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Public Health Challenges and Sustainable Responses in an Era of Disasters, Conflict, and Climate Change

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Health, Well-Being and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 13 June 2024 | Viewed by 8925

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Introduction:

In an era marked by a cascade of global crises, from health pandemics to hazards and disasters, from sustained conflict to the escalating repercussions of climate change, there is an unprecedented need to reconsider our approach towards public health and sustainability.

The stark reality is that climate change exacerbates existing health inequities and strains our health systems, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable populations. Simultaneously, prolonged conflict disrupts societal structures and complicates health outcomes. Hazards and disasters, which are becoming increasingly frequent and severe due to climate change, further challenge our abilities to maintain public health standards. These interdependencies underscore a growing necessity for a more holistic, cross-disciplinary approach towards achieving sustainable public health outcomes and disaster responses.

Aim of the Special Issue:

With this in mind, we are proud to introduce this Special Issue titled "Public Health Challenges and Sustainable Responses in an Era of Disasters, Conflict, and Climate Change." The intention of this Special Issue is not merely to underscore the urgency of these intersecting problems, but to foster interdisciplinary dialogue, generate innovative solutions, and illuminate the path forward. It relates closely to the broader scope of our journal—Sustainability—by expanding the discourse beyond traditional boundaries to address the more complex, multifaceted realities of the 21st century.

Suggested Themes:

We encourage contributions that span a broad range of topics, which may include, but are not limited to:

  • Interdisciplinary studies exploring the interconnectedness of public health, conflict, climate change, and disaster response.
  • Analyzing the impact of climate change and conflict on health inequities and exploring sustainable mitigation strategies.
  • Strategies to adapt healthcare systems for increased resilience in the face of climate-change-induced disasters and sustained conflicts.
  • Examining the role of policy and governance in building sustainable and resilient health infrastructures.
  • Lessons from past and ongoing health crises, disasters, and conflicts: case studies and best practice recommendations for sustainable responses.
  • Technology's role in supporting public health, disaster management, and conflict resolution in the context of climate change.
  • Exploring the social, economic, and environmental determinants of health in disaster- and conflict-prone areas.
  • Innovations in health education and communication strategies to promote resilience and sustainability in communities facing climate change, conflict, and disaster risks.

In this Special Issue, we welcome original research articles, reviews, case studies, and perspectives that strive to push the boundaries of current understanding, encouraging a holistic and interconnected approach to these pressing global challenges.

The time for siloed solutions has passed; the complexity of our modern world necessitates the cross-pollination of ideas and integrated strategies. By fostering interdisciplinary collaboration through this Special Issue, we hope to contribute to shaping a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable future.

Prof. Dr. Krzysztof Goniewicz
Guest Editor

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

  • public health
  • sustainability
  • climate change
  • conflict resolution
  • disaster response
  • health equity
  • resilience
  • interdisciplinary research
  • health infrastructure
  • social determinants of health

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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20 pages, 816 KiB  
Article
Workplace Buoyancy and Servant Leadership as Catalysts for Sustainable Disaster Management: Mitigating Emotional Exhaustion in Disaster Response Teams
by Ibrahim Yikilmaz, Lutfi Surucu, Ahmet Maslakci, Alper Bahadir Dalmis and Meric Ergun
Sustainability 2024, 16(7), 2695; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16072695 - 25 Mar 2024
Viewed by 620
Abstract
Amid global crises like natural disasters and climate change, the emotional well-being of disaster response workers (DRWs) is a key factor in sustainable public health and disaster management. The study highlights the issue of emotional exhaustion among DRWs, which can impact organizational effectiveness [...] Read more.
Amid global crises like natural disasters and climate change, the emotional well-being of disaster response workers (DRWs) is a key factor in sustainable public health and disaster management. The study highlights the issue of emotional exhaustion among DRWs, which can impact organizational effectiveness and the health and well-being of affected communities. The study examines the roles of servant leadership (SL) and workplace buoyancy (WB) in addressing these issues. Using data from 336 DRWs involved in the 2023 Kahramanmaraş earthquake, JD-R Theory is employed to study how these factors interact in high-demand scenarios. Analysis with the Smart PLS 4 program reveals that SL and WB play key roles in reducing emotional exhaustion (EE). Notably, WB partially mediates the relationship between SL and EE. These insights are vital for creating sustainable public health and disaster management strategies in times of growing conflicts and climate crises. By extending the JD-R Theory to encompass these elements, the study provides valuable suggestions for policymakers and managers to enhance the resilience and well-being of DRWs. The study deepens our understanding of public health challenges in disaster settings and highlights the need for integrated, sustainable responses to support those on the front lines of disaster relief efforts. Full article
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19 pages, 2638 KiB  
Article
Revamping Sustainability Efforts Post-Disaster by Adopting Circular Economy Resilience Practices
by Piyush Pradhananga and Mohamed ElZomor
Sustainability 2023, 15(22), 15870; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152215870 - 12 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 933
Abstract
Post-disaster reconnaissance is vital for assessing the impact of a natural disaster on the built environment and informing improvements in design, construction, risk mitigation, and our understanding of extreme events. The data obtained from reconnaissance can also be utilized to improve disaster recovery [...] Read more.
Post-disaster reconnaissance is vital for assessing the impact of a natural disaster on the built environment and informing improvements in design, construction, risk mitigation, and our understanding of extreme events. The data obtained from reconnaissance can also be utilized to improve disaster recovery planning by maximizing resource efficiency, minimizing waste, and promoting resilience in future disasters. This paper aims to investigate existing reconnaissance reports and datasets to identify the factors that impact the reusability of buildings post-disaster and to recommend strategies that align with circular economy goals. The study adopted a three-step research methodology to attain the proposed goals: (1) thematic analysis was used to evaluate types of damages reported in the reconnaissance reports; (2) a supervised machine-learning algorithm was employed to analyze reconnaissance datasets; and (3) a concept map was developed based on interviews of 109 stakeholders in disaster-prone communities to recommend strategies to adopt circular economy practices post-disaster. The study results highlight the recurring risks of damage to different parts of the building and how circular economy resilience practices like deconstruction can minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency during post-disaster recovery. The findings of the study promote a more regenerative economy to build resilience to the challenges of future extreme weather events. Full article
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19 pages, 3076 KiB  
Article
Post-Disaster Resilience Optimization for Road–Bridge Transportation Systems Considering Economic Loss
by Jiangbin Zhao, Mengtao Liang, Zaoyan Zhang, Xiangang Cao, Qi Lu and Zhiqiang Cai
Sustainability 2023, 15(19), 14380; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151914380 - 29 Sep 2023
Viewed by 863
Abstract
After a disaster, the recovery sequence of damaged bridges in a road–bridge transportation system greatly influences system restoration time and total economic loss. In this paper, the skew of recovery trajectory is introduced to evaluate the average restoration time, and the total economic [...] Read more.
After a disaster, the recovery sequence of damaged bridges in a road–bridge transportation system greatly influences system restoration time and total economic loss. In this paper, the skew of recovery trajectory is introduced to evaluate the average restoration time, and the total economic loss is extended to consider the indirect loss, such as the energy consumption of detours or the emergency service fee. So, the post-disaster resilience optimization model is constructed by minimizing the total economic loss. The improved genetic algorithm is developed to obtain the optimal recovery scheme for damaged bridges by considering the recovery sequence and repair modes. The composition and influence factors of total economic loss are analyzed through three experiments. The experimental results show that the indirect loss accounts for approximately half of the economic loss, while the higher price of emergency service promotes the reduction of indirect loss using the expedited modes to repair damaged bridges. Moreover, to minimize the total economic loss, it is essential to design the optimal recovery scheme (repair sequence and repair mode) wisely to balance the conflicts between indirect loss and direct loss. Full article
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32 pages, 1182 KiB  
Article
Unveiling the Dynamics of Organizational Characteristics in Disaster Management: Insights from Kuwait
by Raed Al-Husain
Sustainability 2023, 15(17), 12860; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151712860 - 25 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1229
Abstract
This study investigates the influence of specific organizational characteristics—type, location, sector, and size—on perceived disaster management competence within the unique context of Kuwait. A cross-sectional survey was conducted online and distributed via various social media platforms, resulting in the participation of 438 individuals [...] Read more.
This study investigates the influence of specific organizational characteristics—type, location, sector, and size—on perceived disaster management competence within the unique context of Kuwait. A cross-sectional survey was conducted online and distributed via various social media platforms, resulting in the participation of 438 individuals from diverse institutions and job positions. These participants offered their perceptions of their respective organizations’ operational and supply chain practices in disaster management. This study encompasses the key phases of the disaster management cycle: mitigation; preparedness; response; and recovery. Inferential analysis, employing chi-square and One-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) tests, was used to explore the relationship between these organizational characteristics and perceived operational and supply chain competence in disaster management. The findings reveal significant correlations between organizational characteristics and disaster management practices, yielding valuable insights. Notably, organization type, location, and sector significantly impacted preparedness, response, and recovery, while no significant relationships were found for mitigation. These findings contribute to the existing body of knowledge and offer practical guidance for policymakers and organizational leaders in developing disaster management strategies that account for the unique attributes of their organizations. This study emphasizes the importance of tailored disaster management strategies in Kuwait’s distinct context to enhance overall effectiveness and resilience, as perceived by organizations in Kuwait and potentially similar contexts. Full article
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25 pages, 2520 KiB  
Article
Assessment of the Dynamics towards Effective and Efficient Post-Flood Disaster Adaptive Capacity and Resilience in South Africa
by Sindisiwe Nyide, Mulala Danny Simatele, Stefan Grab and Richard Kwame Adom
Sustainability 2023, 15(17), 12719; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151712719 - 22 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1482
Abstract
Government employees, municipal officials, and communities in South Africa have grappled with post-apartheid environmental challenges, such as floods, droughts, severe storms, and wildfires. These disasters are a result of both natural and human activities. The government implemented different policies and strategies after 1994 [...] Read more.
Government employees, municipal officials, and communities in South Africa have grappled with post-apartheid environmental challenges, such as floods, droughts, severe storms, and wildfires. These disasters are a result of both natural and human activities. The government implemented different policies and strategies after 1994 to address these issues. While acknowledging some success in managing these disasters with the current adaptive measures, the frequency and intensity of disasters have increased, causing significant damage to life and property, particularly among the vulnerable population. This paper uses qualitative and quantitative data collection approaches to explore possible systematic and structural weaknesses in addressing post-disaster situations in South Africa. Floods appear to be the most frequent natural disaster in South Africa. The paper uncovered the fact that disaster management is a multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary field. Although various institutional arrangements exist, they do not seem appropriate for assisting vulnerable groups. While officials have made some progress in implementing post-disaster projects, challenges still hinder sustainability. Furthermore, regrettably, despite the level of success in addressing disasters, most measures have failed to achieve the intended results for a variety of reasons. The consolidated long-term measures suggested by the participants yielded a proposed ‘South African Floods Post-Disaster Checklist or Model’, which was non-existent in South Africa. By implementing more effective and efficient post-disaster measures, the proposed tool can help policymakers and strategic partners standardise post-disaster resilience and adaptive capacity in various sectors’ sustainability contexts. Full article
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Review

