Special Issue "Ethics of Climate Adaptation"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Neelke Doorn
Guest Editor
Department of Values, Technology and Innovation, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, PO Box 5015, 2600 GA Delft, Netherlands
Interests: water ethics; climate change; resilience; water governance; water engineering; philosophy of engineering; ethics of technology
Dr. Udo Pesch
Guest Editor
Department of Values, Technology and Innovation, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, PO Box 5015, 2600 GA Delft, Netherlands
Interests: responsible innovation; environmental politics; sustainable innovation; participatory politics; ethics of technology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is now widely accepted by climate scientists that climate change requires both mitigation actions to reduce climate change and adaptation to cope with its effects, such as increased droughts, heat waves, and flooding. In recent years, resilience has emerged as one of the leading paradigms for adaptation policies. These policies prompt important ethical questions.

First, climate adaptation and resilience policies establish a role division in terms of who has to do what, with that settling questions about which parties are included and excluded, and which parties are beneficiaries, victimized, and forgotten. These policies confront us with strong queries about social justice and responsibility, necessitating critical reflection.

Second, addressing the different effects of climate change may require conflicting interventions. For example, strategies to prevent flooding may conflict with drought strategies or ecological objectives. This prompts questions about how to reconcile or prioritize these different interventions and about whose claims to acknowledge. Additionally, addressing issues of climate change involves a long-term planning orientation taking place at different territorial scales. This may shift the focus away from the everyday environmental justice struggles that local communities are currently struggling with.

Third, climate adaptation policies demand new kinds of solutions, which to a large extent are informed by scientific expertise. The way these science-based activities affect matters of social justice often seem to focus mainly on the effectiveness of policies instead of their legitimacy. This calls for critical analysis of the interwoven character of scientific knowledge development, policy-making, and societal impacts, and particularly the epistemic injustices that emerge when local knowledge is dismissed.

This Special Issue aims to address the different ethical questions raised by climate adaptation from a multidisciplinary angle. We especially welcome papers on the following topics:

  • The inclusion and exclusion of specific social groups in climate politics;
  • The designation of responsibilities to actors regarding climate adaptation and resilience policies;
  • Scalar politics in climate adaptation policy, as climate change issues transcend geographical, administrative, and temporal scales;
  • The conceptual and/or empirical influence of resilience studies on climate adaptation policies and the impact of social justice;
  • Questions of epistemic justice and the role of local knowledge in climate adaptation and resilience policies;
  • Quantitative approaches that allow for modelling ethical considerations in climate adaptation and resilience policies.

Prof. Dr. Neelke Doorn
Dr. Udo Pesch
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 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 1800 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.


  • climate adaptation
  • ethics
  • delta planning
  • distributive justice
  • drought
  • environmental justice
  • epistemic justice
  • flooding
  • resilience

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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