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Environmental Policy and Governance, Rural Development Strategy and Sustainability

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2020) | Viewed by 32528

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor

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Guest Editor
Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO), University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Interests: applied microeconomics; efficiency analysis and benchmarking; allocation rules; health economics; network economics; cooperative game theory
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Guest Editor
Institute of Economics and Rural Development, Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences, 03220 Vilnius, Lithuania
Interests: sustainable development; integrated analysis
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Rural areas and agricultural activities have long been acknowledged as providers of public goods and services besides the intended agricultural output. Therefore, there is a need for modelling agribusiness activities, support schemes, and rural population behavior in terms of marketed and non-marketed production. This requires advancements in methodology and empirical applications. The aforementioned issues have drawn attention in different parts of the globe. Still, even relatively homogenous regions and countries face spatial differences which call for further analyses. Therefore, an integrated approach is required to ensure food security and sustainable development.

Agricultural activities affect climate change via multiple channels. The use of agrochemicals induces lifecycle emissions and non-point pollution. Energy inputs for agriculture require the promotion of practices of sustainable energy consumption. The increased use of renewables has impacted sustainable rural development by creating positive economic, social, and environmental effects in rural areas. These issues are also closely linked to bioeconomy and circular economy. However, the promotion of bioeconomy may also lead to environmental degradation. Therefore, it is necessary to model the underlying energy–economy–environment relationships and provide evidence-based policy guidelines for sustainable rural development.

Main topics:

  • Environmental policies and governance in agriculture;
  • Sustainable rural development strategies;
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation in agriculture;
  • Linking sustainable energy with sustainable rural development;
  • Circular economy implications for agriculture;
  • Bioeconomy and sustainable rural development
  • Policies and strategies to promote sustainable agriculture and rural development;
  • Governance for sustainable rural development;
  • Production theory and its applications;
  • Dynamic and agent-based modelling;
  • Multi-criteria decision-making for sustainable rural development.


Prof. Dr. Tomas Baležentis
Prof. Dr. Alvydas Baležentis
Prof. Dr. Jens Leth Hougaard
Prof. Dr. Dalia Štreimikienė
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Rural development
  • agricultural policies
  • sustainable development
  • agricultural economics

