Special Issue "Natural Resources Management and Conflicts in the Context of Sustainability Transformation"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 November 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dimitrios Zikos
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Economics, Hochschule Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin - University of Applied Sciences, 10313 Berlin, Germany
Interests: Institutions; Political Economy; Sustainability; Development; Natural Resource Management; Environmental Conflicts; Water; Mixed Methods
Dr. Ourania Papasozomenou
Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP), SOAS University of London, London WC1H 0XG, UK
Interests: Institutions; governance; natural resources; islands and adaptation; distant peripheries; climate change adaptation; water; economics; philosophy
Dr. Matteo Roggero
Website
Guest Editor
The Resource Economics Group, Faculty of Life Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 10099 Berlin, Germany
Interests: Institutions, regulations and natural resources; organization, governance and cooperation; climate change mitigation and adaptation; urban climate action; green infrastructure; water; social and environmental sustainability

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Prominent institutional economists argue that the failures in reforming dysfunctional economies and notional states worldwide are due to a missing causal link between the suggested measures (imposed institutional change) and the expected result (strong economies). In the quest for economic development in a sustainability frame, natural resources emerge as a vital locus to promote economic development, wealth, equality, and political and social stability, especially where resource scarcity is a particularly pressing issue. In such settings, conflicts between users, sectors or whole countries hamper attempts to utilize the full potential of natural resources as a key element for sustainable development.

The study of conflicts, though, is neither governed by a coherent set of theories nor limited by strict disciplinary boundaries. Rather, it encompasses a multitude of conceptions grounded within a wide array of disciplines, epistemological assumptions and schools of thought concerning the links between scarcity and competition, often concluding in contradictory proposals.

Critical literature, although departing from different ontological standpoints, reaches a consensus regarding the paramount role of institutions in the frame of natural resource management, conflict resolution, and sustainability transformations. Nonetheless, understandings of what institutions are, how they regularize behavior and interactions between people, and how they are formed, replaced or changed constitute not only vague areas within the sustainability sciences or human geography, for instance, but are also a point of contention within institutional economics, which forms the basis for this Special Issue.

In this frame, the Special Issue is divided into three sections with the overall aim of contributing to the discussion on the interplay between natural resources, conflicts, and sustainable transformations.

The objective of the first section is to conceptually unpack conflicts on natural resources. By doing so, we will unravel the economic, social, and environmental factors leading to such conflicts. This is a crucial and necessary step towards the sustainable management of resources, particularly in transformative settings.

Section two empirically explores the spatial dimension of transformations and juxtaposes sustainability pathways of varying and diverse spatial localities. The objective here is to draw attention to the physical dimension of transformations and to the subtle but decisive role of space.  

Section three explores several methodological opportunities to investigate conflicts beyond their idiosyncratic dimension. This section focuses specifically on the comparative method to achieve a better understanding of the many contextual factors shaping conflicts and their outcomes. Particular emphasis will lie on analytical methods such as qualitative comparative analysis, cluster analysis, and the newly emerging approach of archetype analysis.

Prof. Dimitrios Zikos
Dr. Ourania Papasozomenou
Dr. Matteo Roggero
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.

Keywords

  • conflicts
  • natural resources
  • sustainable management
  • transformations
  • institutions
  • analytical methods

