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Special Issue "Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 July 2021) | Viewed by 12699

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Leslie A. Duram
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Earth Systems and Sustainability, Geography Program, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
Interests: environmental geography; sustainability education; endangered places; local food systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Geography is inextricably linked to sustainability. From local communities to national citizens to global agreements, there is a complex interplay between natural and social processes. In unison, these interacting forces determine our future sustainability. 

Addressing global issues of climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean pollution, or systemic environmental injustice feels overwhelming, so people frequently decide to take local actions to promote sustainability. Indeed, these individual or community activities, when multiplied across the globe, are often the most feasible way to affect change, particularly when national or international politics halt progress toward sustainability.

This Special Issue will explore the complex interplay between sustainability actions at the local-to-global scale. From this geographic perspective, these articles will provide interdisciplinary examples of how people take local and regional action to address national and global sustainability issues.

Authors are invited to submit high-quality original manuscripts that explore these topics through case studies, current research reviews, evidence-based experiences, or applied analysis of relevant local-to-global sustainability actions.

Prof. Dr. Leslie A. Duram
Guest Editor

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.

Keywords

  • Local-to-Global Action
  • Grassroots Environmentalism
  • Geographic-scale and Sustainability
  • Environmental Education
  • Community Sustainability
  • Climate Action
  • Geography and Sustainability
  • Regional Resiliency

