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Special Issue "Challenges and Possibilities for Sustainable Development in a Baltic Sea Region Context - Volume 2"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 29 December 2023 | Viewed by 4581

Special Issue Editors

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Madeleine Granvik
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Earth Sciences, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development; The Baltic University, Uppsala, Sweden
Interests: climate change and food; policy and planning for climate change; food security; agricultural land; food planning; local food; local food systems; Sustainable Food systems; resilient food systems; definitions local food; interpretations local food; food self sufficiency; food crisis preparedness
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Walter Filho
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Current policy, planning, and research on sustainable development as a whole and in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, provide an arena for possible change, transformations, and innovations in society. At the same time, there are huge challenges and complexity to face when goals towards sustainable development go in parallel with other goals, trends, and tendencies in society at large, related to, e.g., lifestyles, consumption, mobility, poverty, and growth. The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes 17 goals with indicators to monitor progress. Academia and the research community constitute a very important group of stakeholders who can strongly support the achievement of the SDGs. Whether it is at the global, regional or local level, universities can contribute in multiple ways. This is through knowledge generation, innovations, data, technical analysis, and above all, through training the next generation of students in building a sustainable future.

This Special Issue on “Challenges and Possibilities for Sustainable Development in a Baltic Sea Region Context—2021” promotes an interdisciplinary approach with an emphasis on research relevant to the Baltic Sea Region in the context of sustainable development in a broad sense. Papers are welcome in one or more of the following areas: climate change, renewable energy, sustainable societies, sustainable food systems, sustainable water resources, urban–rural development, sustainable mobility, circular economy, sustainable tourism, and education for sustainable development (ESD). Further, this Special Issue intends to document and promote scholarly research and projects that stress the challenges as well as show how efforts within the different fields reported above can contribute toward the implementation of sustainability in practice in the Baltic Sea Region.

We are challenging researchers from different disciplines with an interest in the Baltic Sea Region as an empirical field to present their research from a sustainable development perspective. We especially welcome presentations of research with an inter-/multidisciplinary approach based on co-operations between colleagues in the Baltic Sea Region.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Madeleine Granvik
Prof. Dr. Walter Filho
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 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 2000 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.

