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Special Issue "Enhancing Security, Sustainability and Resilience in Energy, Food and Water"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Marko Keskinen

Water & Development Research Group, Aalto University, 02015 Espoo, Finland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainability; resilience; multi-, inter- and transdisciplinarity; science-policy-stakeholder interactions; scenarios
Guest Editor
Dr. Suvi Sojamo

Winland Consortium/Water & Development Research Group, Aalto University, 02015 Espoo, Finland
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +358408244206
Interests: natural resources governance; water security; water stewardship; multi-stakeholder processes; co-creation
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Olli Varis

Water & Development Research Group, Aalto University, 00076 Espoo, Finland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: security and sustainability linkages; water-energy-food nexus; water management; global resource issues; climate change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue calls for multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary research articles that study the connections between security, sustainability and resilience, as well as their practical applications at different scales. Of particular interest will be contributions focusing on the relevance of energy, food and water to those three concepts (separately or together). This is also the focus of Winland project funded by the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland (http://winlandtutkimus.fi/english). Given the increasing pressures to all those three resource sectors, recognising and analyzing the ways to support planning and policy processes with the help of system analysis, scenario planning and co-creation, for example, are expected to be an important part of the Special Issue.

Why such Special Issue? Because security and sustainability are increasingly connected. The use of security as a concept has broadened from national security concerns to other sectors and scales, extending to considerations of planetary security (e.g., Hettne 2010; World Economic Forum 2017; Schlag et al. 2017; Ligtvoet et al. 2017). Security is today also defining policies and practices related to sustainable use of natural resources, such as energy (e.g., Ranjan and Hughes 2014; Kucharski and Unesaki 2015; Strambo et al. 2015; Sovacool 2016), food (e.g., Godfray et al., 2010; Lang and Barling, 2012) and water (e.g., Bakker 2012; Zeitoun et al. 2016).

While energy, food and water, as resources, are all critically important for society, their availability is becoming increasingly constrained, with drastic differences between regions and actors in accessing them (Foley et al. 2011; Goldthau 2014; Kummu et al. 2016). The resource flows and value chains also cross national boundaries, making their governance interconnected and transnational by its nature. The three resource sectors are also inherently linked, as is emphasised by different nexus approaches (e.g., Keskinen and Varis 2016). All these features illustrate the relevance of these resources for security, and call for systemic and future-orientated thinking as well as understanding of the complexities included in such connections.

Closely related to both sustainability and security is the concept of resilience. Resilience has typically focused on the capacity of socio-ecological systems to withstand and respond to changes—whether environmental, economic, social or political (e.g., Holling 1973, Folke et al. 2010). Yet, the applications of resilience have broadened as well, and currently encompass also security-related aspects under concepts such as state resilience or societal resilience (e.g., Juntunen and Hyvonen 2014; European Union 2016; Juncos 2016; Shea 2016).

Together, the broadened interpretations of security and resilience can help in analysing and understanding the intricate interlinkages between security and sustainability (see also Seager 2008; Fiksel et al. 2011; Marchese et al 2018). Instead of focusing on global development challenges or national security threats separately, the concepts can help to set the focus on the capacity of humankind to ensure both national security and sustainable use of critical resources under global changes. At the same time, their broadened conceptualisation has arguably allowed different interpretations by various actors, making their practical implementation particularly politicised.