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Article
Taking Stock of Social Sustainability and the U.S. Beef Industry
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 11860; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132111860 - 27 Oct 2021
Viewed by 777
Abstract
This paper presents the results of a study of social sustainability in the U.S. beef industry with a focus on the pre-harvest, cattle ranching portion of the industry. Using an integrative literature review and interviews with fifteen thought leaders in the field, we [...] Read more.
This paper presents the results of a study of social sustainability in the U.S. beef industry with a focus on the pre-harvest, cattle ranching portion of the industry. Using an integrative literature review and interviews with fifteen thought leaders in the field, we synthesize key indicators of social sustainability and provide a framework to be used in analyzing social sustainability in the pre-harvest beef industry. We identify six themes that are critical to social sustainability: human health; learning/adaptation; community relations; equity and inclusion; land ownership, tenure, and succession; and industry structure. However, our results also indicate that social sustainability as a term is insufficient for representing the positive futures desired by ranchers and that quantifiable indicators and metrics are not able to capture some of the subjective qualities of social sustainability. There is a need for future research that builds on these ideas and explores alternative future scenarios for the U.S. beef industry by engaging more diverse perspectives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues)
Article
Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Ecological Pest Control and Post-Harvest Rice Conservation Techniques: Sustainability Lessons from Baduy Communities
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9148; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169148 - 16 Aug 2021
Viewed by 692
Abstract
With the impending threat of global climate change, the past decades have witnessed an increasing recognition of the potential contribution of indigenous knowledge to tackling global challenges of environmental sustainability. In this study, we used a qualitative analysis of data collected in September [...] Read more.
With the impending threat of global climate change, the past decades have witnessed an increasing recognition of the potential contribution of indigenous knowledge to tackling global challenges of environmental sustainability. In this study, we used a qualitative analysis of data collected in September 2018 from key informant interviews and focus group discussion sessions in the Baduy communities in western Java to examine how their swidden cultivation, pest control and rice preservation techniques contribute to strengthening the sustainability of their livelihoods. The study also examines the potential for knowledge sharing between Baduy indigenous knowledge holders and outside scientific communities for mutual enhancement. Our analysis of collected data indicates that while the Baduy are open to sharing their ecological knowledge with outsiders for the sake of a greater environment protection, they remain wary of adopting external knowledge sources, as these external influences constitute a threat of disruption to their own epistemic system and way of life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues)
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Article
Intrinsic and Spiritual Dimensions of Water at the Local Scale, and the Disconnect with International Institutions
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8948; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168948 - 10 Aug 2021
Viewed by 757
Abstract
Local and indigenous populations the world over ascribe deeply and explicitly spiritual attributes to water. Springs, wells, and rivers are the homes of deities, have divine healing powers, and enhance processes of spiritual transformation. These attributes are rarely expressed in global declarations related [...] Read more.
Local and indigenous populations the world over ascribe deeply and explicitly spiritual attributes to water. Springs, wells, and rivers are the homes of deities, have divine healing powers, and enhance processes of spiritual transformation. These attributes are rarely expressed in global declarations related to sustainable water management and are found only implicitly in a handful of international water treaties. This paper uses a multi-scalar lens to identify areas of disconnect between community-specific intrinsic and spiritual dimensions of water, regional management institutions or international agreements, and global conventions. The scale-based structure of the article highlights the systems-based connections, and disconnections, from global to local-scopes of dimensions of water enshrined in different institutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues)
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Article
Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production: From a Planet to a Pixel
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8606; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158606 - 02 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1147
Abstract
Human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) is a substantial improvement upon 20th century attempts at developing an ecological footprint indicator because of its measurability in relation to net primary production, its close relationship to other key footprint measures, such as carbon and [...] Read more.
Human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) is a substantial improvement upon 20th century attempts at developing an ecological footprint indicator because of its measurability in relation to net primary production, its close relationship to other key footprint measures, such as carbon and water, and its spatial specificity. This paper explores HANPP across four geographical scales: through literature review, the planet; through reanalysis of existing data, variations among the world’s countries; and through novel analyses, U.S. counties and the 30 m pixel scale for one U.S. county. Results show that HANPP informs different sustainability narratives at different scales. At the planetary scale, HANPP is a critical planetary limit that improves upon areal land use indicators. At the country macroscale, HANPP indicates the degree to which meeting the needs of the domestic population for provisioning ecosystem services (food, feed, biofiber, biofuel) presses against the domestic ecological endowment of net primary production. At the county mesoscale, HANPP reveals the dependency of metropolitan areas upon regional specialized rural forestry and agroecosystems to which they are teleconnected through trade and transport infrastructures. At the pixel microscale, HANPP provides the basis for deriving spatial patterns of remaining net primary production upon which biodiversity and regulatory and cultural ecosystem services are dependent. HANPP is thus a sustainability indicator that can fulfill similar needs as carbon, water and other footprints. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues)
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Article
Uncovering Stakeholder Participation in Payment for Hydrological Services (PHS) Program Decision Making in Mexico and Colombia
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8562; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158562 - 31 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1058
Abstract
Payment for ecosystem services (PES) is a market-based policy approach intended to foster land use practices, such as forest conservation or restoration, that protect and improve the benefits from healthy, functioning ecosystems. While PES programs are used globally, they are an especially prominent [...] Read more.
Payment for ecosystem services (PES) is a market-based policy approach intended to foster land use practices, such as forest conservation or restoration, that protect and improve the benefits from healthy, functioning ecosystems. While PES programs are used globally, they are an especially prominent environmental policy tool in Latin America, where the vast majority are payment for hydrological services (PHS) programs, which incentivize the conservation and restoration of ecosystems associated with water production and clean water for clearly defined water users. As a market mechanism, PHS approaches involve a transactional relationship between upstream and downstream water users who are connected by a shared watershed. While existing literature has highlighted the important role of non-state actors in natural resource management and program effectiveness, few studies have explored the role of stakeholder participation in the context of PHS programs. Building on the collaborative learning approach and the Trinity of Voice framework, we sought to understand how and to what extent PHS program stakeholders are engaged in PHS design, implementation, and evaluation. In this paper we explored (1) the modes of stakeholder engagement in PHS programs that program administrators use, and (2) the degree to which different modes of stakeholder participation allow PHS stakeholders to have decision power with which to influence PHS policy design and expected outcomes. To better understand the role of stakeholder participation, and the different ways participation occurs, we used a comparative multiple-case study analysis of three PHS program administration types (government, non-profit, and a mixed public–private organization) in Mexico and Colombia that have incorporated stakeholder engagement to achieve ecological and social goals. Our analysis draws on institutional interviews to investigate the modes of stakeholder engagement and understand the degree of decision space that is shared with other PHS stakeholders. Across all cases, we found that the trust between key actors and institutions is an essential but underappreciated aspect of successful collaboration within PHS initiatives. We conclude with recommendations for ways in which program administrators and governmental agencies can better understand and facilitate the development of trust in PHS design and implementation, and natural resources management more broadly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues)
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Article
District Drinking Water Planning for Sustainability in Maharashtra: Between Local and Global Scales
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8288; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158288 - 24 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1014
Abstract
