Special Issue "Socio-Ecological Systems Sustainability"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Isabel Banos-González

Guest Editor
Department of Science Education, University of Murcia, 30100 Espinardo (Murcia), Spain
Interests: socio-ecological systems; systems thinking; sustainability; science education
Dr. Julia Martínez-Fernández
Website
Guest Editor
Fundación Nueva Cultura del Agua / Sustainability Observatory of Murcia Region, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain
Interests: socio-ecological systems; sustainable water management; water indicators
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The present Special Issue will focus on socioecological systems sustainability.
In order to address the sustainability of socioecological systems (SES), which can be defined as integrated systems of ecosystems and human society with reciprocal feedback and interdependence, a holistic approach seems to be required.

Unsustainable trends in the evolution of these social and ecological systems seem to have increased awareness about the need to move faster toward the implementation of more sustainable approaches. Despite this, the real application and acceptance of sustainable policies in socioecological systems is quite far from what is required.

Several barriers and difficulties explain this gap between knowledge and action. The major obstacles are related to the complex nature of socioecological systems, the lack of adequate approaches and tools to understand, assess, and communicate the best options for more sustainable systems and to share visions among policy makers, stakeholders and society, regarding key sustainability issues.

The aim of this Special issue is to present an up-to-date overview on these issues, from a broad perspective, including conceptual, methodological, and case-based perspectives. Covered topics include theoretical aspects of SES; inter and transdisciplinary approaches for sustainability; modeling socioecological systems; advanced methodologies and tools to better define, select, and implement measures aimed at improving sustainability in real contexts; as well as educational approaches aimed at understanding the complexity of socioecological systems, both in formal or informal education; and education for sustainability (EfS). Papers on conceptual and methodological issues, as well as practical examples and real-case analyses are welcome.

Papers selected for this Special Issue will be subject to a rigorous peer-review procedure with the aim of rapid and wide dissemination of research results, developments, and applications.

Dr. Isabel Banos-González
Dr. Julia Martínez-Fernández
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.

Keywords

  • Modeling socioecological systems
  • Education for sustainability
  • Interdisciplinary approaches for sustainability
  • Participatory assessment of sustainable policies and measures
  • Science for sustainability
  • Sustainability indicators
  • Socioecological systems and models

