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Special Issue "Green Growth Policy, Degrowth, and Sustainability: The Alternative Solution for Achieving the Balance between Both the Natural and the Economic System"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020) | Viewed by 13648

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Diego A. Vazquez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Porstmouth, Richmond Building, Portland Street, Portsmouth PO1 3DE, UK
Interests: sustainable and responsible business; socially inclusive circular economy; green growth policy; sustainable supply chains and conflict in extractive industries
Prof. Dr. Jose A. Plaza-Ubeda
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Deparment of Economy and Business, University of Almería, Ctra. Sacramento, s/n, La Cañada de San Urbano, 04120 Almería, Spain
Interests: stakeholder management; stakeholder integration; environmental management; strategic management; management in degrowth contexts

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The existence of an imbalance between the planet’s capacity and the conditions necessary to maintain high levels of economic growth is evident (Schneider et al., 2010). Clearly, the limitation of natural resources obliges companies to consider the possibility of facing critical situations in the future that make it extremely difficult to reconcile economic and sustainable objectives. In this context, some studies have hightlighted combinations of sustainability concepts, such as circular, Green, and bioeconomy, and of the development of models (included green growth or degrowth) which have lack of support (D’Amato, Droste, Winkler and Toppinen, 2019).

In this context of dependence on an environment with limited resources, the necessity is recognized of exploring the consequences of combinations of assumptions about social networks, psychological mechanisms, environmental dynamics, and connections between opinion distribution and environmental policy (Van den Bergh, Savin and Drews, 2019). Some approaches, such as Circular Economy, oriented to the maximum use of resources, are obtaining important contributions (Lewandoski, 2016; Blomsma and Brennan, 2017; Homrich et al., 2018). However, the reality is that the limitation of natural resources is still underway, and the circular economy approach is still very far from the reality of industries (Ghisellini, Cialani, and Ulgiati, 2016), and it is necessary to provide new approaches that address the imbalance between the economic system and the natural system.

In this context, two current trends address the search for this balance: on one hand, focusing on the generation of wealth from investments in the environment (Green Growth), and on the other, focusing on an economic approach that assumes the limitations of resources and is willing to accept smaller growth rates, even negative, which allow reaching a balance between the natural system and the economic system (Degrowth). Both concepts are focused on the organization of human society and economy and sometimes. Although these have been presented as alternatives (Sandberg, Klockars and Wilen, 2019), the fact is that both have points in common based on the importance of natural resources (Jakob and Edenhofer, 2014), and even more, both constitute an option to break the current imbalances between the natural system and the economic system.

Green Growth interprets climate change not as a cost, but as an opportunity and advocates investment in the environment as a driver for “recoupling” environmental protection with growth accumulation (Vazquez and Sarkis, 2012). It supports the reframing of economic progress through movement away from quantity and toward quality as well as away from the consumption of physical and toward that of nonphysical outputs, and from technological toward wider socially embedded innovation (organisational innovation, social networks and R&D intensive specialisation) (Csaba, 2010). Practically, the necessity is argued to promote future economic activity not harmful to, and which can support, natural capital. In this context, the potential contribution of green growth needs to be increased in order to strengthen the implications of the firms, because the main drivers for Green Growth are not only ecological but also economic (Hamdouch and Depret, 2010). Therefore, we call for the necessity to develop a more critical view of green growth that, in accordance with previous references, helps to create new firms’ behaviour that contributes to a more sustainable planet (both economic and ecological), strengthening the balance between the natural system and the economic system.    

Degrowth Theory emerges as a collective economic approach, aimed at producing a substantial change in current habits of production and consumption, so that human and planet survival is a central axis of market orientation (Shrivastava, 2015 ). However, this theory has not been developed in the field of business management, nor the development of socially and environmentally sustainable practices, nor the widespread use of measures aimed at assessing the successful management of these practices. The lack of innovation in management to achieve these objectives is evident (Jackson, 2009; Desore and Narula, 2018). For this reason, companies and markets will have to face the new context in which they find themselves and the new paradigm that is presented, generating more environmentally and socially sustainable practices and behaviours, conserving natural resources, society and, in definitive terms, the planet. The responsibility of managers includes a sustainability perspective (Valentinov, 2014). The compatibility of economic objectives and sustainability in the company is difficult. In many cases, some parts of the company are so conditioned to the objectives of profitability, efficiency or productivity that the mere consideration of other objectives (e.g., Sustainability) implies the appearance of conflicts that only sometimes can be solved. This must be a task of managers to manage companies, trying to avoid conflicts and adapting the objectives of each business subsystem to the new contexts of degrowth and limitation of natural resources (Plaza-Úbeda et al., 2019).