References

  1. Bakker, K. (2012). Water security: research challenges and opportunities. Science, 337(6097): 914-915.
  2. European Union (2016). A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy.
  3. Fiksel, J., Goodman, I. & Hecht, A. (2014). Resilience: Navigating toward a Sustainable Future. Solutions, 5(5): 38-47.
  4. Foley, J.A., Ramankutty, N., Brauman, K.A., Cassidy, E.S., Gerber, J.S., Johnston, M., Mueller, N.D., O’Connell, C., Ray, D.K., West, P.C., Balzer, C., Bennett, E.M., Carpenter, S.R., Hill, J., Monfreda, C., Polasky, S., Rockstrom, J., Sheehan, J., Siebert, S., Tilman, D. & Zaks, D.P.M. (2011). Solutions for a cultivated planet. Nature, 478:337–342.
  5. Folke, C., Carpenter, S.R., Walker, B., Scheffer, M., Chapin, T. & Rockstrom, J. (2010). Resilience thinking: integrating resilience, adaptability and transformability. Ecology and Society, 15(4): 20.
  6. Godfray, H.C.J., Beddington, J.R., Crute, I.R., Haddad, L., Lawrence, D., Muir, J.F., Pretty, J., Robinson, S., Thomas, S.M., & Toulmin, C. (2010). Food Security: The Challenge of Feeding 9 Billion People. Science, 327, 812–818.
  7. Goldthau, A. (2014). Rethinking the governance of energy infrastructure: Scale, decentralization and polycentrism. Energy Research & Social Science, 1:134-140.
  8. Hettne, B. (2010). Development and Security: Origins and Future. Security Dialogue, 41(1): 31–52.
  9. Holling, C. S. (1973). Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 4:1–23.
  10. Juncos, A. E. (2016). Resilience as the new EU foreign policy paradigm: a pragmatist turn? European Security, 26(1):1–18.
  11. Juntunen, T. & Hyvonen, A. (2014). Resilience, security and the politics of processes. Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses, 2(3): 195–209.
  12. Keskinen, M. & Varis, O. (2016). Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Large Asian River Basins. Water 8(10):446.
  13. Kucharski, J. & Unesaki, H. (2015). A Policy-oriented Approach to Energy Security. Procedia Environmental Sciences, 28:27-36.
  14. Kummu, M., Guillaume, J.H.A., de Moel, H., Eisner, S., Florke, M., Porkka, M., Siebert, S., Veldkamp, T. & Ward, P.J. (2016). The world’s road to water scarcity: Shortage and stress in the 20th century and pathways towards sustainability. Scientific Reports, 6::38495.
  15. Lang, T. & Barling, D. (2012). Food security and food sustainability: reformulating the debate. Geographical Journal, 178:313–326.
  16. Ligtvoet, W., Knoop, J., de Bruin, S., van Vuuren, D., Visser H., Meijer, K., Dahm, R. & van Schaik, L. (2017). Water, climate and conflict - security risks on the increase? Briefing Note, Planetary Security Initiative.
  17. Marchese, D., Reynolds, E., Bates, M., Morgan, H., Spierre Clark, S. & Linkov, I. (2018). Resilience and sustainability: Similarities and differences in environmental management applications. Science of the Total Environment, 613–614(2018): 1275–1283.
  18. Schlag, G., Junk J. & Daase D. (2016). Transformations of Security Studies: Dialogues, Diversity and Discipline. Routledge.
  19. Seager, T.P. (2008). The Sustainability Spectrum and the Sciences of Sustainability. Business Strategy and the Environment, 17(7): 444–453.
  20. Shea, J. (2016). Resilience: a core element of collective defence, NATO Review. http://www.nato.int/docu/Review/2016/Also-in-2016/nato-defence-cyber-resilience/EN.
  21. Sovacool, B. (2016). Differing cultures of energy security: An international comparison of public perceptions. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 55:811–822.
  22. Strambo, C. Nilsson, M. & Mansson, A. (2015) Coherent or inconsistent? Assessing energy security and climate policy interaction within the European Union. Energy Research and Social Science, 8: 1–12.
  23. Ranjan, A. & Hughes, L. (2014). Energy security and the diversity of energy flows in an energy system. Energy, 73: 137–144.
  24. World Economic Forum (2017). The Global Risks Report 2017, 12th Edition. Available online: https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2017.
  25. Zeitoun, M., Lankford, B., Kruegerc, T., Forsyth, T., Carter, R., Hoekstra, A.Y., Taylor, R., Varis, O., Cleaver, F., Boelens, R., Swatuk, L., Tickner, D., Scott, C.A., Mirumachi, N. & Matthews, N. (2016) Reductionist and integrative research approaches to complex water security policy challenges. Global environmental change, 39 (2016): 143-154.

For possible extension of submission deadline, please contact Special Issue editors.

