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Special Issue "Environment in Sustainable Development"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 March 2014)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Stephen Morse

Chair in Systems Analysis for Sustainability Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, Guildford Surrey GU2 7XH, UK
Website | E-Mail
Fax: + 44 (0)1483 686671
Interests: environment; sustainable development; environmental assessment; environmental impact; environmental indicators and indices; decoupling; economic growth; livelihood; ecosystem goods and services
Guest Editor
Dr. Ioannis Vogiatzakis

Associate Professor in Environmental Conservation, School of Pure and Applied Sciences Open University of Cyprus (OUC), P.O. Box 12794, 2252 Latsia, Nicosia, Cyprus
E-Mail
Fax: +357 22411601

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The environment has long been acknowledged as an important pillar within sustainable development, alongside social and economic concerns. However since the economic crisis the emphasis from politicians has tended to shift towards the promotion of economic growth and environmental conservation has been perceived by some as an impediment to 'development'. Compared to decisions designed to promote economic growth that provide a clear and positive vision of the benefits for at least some in society, albeit neglecting the unfavorable effects, arguments that seek to convince society about the benefits of healthy ecosystems (in monetary or non-monetary terms) have arguably been far less successful. Researchers have long stressed the importance of a decoupling of economic growth from any negative environmental impacts that may result from that growth so that the latter can continue with no detriment to the former. Richard Price, the Chief Economist and Director of Corporate Performance in the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in the UK, a country that has accumulated one of the largest net debts in the developed world (over 90% of GDP), has stressed that "economic and environmental performance must go hand in hand" and indeed that the environment underpins economic activity and wellbeing (Everett et al, 2010). Thus the two must be positively coupled as a healthy environment supports livelihood and wellbeing. The ecosystem goods and services approach has also sought to highlight the importance of the environment in terms of helping to support human livelihood and wellbeing. This special edition in the journal 'Sustainability' will focus on the environment within sustainable development and in particular the progress that has, or has not, been made with decoupling economic growth from any detrimental impact on the environment and how the environment supports livelihood and wellbeing, including economic growth. Following from the above, this issue invites contributions which may focus on analyses of the technical, policy and managerial interventions designed to facilitate this decoupling as well as ways in which environmental impact can be measured.

Reference: Everett T, Ishwaran M, Ansaloni GP and Rubin A (2010). Economic Growth and the Environment. Defra Evidence and Analysis Series Paper 2.

Professor Stephen Morse
Dr. Ioannis Vogiatzakis
Guest Editors

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

• environment
• sustainable development
• environmental assessment
• environmental impact
• environmental indicators and indices
• decoupling
• economic growth
• livelihood
• ecosystem goods and services

