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Special Issue "Natural Resources Economics"

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 November 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Rosa Duarte

Department of Economic Analysis, Faculty of Economics and Business Studies, Universidad de Zaragoza, Gran Vía 2, 50005 Zaragoza, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 34-876554787
Interests: economics of natural resources; multisectoral modeling; structural change; growth and environmental issues; water economics; microeconometrics
Guest Editor
Prof. Vicente Pinilla

Department of Applied Economics and Economic History, Faculty of Economics and Business Studies, Universidad de Zaragoza, Gran Via 2, 50005 Zaragoza, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 34-976761786
Interests: economic history; agricultural history; environmental history; wine economics; international agricultural trade; water economics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Economic growth has profoundly modified the relationships among societies, economies, and natural resources. On the one hand, natural resources are a fundamental determinant of economic development and ‘natural capital’ is crucial for the sound performance of the systems of production, consumption, investment, savings, and welfare. However, increasing economic dependence on natural resource exploitation appears to be an obstacle to growth and development in certain low- and middle-income countries across the world. On the other hand, economic growth has generated severe impacts on the environment. There is an abundance of literature addressing these impacts from a long-term perspective: Climatic change, energy transition, water scarcity, atmospheric emissions, forest resource depletion, biodiversity loss, ecological biomass flows, and materials use. Today, the dependence of growth on natural resources and the impact that certain patterns of economic growth have on the environment have become crucial, also having strong implications in terms of social and intergenerational inequality. As a consequence, the road to sustainable development demands, more than ever, multidisciplinary research and discussion on these complex relationships, so that the socioeconomic and environmental challenges may be faced.

Within this context, this Special Issue aims to take an in-depth look at the interactions between economic systems and the environment, from a broad perspective. Theoretical and empirical contributions highlighting both the potential of natural resources for economic growth and their risks, as well as the implications of development for the health of the environment (land, water, air, materials, etc.) are welcome. This Special Issue seeks to provide evidence of the potential relationships that can be found on different temporal, spatial and institutional scales. In this regard, we are interested in a wide range of visions and methodologies: Historical perspectives, theoretical discussions, micro and macro approaches, international and regional comparisons, case studies, multiregional and multisectoral approaches and scenario analysis, among others.

Dr. Rosa Duarte
Prof. Vicente Pinilla
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

  • Natural Capital
  • Natural Resource Economics
  • Ecological Economics
  • Resource Curse
  • Environmental Impacts
  • Environmental Footprints
  • Environmental Inequality

