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Environmental Policy as a Tool for Sustainable Development

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 10 August 2024 | Viewed by 7734

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Forest Research Institute, Thessaloniki, Greece
Interests: decision support systems; decision making process; multicriteria decision analysis; environmental and forest policy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Forestry and Management of the Environment and Natural Resources, Democritus University of Thrace, 193 Pantazidou, 68200 Orestiada, Greece
Interests: environmental policy; decision-making; energy transition; renewable energy investments; environmental awareness
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Forestry and Management of the Environment and Natural Resources, Democritus University of Thrace, Orestiada, Greece
Interests: environmental communication; environmental policy; public relations; forest extension
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Using a combination of regulatory, market, and voluntary instruments, environmental policy is creating a favorable context for addressing pressing issues of sustainable development such as carbon emissions reduction, energy saving, energy efficiency, resource decoupling and reuse, or the valuation of ecosystems services.  Since environmental policy can play a crucial role as a tool for sustainable development, it is necessary for policymakers to consider the latest research findings on ways to achieve sustainable development and focus on science-based policymaking.

Sustainable development is a concept that seeks to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Environmental policy serves as a means to achieve this by addressing the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability by establishing a framework for resource management, economic growth, climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, pollution control, waste management, environmental justice, international cooperation, education and awareness, long-term planning, stakeholder engagement, monitoring and evaluation.

The aim of this Special Issue is to collate original research papers, reviews and perspectives that address the application of environmental policies as tools for sustainable development. We welcome papers that utilize both traditional and innovative approaches including surveys, databases, machine learning and modeling applications. Additionally, we invite submissions addressing the decision-making processes involved in the design of policy measures, the frameworks under policy design, the evaluation of current environmental policies, and the underlying connections between policy measures, climate change mitigation and sustainability.

Following are the potential areas:

  • Energy Transition:
    1. Promotion of renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower;
    2. Incentives for energy-efficient technologies and practices;
  • Phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies.
  • Climate Action:
    1. Commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with international agreements (e.g., the Paris Agreement);
    2. Implementation of carbon pricing mechanisms, such as carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems;
  • Investment in climate adaptation and resilience measures.
  • Biodiversity Conservation:
    1. Establishment and management of protected areas and wildlife reserves;
    2. Habitat restoration and reforestation programs;
  • Regulations to prevent illegal wildlife trade and protect endangered species.
  • Sustainable Agriculture:
    1. Promotion of organic farming practices and sustainable land use;
    2. Support for small-scale farmers and access to markets;
  • Reduction of chemical pesticide and fertilizer use.
  • Circular Economy:
    1. Policies to promote recycling, waste reduction, and product reuse;
    2. Incentives for eco-design and sustainable manufacturing.
  • Social Equity:
    1. Implementation of policies to reduce income inequality and promote social inclusion;
    2. Support for rural, vulnerable and marginalized communities.
  • Natural Resource Management:
    1. Sustainable forestry practices and responsible logging regulations;
    2. Soil conservation and land management policies.
  • Green Technology Innovation:
    1. Support for research and development of clean and sustainable technologies;
    2. Intellectual property rights and patent policies that promote green innovation.
  • International Cooperation:
    1. Engagement in international partnerships and collaborations to address global sustainability challenges;
    2. Participation in United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) initiatives.
  • Environmental Education and Public Awareness:
    1. Educational programs to raise awareness about sustainable practices.
  • Long-Term Planning and Reporting:
    1. Development of long-term sustainability plans and goals;
    2. Regular reporting and assessment of progress toward sustainability targets.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Konstantinos S. Ioannou
Dr. Evangelia Karasmanaki
Prof. Dr. Georgios Tsantopoulos
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 2400 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

  • environmental policy
  • decision making
  • climate change
  • sustainability 
  • environmental governance
  • circular economy
  • climate action
  • policymaking
  • technological transition
  • environmental agreements
  • strategic planning
  • stakeholder engagement

Published Papers (8 papers)