Dr. Marko Keskinen
Dr. Suvi Sojamo
Prof. Olli Varis
Guest Editors

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 1700 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

  • security, resilience, sustainability, energy, food, water, climate
  • multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, scenarios, co-creation

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
A Framework for Assessing Water Security and the Water–Energy–Food Nexus—The Case of Finland
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2900; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102900
Received: 31 March 2019 / Revised: 13 May 2019 / Accepted: 16 May 2019 / Published: 22 May 2019
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Abstract
Water security demands guaranteeing economic, social and environmental sustainability and simultaneously addressing the diversity of risks and threats related to water. Various frameworks have been suggested to support water security assessment. They are typically based on indexes enabling national comparisons; these may, however, [...] Read more.
Water security demands guaranteeing economic, social and environmental sustainability and simultaneously addressing the diversity of risks and threats related to water. Various frameworks have been suggested to support water security assessment. They are typically based on indexes enabling national comparisons; these may, however, oversimplify complex and often contested water issues. We developed a structured and systemic way to assess water security and its future trends via a participatory process. The framework establishes a criteria hierarchy for water security, consisting of four main themes: the state of the water environment; human health and well-being; the sustainability of livelihoods; and the stability, functions and responsibility of society. The framework further enables the analysis of relationships between the water security criteria as well as between water, energy and food security. The framework was applied to a national water security assessment of Finland in 2018 and 2030. Our experience indicates that using the framework collaboratively with stakeholders provides a meaningful way to improve understanding and to facilitate discussion about the state of water security and the actions needed for its improvement. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Severe Drought in Finland: Modeling Effects on Water Resources and Assessing Climate Change Impacts
Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2450; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11082450
Received: 4 March 2019 / Revised: 15 April 2019 / Accepted: 23 April 2019 / Published: 25 April 2019
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Abstract
Severe droughts cause substantial damage to different socio-economic sectors, and even Finland, which has abundant water resources, is not immune to their impacts. To assess the implications of a severe drought in Finland, we carried out a national scale drought impact analysis. Firstly, [...] Read more.
Severe droughts cause substantial damage to different socio-economic sectors, and even Finland, which has abundant water resources, is not immune to their impacts. To assess the implications of a severe drought in Finland, we carried out a national scale drought impact analysis. Firstly, we simulated water levels and discharges during the severe drought of 1939–1942 (the reference drought) in present-day Finland with a hydrological model. Secondly, we estimated how climate change would alter droughts. Thirdly, we assessed the impact of drought on key water use sectors, with a focus on hydropower and water supply. The results indicate that the long-lasting reference drought caused the discharges to decrease at most by 80% compared to the average annual minimum discharges. The water levels generally fell to the lowest levels in the largest lakes in Central and South-Eastern Finland. Climate change scenarios project on average a small decrease in the lowest water levels during droughts. Severe drought would have a significant impact on water-related sectors, reducing water supply and hydropower production. In this way drought is a risk multiplier for the water–energy–food security nexus. We suggest that the resilience to droughts could be improved with region-specific drought management plans and by including droughts in existing regional preparedness exercises. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Lot of Talk, But Little Action—The Blind Spots of Nordic Environmental Security Policy
Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2379; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11082379
Received: 10 March 2019 / Revised: 4 April 2019 / Accepted: 15 April 2019 / Published: 22 April 2019
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Abstract
Despite an increasing recognition that environmental change may have implications for security, there only are few policies to address the issue. This article will look at environmental security policies in Finland and Sweden and propose ways to develop more effective measures. It relies [...] Read more.
Despite an increasing recognition that environmental change may have implications for security, there only are few policies to address the issue. This article will look at environmental security policies in Finland and Sweden and propose ways to develop more effective measures. It relies on a three-level framework that aims to enable the identification of environmental security impacts by categorising them into local, geopolitical and structural ones. The article will examine present environmental security strategies and policies in Finland and Sweden, consider their efficacy for addressing various kinds of impacts and point out approaches that are currently missing. Based on the discussion, it argues that a comprehensive policy approach is needed to tackle environmental security impacts. This requires closer coordination and interchange between sectors as well as strategic intent. In addition, further research is needed on the structural impacts of mitigating and adapting to environmental change. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Northern Warning Lights: Ambiguities of Environmental Security in Finland and Sweden
Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2228; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11082228
Received: 10 March 2019 / Revised: 30 March 2019 / Accepted: 2 April 2019 / Published: 13 April 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (267 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As the literature on environmental security has evolved and widened, knowledge of the full range of potential consequences of environmental change for different societies remains scattered. This article contributes to a more comprehensive approach to the implications of environmental change by providing a [...] Read more.
As the literature on environmental security has evolved and widened, knowledge of the full range of potential consequences of environmental change for different societies remains scattered. This article contributes to a more comprehensive approach to the implications of environmental change by providing a three-level framework of the security impacts. In particular, it will address gaps in knowledge by pointing out the relevance of geopolitical and structural factors behind environmental security impacts. The article will focus on the cases of two countries, Finland and Sweden—both seen as stable, high-income democracies that are well equipped to adapt to climate risks. Yet even under these conditions, preparedness to threat-prevention will not follow without a recognition of the full range of risks, including ones that are linked to socio-economic and geopolitical factors. On the basis of the Finnish and Swedish cases, the article proposes an analytical framework of three categories of environmental security impacts: local, geopolitical and structural. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Can There be Water Scarcity with Abundance of Water? Analyzing Water Stress during a Severe Drought in Finland
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1548; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061548
Received: 5 February 2019 / Revised: 7 March 2019 / Accepted: 9 March 2019 / Published: 14 March 2019
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Abstract
Severe droughts can affect water security even in countries with ample water resources. In addition, droughts are estimated to become more frequent in several regions due to changing climate. Drought affects many socio-economic sectors (e.g., agriculture, water supply, and industry), as it did [...] Read more.
Severe droughts can affect water security even in countries with ample water resources. In addition, droughts are estimated to become more frequent in several regions due to changing climate. Drought affects many socio-economic sectors (e.g., agriculture, water supply, and industry), as it did in 2018 in Finland. Understanding the basin-wide picture is crucial in drought management planning. To identify vulnerable and water stressed areas in Finland, a water use-to-availability analysis was executed with a reference drought. Water stress was analyzed with the Water Depletion Index WDI. The analysis was executed using national water permits and databases. To represent a severe but realistic drought event, we modelled discharges and runoffs from the worst drought of the last century in Finland (1939–1942). The potential for performing similar analyses in data scarce contexts was also tested using estimates from global models as a screening tool. The results show that the South and Southwest of Finland would have problems with water availability during a severe drought. The most vulnerable areas would benefit from drought mitigation measures and management plans. These measures could be incorporated into the EU River Basin Management Plans. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Food Preferences in Finland: Sustainable Diets and their Differences between Groups
Sustainability 2019, 11(5), 1259; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11051259
Received: 20 December 2018 / Revised: 11 February 2019 / Accepted: 20 February 2019 / Published: 27 February 2019
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Abstract
The world is facing the great challenge of how to feed the increasing and wealthier population sustainably in the future, with already limited natural resources. The existing literature reveals the negative impacts of animal-based diets, and thus global diet changes are required to [...] Read more.
The world is facing the great challenge of how to feed the increasing and wealthier population sustainably in the future, with already limited natural resources. The existing literature reveals the negative impacts of animal-based diets, and thus global diet changes are required to ensure future food availability. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that food consumption is more than caloric intake—it is based on personal preferences. We assessed how sustainable food choices vary among Finnish citizens. The respondents (n = 2052) answered nine statements about their consumption behavior. We applied quantitative and qualitative methods, and our results indicate that favoring plant-based diets was the highest among people under 30 and above 60 years old. Middle-aged men with high incomes was the most reluctant group to adopt sustainable diets. Health-related issues and origin of food were the most preferred reasons for food choices, while environmental awareness was ranked lower. The key to mainstream sustainable diets lies in the co-benefits —transition towards more sustainable diets among Finns could be possible, if people felt that they can combine the selfish, hedonistic factors (e.g., health, weight loss) and altruistic factors (e.g., ecological benefits) in their everyday diets. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Cattle Production for Exports in Water-Abundant Areas: The Case of Finland
Sustainability 2019, 11(4), 1075; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11041075
Received: 17 January 2019 / Revised: 9 February 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 19 February 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2412 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Water scarcity is a severe global threat, and it will only become more critical with a growing and wealthier population. Annually, considerable volumes of water are transferred virtually through the global food system to secure nations’ food supply and to diversify diets. Our [...] Read more.
