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Special Issue "Enhancing Environmental and Sustainability Policy: Assessing the Past and charting a Course for the Future"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 July 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Tanja Srebotnjak

Harvey Mudd College, Hixon Center for Sustainable Environmental Design and Dept. of Engineering, 301 Platt Blvd, Claremont, CA 91711, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainable environmental design; environmental statistics; environmental policy; ecology; natural resources

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The journal Sustainability, an international, cross-disciplinary, scholarly and open access journal of environmental, cultural, economic, and social sustainability of human beings invites your submission for a Special Issue on “Enhancing Environmental and Sustainability Policy: Assessing the Past and Charting a Course for the Future.”

Thirty years after the release of the report “Our Common Future” by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland, 1987) the world continues to grapple with major—and frequently worsening—problems, affecting virtually all ecosystems and spanning all geographic scales. Recently, some 16,000 scientists from 184 countries published a second warning that without concerted efforts to transform our economies, the planet is headed towards "substantial and irreversible" harm (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2017). While progress has been made on many fronts, ranging from technological innovations to governmental commitments and individual behavioral modifications, much more needs to be done if we are to avert substantial environmental crises and achieve sustainable balances between human needs and desires and ecological capacities to meet them.

This Special Issue calls for contributions that address how we can translate 30+ years of environmental and sustainability research to chart a simultaneously ambitious and yet pragmatic path forward to make sure the next 30 years bring about the necessary systematic transformations to maintain and protect critical ecosystems and services.

Contributions examining the drivers of unsustainable human activities and/or demonstrating concrete solutions are welcome. Of particular interest are papers that (i) tackle some of the most persistent and intractable hurdles towards sustainability, (ii) demonstrate solutions that are scalable, transferable, and/or can be tailored to specific local or issue-dependent needs in their implementation, and/or (iii) provide particular benefits to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. They are expected to represent sustainability research across a wide range of disciplines, as well as inter- and transdisciplinary studies.

While innovative ideas and strategies are welcome, authors are encouraged to consider their feasibility in light of current broader geo-political, economic, and societal trends in their analyses.

References:

Daly, H.E. and Farley, J., 2011. Ecological economics: principles and applications. Island press.

Daly, H.E., 2007. Ecological economics and sustainable development. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Prugh, T., Costanza, R. and Daly, H.E., 2000. The local politics of global sustainability. Island Press.

Daly, H.E., 2006. Sustainable development—definitions, principles, policies. In The future of sustainability (pp. 39-53). Springer Netherlands.

Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K., Persson, Å., Chapin, F.S., Lambin, E.F., Lenton, T.M., Scheffer, M., Folke, C., Schellnhuber, H.J. and Nykvist, B., 2009. A safe operating space for humanity. nature461(7263), pp.472-475.

Ostrom, E., 2015. Governing the commons. Cambridge university press.

Congleton, R.D., 2007. Elinor Ostrom, understanding institutional diversity.

Ostrom, E., 2009. A general framework for analyzing sustainability of social-ecological systems. Science325(5939), pp.419-422.

Ostrom, E., 2010. Beyond markets and states: polycentric governance of complex economic systems. Transnational Corporations Review2(2), pp.1-12.

Ostrom, E., 2007. A diagnostic approach for going beyond panaceas. Proceedings of the national Academy of sciences104(39), pp.15181-15187.

Liu, J., Dietz, T., Carpenter, S.R., Alberti, M., Folke, C., Moran, E., Pell, A.N., Deadman, P., Kratz, T., Lubchenco, J. and Ostrom, E., 2007. Complexity of coupled human and natural systems. science317(5844), pp.1513-1516.

Nordhaus, W.D., 2014. A question of balance: Weighing the options on global warming policies. Yale University Press.

Speth, J.G., 2008. The bridge at the edge of the world: Capitalism, the environment, and crossing from crisis to sustainability. Yale University Press.

