Special Issue "Environmental and Social Sustainability in Rural Areas"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Asst. Prof. Maria Partalidou
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Agriculture, Forestry & Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Economics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki 54124, Greece
Interests: rural sociology; rural tourism; local development; CLLD; female farmers; social capital; social innovation; urban agriculture; community-supported agriculture; social farms
Prof. Dr. Theodosia Anthopoulou
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Social Policy, School of Political Sciences, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens 17671, Greece
Interests: rural restructuring and multifunctionality of rural areas; localized agro-food systems (SYAL); alternative and solidarity food networks; social innovation and community-led territorial/ rural development
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Stavriani Koutsou
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture, School of Geotechnical Sciences, International Hellenic University, Program of Rural Economy & Entrepreneurship, Alexander Campus of Thessaloniki, P.O. 141, 57400 Sindos, Greece
Interests: collective actions in rural areas, social capital, commons, social innovation, female entrepreneurship, young farmers, transformations of rural societies, rural development

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Rural communities need to re-imagine their future within a locally based economy, rooted in a sustainable paradigm that builds on local assets, skills and collective action. The potentials emerging for sustainable agricultural food production and the production of renewable energy are well documented as addressing contemporary needs of society for mitigating climate change challenges and environmental threats. This Special Issue represents an attempt to put forth a discussion that goes beyond the established popular discourses on the environmental dimension of sustainability: it will try to shed light on the least addressed- but still equally important- pillar, social sustainability, and advocate for the symbiotic relationship between the two terms (environmental and social sustainability). In so doing, this special issue draws on the theoretical lens of community-led development and diverse economies and builds on cases that unlock the dynamics of the community economies, while at the same time advocates on environmental and social sustainability in the rural. Some of the questions posed are: Can rural areas produce food considering the environment while simultaneously ensuring decent employment possibilities for farmers and local communities? Can rural areas integrate migrants and provide ethical wages for them? Can they valorize local know-how as well as alternative paid labor (self-provisioning, volunteer, reciprocal labor in and among rural households and family farms)? How can they promote wellbeing for rural dwellers?hat are the new forms of collective-–solidarity action in the countryside? What are the new forms of democratic governance for rural areas and solidarity urban-rural partnership?

Papers discussing the reframing of values within the concept of environmental and social sustainability are welcomed. Theoretical and empirical research, addressing the challenges rural areas and communities face, falls within the overall scope of the issue. Deadline for manuscript abstract submissions: 1 June 2020
Upon acceptance of the abstract the Deadline for full manuscript submissions: 15 September 2020.

References (optional)

  • CORK 2.0 DECLARATION “A Better Life in Rural Areas”
  • Roevlink, G.; J.K. Gibson-Graham. A postcapitalist politics of dwelling. Australian Humanities Review 2009, 46, 145–158.

  • TFSSE (2019). Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: What Role for Social and Solidarity Economy? Conference Summary prepared by Ilcheong Yi, Samuel Brülisauer, Gabriel Salathé-Beaulieu and Martina Piras. UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (TFSSE). Available online: http://unsse.org/knowledge-hub/conference-summary/.

Asst. Prof. Maria Partalidou
Prof. Theodosia Anthopoulou
Prof. Stavriani Koutsou
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.

Keywords

  • Community economies
  • Social solidarity economy
  • Rural commons
  • Collective actions
  • Social innovation
  • Alternative foodscapes
  • Localised agrifood systems