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18 pages, 299 KiB  
Article
Analysis in Terms of Environmental Awareness of Farmers’ Decisions and Attitudes: Reducing Pesticide Use and Risks
by Ismail Bulent Gurbuz
Sustainability 2024, 16(11), 4323; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16114323 - 21 May 2024
Viewed by 336
Abstract
Pesticide residues are a significant problem affecting the quality and safety of agricultural products in Turkey. This study aims to investigate farmers’ risk perception regarding pesticide residues, including the primary factors that influence their behavior from the farmers’ perspective. In addition, the main [...] Read more.
Pesticide residues are a significant problem affecting the quality and safety of agricultural products in Turkey. This study aims to investigate farmers’ risk perception regarding pesticide residues, including the primary factors that influence their behavior from the farmers’ perspective. In addition, the main characteristics of pesticide residues encountered in the production of agricultural products against the current policy background is investigated to provide decision support to the Turkish government for improving the safe production of agricultural products. This paper uses a binary logistic model to analyze farmers’ perceptions of pesticide residues using a cross-sectional dataset of 323 vegetable growers in Bursa, Turkey. Farmer characteristics and pesticide application behavior were more effective in reducing residual risk perceptions than farm characteristics. The effects of membership in a cooperative, average amount of pesticide used, location where the pesticide was purchased, application timing, and adherence to last spraying and harvest timing on the perception of residues were the largest. Farmers receive helpful but limited information from pesticide distributors. However, the primary source of information is not the advisors, which is why these grievances exist. The study results show that policymakers should support cooperatives, expand pesticide training, and make public extension services more effective and that pesticide dealers should conduct more frequent inspections. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Policy as a Tool for Sustainable Development)
22 pages, 1205 KiB  
Article
Exploring the Mechanisms of Regional Environmental Collaborative Legislation in China: Policy Effectiveness, Practical Challenges, and Policy Suggestions
by Shizhong Peng, Shan Liang, Tianyu Dai and Haoran Peng
Sustainability 2024, 16(10), 3959; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16103959 - 9 May 2024
Viewed by 441
Abstract
The legislation for regional environmental collaboration is of significant importance in enhancing the effectiveness of environmental protection. The existing literature focuses on the power struggle between central and local governments regarding environmental regulation within the realm of regional environmental governance, lacking an examination [...] Read more.
The legislation for regional environmental collaboration is of significant importance in enhancing the effectiveness of environmental protection. The existing literature focuses on the power struggle between central and local governments regarding environmental regulation within the realm of regional environmental governance, lacking an examination of the collaborative governance mechanisms and their effectiveness. Therefore, this study takes China’s regional environmental collaborative legislation as its research object. It employs a difference-in-differences model to test the effectiveness of regional environmental collaborative legislation concerning environmental governance and conducts a qualitative analysis to examine the current practical challenges facing regional environmental collaborative legislation. The quantitative analysis results indicate that regional environmental collaborative legislation can effectively suppress the emission of environmental pollutants. Specifically, the implementation of regional environmental collaborative legislation results in a 19.7% reduction in prefecture-level wastewater emissions and a 26.6% reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions. Qualitative analysis results show that regional environmental collaborative legislation currently faces challenges such as localism, difficulties in legislative authority allocation, and a lack of cooperation mechanisms. Therefore, this paper proposes to establish a collaboration platform, balance the interests of stakeholders, and improve the allocation mechanism of environmental regulatory powers in order to better optimize the regional environmental collaborative legislation and enhance the government’s environmental governance capacity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Policy as a Tool for Sustainable Development)
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27 pages, 3463 KiB  
Article
Assessing Multilateral Development Bank ESG Safeguard Integration with International Sustainability Ratings
by Damián Rodríguez Estévez and Rosa María Arce Ruíz
Sustainability 2024, 16(9), 3789; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16093789 - 30 Apr 2024
Viewed by 496
Abstract
In an era where sustainability is paramount, this study critically assesses how multilateral development banks (MDBs) integrate internationally recognized sustainability indicators into their ESG safeguard policies. MDBs have historically incorporated policies to manage environmental and social risks in project financing; yet, protections against [...] Read more.