Speth, J.G., 2004. Red sky at morning: America and the crisis of the global environment. Yale University Press.

Speth, J.G., 2008. Punctuated equilibrium and the dynamics of US environmental policy. Yale University Press.

Speth, J.G., 2003. Worlds apart: globalization and the environment. Island Press.

Dove, M.R., 2006. Indigenous people and environmental politics. Annual Review of Anthropology35.

Paulson, S., Gezon, L.L., Escobar, A., Gardner, A., Brodgen, M., Greenberg, J., Svarstad, H., Dove, M., Hornborg, A., Stevens, C. and Heyman, J., 2004. Political ecology across spaces, scales, and social groups. Rutgers University Press.

Barnes, J., Dove, M., Lahsen, M., Mathews, A., McElwee, P., McIntosh, R., Moore, F., O'reilly, J., Orlove, B., Puri, R. and Weiss, H., 2013. Contribution of anthropology to the study of climate change. Nature Climate Change3(6), pp.541-544.

Ion, M.I.H.A.L.C.E.A. and Carmen-Eugenia, V.E.R.D.E.S., 2013. European Environmental Policy. Management Strategies Journal22(Special), pp.241-250.

Jasch, C., 2000. Environmental performance evaluation and indicators. Journal of Cleaner Production8(1), pp.79-88.

Piorr, H.P., 2003. Environmental policy, agri-environmental indicators and landscape indicators. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment98(1), pp.17-33.

Farrell, A.E. and Jäger, J. eds., 2006. Assessments of regional and global environmental risks: designing processes for the effective use of science in decisionmaking. Resources for the Future.

Fischer, T.B., 2010. The theory and practice of strategic environmental assessment: towards a more systematic approach. Routledge.

Beyerlin, U. and Marauhn, T., 2011. International environmental law. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Dupuy, P.M. and Viñuales, J.E., 2015. International environmental law. Cambridge University Press.

Esty, D.C., 2005. Good Governance at the Supernational Scale: Globalizing Adminsitrative Law. Yale lj115, p.1490.

Esty, D.C., 2004. Environmental protection in the information age. NYUL rev.79, p.115.

Esty, D.C. and Porter, M.E., 2005. National environmental performance: an empirical analysis of policy results and determinants. Environment and development economics10(4), pp.391-434.

Griggs, D., Stafford-Smith, M., Gaffney, O., Rockström, J., Öhman, M.C., Shyamsundar, P., Steffen, W., Glaser, G., Kanie, N. and Noble, I., 2013. Policy: Sustainable development goals for people and planet. Nature495(7441), pp.305-307.

Kates, R.W., Parris, T.M. and Leiserowitz, A.A., 2005. What is sustainable development? Goals, indicators, values, and practice. Environment(Washington DC)47(3), pp.8-21.

Sachs, J.D., 2012. From millennium development goals to sustainable development goals. The Lancet379(9832), pp.2206-2211.

Sachs, J.D. and Warner, A.M., 2001. The curse of natural resources. European economic review45(4), pp.827-838.

Komor, P., 2004. Renewable energy policy. IUniverse.

Fouquet, D. and Johansson, T.B., 2008. European renewable energy policy at crossroads—Focus on electricity support mechanisms. Energy policy36(11), pp.4079-4092.

Finnveden, G. and Moberg, Å., 2005. Environmental systems analysis tools–an overview. Journal of cleaner production13(12), pp.1165-1173.

Finnveden, G., 2000. On the limitations of life cycle assessment and environmental systems analysis tools in general. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment5(4), pp.229-238.

Winans, K., Kendall, A. and Deng, H., 2017. The history and current applications of the circular economy concept. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews68, pp.825-833.

Heck, P., 2006. Circular economy-related international practices and policy trends. Consulting Report for the World Bank Project on Policies for Promotion of a Circular Economy in China The World Bank Beijing30.