Within the framework described above, this Special Issue invites authors to contribute (economic, management, and sociology perspectives are well received) in the following fields (or keywords):

  • Proposal solutions to balance natural and economic systems both from a Green-Growth and Degrowth perspectives;
  • Literature review between the synergies in both focus: Green-growth and Degrowth;
  • New gaps for contributing literature both from Green-Growth and/or Degrowth focus;
  • Cases studies in Green-Growth contexts;
  • Cases studies in Degrowth contexts;
  • Partial or Global solutions in business to Green-Growth or Degrowth contexts;
  • The role of the manager in the transition to Green-Growh or Degrowth contexts;
  • The firm performance on a Green-Growth or Degrowth context;
  • The role of stakeholders in the transition to a Green-Growth or a Degrowth-context;
  • Which are the firms’ characteristic that achieve a better adaptation to both contexts;
  • New innovation perspectives to face environmental challenges in Green-Growth or a Degrowth-context;
  • Proactive collaboration practices, between firms and other stakeholders, for a Green-Growth or a Degrowth-context.

REFERENCES:

Blomsma, F., & Brennan, G. (2017). The emergence of circular economy: A new framing around prolonging resource productivity. Journal of Industrial Ecology21(3), 603-614.

Csaba, L. (2010). Green Growth - Mirage or Reality?, Intereconomics 13, 151-156

D'amato, D., Droste, N., Winkler, K. J., & Toppinen, A. (2019). Thinking green, circular or bio: Eliciting researchers' perspectives on a sustainable economy with Q method. Journal of Cleaner Production230, 460-476.

Desore, A., & Narula, S. A. (2018). An overview on corporate response towards sustainability issues in textile industry. Environment, development and sustainability20(4), 1439-1459.

Ghisellini, P., Cialani, C., & Ulgiati, S. (2016). A review on circular economy: the expected transition to a balanced interplay of environmental and economic systems. Journal of Cleaner production114, 11-32.

Hamdouch, A.; Depret, M.H. (2010). Policy integration strategy of the ‘green economy’: foundations and implementation patterns, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 53, 473-490.

Homrich, A. S., Galvao, G., Abadia, L. G., & Carvalho, M. M. (2018). The circular economy umbrella: Trends and gaps on integrating pathways. Journal of Cleaner Production175, 525-543.

Jackson, T., 2009. Prosperity Without Growth? Sustainable Development Commission.

Jakob, M., & Edenhofer, O. (2014). Green growth, degrowth, and the commons. Oxford Review of Economic Policy30(3), 447-468.

Lewandowski, M. (2016). Designing the business models for circular economy—Towards the conceptual framework. Sustainability8(1), 43.

Plaza-Úbeda, J.A.; Perez-Valls, Payán-Sánchez, B. and Céspedes-Lorente (2020). The contribution of systems theory to sustainability in degrowth contexts: The role of subsystems. Systems Research & Behavioral Science, 37 (1), 68-81.

Sandberg, M., Klockars, K., & Wilén, K. (2019). Green growth or degrowth? Assessing the normative justifications for environmental sustainability and economic growth through critical social theory. Journal of cleaner production206, 133-141.

Schneider, F., Kallis, G. and Martinez-Alier, J. (2010): ‘Crisis or opportunity? Economic degrowth for social equity and ecological sustainability. Introduction to this special issue’. Journal of Cleaner Production, 18: 511-518.

Shrivastava, P. (2015): ‘Organizational sustainability under degrowth’. Management Research Review, 38(6).

Valentinov V. 2014. The Complexity–Sustainability Trade-Off in Niklas Luhmann's Social Systems Theory. Systems Research and Behavioral Science 31(1): 14-22.

Vazquez-Bruist,. D. and Sarkis, J. (2012). Green Growth: Managing the Transition to a Sustainable Economy: Learning by Doing in East Asia and Europe. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.

Vazquez-Brust, D., Smith, A. M., & Sarkis, J. (2014). Managing the transition to critical green growth: The ‘Green Growth State’. Futures, 64, 38-50.

van den Bergh, J. C., Savin, I., & Drews, S. (2019). Evolution of opinions in the growth-vs-environment debate: Extended replicator dynamics. Futures109, 84-100.

Prof. Diego A. Vazquez
Prof. Jose A. Plaza-Ubeda
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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 2000 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

  • Green-Growth
  • De-growth
  • Post-growth economies
  • Sustainable strategies
  • Stakeholder management
  • Circular economy
  • Sustainability-oriented case studies
  • Social systems
  • Green supply chain
  • Ecological economics
  • Social and sustainability problems

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Green Growth Policy, De-Growth, and Sustainability: The Alternative Solution for Achieving the Balance between Both the Natural and the Economic System
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4610; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094610 - 21 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 772
Abstract
We are ethically obliged and incited to think beyond what are treated as the realistic limits of the possible [...] Full article
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Research