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Decoupling Food from Land: The Evolution of Spanish Agriculture from 1960 to 2010
Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2348; doi:10.3390/su9122348 (registering DOI)
Received: 16 November 2017 / Revised: 9 December 2017 / Accepted: 11 December 2017 / Published: 16 December 2017
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Abstract
For a large extent of historiography, the history of Spanish agriculture during the twentieth century is a story of success. However, this narrative has been built on monetary analysis, and it does not usually take into account the effects on rural society and
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For a large extent of historiography, the history of Spanish agriculture during the twentieth century is a story of success. However, this narrative has been built on monetary analysis, and it does not usually take into account the effects on rural society and agroecosystems. The aim of this paper is to analyze what has happened from a biophysical perspective to ascertain whether transformations linked with industrialization of agriculture have also been positive. For this, we have integrated the results—some unpublished and others already published—of a broader research project about different aspects of food production from a biophysical perspective in Spain, applying methodologies pertaining to the Social Metabolism. Our research seeks to provide a new narrative, emerging through the consideration of environmental aspects of the process, providing a more complex vision of the process of industrialization in European agriculture. The results show that the industrialization of Spanish agriculture has brought about profound changes in land uses and in the functionality of the biomass produced, increasing pressure on croplands and, paradoxically, facilitating the abandonment of an important proportion of pasture and croplands. This has led to the subordination of a very significant portion of Spanish agroecosystems to the feed demands of intensive livestock farming. This process has been based on the injection of large quantities of external energy. Agricultural production has undergone significant growth since the 1960s, but this has been insufficient to deal with the growing demand created by the change in the Spanish diet and the increasing trend to focus on livestock farming. The process of globalization has allowed both roles to be reconciled, although in recent decades Spain has accentuated its role as a net importer of biomass from a biophysical perspective, with very significant impacts on third party countries, particularly in Latin America. From a biophysical perspective, the industrialization of Spanish agriculture has entailed negative consequences that threaten the sustainability of Spanish agroecosystems and also negatively affect the sustainability of other territories. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Resources Economics)
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Open AccessArticle Resources for Sustainable Economic Development: A Framework for Evaluating Infrastructure System Alternatives
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 2105; doi:10.3390/su9112105
Received: 3 October 2017 / Revised: 11 November 2017 / Accepted: 13 November 2017 / Published: 16 November 2017
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Abstract
We are at an early stage of a massive global build-up of public infrastructure. Long lifetimes, high money costs and resource-intensity, and the rippling effects of the built environment on all aspects of daily life call for informed public conversation about the available
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We are at an early stage of a massive global build-up of public infrastructure. Long lifetimes, high money costs and resource-intensity, and the rippling effects of the built environment on all aspects of daily life call for informed public conversation about the available choices before they become a fait accompli. Substantial literatures address the phenomenon in terms of economic development, resource scarcities, impacts on climate and ecosystems, technological options, human rights, funding sources, system governance, inter-governmental agreements. This paper describes a modeling framework that integrates some of these concerns about the differential impacts of large-scale centralized infrastructure systems, smaller-scale decentralized systems, and hybrid combinations. Building on existing collaborations between economists and engineers, the paper proposes a case-study research strategy to organize new types of technical information to supplement existing databases of the world economy. The paper describes needed model extensions to estimate money costs, resource requirements, resource recovery potential, and jobs and livelihoods under alternative infrastructure assumptions. The agenda supports the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by identifying and evaluating globally relevant alternative infrastructure designs. The SDG process, in turn, provides both the global network and the concern to promote local development to which the proposed effort aims to contribute. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Resources Economics)
Open AccessArticle Uncovering the Green, Blue, and Grey Water Footprint and Virtual Water of Biofuel Production in Brazil: A Nexus Perspective
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 2049; doi:10.3390/su9112049
Received: 27 September 2017 / Revised: 29 October 2017 / Accepted: 30 October 2017 / Published: 8 November 2017
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Abstract
Brazil plays a major role in the global biofuel economy as the world’s second largest producer and consumer and the largest exporter of ethanol. Its demand is expected to significantly increase in coming years, largely driven by national and international carbon mitigation targets.
[...] Read more.
Brazil plays a major role in the global biofuel economy as the world’s second largest producer and consumer and the largest exporter of ethanol. Its demand is expected to significantly increase in coming years, largely driven by national and international carbon mitigation targets. However, biofuel crops require significant amounts of water and land resources that could otherwise be used for the production of food, urban water supply, or energy generation. Given Brazil’s uneven spatial distribution of water resources among regions, a potential expansion of ethanol production will need to take into account regional or local water availability, as an increased water demand for irrigation would put further pressure on already water-scarce regions and compete with other users. By applying an environmentally extended multiregional input-output (MRIO) approach, we uncover the scarce water footprint and the interregional virtual water flows associated with sugarcane-derived biofuel production driven by domestic final consumption and international exports in 27 states in Brazil. Our results show that bio-ethanol is responsible for about one third of the total sugarcane water footprint besides sugar and other processed food production. We found that richer states such as São Paulo benefit by accruing a higher share of economic value added from exporting ethanol as part of global value chains while increasing water stress in poorer states through interregional trade. We also found that, in comparison with other crops, sugarcane has a comparative advantage when rainfed while showing a comparative disadvantage as an irrigated crop; a tradeoff to be considered when planning irrigation infrastructure and bioethanol production expansion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Resources Economics)
