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Special Issue "Policy Pathways for Sustainability"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. J.H. (Jan) Kwakkel

Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, 2628 BX Delft, the Netherland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: decision making under deep uncertainty; exploratory modeling; scenario discovery; robust decision making; adaptation pathways
Guest Editor
Dr. M. (Marjolijn) Haasnoot

1. Deltares, 2600 MH, Delft, the Netherlands
2. Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, 2628 BX Delft, the Netherland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: integrated water management; environmental modeling; decision making under deep uncertainty; adaptation pathways; scenarios
Guest Editor
Dr. M. (Mark) Stafford Smith

Land and Water, CSIRO, PO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2602, Australia
Website 1 | Website 2 | E-Mail
Interests: adaptation pathways; managing for uncertainty; systems ecology; decision support modelling
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. E. (Evelina) Trutnevyte

Renewable Energy Systems Lab, Faculty of Science, Department FOREL and Institute for Environmental Sciences (ISE), University of Geneva, 1211 Genève 4, Switzerland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: energy; renewable energy; climate change mitigation; transition pathways; scenarios; decision making under uncertainty; stakeholder engagement

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The pathway metaphor is gaining prominence in various scientific domains. For example, there are papers on transition pathways, transformative pathways, adaptive pathways, adaptation pathways, emission reduction pathways, climate resilient development pathways, etc. Common, across all these usages of the pathway metaphor, is that policies are conceptualized as sequences of actions taken over time that co-evolve with changing conditions. This conceptualization is a response to the growing realization of the importance of flexibility and learning in the implementation of plans and policies as a means of achieving sustainability in the face of uncertainty. Pathways support decision-makers in taking action in the face of uncertainties that at present are irreducible, while yoking the implementation of actions to an evolving knowledge base. Despite the increasing usage of the policy pathway concept in various scientific domains, limited cross-fertilization amongst these disciplines is taking place. In addition, the uptake of policy pathways in practice has been quite limited up till now. This Special Issue aims at bringing together, for the first time, researchers working on policy pathways for sustainability in any application domain with the intention to foster interaction and cross-fertilization.

Topics that are of interest to this Special Issue include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing pathways with actions from multiple stakeholders
  • A comparative perspective on policy pathways in developed and developing countries
  • Model-based support for designing policy pathways
  • Decision implication of policy pathways (from pathways to a plan)
  • Monitoring for the implementation of policy pathways
  • Real world use and implementation of policy pathways

This Special Issue is particularly interested in methodological contributions that have a wider significance both within the application domain and, in particular, across domains. Case studies are welcome, but should make clear what their wider significance is to the various fields employing the policy pathways concept.

Prof. Dr. J.H. (Jan) Kwakkel
Dr. M. (Marjolijn) Haasnoot
Dr. M. (Mark) Stafford Smith
Prof. Dr. E. (Evelina) Trutnevyte
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 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

  • decision pathways
  • decision making under (deep) uncertainty
  • climate adaptation
  • climate mitigation
  • energy transitions
  • stakeholder engagement
  • long-term uncertainty

