Special Issue "Socio-Environmental Vulnerability Assessment for Sustainable Management"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Szymon Szewrański
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Spatial Economy, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, ul. Grunwaldzka 55, 50-375 Wrocław, Poland
Interests: environmental and spatial management; GIS; Tableau; business and location intelligence
Dr. Jan K. Kazak
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Spatial Economy, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, ul. Grunwaldzka 55, 50-375 Wrocław, Poland
Interests: spatial planning; suburbanization; decision support systems; strategic environmental assessment
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The current century seems to be a pivotal point to set the proper trajectory of the human development paradigm. Ongoing parallel processes of urbanization, aging society, population growth, and increasing consumption interplay with threats caused by climate change, extreme weather events, and depletion of resources. As climate-related hazards impact both human and environmental elements, there is a need to explore, analyze, and understand the vulnerability of socioenvironmental systems. Therefore, adaptation to climate change as well as sustainable development require a knowledge-based approach and intelligent solutions for integrated assessment of the state of the environment and society.

This Special Issue would explore cross-disciplinary approaches, methodologies, and applications of socioenvironmental vulnerability assessment that can be incorporated into sustainable management. This Special Issue invites researchers in environment protection and development, urban planning, geography, public policy, and other disciplines and cross-disciplinary fields. Relevant topics include but are not limited to the following areas:

  • Environmental carrying capacity and ecological footprint;
  • Landscape sensitivity and cultural heritage transformation;
  • Environmental impact assessment and human impact assessment;
  • Adaptation to climate change;
  • Energy poverty and climate justice;
  • Aging society and environmental threats;
  • Sustainability risk assessment;
  • Resilience assessment and mapping;
  • Geospatial analyses.

Prof. Szymon Szewrański
Dr. Jan K. Kazak
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

  • Socio-environmental vulnerability
  • environmental carrying capacity
  • ecological footprint
  • environmental impact assessment
  • sustainability risk assessment
  • resilience assessment