Cole, L.W. and Foster, S.R., 2001. From the ground up: Environmental racism and the rise of the environmental justice movement. NYU Press.

Schlosberg, D., 2009. Defining environmental justice: Theories, movements, and nature. Oxford University Press.

Schlosberg, D., 2004. Reconceiving environmental justice: global movements and political theories. Environmental politics13(3), pp.517-540.

Boyle, J., 2007. Cultural environmentalism and beyond. Law and Contemporary Problems70(2), pp.5-21.

Frischmann, B.M., 2007. Cultural Environmentalism and" The Wealth of Networks".

Dr. Tanja Srebotnjak
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 papers will be 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 1700 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

  • environmental management
  • environmental policy
  • policy assessment
  • resource conservation management
  • environmental ethics, environmental justice
  • sustainable development goals
  • sustainability assessment
  • international environmental law
  • climate change
  • renewable energy policy
  • low-carbon economy
  • air quality
  • biodiversity
  • sustainable forestry
  • sustainable fisheries
  • environmental and sustainability indicators
  • environmental systems thinking and modeling
  • circular economy
  • environmental conflict
  • environmental history
  • cultural environmentalism
  • ecological resilience

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Impact of CARB’s Tailpipe Emission Standard Policy on CO2 Reduction among the U.S. States
Sustainability 2019, 11(4), 1202; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11041202
Received: 18 January 2019 / Revised: 8 February 2019 / Accepted: 20 February 2019 / Published: 24 February 2019
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Abstract
U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the nationwide emission standard policy, but each state in the U.S. has an option to follow the higher emission standard policy set by CARB (California Air Resources Board) in 2004. There are 14 “CARB states” that follow California’s [...] Read more.
U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the nationwide emission standard policy, but each state in the U.S. has an option to follow the higher emission standard policy set by CARB (California Air Resources Board) in 2004. There are 14 “CARB states” that follow California’s more restrictive standards. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of CARB’s tailpipe emission standard policy. Using the panel dataset for 49 U.S. states over a 28-year study period (1987–2015), this paper found the long-term policy effect in reducing CO2 emission from CARB’s tailpipe standard, and its long-run effect is 5.4 times higher than the short-run effect. The equivalent policy effect of the CARB emission standard in CO2 reduction can be achieved by raising gasoline price by 145.43%. Also, if 26.0% of petroleum consumed for transportation is substituted by alternative clean fuels (natural gas or electricity), it will have a comparable policy effect in CO2 reduction. Findings in this study support to continue the collaborative efforts among the EPA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and California in order to achieve the CO2 reduction goal set by CARB and adopted by the EPA in 2012. The packaged policy approach rooted in persistent public and political support is necessary for successful policy implementation. Full article
Open AccessArticle Does Fertilizer Education Program Increase the Technical Efficiency of Chemical Fertilizer Use? Evidence from Wheat Production in China
Sustainability 2019, 11(2), 543; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11020543
Received: 31 December 2018 / Revised: 15 January 2019 / Accepted: 18 January 2019 / Published: 21 January 2019
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Abstract
Farmers in China and many other developing countries suffer from low technical efficiency of chemical fertilizer use, which leads to excessive nutrient runoff and other environmental problems. A major cause of the low efficiency is lack of science-based information and recommendations for nutrient [...] Read more.
Farmers in China and many other developing countries suffer from low technical efficiency of chemical fertilizer use, which leads to excessive nutrient runoff and other environmental problems. A major cause of the low efficiency is lack of science-based information and recommendations for nutrient application. In response, the Chinese government launched an ambitious nationwide program called the “Soil Testing and Fertilizer Recommendation Project” (STFRP) in 2005 to increase the efficiency of chemical fertilizer use. However, there has been no systematic evaluation of this program. Using data from a nationally representative household survey, and using wheat as an example, this paper first quantifies the technical efficiency of chemical fertilizer use (TEFU) by conducting stochastic frontier analysis (SFA), then evaluates the impact of STFRP on the TEFU using a generalized difference-in-difference approach. We found that STFRP, on average, increased TEFU in wheat production by about 4%, which was robust across various robustness checks. The lessons learned from STFRP will be valuable for China’s future outreach efforts, as well as for other countries considering similar nutrient management policies. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Estimating Regional Shadow Prices of CO2 in China: A Directional Environmental Production Frontier Approach