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Assessing the Capacity of Adaptive Policy Pathways to Adapt on Time by Mapping Trigger Values to Their Outcomes
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1716; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061716
Received: 27 November 2018 / Revised: 25 January 2019 / Accepted: 20 February 2019 / Published: 21 March 2019
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Abstract
Climate change raises serious concerns for policymakers that want to ensure the success of long-term policies. To guarantee satisfactory decisions in the face of deep uncertainties, adaptive policy pathways might be used. Adaptive policy pathways are designed to take actions according to how [...] Read more.
Climate change raises serious concerns for policymakers that want to ensure the success of long-term policies. To guarantee satisfactory decisions in the face of deep uncertainties, adaptive policy pathways might be used. Adaptive policy pathways are designed to take actions according to how the future will actually unfold. In adaptive pathways, a monitoring system collects the evidence required for activating the next adaptive action. This monitoring system is made of signposts and triggers. Signposts are indicators that track the performance of the pathway. When signposts reach pre-specified trigger values, the next action on the pathway is implemented. The effectiveness of the monitoring system is pivotal to the success of adaptive policy pathways, therefore the decision-makers would like to have sufficient confidence about the future capacity to adapt on time. “On time” means activating the next action on a pathway neither so early that it incurs unnecessary costs, nor so late that it incurs avoidable damages. In this paper, we show how mapping the relations between triggers and the probability of misclassification errors inform the level of confidence that a monitoring system for adaptive policy pathways can provide. Specifically, we present the “trigger-probability” mapping and the “trigger-consequences” mappings. The former mapping displays the interplay between trigger values for a given signpost and the level of confidence regarding whether change occurs and adaptation is needed. The latter mapping displays the interplay between trigger values for a given signpost and the consequences of misclassification errors for both adapting the policy or not. In a case study, we illustrate how these mappings can be used to test the effectiveness of a monitoring system, and how they can be integrated into the process of designing an adaptive policy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Policy Pathways for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Modeling with Stakeholders for Transformative Change
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 825; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030825
Received: 29 November 2018 / Revised: 18 January 2019 / Accepted: 27 January 2019 / Published: 5 February 2019
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Abstract
Coherent responses to important problems such as climate change require involving a multitude of stakeholders in a transformative process leading to development of policy pathways. The process of coming to an agreement on policy pathways requires critical reflection on underlying system conceptualizations and [...] Read more.
Coherent responses to important problems such as climate change require involving a multitude of stakeholders in a transformative process leading to development of policy pathways. The process of coming to an agreement on policy pathways requires critical reflection on underlying system conceptualizations and commitment to building capacity in all stakeholders engaged in a social learning process. Simulation models can support such processes by providing a boundary object or negotiating artifact that allows stakeholders to deliberate through a multi-interpretable, consistent, transparent, and verifiable representation of reality. The challenge is how to structure the transdisciplinary process of involving stakeholders in simulation modeling and how to know when such a process can be labeled as transformative. There is a proliferation of approaches for this across disciplines, of which this article identifies Group Model Building, Companion Modeling, Challenge-and-Reconstruct Learning, and generic environmental modeling as the most prominent. This article systematically reviews relevant theories, terminology, principles, and methodologies across these four approaches to build a framework that can facilitate further learning. The article also provides a typology of approaches to modeling with stakeholders. It distinguishes transformative approaches that involve stakeholders from representative, instrumental and nominal forms. It is based on an extensive literature review, supported by twenty-three semi-structured interviews with participatory and non-participatory modelers. The article brings order into the abundance of conceptions of transformation, the role of simulation models in transformative change processes, the role of participation of stakeholders, and what type of approaches to modeling with stakeholders are befitting in the development of policy pathways. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Policy Pathways for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Developing Policy Pathways: Redesigning Transition Arenas for Mid-range Planning
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 603; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030603
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 4 January 2019 / Accepted: 14 January 2019 / Published: 23 January 2019
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Abstract
Sustainability transitions require new policy pathways that significantly reduce the environmental impacts caused by, for example, energy production, mobility and food production. Transition management (TM) is one of the approaches aiming at the creation of new ways to govern transitions. It uses transitions [...] Read more.
Sustainability transitions require new policy pathways that significantly reduce the environmental impacts caused by, for example, energy production, mobility and food production. Transition management (TM) is one of the approaches aiming at the creation of new ways to govern transitions. It uses transitions arenas (TA) as a key process and platform where new policy pathways are created in collaboration with multiple (frontrunner) stakeholders. TM’s ambitious and demanding agenda is not easy to implement. There is a continued need for testing and developing new ways of carrying out its key processes. We redesigned the TA process in the context of energy system change in Finland by 2030, focusing on interim goals, mid-range change pathways and developing a new notation system that allows participants to directly create the pathways. The resulting renewed TA process results in more specific and detailed mid-range pathways that provide more concreteness to how to implement long-term transition goals. It helps to bridge long-term national visions/strategies and low carbon experiments that are already running. The Finnish TA work created eight ambitious change pathways, pointing towards new and revised policy goals for Finland and identifying specific policy actions. Evaluation of the TA, 6–9 months after its completion underscores that an effective TA needs to be embedded by design in the particular political context that it seeks to influence. It is too early to say to what degree the pathways will be followed in practice but there are positive signs already. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Policy Pathways for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Designing with Pathways: A Spatial Design Approach for Adaptive and Sustainable Landscapes
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 565; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030565
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 7 January 2019 / Accepted: 15 January 2019 / Published: 22 January 2019
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Abstract