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
How do Clusters Foster Sustainable Development? An Analysis of EU Policies
Sustainability 2020, 12(4), 1297; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041297 - 11 Feb 2020
Abstract
Sustainable development is one of the fundamental and most important objectives of the worldwide policy. The conducted research shows that sustainable development (SD) is increasingly important in the consciousness of the EU countries, which can be viewed through a prism of the undertaken [...] Read more.
Sustainable development is one of the fundamental and most important objectives of the worldwide policy. The conducted research shows that sustainable development (SD) is increasingly important in the consciousness of the EU countries, which can be viewed through a prism of the undertaken projects. This paper raises the issue of clusters and their significance in the development of a sustainable economy. The article explores trends in the European Union policy related to sustainable development and clusters. The purpose of this study is to find an answer to the following questions: How can clusters contribute to sustainable development and what are the key factors that ensure this process? To achieve the goal of the article a systematic study of the literature and reports was carried out. Moreover, the analysis of the activity of European clusters in the context of sustainable development was performed. Next, the examples of cluster projects focused on sustainable development were presented. It was shown that the clusters contribute a smarter and sustainable development by succeeding in technological and scientific results, developing new technologies for emerging industries, creating new business activities, enticing major technology companies, and connecting local firms into world-class value systems. Furthermore, the clusters participate actively in sustainable development as they promote knowledge creation, joint learning, technology transfer, as well as collaboration, and sustainable innovations. Finally, clusters facilitate the sustainable upgrading of small and medium enterprises and encourage the participation of stakeholders in the process of sustainable development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Negative Political Environment on Sustainable Tourism: A Study of Aksu-Jabagly World Heritage Site, Kazakhstan
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 143; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010143 - 23 Dec 2019
Abstract
The political environment of a tourism destination is the most important element in planning, implementing, and controlling sustainable tourism development. The political environment refers to the coordination and cooperation among many participants to formulate and apply tourism policies. In our study the term [...] Read more.
The political environment of a tourism destination is the most important element in planning, implementing, and controlling sustainable tourism development. The political environment refers to the coordination and cooperation among many participants to formulate and apply tourism policies. In our study the term political environment refers to political power, leadership, structures, mechanisms, and strategies, or policies for the implementation of sustainable tourism development. The main purpose of this article is to, through the example of Aksu-Jabagly natural heritage site in Kazakhstan, study how the negative political environment (NPE) of a tourism destination inhibits the implementation of sustainable tourism development in Kazakhstan. This study draws on in-depth interviews with local residents who are considered as one of the key stakeholders in the tourism industry. In our research, we conducted a questionnaire survey of 222 representative households from the neighboring village of Aksu-Jabagly, a natural world heritage site. Results show that because of negative political environments, the residents highly perceive the negative economic and environmental impacts of tourism development. Although the residents highly evaluated tourism’s positive sociocultural impacts, its relevance to other indicators was relatively weak. The residents are dissatisfied with tourism development, and their participation level in tourism was low. The results also reveal that highly perceived negative economic and negative environmental impacts of tourism are the main cause of residents’ dissatisfaction with tourism development and residents’ lack of participation in tourism. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Eco-Environmental Risk Evaluation for Land Use Planning in Areas of Potential Farmland Abandonment in the High Mountains of Nepal Himalayas
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 6931; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11246931 - 05 Dec 2019
Abstract
Land use change, especially that due to farmland abandonment in the mountains of Nepal, is being seen as a major factor contributing to increasing eco-environmental risk, undesirable changes in the socio-cultural landscape, biodiversity loss, and reduced capacity of the ecosystem to provide key [...] Read more.
Land use change, especially that due to farmland abandonment in the mountains of Nepal, is being seen as a major factor contributing to increasing eco-environmental risk, undesirable changes in the socio-cultural landscape, biodiversity loss, and reduced capacity of the ecosystem to provide key services. This study aims to: i) evaluate eco-environmental risk for one of the high mountain river basins, the Dordi river basin in Nepal, that has a growing potential of farmland abandonment; and ii) develop a risk-based land use planning framework for mitigating the impact of risk and for enhancing sustainable management practices in mountain regions. We employed a multi-criteria analytic hierarchy process (AHP) to assign risk weightage to geophysical and socio-demographic factors, and performed spatial superposition analysis in the model builder of a geographic information system (GIS) to produce an eco-environmental risk map, which was subjected to a reliability check against existing eco-environmental conditions by ground truthing and using statistical models. The result shows that 22.36% of the basin area has a high level of risk. The very high, extreme high, moderate, and low zones accounted 17.38%, 7.93%, 28.49%, and 23.81%, respectively. A high level of eco-environmental risk occurs mostly in the north and northwest, but appears in patches in the south as well, whereas the level of moderate risk is concentrated in the southern parts of the river basin. All the land use types, notably, forest, grassland, shrub land, and cultivated farmland, are currently under stress, which generally increases with elevation towards the north but is also concentrated along the road network and river buffer zones where human interference with nature is the maximum. The risk map and the framework are expected to provide information and a scientific evidence-base for formulating and reasonable development strategies and guidelines for consensus-based utilization and protection of eco-environmental resources in the river basin. As an awareness raising tool, it also can activate social processes enabling communities to design for and mitigate the consequences of hazardous events. Moreover, this risk assessment allows an important link in understanding regional eco-environmental risk situation, land use, natural resources, and environmental management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
From Single-Use Community Facilities Support to Integrated Sustainable Development: The Aims of Inter-Municipal Cooperation in Poland, 1990–2018
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 5890; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11215890 - 23 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The paper explores and compares the aims of the three most common legal forms of inter-municipal cooperation in Poland (engaging rural, urban-rural and urban municipalities) during the years 1990–2018: Mono-sectoral Special Purpose Unions, Municipal Associations and cross-sectoral Local Action Groups. Content analysis was [...] Read more.