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Special Edition: Environment in Sustainable Development
Sustainability 2014, 6(11), 8007-8011; doi:10.3390/su6118007
Received: 3 November 2014 / Accepted: 6 November 2014 / Published: 12 November 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (638 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
When we were invited by the editors of Sustainability to put together a special edition on “Environment in Sustainable Development” our first reaction was to question whether this was really needed. After all, the environment has long been regarded as a central plank
[...] Read more.
When we were invited by the editors of Sustainability to put together a special edition on “Environment in Sustainable Development” our first reaction was to question whether this was really needed. After all, the environment has long been regarded as a central plank in sustainability and there are countless articles and books published on an annual basis that explore the impact of our economic and social activities on our environment. Just what is it that a special edition can achieve? What new angles could we hope to provide? Our initial thinking was to link the special edition to a particular, almost unique, location in time rather than space. We are in the process of recovering, albeit stuttering, from the deepest economic crash experienced by the European and North American economies. The crash has brought some national economies to their knees and, if economic commentators are to be believed, almost destroyed the Euro. Recovery from that crash has been slow and it is arguable whether at the time of writing this has developed much momentum. There is still the skewed perception that prosperity equals economic growth and that economic growth can take place without real (sustainable) development or by simply implementing austerity measures and surely without people’s participation. An analogy from National Parks worldwide is when conservation agencies try to enforce protection without local people’s support. All such attempts have either failed or resurrected only once people’s involvement was secured and guaranteed. The unidirectional austerity measures imposed mainly in the countries of southern Europe have destroyed social cohesion leaving deeply wounded societies, while at the same time have also put up for grabs important assets (including natural capital) in each of these countries and therefore in jeopardy even their long term recovery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment in Sustainable Development)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle Decoupling Economic Growth and Environmental Degradation: Reviewing Progress to Date in the Small Island State of Malta
Sustainability 2014, 6(10), 6729-6750; doi:10.3390/su6106729
Received: 29 May 2014 / Revised: 9 September 2014 / Accepted: 12 September 2014 / Published: 29 September 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (941 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper considers the challenge of decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation; in contrast to several large-scale cross-country analyses that focus on limited indicators of environmental degradation, we analyze in some depth the experience of a single small-scale island state setting (Malta). We
[...] Read more.
This paper considers the challenge of decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation; in contrast to several large-scale cross-country analyses that focus on limited indicators of environmental degradation, we analyze in some depth the experience of a single small-scale island state setting (Malta). We use available statistical data to derive decoupling factors, in order to consider the extent to which decoupling has been achieved in four sectors: (i) energy intensity, climate change, and air quality; (ii) water; (iii) waste; and (iv) land. Results indicate relative decoupling between economic growth and several indicators considered, and to a lesser extent, relative decoupling between population growth and the same indicators of environmental pressure. Absolute decoupling has been achieved in at least one instance but there has been no decoupling of land development from either economic or population growth. Land use and population thus appear to be notable sources of pressure. The results suggest that decoupling analyses that present environmental degradation in terms of single variables (e.g., carbon emissions) may misrepresent somewhat the state of the environment at local level. Furthermore, the study highlights the need for methodologies that factor in the “embedding” of small-scale settings within much larger trade networks, for a more accurate estimation of environmental impact, and points to some limitations of solely quantitative analyses of environment-ecology relationships. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment in Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Tackling Air Pollution in China—What do We Learn from the Great Smog of 1950s in LONDON
Sustainability 2014, 6(8), 5322-5338; doi:10.3390/su6085322
Received: 10 June 2014 / Revised: 21 July 2014 / Accepted: 29 July 2014 / Published: 18 August 2014
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (826 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Since the prolonged, severe smog that blanketed many Chinese cities in first months of 2013, living in smog has become “normal” to most people living in mainland China. This has not only caused serious harm to public health, but also resulted in massive
[...] Read more.
Since the prolonged, severe smog that blanketed many Chinese cities in first months of 2013, living in smog has become “normal” to most people living in mainland China. This has not only caused serious harm to public health, but also resulted in massive economic losses in many other ways. Tackling the current air pollution has become crucial to China’s long-term economic and social sustainable development. This paper aims to find the causes of the current severe air quality and explore the possible solutions by reviewing the current literature, and by comparing China’s air pollution regulations to that of the post London Killer Smog of 1952, in the United Kingdom (UK). It is hoped that China will learn the lesson from the UK, and decouple its economic growth from the detrimental impact of environment. Policy suggestions are made. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment in Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Resource Use and Deprivation: Geographical Analysis of the Ecological Footprint and Townsend Index for England
Sustainability 2014, 6(8), 4749-4771; doi:10.3390/su6084749
Received: 18 May 2014 / Revised: 21 July 2014 / Accepted: 22 July 2014 / Published: 28 July 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1326 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The relationship between consumption and deprivation has been explored at various scales in the literature. It would be expected that increased deprivation leads to less consumption and vice versa. However, what is the form of that relationship? Evidence from international studies using the
[...] Read more.
The relationship between consumption and deprivation has been explored at various scales in the literature. It would be expected that increased deprivation leads to less consumption and vice versa. However, what is the form of that relationship? Evidence from international studies using the Human Development Index (HDI) and Ecological Footprint (EF) for nation states suggest that the relationship is curved such that an increase in HDI (decrease in deprivation) is linearly associated with an increase in EF (consumption and impact on the environment) up to a point but beyond that there can be widely different values for the EF for the same value of HDI. Given that deprivation and consumption within a single country can be expected to be more homogenous than that observed between countries does this result in a linear relationship between the two variables? We tested the relationship between the Townsend Index of Deprivation (TID) and EF for English regions, using fine scale data as derived from the UK Census and the Stockholm Environment Institute respectively. The results suggest that the relationship between the EF and deprivation for most English regions is markedly linear; with the level of deprivation declining with increasing EF. The picture is remarkably consistent across most of the regions and the only region where this simple picture becomes distorted is London. The paper discusses the relevance of this finding and implications for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment in Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Exploring the State of Retention of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in a Hani Rice Terrace Village, Southwest China