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Open AccessArticle A Values-Based Approach to Exploring Synergies between Livestock Farming and Landscape Conservation in Galicia (Spain)
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 1987; doi:10.3390/su9111987
Received: 27 September 2017 / Revised: 25 October 2017 / Accepted: 26 October 2017 / Published: 31 October 2017
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Abstract
The path to sustainable development involves creating coherence and synergies in the complex relationships between economic and ecological systems. In sustaining their farm businesses farmers’ differing values influence their decisions about agroecosystem management, leading them to adopt diverging farming practices. This study explores
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The path to sustainable development involves creating coherence and synergies in the complex relationships between economic and ecological systems. In sustaining their farm businesses farmers’ differing values influence their decisions about agroecosystem management, leading them to adopt diverging farming practices. This study explores the values of dairy and beef cattle farmers, the assumptions that underpin them, and the various ways that these lead farmers to combine food production with the provision of other ecosystem services, such as landscape conservation and biodiversity preservation. This paper draws on empirical research from Galicia (Spain), a marginal and mountainous European region whose livestock production system has undergone modernization in recent decades, exposing strategic economic, social and ecological vulnerabilities. It applies a Q-methodology to develop a values-based approach to farming. Based on a sample of 24 livestock farmers, whose practices promote landscape conservation and/or biodiversity preservation, the Q-methodology allowed us to identify four ‘farming styles’. Further analysis of the practices of the farmers in these groups, based on additional farm data and interview material, suggests that all 24 farmers valorize landscape and nature and consider cattle production and nature conservation to be compatible within their own farm practices. However, the groups differed in the extent to which they have developed synergies between livestock farming and landscape conservation. We conclude by discussing how rural development policy in Galicia could strengthen such practices by providing incentives to farmers and institutionally embedding a shift towards more diversified farming and product development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Resources Economics)
Open AccessArticle Natural Resource Economics, Planetary Boundaries and Strong Sustainability
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1858; doi:10.3390/su9101858
Received: 29 September 2017 / Revised: 13 October 2017 / Accepted: 15 October 2017 / Published: 17 October 2017
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Abstract
Earth systems science maintains that there are nine “planetary boundaries” that demarcate a sustainable, safe operating space for humankind for essential global sinks and resources. Respecting these planetary boundaries represents the “strong sustainability” perspective in economics, which argues that some natural capital may
[...] Read more.
Earth systems science maintains that there are nine “planetary boundaries” that demarcate a sustainable, safe operating space for humankind for essential global sinks and resources. Respecting these planetary boundaries represents the “strong sustainability” perspective in economics, which argues that some natural capital may not be substituted and are inviolate. In addition, the safe operating space defined by these boundaries can be considered a depletable stock. We show that standard tools of natural resource economics for an exhaustible resource can thus be applied, which has implications for optimal use, price paths, technological innovation, and stock externalities. These consequences in turn affect the choice of policies that may be adopted to manage and allocate the safe operating space available for humankind. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Resources Economics)
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Open AccessArticle Assessing Tourists’ Preferences for Recreational Trips in National and Natural Parks as a Premise for Long-Term Sustainable Management Plans
Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1596; doi:10.3390/su9091596
Received: 18 July 2017 / Revised: 11 August 2017 / Accepted: 1 September 2017 / Published: 7 September 2017
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Abstract
Sustainable tourism management plans rely on relevant and consistent information about factors that can influence the decision to visit a protected area. This paper uses the choice experiment method to investigate tourists’ preferences with regard to recreational trip characteristics in national and natural
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Sustainable tourism management plans rely on relevant and consistent information about factors that can influence the decision to visit a protected area. This paper uses the choice experiment method to investigate tourists’ preferences with regard to recreational trip characteristics in national and natural parks in Romania. An on-site survey questionnaire was administered to visitors. The multinomial logit model was employed to investigate the preference orderings of the identified groups of recreational users. Overall, results indicate that tourists gain benefits after visiting the parks. Main preference differences were found for information sources and location of campsites. Visitors who stated that the park was the main trip destination were willing to have access to more information sources, the marks on trails being insufficient. Camping is preferred only in organized places, expressing the concern for environmental protection. The results of this study have management implications, highlighting the importance of assessing tourists’ preferences as a foundation for developing sustainable tourism strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Resources Economics)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Natural Resources Curse in the long run? Bolivia, Chile and Peru in the Nordic countries’ mirror
Authors: Cristián Ducoing and José Peres Cajías
Abstract: Were there extreme differences between Latin American and Nordic countries in the 19th century? Several economic indicators suggest the right answer is no. In the year 1850, the GDP per capita ratio between, for example, Bolivia and Sweden was 0.7; in 2010 this ratio had widened to 0.12. How these extremely high differences are possible between countries with similarly enormous natural resources endowments? The aim of this article is to compare public policies and economic indicators related with Natural Resources (NNRR) management in three Latin American countries (Bolivia, Chile and Peru) and two Nordic countries (Norway and Sweden) in a long-term perspective. The article analyses the following components of economic development: i) the composition of exports throughout time; ii) economic linkages between the export sector and the rest of the economy; iii) the composition of taxes; iv) human capital formation and the accumulation of knowledge. The comparison suggests new areas on the determinants of successful management of natural resources and the countries' ability to escape from the so-called resource curse.
Keyword: Natural resources; resource curse; economic development; Latin America; Scandinavia; public policies; linkages; taxation; human capital
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