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Special Issue "Power, Emancipation and Justice in Natural Resource Governance—Towards “Critical and Transformative Sustainability Sciences”"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2018).
2. Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland;
3. UNESCO Chair for Cultural and Natural Heritage and Sustainable Mountain Development, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland
Interests: human geography (nature–society relationships and sustainability); governance of natural resources and sustainability; agroecology; organic agriculture; social and societal learning processes; sustainable regional development; indigenous knowledge; culture and sustainability; transdisciplinarity and action-research
Interests: polycentric governance; land use in telecoupled systems; large-scale land acquisitions, beyond land grabbing; governance of climate change adaptation; methods for analyzing archetypical patterns in the governance in social-ecological systems; transdisciplinary research methods; teaching methods
Interests: research for sustainable and just development; governance and use of natural resources such as water and soils; stakeholders perceptions, norms, and values; sustainability transformations, social learning processes; transdisciplinary co-production of knowledge
Research on problems and solutions of natural resources governance committed to sustainability is now well established. The resulting “sustainability sciences” are contributing important scientific knowledge generated within and between a great number of disciplines, including transdisciplinary collaboration with non-scientific actors; e.g., organized as peasant, indigenous, worker or consumer movements, NGOs and representatives of the public administration, governments, or private companies.
However, the prevailing approaches to sustainability sciences are often criticised for not considering power relations within and between local actors involved in a specific socio-ecological system and more distant actors, often living far away from the local contexts, which are affected by their decisions. This creates “tele-couplings” of local action arenas with distant actors, often not directly interacting with each other at local levels. Examples are foreign investors acquiring large surfaces of land (“land grabbing”) or interested in investing in mining, energy production, building roads, commodity processing factories, or houses. These challenge the identification of actor, types of interactions, and forms of negotiation required for jointly defining a coherent set of sustainability values that includes the multiple dimensions of justice eventually orienting the concrete sustainability transformations.
Power is often expressed in actor-specific asymmetries regarding the distribution of and access to natural resources and the economic benefits they are able to create. This poses serious questions regarding the principle of justice, which represents a fundamental part of sustainability. However, every transformation in resource governance involves the exercise of power that may create the conditions for more equal access to natural resources. Any transformation towards sustainable resource governance is likely to face a double challenge: on the one hand, sustainable governance of natural resources must have the power to—sometimes radically—transform individual and societal forms of oppression that are impeding more equal access to natural resources. On the other hand, the emancipatory struggles and the power required for making access to natural resources more equal simultaneously provides the context for developing more reflexive and deliberative forms of resources governance, which aim at making power less important in the reproduction of social-ecological relations.
Main topics of this Special Issue
Addressing and fruitfully navigating through this double challenge is at the core of the emerging field of “critical and transformative sustainability sciences”. With this Special Issue, we invite authors to submit papers that demonstrate how power, emancipation, and justice have to be interrelated in conceptual, methodological, and empirical terms in such a way that they result in processes of governance that adequately master the synergies and trade-offs between power, emancipation, and justice.
We especially welcome reflections and case studies that take account of increasingly tele-coupled resource governance systems. Contributions of special interest concern the resource systems of land, water, vegetation, or the atmosphere, and related challenges for food, feed, and energy systems, including the analysis of the associated flows of people, information, materials, energies, and capital. Guiding questions that could be addressed are:
- What are adequate conceptualizations of power, emancipation, justice, and governance that could guide “critical and transformative sustainability sciences”?
- Which are key features of governance processes that contribute to more equal access to natural resources and at the same time to emancipation and justice based on deliberative collective decision-making?
- Which are the roles of markets, states, networks, and local people’s organizations in emancipatory initiatives shaping transformative pathways of change and response towards sustainability?
- Under what conditions do emancipatory initiatives enhance or do not enhance equal access to natural resources, and at what scales?
- How does “critical and transformative sustainability” benefit from the transdisciplinary co-production of knowledge?
Dr. Christoph Oberlack
PD Dr. Flurina Schneider
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.
- natural resources