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Social Innovation towards Sustainability: Embracing Contemporary Challenges for Regional Development

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2020) | Viewed by 14608

Special Issue Editors

CES – Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra
Interests: regional resilience; regional development; smart specialization; innovation; social innovation; transformative change

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Guest Editor
CinTurs – Research Centre for Tourism, Sustainability and Well-Being, University of Algarve
Interests: social economy; sociology; social innovation; development studies; community development; sustainability

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Guest Editor
Department of Sociology, Social Work and Public Health, University of Huelva, 21071 Huelva, Spain
Interests: environmental sociology, social analysis of tourism, social impact assessments

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Contemporary societies face structural challenges that lack effective and transformative responses. These problems can be seen not only as alarming issues but also as opportunities for the implementation of new forms and methods to answer existing needs. In this context, the issues of the need for a transition to more sustainable (social, economic. and environmental) models are becoming more prominent and increasing their space in academic and strategic discussions.

Social innovation starts from the willingness to transform ideas into action to respond to problems and contribute toward solutions where public policies are failing to provide effective answers. In the current context, social innovation has been discussed as an unavoidable mechanism for the goal of sustainability, especially in social sciences. Despite the fragmentation of the field, regional science has been an important catalyst for social innovation research by paying attention to territorial innovative responses to emerging social needs.

In this sense, we would like to invite you to submit your paper proposals to the Special Issue “Social Innovation toward Sustainability: Embracing Contemporary Challenges for Regional Development”. The Special Issue aims to discuss the state of the art in social innovation and the contemporary challenge of sustainability, and topics of discussion will regard, among others, social innovation, microscale innovation, transformative innovation, sustainability transitions, and community-based sustainability projects.

We are particularly interested in proposals related to these thematic fields:

  • On innovation: studies, reflections, and examples about innovation(s) that, particularly, are concerned with emphasizing sustainability and regional development, such as social innovation, grassroots innovation, and transformative innovation, among others;
  • On transformation: studies, reflections, and examples focused on sustainability transitions, multilevel perspectives, transferability and scaling up, and their relationships with innovation and regional development;
  • Doing it: Examples of real-world applications in developing innovation practices and policies that address social and environmental needs, such as sustainable intentional communities (ecovillages), smart cities, eco-cities, cities in transition, transition movements, living laboratories, NGOs, territorial and local development agencies, responsible research and innovation, and smart specialization strategies, among others, which may instigate regional development.

This special issue benefits from the 25th APDR workshop Social Innovation Towards Sustainability: Embracing Contemporary Challenges for Regional Development to be held in Faro (Portugal) in 16th April 2020. More information: http://www.apdr.pt/evento_25/index.html

‘Reference Papers’ that are relevant for the SI topic:

  • Avelino, F., J. M. Wittmayer, R. Kemp, and A. Haxeltine. 2017. Game-changers and transformative social innovation, Ecology and Society, 22(4):41. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-09897-220441
  • Cooke, P. (2019). Responsible research and innovation? From FinTech’s ‘flash crash’ at Cermak to digitech’s Willow Campus and Quayside, European Planning Studies, 27:12, 2376-2393, https://doi.org/10.1080/09654313.2018.1556610
  • Fitjar, R. D., Benneworth, P., & Asheim, B. T. (2019). Towards regional responsible research and innovation? Integrating RRI and RIS3 in European innovation policy. Science and Public Policy, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1093/scipol/scz029
  • Foray, D. (2016). On the policy space of smart specialization strategies. European Planning Studies, 24(8), 1428–1437. https://doi.org/10.1080/09654313.2016.1176126
  • Köhler, J., Geels, F. W., Kern, F., Markard, J., Onsongo, E., Wieczorek, A., … Wells, P. (2019). An agenda for sustainability transitions research: State of the art and future directions. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 31(December 2018), 1–32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eist.2019.01.004
  • Nicholls, A., Simon, J., & Gabriel, M. (2015). Introduction: Dimensions of Social Innovation. New Frontiers in Social Innovation Research. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-137-50680-1_1
  • Nyseth, T., & Hamdouch, A. (2019). The Transformative Power of Social Innovation in Urban Planning and, 4(1), 1–6. https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v4i1.1950
  • Pinto, H. (2018). Innovation Dynamics and Resilience: A Crucial Agenda for the Future of Regional Studies and Policy, RSA Regions e-Zine, 2, https://doi.org/10.1080/13673882.2018.00001012
  • Truffer, B., & Coenen, L. (2012). Environmental innovation and sustainability transitions in regional studies. Regional Studies, 46(1), 1-23, https://doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2012.646164

Dr. Hugo Pinto
Ms. Carla Nogueira
Prof. Andrés Domínguez-Gómez
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 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.

Keywords

  • Social innovation
  • Transformative change
  • Sustainability
  • Transition
  • Regional development

