Special Issue "Environment-Poverty Nexus and Sustainable Development"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Juha I. Uitto
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Independent Evaluation Office (IEO), Global Environment Facility (GEF), Washington, DC 20433, USA
Interests: sustainable development; environment–poverty linkages; Agenda 2030; Sustainable Development Goals; human geography; monitoring and evaluation; geospatial analysis; natural resources management; climate change adaptation; resilience

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue will comprise a selection of papers addressing the environment–poverty nexus in the context of sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development explicitly recognizes the interlinkages between the social, economic, and environmental spheres, and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are all intended to address these dimensions in a comprehensive manner. A complex relationship exists between environment and poverty: poverty may lead to unsustainable use of natural resources and environmental degradation; however, environmental degradation also often affects poor people most. In rural areas, poor people depend on land, water, and biodiversity for their living. In urban centers, rapid growth and unplanned development places the disadvantaged into environmentally hazardous shantytowns. Climate change further exacerbates matters. These factors all have differentiated impacts based on gender, social and economic group, and ethnicity, including indigenous peoples. A better understanding and creative solutions are needed to move towards sustainable development.

Some key research questions are as follows:

  • How is the environment–poverty nexus manifested in general and in specific contexts?
  • How do the interlinkages between environment, climate change, and poverty interact with disaster risk and vulnerability?
  • What approaches can promote transformative change towards sustainability, and what innovative policies, strategies, and approaches can be utilized to reduce poverty and enhance environmental quality?
  • How can we promote successful adaptation and resilience of communities in rural and urban settings in the face of climate change?
  • How can we better measure, monitor, and evaluate policies, strategies, programs, and projects and identify what works, for whom, and in what context?

Dr. Juha I. Uitto
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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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 1900 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

  • Sustainable development
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Poverty–environment nexus
  • Coupled human–natural systems