Sustainability 2019, 11(2), 429; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11020429
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 24 December 2018 / Accepted: 11 January 2019 / Published: 15 January 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1709 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Shadow price of carbon dioxide (CO2) plays a fundamental role in evaluating CO2 abatement cost and formulating regional environmental policies. In this study, CO2 shadow prices are estimated in 29 provinces of China from 2006 to 2015. Directional Environmental [...] Read more.
Shadow price of carbon dioxide (CO2) plays a fundamental role in evaluating CO2 abatement cost and formulating regional environmental policies. In this study, CO2 shadow prices are estimated in 29 provinces of China from 2006 to 2015. Directional Environmental Production Frontier Function (DEPFF) measures the distance between actual production points and the effective production frontier surface, which yields the shadow prices of CO2 emission. With the relationship between CO2 emission and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth which is encapsulated in the shadow price, the provinces are classified into three groups: acceleration zone, buffer zone, and deceleration zone. The acceleration zone is characterized by a smaller emission growth driving a greater economic growth, and the provincial average price of CO2 is 184.16 US$/ton. In the buffer zone, a significant emission increase brings about less economic growth with the average shadow price at 86.57 US$/ton. In the deceleration zone, a high growth rate of CO2 emissions is accompanied with an economic output decrease, which implies that the shadow price of CO2 should be negative, and the mean value is −200.7 US$/ton. As the CO2 abatement potential differs significantly across provinces, the environmental policy and CO2 reduction targets should be region-specific. Full article
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Open AccessArticle What Motivates Local Governments to Invest in Critical Infrastructure? Lessons from Chile
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3808; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103808
Received: 23 August 2018 / Revised: 30 September 2018 / Accepted: 16 October 2018 / Published: 22 October 2018
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Abstract
In this study, we identify institutional factors and processes that foster local government decisions about disaster risk reduction, especially critical infrastructure investments and maintenance. We propose that municipal institutional capacities, organization, leadership, and multilevel governance will affect critical infrastructure investments by local governments. [...] Read more.
In this study, we identify institutional factors and processes that foster local government decisions about disaster risk reduction, especially critical infrastructure investments and maintenance. We propose that municipal institutional capacities, organization, leadership, and multilevel governance will affect critical infrastructure investments by local governments. To examine these ideas, we employ qualitative analysis to compare two representative medium–sized cities in Chile. Our results suggest that there are two main institutional factors that constitute the foundation for improvements in critical infrastructure in Chile: municipal institutional context and the local administration’s links with decision makers at higher levels of governance. These results imply that future interventions to strengthen local government efforts for disaster risk reduction in terms of critical infrastructures would benefit from a pre-intervention diagnosis of the target location’s existing institutional context and linkages with external governance actors. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Analysis of Spatial-Temporal Characteristics of the PM2.5 Concentrations in Weifang City, China
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 2960; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10092960
Received: 25 July 2018 / Revised: 8 August 2018 / Accepted: 14 August 2018 / Published: 21 August 2018
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Abstract
Air pollution, which accompanies industrial progression and urbanization, has become an urgent issue to address in contemporary society. As a result, our understanding and continued study of the spatial-temporal characteristics of a major pollutant, defined as 2.5-micron or less particulate matter (PM2.5 [...] Read more.
