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Special Issue "Environmental Policy and Sustainable Development: Securing the Future of Coastal Deltas in the Anthropocene"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (2 December 2022) | Viewed by 577

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Adam P. Hejnowicz
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Engineering, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK; Department of Biology, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK
Interests: policy analysis and environmental governance; climate change adaptation; complex social-ecological systems; water-energy-food security; ecosystem services; regional development and social-ecological impacts; transdisciplinarity and co-production; political ecology; geographies of development
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Anh Ngoc Vu
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
Interests: environmental politics; politics and political ecology of climate change adaptation; vulnerability and inequality; forest politics; water politics; poor people’s politics; international development policy and management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sitting at the intersection of geological, ecological, and human processes of change, coastal deltas are amongst the world’s most vulnerable socio-ecological environments. Many coastal deltas (e.g., the Nile, Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna, and Mekong) are highly fertile and productive systems, as well as significant biodiversity hotspots. Often described as “cradles of civilization”, deltas such as these have been sites of human activity and settlement for centuries, if not millennia, central to the livelihoods, cultures, and economies of local communities and national populations.

Comprising just 5% of Earth’s land area, modern-day deltas are home to more than 500 million people and play a key role in maintaining environmental and economic functions that are critical to the delta dwellers. However, they are increasingly facing a multiplicity of natural and human-induced pressures, such as unchecked urbanisation, infrastructure development, industrialisation, and capital expansion. At the same time, coastal deltas find themselves on the frontlines of climate change, increasingly exposed and vulnerable to rising sea levels, flood risk, saline intrusion, tropical cyclones, and storm water surges. Some of these impacts are more subtle and chronic, but in other cases, they are more direct and acute. Recent instances of tropical cyclones, such as Amphan (2020) and Yass (2021) in the Indian and Bangladesh Sundarbans, illustrate the severe impact of these climate-related disasters on local communities—impacts measured in lives and livelihoods lost, people displaced, as well as substantial financial burdens to regional and national economies.

In these tumultuous times, how to maintain sustainable, equitable, and resilient delta systems that can continue to generate social and economic prosperity and flourishing biodiversity in support of local communities and wider society is critical. Arguably, this requires adaptive and transformational environmental policies and governance to be put in place. This represents a huge challenge, as deltas are often missing or maligned in national policy systems.

Understanding how to develop transformational environmental policies and governance to steer delta systems along a sustainable trajectory remains a crucial evidence gap to be bridged. Many questions remain unanswered, such as, what are the key policy challenges and barriers facing decision makers in developing effective delta policies? How should delta policies be designed, coordinated, and implemented? How are current policies impacting delta systems and their sustainable development? What role do/should different sectors and stakeholders play in delta policy and governance decision-making processes? How can delta environmental policy and governance systems acknowledge and effectively navigate different social, cultural, economic, and political trade-offs and synergies?

In this Special Issue, we are therefore concerned to focus on publishing original research articles that  address how environmental policies can positively contribute to enhancing and supporting the sustainability of coastal delta systems, with a particular focus on: environmental governance; sustainable transformation of delta systems; biodiversity conservation; nature-based solutions; adaptive and thriving communities under uncertainty; collective action and innovation; inequalities and gendered vulnerabilities; delta voices, cultures, heritage, and indigenous communities.

We are particularly interested in articles that adopt critical stances and address these issues from the perspectives of locally led adaption, just transition, social and environmental justice; gender-transformative approaches, intergenerational equity, transformational change and innovation; multi-level governance, policy design, implementation and evaluation; futures thinking; and systemic risk. Whilst we are open to all geographical contexts, we also strongly encourage articles that focus on delta systems in low- and middle-income countries and those in Asia in particular.

We welcome diverse articles from research and practice, drawing on different epistemologies and ontologies across disciplines (natural, social, and political sciences and humanities) and especially encourage interdisciplinary contributions and those articles that bridge the boundary between science and policy. As such, empirical studies drawing on multiple case studies, reviews, and conceptual submissions that adopt novel epistemological or methodological approaches are welcomed.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Adam P. Hejnowicz
Dr. Anh Ngoc Vu
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 2200 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.


  • environmental policy
  • environmental governance
  • sustainable development
  • coastal deltas
  • climate change adaptation
  • transformational change
  • livelihoods
  • Anthropocene

Published Papers

There is no accepted submissions to this special issue at this moment.
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