Sustainable rural drinking water is a widespread aim in India, and globally, from the household to district, state, and national scales. Sustainability issues in the rural drinking water sector range from increasing water demand to declining groundwater levels, premature deterioration of village schemes [...] Read more.
Sustainable rural drinking water is a widespread aim in India, and globally, from the household to district, state, and national scales. Sustainability issues in the rural drinking water sector range from increasing water demand to declining groundwater levels, premature deterioration of village schemes and services, inadequate revenues for operations and maintenance, weak capacity of water operators, frequently changing state and national policies, and destabilizing effects of climate change. This paper focuses on the special role of district-scale drinking water planning, which operates at the intersection between bottom-up water demand and top-down water programs. After surveying the challenges associated with bottom-up and top-down planning approaches, we present recent efforts to strengthen district and block drinking water planning in the state of Maharashtra. A combination of district interviews, institutional history, village surveys, GIS visualization, and planning workshops were used to advance district planning goals and methods. Results assess bottom-up processes of water demand; top-down water programs and finance; and intermediate-level planning at the district and block scales. Discussion focuses on potential improvements in district planning methods in Maharashtra. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues)
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Article
Linking Personal Experience to Global Concern: How Zoo Visits Affect Sustainability Behavior and Views of Climate Change
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7117; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13137117 - 24 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1409
Abstract
Globally, many species are threatened by habitat loss and are impacted by climate change due to human activities. According to the IUCN Red List, nearly 9000 animal species are now endangered or critically endangered. Yet, humans are largely ignorant to the impact they [...] Read more.
Globally, many species are threatened by habitat loss and are impacted by climate change due to human activities. According to the IUCN Red List, nearly 9000 animal species are now endangered or critically endangered. Yet, humans are largely ignorant to the impact they have on the environment due to lack of effective sustainability education. Currently, one of the most practical ways to connect with our global natural world is by visiting a local zoo. Zoos engage people with numerous species that they would otherwise never have the opportunity to see. Environmental education at zoos has come to address issues such as sustainability, personal green habits, and global climate change. Given the important role of zoos in sustainability education, there is a surprising lack of research on the topic. Due to its innovative nature, the research shown in this study acts as a pilot study set to gauge the impact of zoos on sustainability and climate change perspectives. This article investigates the extent to which adult survey respondents believe their current sustainability behaviors and their perceptions of global climate change have been influenced by their childhood visits to zoos and the environmental education topics learned during these visits. To investigate the long-term impact that zoos have on common sustainability behavior, a survey of 136 university students from various academic fields was conducted. The analysis found that 76% of respondents believe they act sustainably in their daily lives through actions such as sustainable shopping and recycling, with only 35% of individuals indicating that they learned their sustainable behaviors at zoos. Yet, 65% of respondents indicated that they believe zoos impact their overall level of environmental concern, primarily regarding knowledge of animal welfare and endangered species. Results suggest that individuals who are very concerned about climate change spent time at zoos, more than just one annual visit, and those zoo visits encourage global sustainability learning for the individual. This study suggests that zoos should expand visitor engagement through environmental education that encourages meaningful sustainability behavior and climate change knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues)
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Article
Spatiotemporal Variations of Landscape Ecological Risks in a Resource-Based City under Transformation
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5297; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095297 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 851
Abstract
The development of traditional resource-based cities requires drastic changes owing to the exhaustion of resources. During this transformation, the ecological environment of resource-based cities is threatened because of resource exploitation, in addition to the ecological risks caused by urban expansion. However, there is [...] Read more.
The development of traditional resource-based cities requires drastic changes owing to the exhaustion of resources. During this transformation, the ecological environment of resource-based cities is threatened because of resource exploitation, in addition to the ecological risks caused by urban expansion. However, there is currently a lack of research on the evolution of ecological dangers in cities during this transformational period. Therefore, conducting relevant studies is essential to establishing a mechanism to mitigate these dangers. The present study analyzed Xuzhou, a typical resource-based city in China, as a case study. The main objective was to consider the dynamic changes in land use and ecological risks during the transformation of this resource-based city. The land-use changes in Xuzhou in 2000, 2010, and 2020 were analyzed, using the Markov model and landscape-pattern indices, allowing an ecological risk-assessment model of land-use changes to be constructed. Additionally, the spatial heterogeneity of ecological risks was evaluated by using spatial autocorrelation. The results showed that urban expansion influenced land use in Xuzhou significantly. Owing to the rapid urban expansion, the area of extremely high-risk regions increased significantly in 2010. Furthermore, the subsidence areas caused by mining had profound impacts on the region’s ecology, and early interventions for ecological restoration are needed to prevent further deterioration. During the transformation, Xuzhou’s overall ecological risks reduced gradually, which was conducive to its transition into an ecological city. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues)
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Article
Integrating Ecosystem Function and Structure to Assess Landscape Ecological Risk in Traditional Village Clustering Areas
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4860; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094860 - 26 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 760
Abstract
Land use in traditional village clustering areas often exhibits slight dynamic changes; however, significant hidden ecological hazards may be present in local settlements. There is still a lack of dynamic ecological risk assessments for the corresponding classification-based prevention strategies and landscape ecosystem attributes’ [...] Read more.
Land use in traditional village clustering areas often exhibits slight dynamic changes; however, significant hidden ecological hazards may be present in local settlements. There is still a lack of dynamic ecological risk assessments for the corresponding classification-based prevention strategies and landscape ecosystem attributes’ enhancement. Based on the land-use changes, this study integrated the ecosystem structure and function to explore the characteristics of the landscape ecological risk in traditional village clustering areas. The clustering area of 24 national traditional villages in Songyang County of Lishui City in Zhejiang Province, China, served as the study region to evaluate and analyze the changes in the landscape ecological risk from 2010 to 2019. The results showed that the land-use transitions were subtle but dominated by changes from forest cultivated land, posing high risk and medium—high risk increased slowly in size. Additionally, significantly increased risks were located mainly in the boundary area of the five villages. Moreover, 22 settlements were found in the sensitive area with increased risks less than 600 m away. This assessment will provide a basis for traditional villages’ risk prevention and ecosystem protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues)
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Article
Balancing Socio-Ecological Risks, Politics, and Identity: Sustainability in Minnesota’s Copper-Nickel-Precious Metal Mining Debate
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10286; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410286 - 09 Dec 2020
Viewed by 875
Abstract
In the northeastern corner of Minnesota, two of the state’s most iconic symbols, mining and pristine wilderness, are on a collision course. The Duluth Complex, considered by many to be the world’s largest undeveloped deposit of copper-nickel and precious metals, is the site [...] Read more.
In the northeastern corner of Minnesota, two of the state’s most iconic symbols, mining and pristine wilderness, are on a collision course. The Duluth Complex, considered by many to be the world’s largest undeveloped deposit of copper-nickel and precious metals, is the site of mining proposals for several controversial mines. Proponents suggest that mining can be accomplished in an environmentally benign manner, and in the process create nearly 1000 jobs and $500 million in economic benefits annually. Opponents counter that the tourism and recreation industries already provide nearly 18,000 jobs and bring over $900 million in economic benefits annually, and that mining will permanently impair the regions environment. Thus, the copper-nickel and precious metal mining debate has become highly polarized, and serves as an ideal example of how people address national and global sustainability issues at local and regional scales. This study examines this polarization through a Q-sort analysis of subjectivities of residents of the state of Minnesota. Results suggest that partisanship is a strong predictor of attitudes towards mining, and that the strongest differences between respondents were not based on perceptions comparing jobs and the environment, the typical partisan divide, but rather on respondents’ perceived identity with relation to the mining industry or water resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues)
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Review