Air pollution, which accompanies industrial progression and urbanization, has become an urgent issue to address in contemporary society. As a result, our understanding and continued study of the spatial-temporal characteristics of a major pollutant, defined as 2.5-micron or less particulate matter (PM2.5), as well as the development of related approaches to improve the environment, has become vital. This paper studies the characteristics of yearly, quarterly, monthly, daily, and hourly PM2.5 concentrations, and discusses the influencing factors based on the hourly data of nationally controlled and provincially controlled monitoring stations, from 2012 to 2016, in Weifang City. The main conclusion of this study is that the annual PM2.5 concentrations reached a peak in 2013. With efficient aid from the government, this value has decreased annually and has high spatial characteristics in the northwest and low spatial characteristics in the southeast. Second, the seasonal and monthly PM2.5 concentrations form a U-shaped trend, meaning that the concentration is high in the summer and low in the winter. These trends are highly relevant to the factors of plantation, humidity, temperature, and precipitation. Third, within a week, higher PM2.5 concentrations appear on Mondays and Saturdays, whereas the lowest concentration occurs on Wednesdays. It can be inferred that PM2.5 concentrations tend to be highly dependent on human activities and living habits. Lastly, there are hourly discrepancies within the peaks and troughs depending on the month, and the overall daytime PM2.5 concentrations and reductive rates are higher in the daytime than in the nighttime. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Santa Barbara Oil Spill and Its Effect on United States Environmental Policy
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2750; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082750
Received: 5 July 2018 / Revised: 27 July 2018 / Accepted: 28 July 2018 / Published: 3 August 2018
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Abstract
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA) paved the way for comprehensive federal environmental policy in the United States. NEPA has successfully allowed citizens and others to become active participants in the environmental decision-making process for federal infrastructure projects throughout the evolution [...] Read more.
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA) paved the way for comprehensive federal environmental policy in the United States. NEPA has successfully allowed citizens and others to become active participants in the environmental decision-making process for federal infrastructure projects throughout the evolution of environmental policy in the United States. Its efficacy was enhanced because of an oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast in January 1969. This disaster gave the framers of NEPA an example of the consequences of the lack of environmental policy in federal decision making. Using their original proactive approach along with the reactive response to the spill, they created a policy that has can be seen as a foundation for 21st century sustainability and resilience programs. Full article
Open AccessArticle Developing Countries in the Lead—What Drives the Diffusion of Plastic Bag Policies?
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1994; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061994
Received: 27 April 2018 / Revised: 29 May 2018 / Accepted: 8 June 2018 / Published: 13 June 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (4107 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
While diffusion patterns are quite well understood in the context of the Global North, diffusion research has only been applied to a limited extent to investigate how policies spread across developing countries. In this article, we therefore analyze the diffusion patterns of plastic [...] Read more.
While diffusion patterns are quite well understood in the context of the Global North, diffusion research has only been applied to a limited extent to investigate how policies spread across developing countries. In this article, we therefore analyze the diffusion patterns of plastic bag bans and plastic bag taxes in the Global South and Global North to contribute to the further refinement of diffusion theory by specifically addressing the under-researched Global South. Moreover, with an in-depth investigation of plastic bag policies through the lens of diffusion research, the article provides insights in the rather new and still underexplored policy field of plastic pollution. We find that industrialized countries have mostly adopted plastic bag taxes, while developing countries have mainly introduced plastic bag bans and thus more stringent legislation than countries in the Global North. So far, the key driving force for the diffusion of plastic bag policies in the Global North has been the global public pressure. In the Global South, where plastic bag litter is much more visible and harmful due to limited waste collection and recycling rates, national problem pressure has been much more influential. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Contemporary Resource Policy and Decoupling Trends—Lessons Learnt from Integrated Model-Based Assessments
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1858; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061858
Received: 29 March 2018 / Revised: 28 May 2018 / Accepted: 30 May 2018 / Published: 4 June 2018
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Abstract
Addressing climate change and natural resource depletion has been key to the international and national sustainability agenda for almost 30 years. Despite existing efforts, global CO2 emissions and raw material use levels continue to grow. This seems to suggest the need for [...] Read more.
