustrated by a case study of microgeneration in the UK. The paper’s conclusion makes suggestions regarding the conduct of future research employing the proposed approach, and for furthering our understanding of issues connected with the governance of sustainability transitions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle Institutional Change, Sustainability and the Sea
Sustainability 2013, 5(12), 5373-5390; doi:10.3390/su5125373
Received: 30 September 2013 / Revised: 29 November 2013 / Accepted: 5 December 2013 / Published: 12 December 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (231 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Currently, a substantial institutional change is under way for marine and coastal resources. Sustainability plays a major role therein. At the time of writing, roughly 2.3% of the marine and coastal territory has been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA). The Convention of
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Currently, a substantial institutional change is under way for marine and coastal resources. Sustainability plays a major role therein. At the time of writing, roughly 2.3% of the marine and coastal territory has been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA). The Convention of Biological Diversity set a target to protect 10% of the global marine environment by 2020. This move toward enclosure signifies a substantial shift away from mainly open access to at least de jure marine protected areas. What drives institutional change towards MPAs; and what role does sustainability play in this change in governance? In reflecting on these questions, the paper’s aim is to begin a dialogue on how the social-ecological system (SES) analytical framework developed by Elinor Ostrom and her collaborators engages differentially with marine and coastal systems. How institutional change takes place depends on the characteristics of the resources considered and the drivers of change for the particular resource. In order to characterize the marine and coastal realm we use the social-ecological system (SES) framework of Elinor Ostrom. Douglas North’s theory of institutional change is used to classify the change observed. The marine realm has ambiguous system boundaries and often high resource mobility. Uncertainties about system properties and change are much higher than for terrestrial systems. Interdependencies among different ecosystems are high, necessitating multi-level governance. Institutional change in this sector occurs under strong institutional path dependencies and competing ideologies. All these features make it particularly relevant to think about institutional change, sustainability and the current process of MPA expansion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
Open AccessArticle Planning Cultures in Transition: Sustainability Management and Institutional Change in Spatial Planning
Sustainability 2013, 5(11), 4653-4673; doi:10.3390/su5114653
Received: 28 August 2013 / Revised: 12 October 2013 / Accepted: 29 October 2013 / Published: 5 November 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (602 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper aims to critically review current discussions on the “reinvention” of spatial planning, postulating an all-encompassing and unproblematic shift towards new rationales, scopes, actors and instruments in planning practice. Buzzwords are, among others, “governance”, “collaborative planning” and the “communicative turn”. To overcome
[...] Read more.
This paper aims to critically review current discussions on the “reinvention” of spatial planning, postulating an all-encompassing and unproblematic shift towards new rationales, scopes, actors and instruments in planning practice. Buzzwords are, among others, “governance”, “collaborative planning” and the “communicative turn”. To overcome the somehow normative bias of these terms, the term “planning culture” is introduced to define a complex, multi-dimensional and dynamic institutional matrix combining formal and informal institutional patterns. Used in an analytical sense, it can help to better understand institutional change in spatial planning. Referring to recent conceptual debates about institutional transformation, the paper presents a six-stage model for institutional change in spatial planning, supporting it with an example from the Cologne/Bonn metropolitan region in Germany. The latter serves as an example for illustrating the institutional dynamics, but also the rigidities of planning cultural change. The paper concludes that a more thorough, “fine-grained” and empirically-grounded investigation of institutional transformation in spatial planning is necessary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Challenges for Crop Production Research in Improving Land Use, Productivity and Sustainability
Sustainability 2013, 5(4), 1632-1644; doi:10.3390/su5041632
Received: 20 December 2012 / Revised: 22 February 2013 / Accepted: 2 April 2013 / Published: 17 April 2013
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (661 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The demand for food, feed, and feedstocks for bioenergy and biofactory plants will increase proportionally due to population growth, prosperity, and bioeconomic growth. Securing food supply and meeting demand for biomass will involve many biological and agro-ecological aspects such as genetic plant improvement,
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The demand for food, feed, and feedstocks for bioenergy and biofactory plants will increase proportionally due to population growth, prosperity, and bioeconomic growth. Securing food supply and meeting demand for biomass will involve many biological and agro-ecological aspects such as genetic plant improvement, sustainable land use, water-saving irrigation, and integrated nutrient management as well as control of pests, diseases and weeds. It will be necessary to raise biomass production and economic yield per unit of land—not only under optimum growing conditions, but even more under conditions constrained by climate, water availability, and soil quality. Most of the advanced agronomic research by national and international research institutes is dedicated to the major food crops: maize, rice, wheat, and potato. However, research on crops grown as feedstock, for bio-energy and industrial use under conditions with biophysical constraints, is lagging behind. Global and regional assessments of the potential for growing crops are mostly based on model and explorative studies under optimum conditions, or with either water or nitrogen deficiencies. More investments in combined experimental and modeling research are needed to develop and evaluate new crops and cropping systems under a wide range of agro-ecological conditions. An integral assessment of the biophysical production capacity and the impact on resource use, biodiversity and socio-economic factors should be carried out before launching large-scale crop production systems in marginal environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)

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