Sustainability 2014, 6(7), 4497-4513; doi:10.3390/su6074497
Received: 10 February 2014 / Revised: 16 June 2014 / Accepted: 7 July 2014 / Published: 18 July 2014
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (1467 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is one of the components of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), which are good examples of evolutionary adapted socio-ecosystems in human history. The Hani Rice Terraces System, located in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province, is a living example
[...] Read more.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is one of the components of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), which are good examples of evolutionary adapted socio-ecosystems in human history. The Hani Rice Terraces System, located in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province, is a living example of GIAHS. The Hani Rice Terraces system has existed for more than one thousand years, following TEK related to cultivation and natural resources management, which was collected and practiced continually. Over this long time period, TEK has enabled the Hani people to manage their terraces and other natural resources in a sustainable way. This paper concentrates on the TEK transferring in the current Hani community, taking a small village, Mitian, as an example. Grouping the interviewees into three different age groups (young group, 0–30 years old; middle-age group, 31–50 years old; old group > 50 years old), we investigated their understanding and participation in 13 items of TEK in relation to rice cultivation and water utilization. The items of TEK were divided into four categories, namely “Festivals”, “Beliefs”, “Folk Songs”, and “Water Management”. From the data collected, it was learned that all the items of TEK are well known, but not necessarily practiced. Age and gender have significant influences on farmers’ understanding and participation in TEK. Our analysis suggested that both the knowledge and the practice showed declining trends from the older to the younger age group. Men and women behave differently in practices. In general, it is shown that TEK is declining in the Hani villages which will affect the rice terrace system in ways that are yet unknown. It is likely that a blended TEK, with old and new knowledge and practices, will emerge to sustain the upland rice terrace systems of Yunnan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment in Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Exploring the Gap between Ecosystem Service Research and Management in Development Planning
Sustainability 2014, 6(6), 3802-3824; doi:10.3390/su6063802
Received: 6 February 2014 / Revised: 7 May 2014 / Accepted: 27 May 2014 / Published: 12 June 2014
Cited by 18 | PDF Full-text (754 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The gap between science and practice has been highlighted in a number of scientific disciplines, including the newly developing domain of ecosystem service science, posing a challenge for the sustainable management of ecosystem services for human wellbeing. While methods to explore science-practice gaps
[...] Read more.
The gap between science and practice has been highlighted in a number of scientific disciplines, including the newly developing domain of ecosystem service science, posing a challenge for the sustainable management of ecosystem services for human wellbeing. While methods to explore science-practice gaps are developing, testing and revisions of these methods are still needed so as to identify opportunities for mainstreaming ecosystem service science into development policies and practice. We designed and tested an approach to explore the presence and nature of a research-management gap in order to identify ways to close the gap, using a South African case study. Our combining of traditional review processes with stakeholder interviews highlighted that ecosystem services are not explicitly referred to by the majority of ecosystem management-related documents, processes or individuals. Nevertheless, at the local level, our approach unearthed strategic opportunities for bridging the gap in the tourism, disaster management and conservation sectors. We also highlighted the current trend towards transdisciplinary learning networks seen in the region. While we found a gap between the research and management of ecosystem services, a rigorous study thereof, which transcends its mere identification, proved useful in identifying key opportunities and challenges for bridging the gap. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment in Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Economic Growth and Climate Change: A Cross-National Analysis of Territorial and Consumption-Based Carbon Emissions in High-Income Countries
Sustainability 2014, 6(6), 3722-3731; doi:10.3390/su6063722
Received: 26 April 2014 / Revised: 21 May 2014 / Accepted: 3 June 2014 / Published: 10 June 2014
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (558 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
An important question in the literature on climate change and sustainability is the relation between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions. While the “green growth” paradigm dominates in the policy arena, a growing number of scholars in wealthy countries are questioning the feasibility
[...] Read more.
An important question in the literature on climate change and sustainability is the relation between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions. While the “green growth” paradigm dominates in the policy arena, a growing number of scholars in wealthy countries are questioning the feasibility of achieving required emissions reductions with continued economic growth. This paper explores the relationship between economic growth and carbon dioxide emissions over the period 1991–2008 with a balanced data set of 29 high-income countries. We present a variety of models, with particular attention to the difference between territorial emissions and consumption-based (or carbon footprint) emissions, which include the impact of international trade. The effect of economic growth is greater for consumption-based emissions than territorial emissions. We also find that over this period there is some evidence of decoupling between economic growth and territorial emissions, but no evidence of decoupling for consumption-based emissions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment in Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Environmental Orientation of Small Enterprises: Can Microcredit-Assisted Microenterprises be “Green”?
Sustainability 2014, 6(6), 3232-3251; doi:10.3390/su6063232
Received: 31 March 2014 / Revised: 12 May 2014 / Accepted: 19 May 2014 / Published: 26 May 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (834 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The objective of this research was to explore, both theoretically and empirically, the ecological impacts of small-scale entrepreneurial ventures in developing countries. To this end, six microenterprises in rural southwestern Bangladesh established using green-microcredit strategies were evaluated in terms of goals, operational procedures,
[...] Read more.
The objective of this research was to explore, both theoretically and empirically, the ecological impacts of small-scale entrepreneurial ventures in developing countries. To this end, six microenterprises in rural southwestern Bangladesh established using green-microcredit strategies were evaluated in terms of goals, operational procedures, economic viability, social contributions, and impact on local ecological sustainability. This research revealed that the majority of such enterprises are not only sustainable and comply with current ecological standards, but also contribute a considerable number of vital ecosystem services while simultaneously maintaining suitably high profit margins to promise long-term economic viability. These findings indicate that microenterprises given environmental guidance by developmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—especially NGOs microfinance institutions, NGO-MFIs—have the potential to make significant ecological contributions and address the issue of climate change from the bottom of the social ladder upwards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment in Sustainable Development)
Figures

