Special Issue "Environmental Policy Design and Implementation: Toward Sustainable Society"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Adam P. Hejnowicz
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Biology Department, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK
Interests: Environmental policy and governance; sustainable development; ecological and institutional economics; complex social-ecological systems; water-energy-food security; agriculture and land management; ecosystem services; urbanisation, regional development and environmental impacts
Dr. Jessica P. R. Thorn
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1: Department of Environment & Geography, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK
2: Research and African Climate and Development Initiative, University of Cape Town, Cape Town 7700, South Africa
Interests: Social-ecological systems; climate change adaptation; participatory scenario planning; ecosystem services; urban green infrastructure; development corridors; mountains; peri-urban; conservation; land use change; Africa

Special Issue Information


The science could not be more emphatic: As a spate of recent hard-hitting reports and assessments have indicated, achieving prosperous and equitable societies, climate stability and a flourishing biosphere require urgent global collective action across scales and sectors (IPCC, 2018, 2019; IPBES, 2019; WWF, 2018; TNC, 2018; UN, 2018; 2019; UN-HABITAT, 2018; FAO, 2019; FSIN, 2019; WRI, 2019). If we are to succeed in that ambition, then delivering on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Convention of Biodiversity’s post-2020 Biodiversity Framework will require radical change, and mechanisms to steer future societal growth towards more equitable, social–ecological resilient, adaptive pathways. At the heart of that process lies the design, implementation, coordination, and coherence of environmental policies (SDG 17.13/4), especially those that intersect key goals of ‘economic development’ (SDG 8, 9, 11) and ‘production and consumption’ (SDG 2, 7, 12). As WWF’s Living Planet Report (2018, pg.6) clearly states “everything that has built modern human society is provided by nature and, increasingly, research demonstrates the natural world’s incalculable importance to our health, wealth, food and security.”


Across the Global South, and Africa in particular, there is an urgent need for inclusive policies that will enable sustainable transitions towards knowledge-based economies grounded in evidence-based policy making. Nonetheless, the design and evaluation of effective policy solutions and research implementation strategies remains very limited. In many parts of sub-sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), there has been a vast expansion in primary and secondary economic sectors, resulting in significant inland and coastal infrastructural developments and a growth in mining, manufacturing, construction, and industrial agricultural sectors. Admittedly, these developments have the potential to promote regional socioeconomic growth, inward investment, reduce poverty, and transform rural livelihoods. Many opportunities are presented for economic development with a new wave of interest from foreign direct investors, rising national incomes, improved human resources and internet connectivity, a growing working-age population, and natural capital valuation, with economies showing increased resilience to global economic shocks.

Nevertheless, developments are not uniform across all countries. For example, since 2010, some African countries have seen a decline in productivity growth indicators, whilst others have maintained stable GDP and productivity growth. Moreover, many nations run the serious risk of natural resources overexploitation and habitat loss, while poorer urban and rural communities are often marginalized from decision-making processes. These developments also frequently occur against the backdrop of weak governance, institutional bureaucratic backlogs and operational silos, political convulsions, and corruption. Concurrently, as extreme climatic events become more frequent, strategic regional and urban development plays a critical role in expanding consumption of households and businesses but is highly dependent on national macroeconomic policymaking and the cooperation of city governments, the private sector, development practitioners, conservationists, and urban planners. The question then becomes how, under these conditions, can effective, robust, and transformative policies be developed and implemented in a way that will steer these societies towards more sustainable, inclusive outcomes in the short- and long-term future?


Focusing on SSA, the purpose of this Special Issue is to explore and advance our understanding of (a) the present state and effectiveness of local, national, and regional policies engaging with, and transforming, the climatological, environmental, social, and economic impacts and consequences of primary and secondary sector expansion and urbanization; and (b) how environmental policies might be designed and embedded into future regional economic and urban development planning to encourage coordination and coherence across sectors and policy domains to deliver sustainable transformations for meeting Agenda 2030 and African Union Agenda 2063.

Key questions to address include:

What are the key synergies and trade-offs in developing effective environmental policies to enhance or restrain the positive and negative impacts of primary and secondary sector expansions respectively? What opportunities are there for developing integrated urban policies that will enable countries to achieve both green growth and future social–ecological prosperity? What are the principal institutional and governance barriers and challenges in designing, implementing, and evaluating integrative environmental policies to meet multiple SDGs? Are there policy coordination difficulties in meeting the aims of Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063, and if so, how might these be harmonized? What rapid economic policy reforms and interventions can be implemented to achieve significant progress in green and physical and digital infrastructure? In what ways can policy interventions be designed to increase urban green infrastructure and ecosystem services to improve community livelihoods in informal settlements? How can marginal communities and voices be effectively included in policymaking processes, and to what extent can processes of deliberative democracy and environmental justice encourage dialogues between local actors and national institutions? How can environmental policy be embedded in urban planning to deliver sustainable land use transitions and effective climate risk reduction strategies? How can advances and innovations in STEM and ICT be applied to produce more robust environmental policymaking and strengthen the science–policy interface?

We therefore encourage original contributions that adopt both research and practice perspectives concerning evidence of policy trade-offs, synergies, challenges, and opportunities. In particular, we invite interdisciplinary studies across natural, social, and human sciences that examine social–ecological interactions occurring between land-use change, livelihoods, primary and secondary sector activities, and urban planning. Empirical studies drawing on multiple case studies, reviews, and conceptual submissions that adopt novel epistemological or methodological approaches are welcomed.

Dr. Adam P. Hejnowicz
Dr. Jessica P. R. Thorn
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 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.


  • urbanization
  • sustainability
  • climate change
  • economic development
  • green growth
  • policy design and implementation
  • SDGs
  • AU Agenda
  • manufacturing
  • infrastructure

Published Papers (1 paper)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:


Open AccessArticle
Linking Environmental Regulation and Financial Performance: The Mediating Role of Green Dynamic Capability and Sustainable Innovation
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1007; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031007 - 31 Jan 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1174
This study develops a multiple mediating model for exploring the link between environmental regulation and financial performance through green dynamic capability, sustainability exploration/exploitation innovation, based on the data from 355 Chinese manufacturing firms. Empirical results support a mediating role of green dynamic capability [...] Read more.
This study develops a multiple mediating model for exploring the link between environmental regulation and financial performance through green dynamic capability, sustainability exploration/exploitation innovation, based on the data from 355 Chinese manufacturing firms. Empirical results support a mediating role of green dynamic capability and sustainability exploration/exploitation in the link between environmental regulation and financial performance, respectively. What’s more, our findings indicate that environmental regulation can help improve financial performance via two multiple mediating paths, i.e., green dynamic capability and sustainability exploration innovation, as well as green dynamic capability and sustainability exploitation innovation. These key findings will help to understand how important green dynamic capability and sustainable innovation is when Chinese manufacturing firms establish a business-politics tie. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop