Special Issue "Sustainability Assessment and Indicators: Working Towards the Sustainable Development Agenda"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Engineering and Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 October 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Tomás B. Ramos
Guest Editor
CENSE, Center for Environmental and Sustainability Research, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, NOVA School of Science and Technology, NOVA University Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: sustainability assessment; indicators; strategic environmental assessment; planning; stakeholder engagement; circular economy; public sector; organizational sustainability
Dr. Alexandra Polido
Guest Editor
GOVCOPP, Governance, Competitiveness and Public Policies, Department of Social, Political and Territorial Sciences, University of Aveiro, Portugal
Interests: strategic environmental assessment; sustainability assessment; regional development; community-based development approaches; sustainability transitions
Dr. André Mascarenhas
Guest Editor
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Germany; CENSE - Center for Environmental and Sustainability Research, Portugal
Interests: ecosystem services; spatial planning; urban studies; sustainability assessment; indicators; biodiversity; human–nature interactions; stakeholder engagement; transdisciplinary research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Increasing negative impacts of expanding human development on biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as growing inequalities within and among countries, have led to a pressing need to understand and tackle environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced globally. The approval of the 2030 Agenda acknowledges these global challenges and represents an ambitious international step towards sustainable development. Decision-making processes, including policies, plans, programs, and projects, need to address those challenges to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda. This can be supported by sustainability assessment (SA), understood as a systematic and comprehensive approach that aims to assess the environmental, social, and economic consequences of decision-making. However, there are multiple sustainability discourses leading to different perspectives on how to advance sustainability in decision-making. Regarding the operationalization of SA, indicators are often suggested to be an effective tool to assess, monitor, and communicate sustainable development issues, due to their capability of synthesizing information, increasing transparency and accountability, and supporting decision-making. It is therefore necessary to understand the role of SA and indicators in achieving sustainable development at strategic and operational levels of planning and project processes. Hence, this Special Issue invites original research articles, case studies, reviews, critical perspectives, and viewpoint articles advancing concepts, frameworks, and applications in the fields of SA and indicators through different perspectives (e.g., through sustainability boundary objects such as ecosystem services) towards sustainable development.

Suggested topics include:

  • Novel developments in sustainability assessment and indicators under different sustainability perspectives;
  • Critical analyses and the advancement of concepts, frameworks, and applications related to sustainability assessment and indicators;
  • Dealing with uncertainties associated with sustainability assessment and estimates provided by indicators;
  • Stakeholders’ role in sustainability assessment and in the development of sustainability indicators, including co-creation and co-production initiatives;
  • Advances in easy-to-understand approaches to assess and communicate sustainability;
  • Institutional and governance aspects of sustainability assessment and indicators;
  • Societal impacts of sustainability assessment processes and indicators;
  • Integration of “immaterial societal values”, such as ethics, cultural aspects, aesthetics, justice, compassion, mutual help, and solidarity in sustainability assessment and indicator approaches;
  • The role of sustainability assessment and indicators in the efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.

Prof. Dr. Tomás B. Ramos
Dr. Alexandra Polido
Dr. André Mascarenhas
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.


  • sustainability assessment
  • strategic environmental assessment
  • impact assessment
  • indicators
  • sustainability discourses
  • stakeholder participation
  • co-creation and co-production
  • governance
  • sustainability boundary objects
  • sustainable development goals

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Text Mining National Commitments towards Agrobiodiversity Conservation and Use
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 715; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020715 - 19 Jan 2020
Capturing countries’ commitments for measuring and monitoring progress towards certain goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), remains underexplored. The Agrobiodiversity Index bridges this gap by using text mining techniques to quantify countries’ commitments towards safeguarding and using agrobiodiversity for healthy diets, sustainable [...] Read more.
Capturing countries’ commitments for measuring and monitoring progress towards certain goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), remains underexplored. The Agrobiodiversity Index bridges this gap by using text mining techniques to quantify countries’ commitments towards safeguarding and using agrobiodiversity for healthy diets, sustainable agriculture, and effective genetic resource management. The Index extracts potentially relevant sections of official documents, followed by manual sifting and scoring to identify agrobiodiversity-related commitments and assign scores. Our aim is to present the text mining methodology used in the Agrobiodiversity Index and the calculated commitments scores for nine countries while identifying methodological improvements to strengthen it. Our results reveal that levels of commitment towards using and protecting agrobiodiversity vary between countries, with most showing the strongest commitments to enhancing agrobiodiversity for genetic resource management followed by healthy diets. No commitments were found in any country related to some specific themes including varietal diversity, seed diversity, and functional diversity. The revised text mining methodology can be used for benchmarking, learning, and improving policies to enable conservation and sustainable use of agrobiodiversity. This low-cost, rapid, remotely applicable approach to capture and analyse policy commitments can be readily applied for tracking progress towards meeting other sustainability objectives. Full article
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