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Blue Economy: Community Case Studies Addressing the Poverty–Environment Nexus in Ocean and Coastal Management
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4654; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114654 - 06 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1128
Abstract
The objective of this paper is to examine how local practices of blue economy succeed in addressing the poverty–environment nexus in coastal communities. While many disciplines touch upon the concept of blue economy, little literature exists on how a sustainable blue economy approach [...] Read more.
The objective of this paper is to examine how local practices of blue economy succeed in addressing the poverty–environment nexus in coastal communities. While many disciplines touch upon the concept of blue economy, little literature exists on how a sustainable blue economy approach can help bridge poverty–environment challenges, particularly at the community level. To illustrate this, we present three case studies of blue economy practices initiated and implemented by coastal communities in China, Samoa, and Vietnam. The outcomes from each case study are examined based on both their environmental and socio-economic impact. Lessons learned include the significant role of science and technology in innovating solutions, the crucial impact of community leaders in encouraging and amplifying both local needs and solutions, continuous advocacy, fulfilling the very important need for communities to witness tangible benefits of project implementation, and last but not least the availability of resources and know-how resulting from multi-stakeholder partnerships including local governing councils, NGOs, and community members. Local communities have an unrecognized potential for adaptation and innovation and that more proactive public policies are required to achieve environmental and poverty reduction objectives simultaneously. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment-Poverty Nexus and Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle
The Use of Remote Sensing Analysis for Evaluating the Impact of Development Projects in the Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3628; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093628 - 30 Apr 2020
Viewed by 1220
Abstract
Remote sensing has long been valued as a data source for monitoring environmental indicators and detecting trends in ecosystem stress from anthropogenic causes such as deforestation, river dams and air and water pollution. More recently, remote sensing analyses have been applied to evaluate [...] Read more.
Remote sensing has long been valued as a data source for monitoring environmental indicators and detecting trends in ecosystem stress from anthropogenic causes such as deforestation, river dams and air and water pollution. More recently, remote sensing analyses have been applied to evaluate the impacts of environmental projects and programs on reducing environmental stresses. Such evaluation has focused primarily on the change in above-surface vegetation such as forests. This study uses remote sensing ocean color products to evaluate the impact on reducing marine pollution of the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) portfolio of projects in the Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem. Chlorophyll concentration was derived from satellite images over a time series from the 1990s, when GEF projects began, until the present. Results show a 50% increase in chlorophyll until 2011 followed by a 34% decrease until 2019, showing a potential delayed effect of pollution control efforts. The rich time series data is a major advantage to using geospatial analysis for evaluating the impacts of environmental interventions on marine pollution. However, one drawback to the method is that it provides insights into correlations but cannot attribute the results to any particular cause, such as GEF interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment-Poverty Nexus and Sustainable Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring the Socioeconomic Co-benefits of Global Environment Facility Projects in Uganda Using a Quasi-Experimental Geospatial Interpolation (QGI) Approach
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3225; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083225 - 16 Apr 2020
Viewed by 795
Abstract
Since 1992, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has mobilized over $131 billion in funds to enable developing and transitioning countries to meet the objectives of international environmental conventions and agreements. While multiple studies and reports have sought to examine the environmental impact of [...] Read more.
Since 1992, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has mobilized over $131 billion in funds to enable developing and transitioning countries to meet the objectives of international environmental conventions and agreements. While multiple studies and reports have sought to examine the environmental impact of these funds, relatively little work has examined the potential for socioeconomic co-benefits. Leveraging a novel database on the geographic location of GEF project interventions in Uganda, this paper explores the impact of GEF projects on household assets in Uganda. It employs a new methodological approach, Quasi-experimental Geospatial Interpolation (QGI), which seeks to overcome many of the core biases and limitations of previous implementations of causal matching studies leveraging geospatial information. Findings suggest that Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) GEF projects with initial implementation dates prior to 2009 in Uganda had a positive, statistically significant impact of approximately $184.81 on the change in total household assets between 2009 and 2011. Leveraging QGI, we identify that (1) this effect was statistically significant at distances between 2 and 7 km away from GEF projects, (2) the effect was positive but not statistically significant at distances less than 2 km, and (3) there was insufficient evidence to establish the impact of projects beyond a distance of approximately 7 km. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment-Poverty Nexus and Sustainable Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Connections Between Wind Energy, Poverty and Social Sustainability in Brazil’s Semiarid
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 864; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030864 - 23 Jan 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1211
Abstract
In Brazil, the technical-scientific and informational knowledge records abundance of winds of high commercial viability and its use has usually occurred in spaces socially characterized by poverty. In the state of Rio Grande do Norte, the Mato Grande territory concentrates 3758 MW of [...] Read more.
In Brazil, the technical-scientific and informational knowledge records abundance of winds of high commercial viability and its use has usually occurred in spaces socially characterized by poverty. In the state of Rio Grande do Norte, the Mato Grande territory concentrates 3758 MW of installed capacity in 114 wind farms. In opposition to this economic and technological development, 5191 families settled in 73 rural settlements live in poverty, living with restrictions on land use and exploitation caused by water stress and without enjoying the benefits of energy activity. Therefore, the aim of this study is to understand the connections between the implementation of wind farms as sustainability promoters and the permanence of poverty levels. To this end, a literature review, secondary data systematization and field visits to two wind farms and two rural settlements were conducted, where interviews were conducted with their representatives. The results show that wind energy does not positively impact the researched region that has a history of backwardness and poverty. They also indicate that the wind projects implemented in the study area have disregarded the yearning for the development of the surrounding communities, since after a decade, they did not promote inflections on the family welfare curve. The research innovates in addressing the relationship between poverty and energy, thus, surpassing the frontier of the discussion “Energy Poverty”, since access to electricity is already universal in Brazil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment-Poverty Nexus and Sustainable Development)
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Open AccessArticle
How Does Targeted Poverty Alleviation Policy Influence Residents’ Perceptions of Rural Living Conditions? A Study of 16 Villages in Gansu Province, Northwest China
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 6944; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11246944 - 05 Dec 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 923
Abstract