The paper explores and compares the aims of the three most common legal forms of inter-municipal cooperation in Poland (engaging rural, urban-rural and urban municipalities) during the years 1990–2018: Mono-sectoral Special Purpose Unions, Municipal Associations and cross-sectoral Local Action Groups. Content analysis was applied and development priorities from the statutes and strategies were studied. The main form of territorial association evolved from, initially, mono-functional bodies concerned mainly with local infrastructural investment and managed solely by a group of local authorities, to a devolved type, consisting of multi-purpose associations managed with the participation of economic and third sector representatives. This was the result of the European Union policy of promoting territorial governance and integrated development in functional regions, this being considered as part of the process of Europeanisation. However, these successive forms of municipal cooperation do not appear to have replaced the pre-existing forms, but they have introduced additional modes of governance of local resources. The findings show that the most “integrated” and “sustainable” management of local resources is observed mainly in cross-sectoral partnerships, like Local Action Groups, but not so often in mono-sectoral municipal unions and associations led solely by local government and focused more on hard infrastructure and municipal facilities. However, given the specialisation shown by each of the three types of association, it is likely that the full range of development possibilities in the areas concerned can only be realised if all three forms of cooperation are present. The analysis confirms the positive role of local economic and social sector participation in shaping sustainable development. The findings also indicate the utility of the concept of cross-sectoral territorial partnerships in post-socialist and post-authoritarian countries lacking traditions of grassroots or participative development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Customized Decision Support System for Renewable Energy Application by Housing Association
Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4377; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164377 - 13 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
One of the major problems in socio-environmental systems is the growing depletion of non-renewable resources and environmental degradation, resulting from inadequate environmental management and planning. Deepening environmental problems have forced countries to create management instruments that will help repair damage and support environmental [...] Read more.
One of the major problems in socio-environmental systems is the growing depletion of non-renewable resources and environmental degradation, resulting from inadequate environmental management and planning. Deepening environmental problems have forced countries to create management instruments that will help repair damage and support environmental protection efforts. The aim of this research is to develop a customized decision support system for the management of renewable energy based on the existing Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The proposed tool enables assessing the potential of solar energy production at the local scale, analyzing each rooftop. Due to the scale of the analyzed area and the details of the assessment, the tool is customized to the needs of housing associations. The system combines an existing GIS tool for calculating the solar radiation potential of rooftops (SOLIS) together with Tableau software that was used to aggregate and analyze data. In order to present the applicability of the developed tool, visualizations were prepared based on housing buildings managed by the “Biskupin” Housing Association in Wrocław (Poland) which is responsible for the management of 3415 residential premises. The created system based on spatial and environmental data will help to decide how to manage the available resources and the environment at the local scale while reducing the pressure on the environment. The tool allows for the aggregation, filtering and presentation of spatial data for the entire area of a housing association, as well as for a single building. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Use of Artificial Intelligence as a Tool Supporting Sustainable Development Local Policy
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4199; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154199 - 03 Aug 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
This paper addresses the problem of noise in spa protection areas. Its aim is to determine the delimitation of the areas that exceed a permissible noise level around the sanatorium on the example of a health resort in Inowrocław. The determination of the [...] Read more.
This paper addresses the problem of noise in spa protection areas. Its aim is to determine the delimitation of the areas that exceed a permissible noise level around the sanatorium on the example of a health resort in Inowrocław. The determination of the exceedance of permissible noise levels allows us to develop directly effective local policy tools to be included in planning documents. In order to reduce noise infiltration, it is important to define environmental priorities. Taking into account their impact on the health of users in the protection area, environmental priorities enable us to introduce additional elements to street architecture. In order to properly manage space, in accordance with the idea of sustainable development, zones of environmental sensitivity—and their socio-environmental vulnerability—have been designated for assessing damage (exceeding permissible noise in health facilities) and defining methods of building resilience (proper management). This has provided the basis for a natural balance optimized for the people living in these areas. To achieve the goal above, non-linear support vector machine (SVM) networks were used. This technique allows us to classify the linearly inseparable data and to determine the optimal separation margin. The boundaries of the areas which exceeded permissible noise levels (separation margin) were estimated on the basis of noise pollution maps, created by means of the SVM technique. Thus, the study results in establishing buffer zones where it is possible to use varied land utilization in terms of form and function, as described in the planning documents. Such an activity would limit the spread of noise. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Use of Waste Biomass from the Wood Industry and Municipal Sources for Energy Production
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3083; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113083 - 31 May 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Biomass can be used for the production of energy from renewable sources. Because of social resistance to burning crop plants, mixtures and pellets made from or including waste materials are a good alternative. The mixtures analyzed, prepared from wood and municipal waste, were [...] Read more.
Biomass can be used for the production of energy from renewable sources. Because of social resistance to burning crop plants, mixtures and pellets made from or including waste materials are a good alternative. The mixtures analyzed, prepared from wood and municipal waste, were characterized for their calorific values, 7.4–18.2 MJ·kg−1. A result, over 15 MJ·kg−1 was obtained for 47% of the quantities of mixtures being composed. It has been demonstrated that wood shavings and sewage sludge have a stabilizing effect on the durability of pellets. The emissions of acidic anhydrides into the atmosphere from the combustion of pellets from waste biomass were lower for NO, NO2, NOx and H2S than emissions from the combustion of willow pellets. Obtained emission results suggest the need to further optimize the combustion process parameters. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Shifting Perspectives in Assessing Socio-environmental Vulnerability
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2625; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072625 (registering DOI) - 26 Mar 2020
Abstract
Governments and institutions across the globe are conducting vulnerability assessments and developing adaptation plans to confront rapidly changing climatic conditions. Interrelated priorities, including the conservation of biodiversity, ecological restoration, sustainable development, and social justice often underlie these efforts. We collaborated with colleagues in [...] Read more.
Governments and institutions across the globe are conducting vulnerability assessments and developing adaptation plans to confront rapidly changing climatic conditions. Interrelated priorities, including the conservation of biodiversity, ecological restoration, sustainable development, and social justice often underlie these efforts. We collaborated with colleagues in an effort to help guide vulnerability assessment and adaptation (VAA) generally in Southeast Asia and specifically in the watershed of the Sirindhorn International Environmental Park (SIEP) in Phetchaburi Province, Thailand. Reflecting upon our experiences and a review of recent VAA literature, we examine a series of seven questions that help to frame the socio-ecological context for VAAs. We then propose a three-dimensional framework for understanding common orientations of VAAs and how they appear to be shifting and broadening over time, particularly in the USA. For example, key leaders in the SIEP project emphasized social development and community-based approaches over more ecology-centric approaches; this orientation was consistent with other examples from SE Asia. In contrast, many efforts for US national forests have evaluated vulnerability based on projected shifts in vegetation and have promoted adaptation options based upon ecological restoration. Illustrating a third, highly integrated approach, many VAAs prepared by indigenous tribes in the USA have emphasized restoring historical ecological conditions within a broader context of promoting cultural traditions, social justice, and adaptive capacity. We conclude with lessons learned and suggestions for advancing integrated approaches. Full article