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Towards Decision-Making for the Assessment and Prioritization of Green Projects: An Integration between System Dynamics and Participatory Modeling
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10689; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410689 - 21 Dec 2020
Viewed by 659
Abstract
This research article presents the integration of participatory modeling and system dynamics as a novel methodology for the consolidation of social dynamic models for the subsequent evaluation and prioritization of green projects in Colombian post-conflict communities. First, through participatory work carried out with [...] Read more.
This research article presents the integration of participatory modeling and system dynamics as a novel methodology for the consolidation of social dynamic models for the subsequent evaluation and prioritization of green projects in Colombian post-conflict communities. First, through participatory work carried out with a community, the citizen factors were identified, evaluated, and systematized in relation to the problems and needs of the region. Second, based on the results obtained, a simulation model based on system dynamics—which facilitates decision-making with regard to the evaluation of green projects—was calibrated. The proposed methodology lead to the conclusion that, with the participation of the community, and with a model based on the dynamics of the variables—such as supply and demand—for natural water and land resources, it is possible to warn decision-makers about variables that can lead to the maximization of investments, and thus to prioritize and select the most appropriate environmental, social, or economic initiatives that meet the needs or expectations of the involved community. In the future, the model could be used to facilitate the management, administration, and control of water and land resources by creating alerts called reserve margins. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Social Sustainability in Rural Areas)
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Open AccessArticle
Wine Routes and Sustainable Social Organization within Local Tourist Supply: Case Studies of Two Italian Regions
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9388; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229388 - 11 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 486
Abstract
This paper is aimed at investigating wine companies’ perceptions and attitudes towards the role of wine routes as an actual tool to improve their tourist attractiveness and sustainable tourism on a territorial level. Through a comparative approach, some wineries from the Italian regions [...] Read more.
This paper is aimed at investigating wine companies’ perceptions and attitudes towards the role of wine routes as an actual tool to improve their tourist attractiveness and sustainable tourism on a territorial level. Through a comparative approach, some wineries from the Italian regions of Abruzzo and Tuscany have been surveyed and in-depth-interviews to key local stakeholders have been conducted. The aim of the survey is to investigate the companies’ perception about wine tourists’ characteristics and wine route management. Through a multivariate analysis, the reasons behind wineries’ satisfaction/discontent have been analyzed. The findings identify a close relation between the complexity of the services offered, the companies’ involvement in the wine routes management and their satisfaction about the results obtained. The more complex the services are, the more satisfied the companies. The comparative analysis of the strengths and weaknesses pointed out by the wineries’ keepers has allowed some general considerations about the tools to use for the improvement of wine routes management. In a broader sense, the wineries’ direct involvement both in investment and in governance appears to be key in the success of the routes as a model for local tourism development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Social Sustainability in Rural Areas)
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Open AccessArticle
Goal-Driven or Data-Driven? Inventory of Sustainability Indicator Initiatives in Rural Canada
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8601; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208601 - 16 Oct 2020
Viewed by 829
Abstract
This article seeks to address knowledge gaps on sustainability indicators (SIs) in rural and natural resource-dependent communities, considering how they are used to contextualize sustainable development priorities and support local governance. We build on recent scholarship on the potentials of SIs for stimulating [...] Read more.
This article seeks to address knowledge gaps on sustainability indicators (SIs) in rural and natural resource-dependent communities, considering how they are used to contextualize sustainable development priorities and support local governance. We build on recent scholarship on the potentials of SIs for stimulating societal transformation, extending this inquiry into rural and resource-based communities which have been under-represented in SI research. The governance challenges facing rural Canada, as well as its geographic and socio-economic diversity, provide a unique context for examining these issues. We provide relatively uncommon synthetic findings by compiling an inventory of SI initiatives across 39 rural communities and regions of Canada. Using the Community Capital Framework, we examine grey literature and academic publications related to each initiative spanning from 1999–2019 to determine the breadth of sustainable development priorities considered. Informed by collaborative and multi-level governance frameworks, we explore how these initiatives are used to support multi-stakeholder collective action. This article finds that rural Canadian SI initiatives prioritize socio-cultural capital, with relatively fewer economic and ecological indicators, while identifying a typology of SI use and inter-related governance dynamics informing how these priorities and indicators are determined. Although some initiatives display highly collaborative and bottom-up processes, many rural Canadian SI initiatives are characterized by a data-driven approach that, when met with local capacity gaps, fails to contextualize standardized datasets to reflect rural realities. We encourage more in-depth investigation of these findings and comparison of Canadian experiences to other jurisdictions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Social Sustainability in Rural Areas)