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
A Serious Board Game to Analyze Socio-Ecological Dynamics towards Collaboration in Agriculture
Sustainability 2020, 12(13), 5301; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12135301 - 30 Jun 2020
Abstract
Climate change exacerbates water scarcity and associated conflicts over water resources. To address said conflicts and achieve sustainable use of water resources in agriculture, further development of socio-ecological adaptations are required. In this study, we evaluate the ability of MAHIZ, a serious board [...] Read more.
Climate change exacerbates water scarcity and associated conflicts over water resources. To address said conflicts and achieve sustainable use of water resources in agriculture, further development of socio-ecological adaptations are required. In this study, we evaluate the ability of MAHIZ, a serious board game, to analyze socio-hydrological dynamics related to irrigated agriculture. Gameplay involves the player’s decision-making with associated impacts on water resources and crop productivity in diverse climate and policy scenarios. We evaluated MAHIZ as (1) an innovative science communication and sustainability education approach, and (2) a data collection method to inform socio-hydrological theory and models. Analysis of 35 recorded game sessions demonstrated that MAHIZ is an effective education tool about the tragedy of commons in agrohydrology and was able to identify important decision-making processes and associations between critical social parameters (e.g., communication, trust, competence) and the evolution of collective action. MAHIZ has an open game design, so the approach can be adapted for both scientific insight and outreach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Socio-Ecological Systems Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Socio-Ecological Controversies in the News as Trigger of a Model-Based Inquiry Instructional Sequence about the Effect of Global Warming on the Great Barrier Reef
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4676; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114676 - 08 Jun 2020
Abstract
The use of socio-ecological controversies, such as global warming, in classrooms has been suggested to increase students’ awareness about complex issues, although detailed analysis of their implementation in classrooms are still scarce. This research shows a model-based inquiry approach (MBI) instructional sequence, using [...] Read more.
The use of socio-ecological controversies, such as global warming, in classrooms has been suggested to increase students’ awareness about complex issues, although detailed analysis of their implementation in classrooms are still scarce. This research shows a model-based inquiry approach (MBI) instructional sequence, using scientific news as a trigger, aimed at addressing a global problem on a real socio-ecological system: the effect of global warming on the Great Barrier Reef. Its implementation in a lower secondary school classroom allowed the assessment of the effectiveness of the instructional sequence designed, based on students’ perception of what secondary school students have learned and felt. Results show that the MBI instructional sequence seems to have favored the mobilization of students’ alternative conceptions about global warming, coral reefs, and symbiotic relationships. In addition, it contributed to increasing the students’ awareness of the problem of global warming and its effects on an essential socio-ecological system, such as coral reefs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Socio-Ecological Systems Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Incomegetting and Environmental Degradation
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4007; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104007 - 14 May 2020
Abstract
Drawing on Alfred Schütz’s thought, as well as on a number of modern pragmatists and practice theorists, we theorize incomegetting—referring to practices of getting income, typically salaried work—as the paramount structurer of everyday life and, therefore, also the chief mediator of the [...] Read more.
Drawing on Alfred Schütz’s thought, as well as on a number of modern pragmatists and practice theorists, we theorize incomegetting—referring to practices of getting income, typically salaried work—as the paramount structurer of everyday life and, therefore, also the chief mediator of the human–nature metabolism. Even though the pragmatics of everyday life as an aggregate underlie the bulk of environmental impacts, these insidious impacts impose little immediate influence on everyday life, in particular in the urban Global North. In other words, the pragmatic dimension of everyday activities—principally, work—that takes place within a vastly complex and globally interlinked productive world system, has most often no immediate connection to the “natural” environment. While parts of the populations are directly dependent in terms of livelihoods on the “natural” environment, these populations are typically pushed to the margins of the global productive system. The understanding formulated in this essay suggests that in environmental social sciences there is a reason to shift the epicenter of the analysis from consumption to everyday life, to the varied practices of incomegetting. Against the backdrop of this paper, universal basic income schemes ought to have radical impacts on the way we relate also to the “natural” environment and such schemes necessitate understanding the essence of money in our contemporary realities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Socio-Ecological Systems Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle
Spatiotemporal Evaluation of Socio-Ecological-Economic System Vulnerability: A County-Level Analysis of Chongqing, China
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3912; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093912 - 11 May 2020
Abstract
The research on vulnerability can provide insights into social, economic, and ecological risks. Therefore, the objective of this work was to measure the degree of socio-ecological-economic system (SEES) vulnerability in Chongqing, one of the regions with the high constraint of natural conditions and [...] Read more.
The research on vulnerability can provide insights into social, economic, and ecological risks. Therefore, the objective of this work was to measure the degree of socio-ecological-economic system (SEES) vulnerability in Chongqing, one of the regions with the high constraint of natural conditions and human activity in the southwest of China. For this, by using three criteria and 40 indices based on the exposure-sensitive-adaptive capacity (ESC) model, an index system was designed. The entropy method was used to determine the weight of the indices. Furthermore, the composite index model and coefficient of variation were applied to evaluate the spatiotemporal characteristics of SEES vulnerability in the study area at the county level. The results showed that the average vulnerability index of SEES from 2005 to 2010 in Chongqing was 0.5735. The development pressure was high, and the ability to resist disturbance from external risks was low. Regional sustainable development was facing challenges. Spatial distribution of SEES vulnerability of Chongqing varied from high (moderately vulnerable or worse) in the western counties to low (mildly vulnerable) in the northeastern and southeastern areas with better ecological bases. The general vulnerability of the ecological and economic subsystems continues to decrease. However, the vulnerability of the social subsystem tended to initially decrease and then increase. Overall, the differences in the pattern of SEES vulnerability of the counties declined. Moreover, economic and social development tended to balance. This study is helpful to understand the overall trend and characteristics of vulnerability change and provides theoretical methods and reference opinions to support regional sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Socio-Ecological Systems Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Applying a Social–Ecological Systems Approach to Understanding Local Marine Management Trajectories in Northern Mozambique
