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Special Issue "Sustainable Scenarios of Energy and Ecological Footprint"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2023 | Viewed by 845

Special Issue Editors

UniSA STEM, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
Interests: modelling; energy; food systems; climate change
UniSA STEM, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
Interests: sustainable behaviour; regenerative futures; social change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The famous baseballer–philosopher Yogi Berra once said: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

We now possess an abundance of scientific literature articulating the various ways in which human activities can be shown to be unsustainable. Ecological Footprint analysis is one method to compare human consumption patterns with our environment’s biocapacity to produce food, fibre and forest products and to assimilate the carbon emissions resulting from fossil fuel combustion. People in different nations, cultures and communities consume goods and energy at different rates, relative to local and global biocapacities, and the combined global ‘footprint’ of our species greatly exceeds the carrying capacity of the planet. We understand the potentially catastrophic impacts on our life support systems (including climate, soils, oceans and ecosystems) if we continue to grow our human population and activity. In short, we have an increasingly clear— and disturbing—vision of where we should not be going.

Now, as the world emerges from the immense disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, what we desperately need is a clearer vision of where we should be going. We understand that we live on a finite planet with a large—but ultimately limited—capacity to sustain ongoing yields of renewable energy, food, forest and fibre products. However, currently unresolved questions in the scientific literature, which should be central to our future vision as a species, include:

  • What is a safe and sustainable level for the human population?
  • What level of per-capita energy consumption can be sustainably and regeneratively supplied from renewable sources?
  • What dietary patterns are consistent with a sustainable future that leaves room for nature?
  • How can our social and economic structures facilitate the necessary transitions from unsustainable growth to regenerative futures?

To help guide our vision, we require scenarios of desirable futures that are compatible with the finite world in which we live. This is the purpose of the forthcoming Special Issue in Sustainability, titled "Sustainable Scenarios of Energy and Ecological Footprints".

This Special Issue will focus on tangible scenarios, which may be quantitative (e.g., based on modelling) and/or qualitative (e.g., based on narratives). Perspectives on sustainable futures are particularly encouraged from First Nations people and from people living in the Global South. The intent of the Special Issue is to help us understand how future human civilisations may be functionally different from the unsustainable present-day examples and what these may look like.

There are numerous ways to formulate such future scenarios, and therefore, the scope for this Special Issue is broad and multi-disciplinary. Articles are sought from topics including, but not limited to:

  • System dynamics (e.g., integrated environment/social/economic system simulation);
  • Ecological economics (e.g., degrowth and steady-state economic paradigms);
  • Renewable energy (e.g., future energy transitions);
  • Ecological footprint analysis (e.g., sustainable diets, food and forest systems);
  • Geospatial modelling (e.g., sustainable landscape forms);
  • Social science (e.g., sustainable behaviour and communities).

The articles in this Special Issue will complement the growing body of literature on unsustainable human activity. In short, these scenarios should collectively help to inform a more hopeful vision of where we should be going.

Dr. James Hopeward
Prof. Dr. Paul C. Sutton
Dr. Keri Hopeward
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at 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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 semimonthly 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 2400 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.


  • future scenarios
  • sustainable systems
  • regenerative
  • footprint
  • energy

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Project Report
Co-Creation of a Center for a Regenerative Future
Sustainability 2023, 15(17), 12861; - 25 Aug 2023
Viewed by 348
We present the ideas, conditions, and environments that motivated our co-creation of a Center for a Regenerative Future at the University of Denver. There is an emerging consensus among scholars and a widening realization among younger generations that the concept of sustainability has [...] Read more.
We present the ideas, conditions, and environments that motivated our co-creation of a Center for a Regenerative Future at the University of Denver. There is an emerging consensus among scholars and a widening realization among younger generations that the concept of sustainability has exhausted its utility as a framework and rhetorical narrative for creating a viable future for humanity. Growing levels of eco-anxiety related to climate change, loss of biodiversity, and their social and economic consequences suggest that efforts to achieve ‘sustainability’ or ‘sustainable development’ are not succeeding. Dominant sustainability paradigms typically rest on an anthropocentric culture–nature dualism and a mechanistic worldview that perpetuates a growth-based economic system that is socially inequitable and ecologically destructive. Regenerative paradigms offer holistic understandings of Earth systems, with accompanying commitments to social and ecological justice. They support the development of resilient communities that allow for wider economic prosperity, security, and global environmental healing. We share the successes, challenges, and experiences associated with our effort to create a Center for a Regenerative Future in the hope that others can leverage this information to build their own regenerative institutions, communities, and practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Scenarios of Energy and Ecological Footprint)
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