In an era where sustainability is paramount, this study critically assesses how multilateral development banks (MDBs) integrate internationally recognized sustainability indicators into their ESG safeguard policies. MDBs have historically incorporated policies to manage environmental and social risks in project financing; yet, protections against negative impacts in developing countries often remain insufficient. On the other hand, several infrastructure sustainability rating systems have been established around the world in recent decades due to economic growth and the importance of controlling environmental impacts associated with the construction sector. The purpose of this study was to analyze whether and how the indicators that these internationally recognized systems use to rate whether a project is sustainable are integrated into these safeguards by using several methodologies, including an analysis of existing documentation, a high-level matrix, and qualitative methods based on co-occurrences using specialized “atlas ti” software. The results show that MDBs’ coverage of financial, governance, and country risks lacks the sustainability focus found in these rating systems. Therefore, this study that concludes MDB safeguards must evolve, balancing comprehensive sustainability parameters and detailed management guidelines and addressing impacts beyond statutory frameworks to encourage stakeholder engagement for more sustainable infrastructure projects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Policy as a Tool for Sustainable Development)
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14 pages, 1232 KiB  
Article
Does the Water Rights Trading Policy Improve Water-Use Efficiency? An Environmental Policy Evaluation from China
by Naiming He, Ying Shi and Rijia Ding
Sustainability 2024, 16(8), 3454; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16083454 - 20 Apr 2024
Viewed by 541
Abstract
As a crucial basic natural resource, water resources are the cornerstone for sustainable national economic development. This paper takes the 2014 pilot water rights trading policy (WRT) as an entry point and uses a difference-in-differences (DID) model to test the policy effect of [...] Read more.
As a crucial basic natural resource, water resources are the cornerstone for sustainable national economic development. This paper takes the 2014 pilot water rights trading policy (WRT) as an entry point and uses a difference-in-differences (DID) model to test the policy effect of WRT on water-use efficiency (WUE) based on panel data for 30 Chinese provinces from 2005 to 2021. The study shows that WRT can significantly improve the regional WUE, and these results remain valid after a series of robustness tests, such as the parallel trend test, placebo test, and PSM-DID. Mechanistic analysis revealed that WRT can produce the Porter effect, which affects the WUE through technological innovation. The results of the heterogeneity analysis based on the synthetic control method (SCM) showed that WRT effectively improved WUE in Jiangxi, Henan, Ningxia, Hubei, and Guangdong, but did not achieve the expected effect in Inner Mongolia or Gansu. This paper provides solid empirical support for assessing the effectiveness of WRT and accelerating the process of establishing a unified national WRT market in China by 2025. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Policy as a Tool for Sustainable Development)
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20 pages, 604 KiB  
Article
Investigating Public Support for the Carbon Generalized System of Preference through the Lens of Protection Motivation Theory and Information Deficit Model
by Wanyan Li and Jincan Liu
Sustainability 2024, 16(4), 1531; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16041531 - 11 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1063
Abstract
The pressing challenges of climate change require government policy interventions. The carbon generalized system of preference (CGSP) is a novel incentive policy that has tremendous potential to reduce carbon emissions in response to climate change. However, there have been few studies focusing on [...] Read more.
The pressing challenges of climate change require government policy interventions. The carbon generalized system of preference (CGSP) is a novel incentive policy that has tremendous potential to reduce carbon emissions in response to climate change. However, there have been few studies focusing on public support for the CGSP, which is the precondition for its seamless implementation. Drawing on the protection motivation theory and information deficit model, this study presents and empirically validates a holistic theoretical framework in which information (information about climate change and information about the CGSP), threat appraisal (threat vulnerability and threat severity), and coping appraisal (response efficacy, self-efficacy, and response cost) are the factors influencing public support for the CGSP. Survey data of 372 respondents were empirically analyzed using the PLS-SEM method. The results show that threat vulnerability, threat severity, response efficacy, and self-efficacy positively affect public support for the CGSP, while response cost does not influence public support for the CGSP. Information about climate change indirectly influences public support for the CGSP through threat vulnerability and threat severity. Information about the CGSP not only directly affects public support for the CGSP but also indirectly affects public support for the CGSP through response efficacy and self-efficacy. The theoretical framework of this study can serve as a reference for future research on public support for environmental policies. The findings of this study also furnish insights for policymakers to develop feasible strategies for the seamless implementation of the CGSP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Policy as a Tool for Sustainable Development)
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14 pages, 2803 KiB  
Article
Focus Group Discussions on Food Waste: An Empirical Application Providing Insights into Rural and Urban Households in Greece
by Vasiliki Aitsidou, Evangelia Michailidou, Efstratios Loizou, Georgios Tsantopoulos and Anastasios Michailidis
Sustainability 2024, 16(2), 502; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16020502 - 5 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1891
Abstract
This paper demonstrates the utility of the focus group discussions (FGDs) methodology in the scientific exploration of food waste. The main objective is to show how FGDs can be designed and implemented by collecting data on household food waste (HFW). The paper provides [...] Read more.