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20 pages, 541 KiB  
Review
Driving Sustainable Disaster Risk Reduction: A Rapid Review of the Policies and Strategies in Saudi Arabia
by Ahmed M. Al-Wathinani, Dennis G. Barten, Marta Borowska-Stefańska, Paweł Gołda, Noora A. AlDulijan, Mohammad A. Alhallaf, Lujain O. Samarkandi, Abdullah S. Almuhaidly, Mariusz Goniewicz, Waleed O. Samarkandi and Krzysztof Goniewicz
Sustainability 2023, 15(14), 10976; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151410976 - 13 Jul 2023
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2868
Abstract
This article presents a comprehensive rapid review of the current disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts in Saudi Arabia, a country exposed to a variety of hazards such as extreme heat, droughts, floods, dust, and sandstorms, along with threats from terrorism and violence. Employing [...] Read more.
This article presents a comprehensive rapid review of the current disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts in Saudi Arabia, a country exposed to a variety of hazards such as extreme heat, droughts, floods, dust, and sandstorms, along with threats from terrorism and violence. Employing a rapid review approach, our aim was to provide timely insights into DRR strategies, with an emphasis on the unique geographical and socio-political context of Saudi Arabia. This study serves as a valuable reference for similar hazard-prone regions worldwide. Our review encompasses Saudi Arabia’s progress in key areas, such as improving building codes and infrastructure, developing early warning systems, raising public awareness, and strengthening emergency response capabilities. While Saudi Arabia has made commendable strides in implementing international best practices for DRR, our review also identified specific areas where further development and enhancement are needed. These include the need for more sophisticated early warning systems, expanded public awareness campaigns, and continual enhancements in emergency response capabilities. This review offers key insights into the challenges and opportunities within Saudi Arabia’s DRR efforts, highlighting the steps that Saudi Arabia has taken towards resilience. Drawing from specific examples of past disasters, our findings shed light on practical considerations for improving disaster risk management, with the potential to inform policy, enhance public awareness, and contribute to building a safer and more resilient future in Saudi Arabia. Full article
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