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

27 pages, 1547 KiB  
Article
Adapting Social Impact Assessment to Flood Risk Management
by Pablo Aznar-Crespo, Antonio Aledo, Joaquín Melgarejo-Moreno and Arturo Vallejos-Romero
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3410; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063410 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 5390
Abstract
In the context of climate change, a significant increase in the flood risk is expected, which may lead to an intensification of the social impacts of disasters. Social impacts significantly affect the recovery processes of individuals, social groups, and institutions in the medium [...] Read more.
In the context of climate change, a significant increase in the flood risk is expected, which may lead to an intensification of the social impacts of disasters. Social impacts significantly affect the recovery processes of individuals, social groups, and institutions in the medium and long term. Hence, the management of such impacts throughout the disaster life cycle is essential. International institutions and frameworks for disaster risk reduction have claimed the need to generate tools for the systematic assessment and management of social impacts of floods. Recently, an innovative line of research has emerged aimed at adapting social impact assessment (SIA), usually directed at the evaluation of planned interventions (programs, plans and projects), to the field of environmental disasters. In order to contribute to academic efforts in this emerging field, this paper puts forward, through a systematic literature review based on Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) criteria, an SIA methodological proposal for the identification, assessment and systematic management of the social impacts of flood events. This methodological proposal covers the three phases of the disaster cycle: (1) pre-event (preparedness), allowing the anticipation of potential impacts and supporting the proposal of preventive measures; (2) event (response), facilitating a strategic mobilization of resources and technical support towards previously identified critical disaster areas; and (3) post-event (recovery), evaluating the evolutionary dynamics of impacts, proposing measures to avoid their socio-territorial embedding and accelerating recovery processes. This tool is designed for strategic use by policy makers and managers responsible for flood risk management and regional development. Full article
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18 pages, 1000 KiB  
Article
Social Innovation in Rural Areas? The Case of Andalusian Olive Oil Co-Operatives
by José Domingo Sánchez-Martínez, Juan Carlos Rodríguez-Cohard, Antonio Garrido-Almonacid and Vicente José Gallego-Simón
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 10019; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122310019 - 30 Nov 2020
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 2573
Abstract
Social innovations have been the subject of much academic discussion in recent years and have been approached from multiple scientific perspectives. This work sets out to determine whether innovations carried out by Andalusian olive oil cooperatives can be described in terms of social [...] Read more.
Social innovations have been the subject of much academic discussion in recent years and have been approached from multiple scientific perspectives. This work sets out to determine whether innovations carried out by Andalusian olive oil cooperatives can be described in terms of social innovation and if they could run a main role as rural development actors preserving the competitive capacity of farmers and the living conditions in rural Andalusia. Through an analysis of the available literature, the use of municipal statistical data and the conducting of in-depth interviews, we show how cooperatives have been proposed as a solution to the problems that international competition poses for the production activity of olives and olive oil. At present, the most innovative cooperatives are undergoing a slow process of incorporating innovations, above all organisational and management ones, which reach beyond the entities themselves, given the social character that they have in the region, where they are considered a public good. Despite the problems that olive oil cooperatives have historically had in competing in the market, they can contribute to maintaining the population in the rural environment and improving the quality of life in the region, justifying the need for government support. Full article
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20 pages, 2666 KiB  
Article
Program for Lagging Districts as a Framework for Innovative Approaches within the State Regional Development Policies in Slovakia
by Maroš Finka, Milan Husár and Tomáš Sokol
Sustainability 2020, 12(13), 5419; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12135419 - 4 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2267
Abstract
This paper analyses new approaches in Slovak regional policy based on the law that frames the paradigm shift by introducing a new scheme of state support for lagging districts. This law created the frame for integrated actions in the districts with high unemployment [...] Read more.
This paper analyses new approaches in Slovak regional policy based on the law that frames the paradigm shift by introducing a new scheme of state support for lagging districts. This law created the frame for integrated actions in the districts with high unemployment rates and caused wide-reaching structural changes in their peripheral locations. The key difference lies in shifting from the sectoral policy approach to integrated and integrative policies that have so far been absent. The main goal of this policy has been to restart the social and economic development and increase the availability of work opportunities in lagging districts, which has been defined by their monthly unemployment rate over the past years. The concurrence of this government initiative with the Maria Currie project RegPol2 focused on socio-economic and political responses to regional polarization in Central and Eastern Europe, and engagement of academics in the preparation and implementation of the program that has been developed in accordance with this law; this has allowed the use of the latest knowledge and innovative solutions to build on a comprehensive understanding of the problems of decline, using integrative and integrated territorial strategies that capitalize on the scientific achievements in higher efficiency of public intervention efforts. The evaluation of this new approach occurs within the VEGA 1/0789/18 project granted by the Scientific Grant Agency of the Slovak Republic. The paper analyses the applied strategies as tools framed by the new paradigm within the law on supporting lagging districts and discusses the implications in improving the situation in other EU countries. Positive experience as well as identified problems from the program realization have created the base for the definition of a new development strategy for the Slovak Republic 2030 as the main implementation tool of the Agenda 2030 in Slovakia; this is a new act on integrated development that replaces the previous set of less coordinated norms on regional development and cohesion policy. Full article
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10 pages, 2399 KiB  
Article
The Status of Sustainable Social Innovation in Malta
by Nicholas Sammut, Diana Spiteri, Joseph Paul Sammut, Irene Coppola, Roberta Lepre and Benjamin Lebrun
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4238; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104238 - 21 May 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2938
Abstract
Governments are increasingly using social innovation to stimulate economic growth and address social issues sustainably. Unfortunately, due to its size, Malta faces a very different challenge to sustainably kick-start high-value-added innovative ecosystems compared to larger states. This is due to a number of [...] Read more.
Governments are increasingly using social innovation to stimulate economic growth and address social issues sustainably. Unfortunately, due to its size, Malta faces a very different challenge to sustainably kick-start high-value-added innovative ecosystems compared to larger states. This is due to a number of issues, including diseconomies of scale, that tend to impede conventional innovation policy efforts. Based on grassroots data, this paper presents the results of a study which determined the status of social innovation in Malta and presents a few recommended measures that can be implemented in order to stimulate social innovation sustainably in Malta and possibly in similar small jurisdictions. Full article
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