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3904; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093904 - 11 May 2020
Abstract
This study applied the social–ecological systems framework (SESF) to six fishing communities in northern Mozambique where marine resource management is being implemented through the Our Sea Our Life project. Data on 11 variables and 27 indicators were organised using the SESF to represent [...] Read more.
This study applied the social–ecological systems framework (SESF) to six fishing communities in northern Mozambique where marine resource management is being implemented through the Our Sea Our Life project. Data on 11 variables and 27 indicators were organised using the SESF to represent the key system dimensions (Governance system, Actors, Resource units and Resource system). Variables within each dimension were weighed to a cumulative score of one. High scores (> 0.50) for Governance system occurred where communities had fisheries management rules and good knowledge of fishing gear regulations. High scores for Actors were evident in communities with few migrant fishers and high participation in village savings and loans associations. Elevated scores of the Resource units occurred where fishers targeted a variety of fish taxa. A healthy Resource system was found in communities neighbouring highly productive and resilient reefs, characterised by high fish biomass and diversity. The status of social and ecological conditions coupled with initial levels of project support and quality of technical support were linked with project achievements. Application of the SESF is therefore valuable in understanding interdependent linkages between social and environmental conditions to inform the design of localised management interventions for social–ecological sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Socio-Ecological Systems Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
The Dynamic Evolution of the Ecological Footprint and Ecological Capacity of Qinghai Province
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 3065; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12073065 - 10 Apr 2020
Abstract
Based on the ecological footprint (EF) model, the dynamic changes in the per capita EF and per capita ecological carrying capacity (EC) in Qinghai Province from 2007 to 2017 were quantitatively analysed. The grey GM(1,1) prediction model was used to predict the per [...] Read more.
Based on the ecological footprint (EF) model, the dynamic changes in the per capita EF and per capita ecological carrying capacity (EC) in Qinghai Province from 2007 to 2017 were quantitatively analysed. The grey GM(1,1) prediction model was used to predict the per capita EF, per capita EC, and EF of ten thousand yuan of GDP. Additionally, the spatial change characteristics of the sustainable development status of the study area in four time periods were analysed using GIS technology. The results showed the following. (1) In the 11-year study period, Qinghai Province’s EF per capita grew gradually, increasing from 2.3027 hm2 in 2007 to 2.9837 hm2 in 2017. (2) The EC per capita in Qinghai Province remained a slight linear upward trend. (3) The environmental sustainability in Qinghai Province deteriorated over time. (4) According to the spatial characteristics, the overall sustainable development state changed markedly in the eastern region but was stable in the central and western regions. This paper proposes some countermeasures and suggestions to help Qinghai Province work towards sustainable development, such as controlling the population, adjusting the industrial structure, developing a low-carbon circular economy, and implementing ecological engineering. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Socio-Ecological Systems Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Risks Without Borders: A Cultural Consensus Model of Risks to Sustainability in Rapidly Changing Social–Ecological Systems
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2446; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062446 - 20 Mar 2020
Abstract
Global sustainability goals cannot realistically be achieved without strategies that build on multiscale definitions of risks to wellbeing. Particularly in geographic contexts experiencing rapid and complex social and environmental changes, there is a growing need to empower communities to realize self-identified adaptation goals [...] Read more.
Global sustainability goals cannot realistically be achieved without strategies that build on multiscale definitions of risks to wellbeing. Particularly in geographic contexts experiencing rapid and complex social and environmental changes, there is a growing need to empower communities to realize self-identified adaptation goals that address self-identified risks. Meeting this demand requires tools that can help assess shared understandings about the needs for, and barriers to, positive change. This study explores consensus about risks and uncertainties in adjacent boroughs grappling with rapid social–ecological transformations in northern Alaska. The Northwest Arctic and North Slope boroughs, like the rest of the Arctic, are coping with a climate that is warming twice as fast as in other regions. The boroughs are predominantly inhabited by Iñupiat people, for whom the region is ancestral grounds, whose livelihoods are still supported by subsistence activities, and whose traditional tribal governance has been weakened through multiple levels of governing bodies and institutions. Drawing on extensive workshop discussions and survey experiments conducted with residents of the two boroughs, we developed a model of the northern Alaska region’s social–ecological system and its drivers of change. Using cultural consensus analysis, we gauged the extent of consensus across the boroughs about what key risks threaten the sustainability of their communities. Though both boroughs occupy vast swaths of land, each with their own resource, leadership, and management challenges, we found strong consensus around how risks that impact the sustainability of communities are evaluated and prioritized. Our results further confirmed that rapid and complex changes are creating high levels of uncertainties for community planners in both boroughs. We discuss the mobilizing potential of risk consensus toward collective adaptation action in the civic process of policy making. We note the contribution of cultural consensus analysis as a tool for cross-scale learning in areas coping with rapid environmental changes and complex social challenges. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Socio-Ecological Systems Sustainability)
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