Addressing climate change and natural resource depletion has been key to the international and national sustainability agenda for almost 30 years. Despite existing efforts, global CO2 emissions and raw material use levels continue to grow. This seems to suggest the need for more systemic approaches in environmental policy. Our paper contributes modelling results to assess the potential of efficiency improvements to achieve absolute decoupling of global raw material use and environmental impacts from economic growth. We apply the global, dynamic MRIO model GINFORS to simulate potential effects of raw material efficiency improvements in production against a climate mitigation scenario baseline. Our simulation experiments indicate that (rather radical) progress in the raw material efficiency of production technologies in concert with extensive climate mitigation efforts could enable an absolute decoupling of resource use and CO2 emissions from GDP growth at a global level and for some countries. The absolute raw material extraction levels achieved, however, still exceed the material use reduction targets suggested by sustainability scientists. Our findings highlight that achieving such targets without addressing rebound effects is implausible. Hence, we call upon policy makers to integrate rebound mitigation strategies and move beyond exclusively improving efficiency to tackling structural and behavioural changes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Environmental Warning System Based on the DPSIR Model: A Practical and Concise Method for Environmental Assessment
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1728; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061728
Received: 7 May 2018 / Revised: 17 May 2018 / Accepted: 17 May 2018 / Published: 25 May 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (3797 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Though we are in urgent need of environmental warnings to slow environmental deterioration, currently, there is no internationally concise method for environmental warnings. In addition, the existing approaches do not combine the three aspects of ecology, resources, and environment. At the same time, [...] Read more.
Though we are in urgent need of environmental warnings to slow environmental deterioration, currently, there is no internationally concise method for environmental warnings. In addition, the existing approaches do not combine the three aspects of ecology, resources, and environment. At the same time, the three elements of the environment (air, water, and soil) are separated in most environmental warning systems. Thus, the method this paper gives is an innovative attempt and aims to make environmental assessment more practical. This paper establishes the index system of an environmental early warning based on the Driving–Pressure–State–Influence–Response (DPSIR) model. The Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) method was used to determine the weights. Next, single and integrated index methods further assess the environmental warning state, in which the weighted summation method is used to summarize the data and results. The case of Tianjin is used to confirm the applicability of this method. In conclusion, the method in this paper is more well-behaved and, therefore, more suitable to assist cities in their environmental assessment. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Sustainability in an Emerging Nation: The Bhutan Case Study
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1622; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051622
Received: 1 April 2018 / Revised: 13 May 2018 / Accepted: 15 May 2018 / Published: 18 May 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1596 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
With the onset of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change, the world’s nations were to create economic development integrating environmental and social improvement. However, there is still much uncertainty in the world of politics and academia [...] Read more.
With the onset of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change, the world’s nations were to create economic development integrating environmental and social improvement. However, there is still much uncertainty in the world of politics and academia as to whether these integrated goals are achievable and how they can fit best with diverse national and local contexts. Thus, there is always a need to find nations that can show how it can be achieved in different settings shaped by local experiences, challenges, and opportunities. Bhutan could be one of these nations as it could be argued that it has, to an extent, simplified the task to fit its values and aspirations. Bhutan has three major goals that need to be integrated: Wealth (GDP) to align with their middle-income aspiration, thus providing opportunities for employment, Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) that are maintained at a carbon neutral level, which is beyond most national commitments, and Bhutan’s renowned Gross National Happiness (GNH) index, which covers their socio-economic goals. We show this integration and then synthesize some core findings from a literature review on the theory and practice of sustainable development through the lens of the three integrated goals of Bhutan, thereby placing the case of Bhutan into the wider literature. This paper seeks to show how one emerging nation can model an operational sustainability policy. The paper highlights some plausible synergies between the 17 SDGs and the domains and indicators of GNH that could help nations struggling with how they can create sensible sustainability outcomes from these new global agendas. Bhutan has framed the GNH as its contribution to sustainability. However, this paper suggests that it may be the integration of the GNH with GDP and GHG that is its real contribution. Furthermore, Bhutan’s 3G model of fully integrating GNH, GDP, and GHG suggests a way forward for achieving their imperatives of economic growth, whilst enabling the SDGs and achieving the difficult climate change goal. It may also suggest a model for other nations wanting to find a complementary way of framing economic growth, the 17 SDGs, and the Paris Agreement into a coherent set of policies. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Sustainability Assessment of the New Residential Projects in the Baltic States: A Multiple Criteria Approach