Rural living conditions (RLCs) in China are influential on the overall development and stability of regions, particularly for populations in distant poverty-stricken villages. This paper takes 16 villages of Chedao town in Gansu province, Northwest China (NWC) as our case study. Using data [...] Read more.
Rural living conditions (RLCs) in China are influential on the overall development and stability of regions, particularly for populations in distant poverty-stricken villages. This paper takes 16 villages of Chedao town in Gansu province, Northwest China (NWC) as our case study. Using data from the Poverty Alleviation and Assistance (PAA) project launched by Lanzhou University in June 2017, and the perceptions of residents of Chedao, we pinpoint RLC changes in the targeted poverty alleviation (TPA) process. The three main results show that: (1) From the residents’ perceptions, the impact of alleviation measures on RLC is mainly reflected in improved housing conditions, infrastructure, and public services. We find no significant effect on cultural conditions. However, eco-environmental conditions have obviously weakened. (2) Housing size, accessibility, distance to shops, and safe drinking water are the most significant factors in housing conditions, infrastructure, public services, and eco-environmental conditions, respectively. (3) Out of the different levels of rural poverty households (RPHs), severe rurality villages are more strongly aware of the positive changes in RLC than residents of mild rurality villages. Moreover, in residents’ view, housing conditions are most improved in severe rurality villages, infrastructure is most improved in moderate rurality villages, and public services are most improved in mild rurality villages. Eco-environmental conditions worsen across all levels. Our findings shed light on the perceptions of residents on changes occurring in rural living conditions, and provide a basis for subsequent studies of RLC in Northwest China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment-Poverty Nexus and Sustainable Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating Poverty Alleviation by Relocation under the Link Policy: A Case Study from Tongyu County, Jilin Province, China
Sustainability 2019, 11(18), 5061; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11185061 - 16 Sep 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1027
Abstract
Land, nature, and the social environment in contiguous poor regions are harsh and difficult to change. The poor adaptive capacities of the socio-ecological systems of these regions are the main causes of deep, persistent poverty. In February 2016, the Chinese government issued a [...] Read more.
Land, nature, and the social environment in contiguous poor regions are harsh and difficult to change. The poor adaptive capacities of the socio-ecological systems of these regions are the main causes of deep, persistent poverty. In February 2016, the Chinese government issued a policy proposing to promote poverty alleviation by relocation (PAR) by means of the “Linking increases in urban construction land with decreases in rural construction land” policy (or simply, the “Link Policy” or LP), which intends to realize the sustainable social and economic development of local villages. Since then, many pilot projects have been carried out across the country based on local resources, environment, and economic development; however, few related studies on these cases have been conducted. After a review of poverty alleviation policies, this paper first introduces the unsustainable conditions of poor rural areas and the implications and advantages of PAR under the Link Policy; we then analyzed the complete PAR process, including formulation, implementation, and completion, by taking Tongyu County in Jilin Province as an example. The study found that the “whole village relocation” model practiced in Tongyu County was relatively successful in terms of improving the living environment, income, and public services of local villagers. On the other hand, there were three main problems: first, many follow-up industries were dominated by the village collectives and heavily dependent on government support or subsidies; second, the newly built village faced the dilemma of “re-hollowing” due to the out-migration of young people and the aging population; third, it was difficult to achieve a true requisition–compensation balance of farmland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment-Poverty Nexus and Sustainable Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Modeling the Spatial Formation Mechanism of Poverty-Stricken Counties in China by Using Geographical Detector
Sustainability 2019, 11(17), 4752; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174752 - 30 Aug 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 855
Abstract
The poverty-stricken counties in China follow a spatial pattern of regional poverty. Examining the influential factors of this spatial pattern can provide an important reference that can guide China in its implementation of a poverty alleviation policy. By applying a geographical detector and [...] Read more.
The poverty-stricken counties in China follow a spatial pattern of regional poverty. Examining the influential factors of this spatial pattern can provide an important reference that can guide China in its implementation of a poverty alleviation policy. By applying a geographical detector and using a sample of poverty-stricken counties in China, this study explores the spatial relationship of county distribution with spatial influential factors, including terrain relief, cultivated land quality, water resource abundance, road network density, and the locational index. These poverty-stricken counties are then classified, and the main factors that restrict their economic development are determined. The results highlight that the selected poverty-stricken counties suffer a severe condition in each of the spatial factors mentioned above. Most of these counties are classified under the location index, terrain relief, and road network density constraint types. Each of the aforementioned spatial influential factors has unique controlling mechanisms on the distribution of these poverty-stricken counties. Most of these counties are constrained by two or multiple spatial influential factors, except for some counties located in South and Central China, which are mainly constrained by a single spatial influential factor. Therefore, these single factor-constrained poverty-stricken counties warrant more attention when a developmental policy for poverty alleviation is to be implemented. The various aspects of poverty-stricken counties constrained by multiple factors must be comprehensively considered with a special focus on their development. The differentiated policies must be designed for these poverty-stricken counties on the basis of their spatial influential factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment-Poverty Nexus and Sustainable Development)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Complexity of the Socio-Ecological Dynamics in Hong Ha Commune in the Vietnamese Highland—A Review through the Coupled Human and Natural Systems Framework
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6232; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156232 - 03 Aug 2020
Viewed by 815
Abstract
In Vietnam, government policies have led to improvements in the national forest cover and poverty situation. However, numerous recent case studies in the Vietnamese highland found that socio-ecological dynamics were highly complex on a local scale, resulting in unintended policy impacts and varying [...] Read more.
In Vietnam, government policies have led to improvements in the national forest cover and poverty situation. However, numerous recent case studies in the Vietnamese highland found that socio-ecological dynamics were highly complex on a local scale, resulting in unintended policy impacts and varying policy success among regions. While such complexity has become apparent, it has been difficult to understand and compare between regions, as assessment methods and targeted aspects of socio-ecological dynamics differed between case studies. In this review, complex socio-ecological dynamics in Hong Ha Commune in Thua Thien Hue Province were identified in published case studies and organized into complexity features based on the coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) framework, to make information more accessible and comparable under the widely applied framework. All complexity features of CHANS systems were identified in the reviewed literature, such as feedback loops (between illegal forest use and flood damage), heterogeneity (in incomes between Kinh people and ethnic minorities), and telecoupling (of the local livelihood through tourism). Based on its applicability to Hong Ha Commune, the CHANS framework is suggested to be applied in other forested areas of the Vietnamese highland to understand and compare complex socio-ecological dynamics and evaluate policy impacts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment-Poverty Nexus and Sustainable Development)
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