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
A New Look at the Natural Capital Concept: Approaches, Structure, and Evaluation Procedure
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9236; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219236 - 06 Nov 2020
Abstract
This article considers the concept of natural capital as a basic construct of sustainable development. However, after numerous studies, a number of aspects of accounting and valuation of natural capital remain unspecified. The relevance and imperfection of the guidelines used to assess natural [...] Read more.
This article considers the concept of natural capital as a basic construct of sustainable development. However, after numerous studies, a number of aspects of accounting and valuation of natural capital remain unspecified. The relevance and imperfection of the guidelines used to assess natural capital make relevant the development of such issues as the conceptual apparatus and methods to natural capital assessment. Therefore, the core objectives of the paper are: (1) to substantiate the structure of natural capital, taking into account the natural resources and ecosystem approaches; (2) to clarify the concepts of “function” and “services” in relation to abiotic and biotic components of the environment; (3) to generalize and analyze the classifications of ecosystem services, and to develop the authors’ classification; (4) to identify the most common methods for the economic assessment of natural capital’s components, and to implement these methods within a specific territory. These methods have been tested on the Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug (KhMAD, Russia). The most typical ecosystems of the region and their inherent ecosystem services have been identified. Assessment results are presented for (1) forest ecosystems, (2) mountain ecosystems, and (3) ecosystems of swamps, lakes, and rivers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Revisiting the Role of Institutions in Transformative Contexts: Institutional Change and Conflicts
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9036; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219036 - 30 Oct 2020
Abstract
The study of conflicts over natural resources is neither governed by a coherent set of theories nor limited by strict disciplinary boundaries. Rather, it encompasses a multitude of conceptions grounded within a wide array of disciplines and epistemological assumptions concerning the links between [...] Read more.
The study of conflicts over natural resources is neither governed by a coherent set of theories nor limited by strict disciplinary boundaries. Rather, it encompasses a multitude of conceptions grounded within a wide array of disciplines and epistemological assumptions concerning the links between institutional change and conflicts, often concluding in contradictory propositions. This article aims at providing conceptual guidance for the special issue, by reviewing institutional research with a particular focus on institutional change and associated conflicts and drawing some implications from transformative settings. More specifically, the paper explores certain propositions and concepts utilised by institutional economists to explain why conflicts persist despite institutional reforms explicitly or implicitly introduced to resolve them. The author revisits diverse cases from different regions to investigate key concepts related to institutional change and its implications on environmental conflicts associated to transformations, complementing this view from a political science perspective. The paper concludes by offering an overview of factors identified as instrumental in understanding the institutional change and conflict–cooperation continuum. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The “Green on Green” Conflict in Wind Energy Development: A Case Study of Environmentally Conscious Individuals in Oklahoma, USA
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8184; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198184 - 04 Oct 2020
Abstract
Development in wind energy technology and deployment of infrastructure reduces reliance on fossil fuels and can further energy security goals. Wind energy, however, can conflict with other green interests. The goal of this research was to examine the perceptions of environmentally conscious individuals [...] Read more.
Development in wind energy technology and deployment of infrastructure reduces reliance on fossil fuels and can further energy security goals. Wind energy, however, can conflict with other green interests. The goal of this research was to examine the perceptions of environmentally conscious individuals at the intersection of wind energy development and biodiversity conservation interests. A majority of respondents identified that they cared very much about both renewable energy development as well as biodiversity conservation. We found that while participants were aware of the shifting causes of mortality of bird populations, they were less aware of the implications of wind energy on bat populations. In addition, attitudes towards biodiversity conservation as well as wind energy development were statistically significant when looking at the identification of some impacts. Most participants were willing to support wind energy development considering trade-offs related to factors such as visual impacts or economic benefits if it had no impacts on biodiversity conservation. Our research shows that environmentally conscious individuals are well-informed on only some impacts of wind energy development. Results also suggest that biodiversity conservation impacts are prioritized by environmentally conscious individuals when gauging support for wind energy development. As sustainable development continues, it is important to consider this green on green conflict, as renewable energy development is not only confronted by general issues of public opposition, but also specific environmental complaints. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Sustainability Considerations in Water–Energy–Food Nexus Research in Irrigated Agriculture
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6274; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156274 - 04 Aug 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Irrigated agriculture is essential to satisfying the globally increasing demand for food and bio-based products. Yet, in water scarce regions, water-use for irrigation aggravates the competition for the use of water for other purposes, such as energy production, drinking water and sanitation. Solutions [...] Read more.
Irrigated agriculture is essential to satisfying the globally increasing demand for food and bio-based products. Yet, in water scarce regions, water-use for irrigation aggravates the competition for the use of water for other purposes, such as energy production, drinking water and sanitation. Solutions for sustainable food production through irrigated agriculture require a systemic approach to assess benefits and trade-offs across sectors. Here, the water–energy–food (WEF) nexus has become an important concept in natural resource management. It has been conceptualized to analyze linkages and trade-offs between the three sectors, across temporal and spatial scales. However, the concept has so far mainly been conceptual, with little empirical evidence or proof of concept in real world cases. The objective of this paper was to take stock of the rapidly advancing literature on the WEF nexus in irrigated agriculture, and to analyze how the concept was actually implemented in research studies, and how the nexus between water, food and energy was actually dealt with. The study period ranges from 2011 to 2019, and includes 194 articles. Results showed that the WEF nexus is indeed very relevant in irrigated agriculture, and the respective literature makes up one third of all WEF nexus papers. Modeling and empirical research have caught up with conceptual synthesis studies during the last four years, thereby indicating that the WEF nexus concept is indeed increasingly operationalized. However, most studies addressed the WEF nexus from a perspective of either socioeconomic, technological or environmental categories, and they place one of the dimensions of water, food or energy into the foreground. To address sustainable development, there is a need to fully integrate across research disciplines and thematic dimensions. Such studies are only starting to emerge. These findings are an important evidence-base for future WEF nexus research on irrigated agriculture, in support of sustainable solutions for water scarce regions, especially in settings undergoing transformations. Full article
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