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1387; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051387
Received: 23 March 2018 / Revised: 21 April 2018 / Accepted: 25 April 2018 / Published: 1 May 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (24036 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Housing is one of the most important public priorities affecting urban development and therefore has a significant impact on sustainable development. A housing project can be regarded as sustainable only when all the dimensions of sustainability (environmental, economic, and social) are dealt with. [...] Read more.
Housing is one of the most important public priorities affecting urban development and therefore has a significant impact on sustainable development. A housing project can be regarded as sustainable only when all the dimensions of sustainability (environmental, economic, and social) are dealt with. The aim of the present article is to propose an integrated, hierarchy-based, multiple-criteria approach for the sustainability assessment of new residential development projects, which is achieved through the accomplishment of three objectives. First, this paper proposes an original framework for a multiple-criteria assessment of new residential projects. Second, the proposed methodology is demonstrated in the assessment of nine residential development projects in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia according to a hierarchical system of 53 sustainability indicators developed specifically for the Baltic context. Finally, based on the research results, the paper proposes recommendations to stakeholders for enhancing the performance of new residential projects according to the principles of sustainability. The proposed sustainability assessment approach is not limited to the Baltic States and can also be used in other countries, applying the adapted sustainability assessment indicators. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Cartographic Depictions of Louisiana Land Loss: A Tool for Sustainable Policies
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 763; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030763
Received: 11 February 2018 / Revised: 5 March 2018 / Accepted: 6 March 2018 / Published: 10 March 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (3895 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
For more than half a century, scientists in Louisiana (USA) have been mapping coastal land loss. Cartographic depictions were initially important to expose potential loss of off-shore oil revenue tied to the retreating shoreline. For the last 40 years, attention has shifted to [...] Read more.
For more than half a century, scientists in Louisiana (USA) have been mapping coastal land loss. Cartographic depictions were initially important to expose potential loss of off-shore oil revenue tied to the retreating shoreline. For the last 40 years, attention has shifted to issues related to preserving a valuable ecology and protecting the coastal society from rising seas and storm surge. This paper reviews 60 years of land loss mapping as a tool to drive public policy directed at preserving and restoring the state’s coastal wetlands. It highlights the power of visualizations in fostering public awareness in an environmental crisis and their value in motivating more sustainable public policies. It also provides a critique of the shifting emphasis in the public narrative away from the factual history of land loss to imagined future losses. Full article
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Roadmap to Rebound: How to Address Rebound Effects from Resource Efficiency Policy
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 2009; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10062009
Received: 18 April 2018 / Revised: 29 May 2018 / Accepted: 12 June 2018 / Published: 14 June 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (442 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Increasing demand for resources has been met with a new wave of resource efficiency policies worldwide. Such policies are, however, vulnerable to rebound effects when increased resource efficiency leads to additional resource use via behavioural and systemic responses. Yet, the implications of policy-induced [...] Read more.