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Article
A Postcapitalistic People? Examining the Millennial Generation’s Economic Philosophies and Practices
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3784; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13073784 - 29 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 676
Abstract
This article investigates the economic orientations of the members of the Millennial generation, so as to assess possible shifts towards their adoption of degrowth philosophy and practice. The text provides a general literature review oriented towards indicating the link between the Millennial generation’s [...] Read more.
This article investigates the economic orientations of the members of the Millennial generation, so as to assess possible shifts towards their adoption of degrowth philosophy and practice. The text provides a general literature review oriented towards indicating the link between the Millennial generation’s economic standpoints and possible directions of evolution of the economic system in the Western world. An orientation towards the market and its economic system has become one of the distinctive features embedded in the portrait of the Millennials, who not only create the dominant social force of the Western world but also represent the first generation in which the majority question well-established market philosophies. The article considers the potential contribution of the Millennial generation to the further development of alternatives to traditional notions of growth. Until now, the evolution of the economic framework has been pushed forward mainly by policymakers and government representatives. System designers have shaped the desired outcomes via international agreements, internal policies, and the empowerment of different economic actors, driven by a belief in the long-term benefits of the capitalism–democracy nexus. However, this moment in history, in which such principles are being seriously questioned, creates a space for bottom-up processes and the reconfiguration of economic realities with a potentially transformative effect on the whole framework. Full article
Article
A Review of the Recent Developments of Green Banking in Bangladesh
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1904; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041904 - 10 Feb 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2144
Abstract
This paper aims to explore the emergence of ‘Green Banking’ in Bangladesh, with a focus on the role of financial regulation and regulators in greening the financial sector. It also examines the contribution and involvement of banks and non-bank financial institutions in promoting [...] Read more.
This paper aims to explore the emergence of ‘Green Banking’ in Bangladesh, with a focus on the role of financial regulation and regulators in greening the financial sector. It also examines the contribution and involvement of banks and non-bank financial institutions in promoting green economic transition. The study is based on the review of secondary data collected from various sources, such as quarterly reports, annual reports, websites of the central bank of Bangladesh, and other commercial banks and non-bank financial institutions as well as various articles, and newspapers reports on green banking in Bangladesh. The collected data is reviewed using descriptive statistics. The research results reveal that the central bank of Bangladesh played a major role in greening the financial system of the country by implementing various green policies and regulatory measures. Although Bangladesh is still far behind the developed countries in terms of environmental performance, the country has made a remarkable progress in initiating and expanding green banking practices, infrastructure development, and accelerating green growth in recent years. Full article
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Article
What Characteristics Do the Firms Have That Go Beyond Compliance with Regulation in Environmental Protection? A Multiple Discriminant Analysis
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1873; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041873 - 09 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 669
Abstract
This paper is focused on analyzing the characteristics of firms that have environmental performance beyond the requirements of regulation in environmental protection. To identify such characteristics, we propose a value and context model building on environmental paradigms as conceptualized by Dryzek’s environmental discourse [...] Read more.
This paper is focused on analyzing the characteristics of firms that have environmental performance beyond the requirements of regulation in environmental protection. To identify such characteristics, we propose a value and context model building on environmental paradigms as conceptualized by Dryzek’s environmental discourse theory. Using multiple discriminant analysis (MDA) to analyze data collected from a multi-respondent survey of Argentinean polluting firms, we identify distinctive characteristics of firms going beyond regulation and firms that do not comply with regulation. In particular, comparing with other five environmental discourses, endorsement of green growth is evaluated in its connection with compliance patterns. We find that supporting green growth discourse (also known as ecological modernization) is one of the characteristics of those firms that go beyond compliance in their environmental performance. Full article
Article
Impacts of Environmental Policies on Global Green Trade
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1517; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031517 - 01 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1022
Abstract
The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of environmental policies on bilateral green exports among developed and developing countries. The empirical analysis was based on the fixed-effects gravity model estimation with the PPML (Poisson pseudo-maximum likelihood) for bilateral green trade [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of environmental policies on bilateral green exports among developed and developing countries. The empirical analysis was based on the fixed-effects gravity model estimation with the PPML (Poisson pseudo-maximum likelihood) for bilateral green trade of world countries for 1990–2019. This study focused on two proxy environmental policy indicators: environment-related tax and energy intensity. The major findings were that, first, promotion of environment-related tax increases green exports among HIC (high-income countries) and, second, an increase in the green trade of a country depends on the energy intensity level of its trading partner countries in order to stabilize domestic demand and production. This result is shown to be significant and consistent within the trade between the same income groups. Thus, supporting the green growth strategy, empirical results suggest that LMY (low- and middle-income) countries have to promote environmental policies and green production processes to be competitive in the global market. Full article