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
The Use of Team Management Methods to Design Socially Responsible Services—A Case Study
Sustainability 2022, 14(18), 11384; https://doi.org/10.3390/su141811384 - 10 Sep 2022
Viewed by 219
Abstract
The aim of the research was to present the provision of socially useful services as the expression of co-management and commitment to sustainable development. The case study was adopted as a research approach. The subject of the research was a group of students [...] Read more.
The aim of the research was to present the provision of socially useful services as the expression of co-management and commitment to sustainable development. The case study was adopted as a research approach. The subject of the research was a group of students who implemented the project as part of student internships in 2020–2021. The next research group consisted of 346 respondents and was constituted as a result of messages with a link to the questionnaire sent and shared on social networks. Empirical data for research on a selected social problem were obtained by means of a direct online interview based on a questionnaire. The results show that the effects of the activities undertaken by a socially engaged group have an impact on the quality of life of the society. Thanks to this diagnosis, it has also been demonstrated that the applied approach proved advantageous as a result of the adequacy of activities in relation to the key needs of the stakeholders. A statistically significant relationship was established between some features and behaviors of young Polish people and their approach to cancer prevention. Full article
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Article
Striving with Global Stress on a Local Level: Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed the Relationship between People and Nature?
Sustainability 2022, 14(15), 9496; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14159496 - 02 Aug 2022
Viewed by 464
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic had harsh consequences on human health and society across the globe. In addition to health effects, the pandemic also influenced people’s values, concerns, and ethics due to lockdowns and general limitations in societal activities. In this study, we examined changes [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic had harsh consequences on human health and society across the globe. In addition to health effects, the pandemic also influenced people’s values, concerns, and ethics due to lockdowns and general limitations in societal activities. In this study, we examined changes in the relationship between people and nature caused by COVID-associated stress, as well as its consequences on life quality, by comparing questionnaire-based survey data before and during the pandemic. We found that the pandemic had positive effects on individual respondents’ relationships with nature. Respondents who were more affected by the pandemic rated their life quality lower than those who were less affected. In accordance, the pandemic had a negative effect on people’s life quality, especially for people living in areas where the environment (coastal water quality) was in poor condition. Our results support the prediction that environmental quality may buffer against global stress and improve societal wellbeing. Full article
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Article
The Use of EU Territorial Cooperation Funds for the Sustainable Development of National and Ethnic Minorities in the Baltic Sea Region
Sustainability 2022, 14(13), 7729; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14137729 - 24 Jun 2022
Viewed by 290
Abstract
The integration processes taking place in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) are contributing to the sustainable development of this unique territory. Intensive cooperation financed from EU funds under the cohesion policy and the neighborhood policy have provided an opportunity for the development of [...] Read more.
The integration processes taking place in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) are contributing to the sustainable development of this unique territory. Intensive cooperation financed from EU funds under the cohesion policy and the neighborhood policy have provided an opportunity for the development of ethnic and national minorities, who are important but still marginalized stakeholders. The theoretical aim of the article is to identify the attributes of national and ethnic minorities and to indicate key determinants of their sustainable development. The authors seek to answer whether territorial cooperation in the BSR contributes to the development of national and ethnic minorities, and if so, how. In the article, concepts and definitions related to the term “minority” are verified, classifications are developed and a model of sustainable development of ethnic and national minorities is built. Official statistical data are used to present the national and ethnic structure of the BSR countries. Then, 22 national minorities and 17 ethnic minorities are identified and described. Quantitative and qualitative research was carried out on 126 territorial cooperation projects supporting the development of national and ethnic minorities totaling EUR 85.25 million in value and implemented within 38 BSR programs in 2000–2020. The Sami minority were the greatest beneficiaries of the cooperation. Territorial cooperation projects have been shown to contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage and the development of education, social support and political empowerment. Territorial cooperation is a powerful instrument of sustainable development. Unfortunately, it still contributes only moderately to the development of national and ethnic minorities. There is a need to strengthen this issue in future programs of the cohesion policy and the neighborhood policy and to develop systemic solutions enabling national and ethnic minorities to participate more actively in the implementation of territorial cooperation projects. Full article
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Article
The ESG Reporting of EU Public Companies—Does the Company’s Capitalisation Matter?
Sustainability 2022, 14(7), 4279; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14074279 - 04 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1119
Abstract
Large companies in the European Union are required to publish information related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters. The aim of our study is to determine the quality of ESG reporting in EU public companies (measured by the ESG-index) and its effect [...] Read more.
Large companies in the European Union are required to publish information related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters. The aim of our study is to determine the quality of ESG reporting in EU public companies (measured by the ESG-index) and its effect on their market capitalisation. Therefore, the results of our research will be both scientific and applicative, and they will be useful for investors when making investment decisions on the stock exchange. The research includes over 15,000 companies listed on 27 stock exchanges (in the “old” and “new” member states, EU-14 and EU-13, respectively), covering the period 2002 to 2019. The data were obtained from the Refinitiv database. We drew three conclusions after the research. Firstly, only 50% of the companies listed on the stock exchanges in the old EU member states and merely 5% of the companies from the new EU member states had reported ESG-indexes in any year of the research period. Secondly, we found a positive relationship between a company’s market capitalisation and the quality of its ESG reports. Thirdly, the market values of companies are positively but not strongly affected by the ESG-indexes. Full article
Article
Spatial Dependencies and the Relationship between Subjective Perception and Objective Environmental Risks in Lithuania
Sustainability 2022, 14(7), 3716; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14073716 - 22 Mar 2022
Viewed by 986
Abstract
The effects of objective environmental indicators on subjective risk perceptions are under-researched and bring new frontiers to environmental risk perception research. The aim of this article is to analyze the spatial distribution of environmental risks in Lithuania, to identify social-psychological factors that determine [...] Read more.
The effects of objective environmental indicators on subjective risk perceptions are under-researched and bring new frontiers to environmental risk perception research. The aim of this article is to analyze the spatial distribution of environmental risks in Lithuania, to identify social-psychological factors that determine variances of risk perception, and to contrast perception data with objective environmental data. This article is based on the representative national survey of 2007 respondents conducted from September to October of 2020 in Lithuania, and on the objective indicators of flood risk, air quality, water pollution, and forest fires. Analytical methods used in this article include spatial autocorrelation as well as spatial and linear regressions. Spatial analysis of objective environmental risk indicators reveal that the five biggest cities in Lithuania experience higher levels of environmental risks. Flood risk perceptions are spatially related to objective flood risks, and the relation is not significant for other types of risks. Place of residence, gender, education, and income are significant factors explaining risk perceptions. Place of residence is negatively moderating the effect of objective environmental risks on perceptions, as people in the biggest cities underestimate risks, especially from air pollution. Full article
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Review

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Review
Plant-Origin Feedstock Applications in Fully Green Food Packaging: The Potential for Tree-Free Paper and Plant-Origin Bio-Plastics in the Baltic Sea Region
Sustainability 2022, 14(12), 7393; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14127393 - 16 Jun 2022
Viewed by 556
Abstract
Paper and plastic are the main materials used in food packaging. In the context of climate change, the importance of tree conservation and the mitigation of the negative environmental impacts caused by fossil consumption and deforestation is greater than ever before. This article [...] Read more.
Paper and plastic are the main materials used in food packaging. In the context of climate change, the importance of tree conservation and the mitigation of the negative environmental impacts caused by fossil consumption and deforestation is greater than ever before. This article reviews the potential of plant-origin feedstock from the Baltic Sea region for use in non-wood-fibre and bio-origin plastic food packaging production. It also presents a systematised literature review of the environmental impacts and applications of tree-free paper, plant-origin plastics, and natural-fibre-reinforced bio-composites in fully green food packaging. The results reveal that beneficial environmental impacts are achieved if waste or by-products are used as feedstock. While the production volumes of alternative materials in Europe are small (0.25% of paper is made of materials other than wood, and the share of bio-plastic is 0.9%), we found a large demand and potential for growth. The biggest volumes of natural fibre feedstock in Baltic Sea region countries are generated from wheat. Wheat straw, which is a by-product, has a production volume of 68.71 million tons and is potentially a significant non-wood-paper food packaging source. Agricultural waste generated from sugar beet, maize, potato, and wheat is an environmentally beneficial by-product that could be used for bio-plastic food packaging production. Full article
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