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Open AccessArticle
Powerless in a Western US Energy Town: Exploring Challenges to Socially Sustainable Rural Development
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8426; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208426 - 13 Oct 2020
Viewed by 353
Abstract
To better understand social sustainability in the context of rapid boom growth and decline, we examine longitudinal social change in the modern boomtown of Colstrip, MT. Using a mixed-methods approach that includes two waves of a community survey—administered in 1996 and 2018, respectively—and [...] Read more.
To better understand social sustainability in the context of rapid boom growth and decline, we examine longitudinal social change in the modern boomtown of Colstrip, MT. Using a mixed-methods approach that includes two waves of a community survey—administered in 1996 and 2018, respectively—and focus groups conducted in 2018–2019, we explore shifts in residents’ sense of community as well as their perceptions and attitudes about current challenges to their community’s future and sustainability. We show that, despite surviving previous boom and bust periods related to changes in the coal industry, this community now faces a new reality that involves the closure of all local power plants. However, both survey responses and residents’ narratives indicate a strong sense of community and support for developing strategies that address challenges to the town’s future. This exploratory case study helps to extend the literature by contributing to a greater understanding of the experiences of contemporary workers who individually migrated to a small, rural energy town but who now, as a community, face an uncertain future, and by illuminating the role of sense of community in both social and environmental sustainability efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Social Sustainability in Rural Areas)
Open AccessArticle
Sustaining Rural Areas, Rural Tourism Enterprises and EU Development Policies: A Multi-Layer Conceptualisation of the Obstacles in Greece
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7687; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187687 - 17 Sep 2020
Viewed by 856
Abstract
The main lever for the development and promotion of rural tourism in Greece has been, and continues to be, through specific EU programmes. Rural tourism in Greece began with a long delay compared to other European countries. The development philosophy was (and still [...] Read more.
The main lever for the development and promotion of rural tourism in Greece has been, and continues to be, through specific EU programmes. Rural tourism in Greece began with a long delay compared to other European countries. The development philosophy was (and still is) to increase rural incomes as a complement to agricultural and livestock production, not by degrading them. This theoretical paper presents previous research studies in rural tourism and EU development programmes and it describes how European financial tools intended for rural tourism were implemented in Greece. Furthermore, it describes the challenges faced by rural people involved in the development of rural tourism in seeking European funding through a multi-layer approach on the obstacles in the EU funds absorption capacity. The analysis shows that the legislation, design of the programmes, processes from local governments, bureaucracy and malpractices create constraints in the absorption of EU funds and the results in the rural tourism development are not the expected ones. It concludes that there is a need for reforms in the national institutional framework and structures along with a different philosophy in approaching the EU funding initiatives in rural areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Social Sustainability in Rural Areas)
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Open AccessArticle
What Ecosystem Services Flowing from Linpan System—A Cultural Landscape in Chengdu Plain, Southwest China
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4122; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104122 - 18 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 808
Abstract
As an ecosystem complex integrated with functions of agricultural production, residence, and socio-cultural activity, linpan (wooded lot) has characterized socio-ecologically and culturally the rural landscape in Chengdu Plain. Although functioning for centuries without disruption and supporting continuously the regional prosperity, it is currently [...] Read more.
As an ecosystem complex integrated with functions of agricultural production, residence, and socio-cultural activity, linpan (wooded lot) has characterized socio-ecologically and culturally the rural landscape in Chengdu Plain. Although functioning for centuries without disruption and supporting continuously the regional prosperity, it is currently under big threats due to rapid urbanization and a growing population. The overall goal of this paper is to improve our understanding of the linpan system and its services. Within the framework of four categories of ecosystem services, including provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services, the deliverables by linpan were elaborated respectively based on document review and field survey. It was addressed that as a localized cultural landscape, linpan has and will continue to provide various services to rural as well as urban people. These services including material and non-material values were highly recognized by local people, but the perceived importance of services were changeable with the socio-economic development, market fluctuation, and people’s awareness rise. Regarding the preservation of the linpan system as an important agricultural heritage system, cultural services should not be neglected within a landscape management framework. Finally, this study called for attention to the dynamics of the linpan system which required an adaptive approach for assessing and managing ecosystem services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Social Sustainability in Rural Areas)
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