Despite rising attention to pathways thinking in multiple domains such as climate adaptation, energy supply planning, and flood risk management, their spatial translation is so far understudied. We set out to study how spatial design based on pathways thinking can help develop more [...] Read more.
Despite rising attention to pathways thinking in multiple domains such as climate adaptation, energy supply planning, and flood risk management, their spatial translation is so far understudied. We set out to study how spatial design based on pathways thinking can help develop more adaptive and sustainable landscapes. Using landscape analysis, field research, and research-through-designing in a case study on climate resilience in Boston (USA), we argue for better understanding of the spatial and design consequences of pathways in general. Our results indicate that pathways can be spatially translated, demanding landscape-informed choices when sequencing different policy actions. We found that spatial designing makes the landscape consequences of pathways transparent and enables policy-makers to replace the input of policy actions with spatial interventions, select pathways according to different underlying design strategies, use the mapped pathways to initiate an iterative research-through-designing process to test and inform different designs, and spatially visualize the pathways and possible sequences of actions. We conclude that policy-makers should be cognizant about the spatial implications of pathways and offer directions to enrich applications of pathways thinking for achieving adaptive and sustainable landscapes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Policy Pathways for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Insights from Testing a Modified Dynamic Adaptive Policy Pathways Approach for Spatial Planning at the Municipal Level
Sustainability 2019, 11(2), 433; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11020433
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 21 December 2018 / Accepted: 8 January 2019 / Published: 15 January 2019
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Abstract
The Dynamic Adaptive Policy Pathways (DAPP) approach has successfully been used to manage uncertainties in large infrastructure projects. However, the viability of the DAPP approach for spatial planning in smaller municipal settings is not clear. This paper examines opportunities and constraints of using [...] Read more.
The Dynamic Adaptive Policy Pathways (DAPP) approach has successfully been used to manage uncertainties in large infrastructure projects. However, the viability of the DAPP approach for spatial planning in smaller municipal settings is not clear. This paper examines opportunities and constraints of using adaptive pathways approaches to help small municipalities plan for future sea-level rise. The methodology was based on developing a simplified DAPP-approach, which was tested in a multiple experimental case study of spatial planning projects in three municipalities in Sweden. The results show that the approach promoted vulnerability-based thinking among the end-users and generated new ideas on how to manage the uncertain long-term impacts of future sea-level rise. However, the increased understanding of uncertainties was used to justify static, rather than adaptive, solutions. This somewhat surprising outcome can be explained by perceived legal constraints, lack of experience of adaptive pathways, and unwillingness to prescribe actions that could prove difficult to enforce in the future. More research is needed to further understand at what planning phases dynamic policy pathway approaches work best and how current barriers in legislation, practices, mind-set, organization, and resources can be overcome. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Policy Pathways for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
A Hybrid Process to Address Uncertainty and Changing Climate Risk in Coastal Areas Using Dynamic Adaptive Pathways Planning, Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis & Real Options Analysis: A New Zealand Application
Sustainability 2019, 11(2), 406; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11020406
Received: 25 November 2018 / Revised: 20 December 2018 / Accepted: 8 January 2019 / Published: 15 January 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (805 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Decision makers face challenges in coastal areas about how to address the effects of ongoing and uncertain sea-level rise. Dynamic adaptive pathways planning (DAPP) and Real Options Analysis (ROA) can support decision makers to address irreducible uncertainties in coastal areas. This paper sets [...] Read more.
Decision makers face challenges in coastal areas about how to address the effects of ongoing and uncertain sea-level rise. Dynamic adaptive pathways planning (DAPP) and Real Options Analysis (ROA) can support decision makers to address irreducible uncertainties in coastal areas. This paper sets out what we learned by complementing multi-criteria decision analysis with DAPP and ROA when developing a 100-year coastal adaptation strategy in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Lessons include the value of collaborative community and decision maker processes for increasing understanding about the changing risk over time, and the need to take early actions that enable a shift in pathway before those actions become ineffective. Modifications to the methods highlighted the importance of using several plausible scenarios for stress-testing options; considering costs and consent-ability early, to avoid the perception that hard protection will last; which criteria are appropriate for communities to assess; and making many pathways visible for future decision makers. We learned about the difficulties shifting thinking from short-term protection actions to longer-term anticipatory strategies. We found that a pathways system will require ongoing political leadership and governance with monitoring systems that can manage the adaptive process over long timeframes, by governments and their constituent communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Policy Pathways for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
The Multi-Pattern Approach for Systematic Analysis of Transition Pathways
Sustainability 2019, 11(2), 318; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11020318
Received: 15 November 2018 / Revised: 4 December 2018 / Accepted: 5 December 2018 / Published: 10 January 2019
PDF Full-text (5714 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Pathways have become a central notion in various areas of research, amongst which are the studies of transitions to sustainability. Though various typologies and concepts are available, a framework for systematic analysis of transition pathways is lacking. We present the Multi-Pattern Approach (MPA) [...] Read more.
Pathways have become a central notion in various areas of research, amongst which are the studies of transitions to sustainability. Though various typologies and concepts are available, a framework for systematic analysis of transition pathways is lacking. We present the Multi-Pattern Approach (MPA) to fill this lacuna and provide a step-by-step manual for its application. The MPA addresses a range of traditional challenges of transitions’ pathway analysis, such as temporal and functional system demarcation and the unravelling of complex, interrelated systemic storylines. The approach provides an oft-called for rigour which allows a diagrammatic and formulaic representation of transitions’ pathways. Because of these qualities, the approach allows systematic cross-case comparison and provides a bridge between narrative-based and computational transitions research. The approach is demonstrated with an in-depth empirical case study of water management in Melbourne, Australia over the last 180 years. The article first presents a high-level mapping of the system’s evolution over time and a detailed analysis of the uptake and phasing out of specific servicing technologies and practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Policy Pathways for Sustainability)
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