Water scarcity is a severe global threat, and it will only become more critical with a growing and wealthier population. Annually, considerable volumes of water are transferred virtually through the global food system to secure nations’ food supply and to diversify diets. Our objective is to assess, whether specializing water-intensive production for exports in areas with an abundance of natural resources, would contribute to globally resource-efficient food production. We calculated Finland’s virtual water net export potential (four scenarios) by reallocating the present underutilized agricultural land and combining that with a domestic diet change (three scenarios) to maximize the exports of cattle products. Assessed scenarios indicate that the greatest potential to net export virtual water (3.7 billion m3 year−1, 25-time increase to current) was achieved when local production was maximized with domestic and exported feed, and bovine meat consumption in Finland was replaced with a vegetarian substitute. This corresponds to annual virtual water consumption for food of about 3.6 million global citizens (assuming 1032 m3 cap−1 year−1). Therefore our results suggest, that optimizing water-intensive production to water-rich areas, has a significant impact on global water savings. In addition, increasing exports from such areas by decreasing the domestic demand for water-intensive products to meet the nutrition recommendation levels, saves water resources. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Critical Infrastructures: The Operational Environment in Cases of Severe Disruption
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 838; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030838
Received: 21 December 2018 / Revised: 30 January 2019 / Accepted: 2 February 2019 / Published: 6 February 2019
PDF Full-text (546 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The functioning and resilience of modern societies have become more and more dependent on critical infrastructures. Severe disturbance to critical infrastructure is likely to reveal chaotic operational conditions, in which infrastructure service providers, emergency services, police, municipalities, and other key stakeholders must act [...] Read more.
The functioning and resilience of modern societies have become more and more dependent on critical infrastructures. Severe disturbance to critical infrastructure is likely to reveal chaotic operational conditions, in which infrastructure service providers, emergency services, police, municipalities, and other key stakeholders must act effectively to minimize damages and restore normal operations. This paper aims to better understand this kind of operational environment resulting from, for example, a terrorist attack. It emphasizes mutual interdependencies among key stakeholders in such situations. The empirical contribution is based on observations from a workshop, in which participants representing the critical services and infrastructures in Finland discussed in thematic groups. Two scenarios guided the workshop discussions; nationwide electricity grid disruption and presumably intentionally contaminated water supply in a city. The results indicate that more attention should be paid to the interdependencies between critical infrastructures, as well as to the latent vulnerabilities hidden inside the systems. Furthermore, producing security seems to require continuous interaction and creation of meanings between extremely different actors and logics. This implies a need for changes in thinking, particularly concerning the ability to define problems across conventional administrative structures, geographical boundaries and conferred powers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Finland’s Dependence on Russian Energy—Mutually Beneficial Trade Relations or an Energy Security Threat?
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3445; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103445
Received: 31 August 2018 / Revised: 21 September 2018 / Accepted: 25 September 2018 / Published: 27 September 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (663 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Studies on energy security in the context of relations between European Union (EU) and Russia tend to focus on cases, with an open conflict related to supply, such as “hard” energy weapons, or on only one fuel, often natural gas. However, there is [...] Read more.
Studies on energy security in the context of relations between European Union (EU) and Russia tend to focus on cases, with an open conflict related to supply, such as “hard” energy weapons, or on only one fuel, often natural gas. However, there is a need to understand the long-term impacts that energy relations have politically, economically and physically, and their linkages between resilience, sustainability and security. We analyse the Finnish-Russian energy relations as a case study, as they are characterised by a non-conflictual relationship. To assess this complex relationship, we apply the interdependence framework to analyse both the energy systems and energy strategies of Finland and Russia, and the energy security issues related to the notable import dependence on one supplier. Moreover, we analyse the plausible development of the energy trade between the countries in three different energy policy scenarios until 2040. The findings of the article shed light on how the trends in energy markets, climate change mitigation and broader societal and political trends could influence Russia’s energy trade relations with countries, such as Finland. Our analysis shows that Finland’s dependence on primary energy imports does not pose an acute energy security threat in terms of sheer supply, and the dependence is unlikely to worsen in the future. However, due to the difficulty in anticipating societal, political, and economic trends, there are possible developments that could affect Finland. Full article
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