Increasing demand for resources has been met with a new wave of resource efficiency policies worldwide. Such policies are, however, vulnerable to rebound effects when increased resource efficiency leads to additional resource use via behavioural and systemic responses. Yet, the implications of policy-induced rebounds are mostly unknown since most studies have focused on costless and exogenous efficiency improvements that are not linked to any specific policy intervention. After reviewing the literature, we provide guidance for the analysis of policy-induced rebounds. With regards to scope and method design, we highlight the untapped potential of life cycle assessment (to capture trade-offs between life cycle stages and environmental pressures) and macro-economic modelling (to reveal economic consequences beyond supply chain effects). We also find striking asymmetries in research efforts, leaving knowledge gaps for key resource efficiency strategies targeting, among others, materials, water, land, biodiversity, and waste. Lastly, rebound effects generally focus on a single resource, usually energy, and much is ignored about their implications in the context of resource interlinkages. A better understanding of such cross-resource rebounds is key to design and to assess the effectiveness of emerging policy paradigms such as the resource nexus and the sustainable development goals. Full article
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Open AccessReview The Development and Use of Sustainability Criteria in SuRF-UK’s Sustainable Remediation Framework
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1781; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061781
Received: 30 March 2018 / Revised: 14 May 2018 / Accepted: 18 May 2018 / Published: 29 May 2018
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Abstract
Sustainability considerations have become widely recognised in contaminated land management and are now accepted as an important component of remediation planning and implementation around the world. The Sustainable Remediation Forum for the UK (SuRF-UK) published guidance on sustainability criteria for consideration in drawing [...] Read more.
Sustainability considerations have become widely recognised in contaminated land management and are now accepted as an important component of remediation planning and implementation around the world. The Sustainable Remediation Forum for the UK (SuRF-UK) published guidance on sustainability criteria for consideration in drawing up (or framing) assessments, organised across 15 “headline” categories, five for the environment element of sustainability, five for the social, and five for the economic. This paper describes how the SuRF-UK indicator guidance was developed, and the rationale behind its structure and approach. It describes its use in remediation option appraisal in the UK, and reviews the international papers that have applied or reviewed it. It then reviews the lessons learned from its initial use and the opinions and findings of international commentators, and concludes with recommendations on how the indicator categories might be further refined in the future. The key findings of this review are that the SuRF-UK framework and indicator guidance is well adopted into practice in the UK. It is widely recognised as the most appropriate mechanism to support sustainability-based decision making in contaminated land decision making. It has influenced the development of other national and international guidance and standards on sustainable remediation. However, there is room for some fine tuning of approach based on the lessons learned during its application. Full article
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Open AccessReview Eco-Dimensionality as a Religious Foundation for Sustainability
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1021; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041021
Received: 20 February 2018 / Revised: 26 March 2018 / Accepted: 27 March 2018 / Published: 30 March 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (229 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Academics have critiqued the Abrahamic faiths, particularly Christianity, as inadequate to respond to today’s environmental dilemmas due to abstract theological qualities like the concept of a unified or transcendent God. Christianity and Islam are the earth’s most populous religions, however, and they are [...] Read more.
Academics have critiqued the Abrahamic faiths, particularly Christianity, as inadequate to respond to today’s environmental dilemmas due to abstract theological qualities like the concept of a unified or transcendent God. Christianity and Islam are the earth’s most populous religions, however, and they are growing in the global south. A literature review finds that both indigenous and world religions develop strategies for environmental sustainability. Examples include: Amazonian fisheries, Islamic gardens, monastic forest management, Baptist LEED certified buildings, and Christian agrarian stewardship. These cases share a characteristic termed eco-dimensionality, defined as the integrative expression of environmental values, caretaking norms and sustainable practices in all aspects of religion, that recognizes and specifically adapts to keystone environmental processes and ecosystemic or geo-physical diversity. Religious eco-dimensionality incorporates: inventorying biota and ecosystems, recognizing environmental spatial and temporal dynamics at multiple scales, understanding communitarian and anti-communitarian human behaviors, structuring social networks, adopting sustainable technologies, and developing an integrative repertoire of religious symbols, aesthetic endeavors and ceremonies. Eco-dimensionality can evolve to address new issues. Negatively stereotyping faith traditions can inhibit constructive conversations concerning environmental issues and development of religious symbols and practices enhancing eco-dimensionality. Full article
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