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Review
Climate Change along the Silk Road and Its Influence on Scythian Cultural Expansion and Rise of the Mongol Empire
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2530; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052530 - 26 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 964
Abstract
Climate change and cultural exchange both influenced cultural development along the continental Silk Road during the late Holocene, but climate change and its influence on nomadic civilizations during that time has yet to be systematically assessed. In this study, we analyzed records of [...] Read more.
Climate change and cultural exchange both influenced cultural development along the continental Silk Road during the late Holocene, but climate change and its influence on nomadic civilizations during that time has yet to be systematically assessed. In this study, we analyzed records of climate change along the Silk Road covering key periods in the late Holocene, based on multiproxies from various archives including lake sediments, shorelines/beach ridges, peatlands, ice cores, tree rings, aeolian sediments, moraines, and historical documents. Combined with archaeological data, we assessed the influence of climate on development and expansion of representative pastoral nomadism. Our results show that the most notable climate changes in Central Asia were characterized by decreasing temperature, expanding glaciers, increasing precipitation, and increasing humidity during transitions from the Sub-Boreal to Sub-Atlantic Period (ca. 9–8th century BC) and from the Medieval Warm Period to the Little Ice Age (ca. 13–14th century AD). The two periods coincided with Scythian Cultural expansion across the steppe landscape of Central Asia and rise of the Mongol Empire, respectively. These temporal coincidences are interpreted as causally related, where temperature fall and glacial advance may have forced the pastoral nomadism to southward migration. Coeval wetness and southward migration of steppe landscape in Central Asia were beneficial for these cultural expansions, which spanned the Eurasian arid and semi-arid zone westward. Therefore, during the historical period when productivity was underdeveloped, although expansions of pastoral nomadism were closely related to internal social structures, climate change was possibly the most critical controlling factor for sustainability development and collapse. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues)
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