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Article
Green Growth and Agriculture in Brazil
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1162; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031162 - 22 Jan 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1366
Abstract
This paper addresses Green Growth and Agriculture in Brazil, analysing the National Plan for Low Carbon Emission in Agriculture (ABC Plan). The main focus is to detail the structure and actions proposed and implemented by the ABC Plan, and also to identify its [...] Read more.
This paper addresses Green Growth and Agriculture in Brazil, analysing the National Plan for Low Carbon Emission in Agriculture (ABC Plan). The main focus is to detail the structure and actions proposed and implemented by the ABC Plan, and also to identify its economic, environmental and social effects. Using a qualitative research approach, desk research was conducted through reports, newspaper articles, and official documents from the Brazilian government and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA). The outcomes indicated that the ABC Plan did not address the main components of the literature on green growth policies, such as proper training of human resources in sustainable agricultural techniques, and access to financial support for promoting the implementation of sustainable agriculture systems. The lack of participation of local institutions in the creation and implementation of the ABC Plan is also pointed out. Full article
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Article
Archetypes of Green-Growth Strategies and the Role of Green Human Resource Management in Their Implementation
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 836; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020836 - 15 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1277
Abstract
This paper aims to develop a conceptual framework that explains how organizations address green growth. By integrating perspectives of organizational learning and ambidexterity, this paper proposes four archetypes of green-growth strategies. On the basis of exploration and exploitation dimensions, the proposed strategic green-growth [...] Read more.
This paper aims to develop a conceptual framework that explains how organizations address green growth. By integrating perspectives of organizational learning and ambidexterity, this paper proposes four archetypes of green-growth strategies. On the basis of exploration and exploitation dimensions, the proposed strategic green-growth archetypes are environmental-laggard, cooperative, entrepreneurial, and ambidextrous approaches. This paper suggests propositions about how to implement entrepreneurial and cooperative archetypes. It is also proposed that cooperative and entrepreneurial archetypes necessitate a set of the best and well-defined green human resource management (HRM) practices oriented towards strategic environmental goals. This paper thus proposes specific green HRM practices that better fit with each archetype. Lastly, this research concludes with a discussion of research implications. Full article
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Article
Degrowth or Green Growth: A Reflection on the Recent Public Discourse in Norway
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 698; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020698 - 13 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1044
Abstract
This study offers a reflection about the ongoing debate on “degrowth” and “green growth”, as depicted in the Norwegian mass media. It addresses the following two interrelated research questions. How do the topics of public debate, where the concepts of degrowth and green [...] Read more.
This study offers a reflection about the ongoing debate on “degrowth” and “green growth”, as depicted in the Norwegian mass media. It addresses the following two interrelated research questions. How do the topics of public debate, where the concepts of degrowth and green growth are used, connect and overlap? In these connections and overlaps, how do the two concepts relate to each other? We read all the articles published in Norway on ten newspapers and magazines, which have mentioned “degrowth” or “green growth” since January 2018, to identify recurring interpretations of the two concepts and related social and political dilemmas. Then, we isolate elements in the articles, which may represent sources of discord and misunderstanding, and synthesize them into “core” topics, to provide a simplified basis for future debates. Full article
Article
The EU’s Green Deal: A Third Alternative to Green Growth and Degrowth?
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 9825; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12239825 - 24 Nov 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2817
Abstract
In December 2019, the European Union introduced its Green Deal in which the ecological crisis is prioritized. In doing so, the EU seems to be breaking with its traditional green growth discourse. Does it? In this article, we seek to find out whether [...] Read more.
In December 2019, the European Union introduced its Green Deal in which the ecological crisis is prioritized. In doing so, the EU seems to be breaking with its traditional green growth discourse. Does it? In this article, we seek to find out whether and to what extent the EC indeed has such a revolutionary cultural, economic and political agenda in mind with its Green Deal. While the green growth discourse presumes a growth-based economy that must become greener, the degrowth discourse questions the growth model and perceives it as ecologically irresponsible. If the European Green Deal represents a third alternative, then it will somehow succeed in prioritizing ecology without welfare loss. To ascertain to what extent the European Green Deal is that third alternative, three preliminary steps need to be undertaken. The first step consists in a brief exposition of the key features of the traditional green growth discourse, as propounded by the EC and its various allies. Thereafter, the overlaps between the green growth discourse and the European Green Deal are noted. In the third section, the latter’s divergences from that previous model are highlighted. In the final section, the main question of the article is answered. It is also suggested that specific interpretations and implementations of the European Green Deal could possibly turn the original communication into an alternative to both green growth and degrowth. Full article

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Erratum
Erratum: Zachara-Szymańska, M. A Postcapitalistic People? Examining the Millennial Generation’s Economic Philosophies and Practices. Sustainability 2021, 13, 3784
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6741; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126741 - 15 Jun 2021
Viewed by 718
Abstract
The authors would like to make the following corrections about the published paper [...] Full article
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