Other

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Open AccessTechnical Note
Climate: An R Package to Access Free In-Situ Meteorological and Hydrological Datasets For Environmental Assessment
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 394; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010394 - 03 Jan 2020
Abstract
Freely available and reliable meteorological datasets are highly demanded in many scientific and business applications. However, the structure of publicly available databases is often difficult to follow, especially for users who only deal with this kind of dataset on occasion. The “climate” R [...] Read more.
Freely available and reliable meteorological datasets are highly demanded in many scientific and business applications. However, the structure of publicly available databases is often difficult to follow, especially for users who only deal with this kind of dataset on occasion. The “climate” R package aims to fill this gap with an easy-to-use interface for downloading global meteorological data in a fast and consistent way. The package provides access to different sources of in-situ meteorological data, including the Ogimet website, atmospheric vertical sounding gathered at the University of Wyoming’s webpage, and hydrological and meteorological measurements collected by the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management—National Research Institute (i.e., Polish Met Office). This article also provides a quick overview of the key functionalities available within the climate R package, and gives examples of an efficient and tidy workflow of meteorological data within the R based environment. The automation procedures included in the packages allow one to download data in a user-defined time resolution (from hourly to annual), for a user-defined time span, and for a specified group of stations or countries. The package also contains metadata, including a list of available stations, their geospatial information, and measurement descriptions with their units. Finally, the obtained datasets can be processed in R or exported to external tools (e.g., spreadsheets or GIS software). Full article
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