This paper demonstrates the utility of the focus group discussions (FGDs) methodology in the scientific exploration of food waste. The main objective is to show how FGDs can be designed and implemented by collecting data on household food waste (HFW). The paper provides an empirical application of FGDs to members of urban and rural households in Greece through 10 steps. It is qualitative research that was implemented as a supplement in the framework of a large-scale study on HFW, providing an in-depth interpretation of the statistical results that were arrived at. The research shows that FGDs are an effective data collection methodology that reveals insights into HFW through interactions and complex behaviors. Further, the methodology used gives the opportunity to bring information to the fore. The role of women in relation to food-related responsibilities in the Greek household and the impact of rural experiences on HFW composition constitute two topics under exploration. A detailed understanding of HFW examined through the FGDs methodology enriches the global bibliography, mainly for the case of Greece. In addition, useful information is provided to local and governmental bodies, enabling them to collaborate with academics and experts in food waste management. There is a willingness among household members to raise their awareness of HFW reduction and prevention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Policy as a Tool for Sustainable Development)
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19 pages, 487 KiB  
Article
The Regionally Heterogeneous Impact of China’s Environmental Regulation on the Transformation and Upgrading of Its Industrial Structure
by Yutian Dou and Shuai Guan
Sustainability 2023, 15(24), 16939; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152416939 - 18 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 720
Abstract
Approaches to promoting the transformation and upgrading of China’s industrial structure represent an important issue in high-quality economic development. The upgrading of industrial structures is beneficial not only for environmental protection but also for sustainable economic development. This article first tests the correlation [...] Read more.
Approaches to promoting the transformation and upgrading of China’s industrial structure represent an important issue in high-quality economic development. The upgrading of industrial structures is beneficial not only for environmental protection but also for sustainable economic development. This article first tests the correlation between environmental regulation and the transformation and upgrading of industrial structure through an impulse response function and then uses provincial panel data to analyze the regionally heterogeneous impact of environmental regulation on industrial structure upgrading. The research results indicate that: (1) the presented impulse response graph indicates that environmental regulation shocks have a significant impact on the rationalization and upgrading of industrial structure, and subsequent variance decomposition indicates that environmental regulation has a strong explanatory power on the transformation and upgrading of industrial structure; (2) overall, strengthening the level of environmental regulation is not conducive to the rationalization of industrial structure (RIS), but a strong level of environmental regulation can significantly promote the upgrading of industrial structure (UIS); and (3) at the regional level, there is significant regional heterogeneity in the impact of environmental regulation on the transformation and upgrading of industrial structure in different regions. Environmental regulation can promote UIS in China’s eastern and western regions, but it is not conducive to RIS. Environmental regulation can promote RIS in China’s central region, but it has a negative impact on UIS. The conclusion of this article provides inspiration for sustainable economic development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Policy as a Tool for Sustainable Development)
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22 pages, 981 KiB  
Essay
Decision Change: The First Step to System Change
by Arnold J. Bomans and Peter Roessingh
Sustainability 2024, 16(6), 2372; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16062372 - 13 Mar 2024
Viewed by 1045
Abstract
Global crises, such as climate change and ecological collapse, require changes in systemic factors that cause the crises. These factors include the economy, population growth, and decision-making in global affairs. Current decision-making processes have failed to accomplish the required system change, necessitating a [...] Read more.
Global crises, such as climate change and ecological collapse, require changes in systemic factors that cause the crises. These factors include the economy, population growth, and decision-making in global affairs. Current decision-making processes have failed to accomplish the required system change, necessitating a change to these processes (‘decision change’) for meaningful progress. The key question is how a procedure for deciding on the required system change should be designed in this setting. In this essay, we propose a three-step approach. First, independent experts in collective decision-making should design this procedure under monitoring by auxiliary bodies that safeguard the design process; second, proposals for system change should be collected; third, based on these proposals, system change should be designed and decided upon using the new decision-making procedure. We argue that authority can be given to the new decision-making body that decides on system change. A global team must convene the decision-making experts and auxiliary bodies, collect system-change proposals, and guarantee that the decision-making process is facilitated. We call on individuals and independent organisations to form such a team or support its formation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Policy as a Tool for Sustainable Development)
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