Open AccessArticle Toward a Remote Sensing Solution for Regional Sustainability Assessment and Monitoring
Sustainability 2014, 6(4), 2067-2086; doi:10.3390/su6042067
Received: 21 February 2014 / Revised: 1 April 2014 / Accepted: 1 April 2014 / Published: 11 April 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1349 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Regional sustainability encourages a re-examination of development programs in the context of environmental, social and economic policies and practices. However, sustainability remains a broadly defined concept that has been applied to mean everything from environmental protection, social cohesion, economic growth, neighborhood design, alternative
[...] Read more.
Regional sustainability encourages a re-examination of development programs in the context of environmental, social and economic policies and practices. However, sustainability remains a broadly defined concept that has been applied to mean everything from environmental protection, social cohesion, economic growth, neighborhood design, alternative energy, and green building design. To guide sustainability initiatives and assess progress toward more sustainable development patterns, a need exists to place this concept into a functional decision-centric context where change can be evaluated and the exploitation of resources better understood. Accepting the premise that sustainable development defines a set of conditions and trends in a given system that can continue indefinitely without contributing to environmental degradation, answers to four critical questions that direct sustainability over the long-term must be addressed: (1) What is the present state of the environmental system, (2) Is that pattern sustainable, (3) Are there indications that the environmental system is degrading, and (4) Can that information be incorporated into policy decisions to guide the future? Answers to these questions hinge on the development of tractable indices that can be employed to support the long-term monitoring required to assess sustainability goals and a means to measure those indices. In this paper, a solution based on the application of remote sensing technology is introduced focused on the development of land use intensity indices derived from earth-observation satellite data. Placed into a monitoring design, this approach is evaluated in a change detection role at the watershed scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment in Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Emergy-Based City’s Sustainability and Decoupling Assessment: Indicators, Features and Findings
Sustainability 2014, 6(2), 952-966; doi:10.3390/su6020952
Received: 2 January 2014 / Revised: 11 February 2014 / Accepted: 17 February 2014 / Published: 21 February 2014
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (898 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Decoupling human well-being and local economic growth from resources consumption and environmental degradation has been recognized as a common vision to meet global sustainability. This paper taking Shenyang city as studied case aims to measure the decoupling process by proposing a set of
[...] Read more.
Decoupling human well-being and local economic growth from resources consumption and environmental degradation has been recognized as a common vision to meet global sustainability. This paper taking Shenyang city as studied case aims to measure the decoupling process by proposing a set of new emergy-based and efficiency-oriented indicators. Decoupling process was verified in period of 1995–2010, and five new indicators including economic efficiency, the environmental pressure, the emergy-based five-year yield efficiency, the investment cost for decoupling, and the job-opportunities cost for decoupling were developed and applied. The results indicate that decoupling in Shenyang shows an erratic appearance, the trajectory of economic growth, and environmental pressure show absolute decoupling, while that of economic growth and resources utilization shows frequentative bending; emergy-based economic efficiency has been improved and the environmental pressure decreased along with the economic growth but the relative job cost per unit remains almost at the same level. However, this isolated and methodology-oriented case study provided the open-mind understandings to policy-making, thus, a wider scale comparison between different cities should be carried out for more knowledge mining. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment in Sustainable Development)

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