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 750 KiB  
Article
Long-Term Impact of China’s Returning Farmland to Forest Program on Rural Economic Development
by Yuchen Gao, Zehao Liu, Ruipeng Li and Zhidan Shi
Sustainability 2020, 12(4), 1492; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041492 - 17 Feb 2020
Cited by 29 | Viewed by 6374
Abstract
The Returning Farmland to Forest Program (RFFP) is widely known as one of China’s largest and most successful payment schemes for ecosystem service projects for the achievement of both environmental and economic sustainability. By sponsoring afforestation activities and compensating farmers for converting cropland [...] Read more.
The Returning Farmland to Forest Program (RFFP) is widely known as one of China’s largest and most successful payment schemes for ecosystem service projects for the achievement of both environmental and economic sustainability. By sponsoring afforestation activities and compensating farmers for converting cropland to forest, the project was designed to achieve multiple goals. Ecologically, the program aims to expand forest cover and to reduce flood and soil erosion. Economically, it aims to alleviate poverty and improve rural livelihoods. Although the official metrics indicate successful program outcomes in the short term, researchers have reported mixed and controversial results for long-term outcomes. We combined the difference-in-difference (DID) with instrumental variables (IVs) regression to examine the long-term effects of China’s RFFP on local economic development. We found that (1) the RFFP has had a remarkably positive impact on local economic growth in the primary sector, but considerably limits the growth of enterprises above a designated size by 16.8%; (2) the RFFP is unable to promote the development of the secondary industry because it cannot effectively promote the transfer of rural laborers to the secondary industry sector; and (3) in addition to increasing the general budgetary expenditure of local finance by 7.50%, this program has significantly reduced local fiscal revenue by 35.50%. We suggest that eco-compensation should consider the performance of the RFFP in its evaluation criteria. Full article
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16 pages, 3384 KiB  
Article
Exploring Relationships between Environmental Performance, E-Government and Corruption: A Multivariate Perspective
by Carmen C. Rodríguez-Martínez, Isabel María García-Sánchez, Purificación Vicente-Galindo and Purificación Galindo-Villardón
Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6497; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226497 - 18 Nov 2019
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 3000
Abstract
In order to improve environmental performance, the participation of effective and transparent citizens and governments that help counteract corruption in environmental matters is crucial. In this sense, this work focuses on exploring relationships between e-participation, e-government, the corruption index and environmental performance indicators. [...] Read more.
In order to improve environmental performance, the participation of effective and transparent citizens and governments that help counteract corruption in environmental matters is crucial. In this sense, this work focuses on exploring relationships between e-participation, e-government, the corruption index and environmental performance indicators. To this end, a sample comprising 116 countries from varying geographic regions is used in conjunction with indicators of environmental performance, e-participation, e-government and the corruption index. Through the use of the HJ-biplot and STATIS multivariate statistical techniques, it will be possible to observe the role that these variables play in countries’ behavioural patterns with respect to environmental performance. The results show a correlation between the indicator ‘perception of corruption’ and environmental performance; therefore, the lower the level of corruption, the higher the environmental performance index. We conclude that countries that exhibit more e-participation, lower levels of corruption and better level income are more likely to follow policies and programmes aimed at achieving better environmental performance. Full article
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13 pages, 7752 KiB  
Article
Estimating Housing Vacancy Rates in Rural China Using Power Consumption Data
by Jing Li, Meng Guo and Kevin Lo
Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5722; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205722 - 16 Oct 2019
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 3018
Abstract
Village hollowing is a growing policy problem globally, but accurately estimating housing vacancy rates is difficult and costly. In this study, we piloted the use of power consumption data to estimate the vacancy rate of rural housing. To illustrate the method used, we [...] Read more.
Village hollowing is a growing policy problem globally, but accurately estimating housing vacancy rates is difficult and costly. In this study, we piloted the use of power consumption data to estimate the vacancy rate of rural housing. To illustrate the method used, we took power consumption data in 2014 and 2017 in an area of rural China to analyze the change in housing vacancies. Results indicated that the rural vacancy rates were 5.27% and 8.69%, respectively, while underutilization rates were around 10% in 2014 and 2017. Second, there was significant spatial clustering of vacant rural housing, and the hotspots were mainly distributed in western mountainous areas, whereas villages near urban areas had lower vacancy rates. Third, rural vacancies increased from 2014 to 2017. Compared with other methods, our method proved to be accurate, very cost-effective and scalable, and it can offer timely spatial and temporal information that can be used by policymakers to identify areas with significant village hollowing issues. However, there are challenges in setting the right thresholds that take into consideration regional differences. Therefore, there is also a need for more studies in different regions in order to scale up this method to the national level. Full article
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15 pages, 2935 KiB  
Article
Sustainable Development of a Peripheral Mountain Region on the State Border: Case Study of Moravské Kopanice Microregion (Moravia)
by Antonín Vaishar and Milada Šťastná
Sustainability 2019, 11(19), 5540; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195540 - 08 Oct 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2685
Abstract
The sustainability of rural areas is considered to be most threatened in peripheral, hardly accessible microregions with insufficient economical sources. The paper analyses one such rural area in the eastern part of Moravia from the viewpoint of individual economic, social, and environmental sustainability [...] Read more.
The sustainability of rural areas is considered to be most threatened in peripheral, hardly accessible microregions with insufficient economical sources. The paper analyses one such rural area in the eastern part of Moravia from the viewpoint of individual economic, social, and environmental sustainability pillars. The area under study is the mountain territory on the border with Slovakia, which is under large-scale landscape protection. The area with very limited economic sources has been impacted with a change to the geopolitical situation after 1993 (from the centre of Czechoslovakia to the fringe of Czechia). It was stated that the environmental pillar is in the best of conditions; however, perhaps threatened with missing technical infrastructure in relation to the disposal of solid, liquid, and gaseous waste, the social pillar is improving in relation to the post-productive transition, whereas the economic pillar is the most fragile because of its dependence on exogenous jobs in surrounding towns. In general, the microregion seems to be sustainable at the moment. Long-term sustainability will depend on the general economic, demographic, and climatic development of the country and Europe. Full article
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16 pages, 623 KiB  
Article
Conservation Payments and Technical Efficiency of farm Households Participating in the Grain for Green Program on the Loess Plateau of China
by Li Li, Atsushi Tsunekawa, Yangshangyu Zuo and Atsushi Koike
Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4426; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164426 - 16 Aug 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2165
Abstract
This study provides an empirical analysis of household technical efficiency and its determinant factors (especially conservation payments) in the context of the Grain for Green program. On the basis of a sample of 225 farm households on the Loess Plateau in 2007, we [...] Read more.
This study provides an empirical analysis of household technical efficiency and its determinant factors (especially conservation payments) in the context of the Grain for Green program. On the basis of a sample of 225 farm households on the Loess Plateau in 2007, we estimate household technical efficiency using the data envelopment analysis method. In addition to a traditional ordinary least square (OLS) analysis, quantile regression (QR) analysis is also deployed to explore the possible heterogeneous effects of conservation payments and other variables on the technical efficiency across the quantiles. The results suggest that when off-farm activities are taken into account, households have considerable potential for improving their technical efficiency; OLS analysis shows that conservation payments decrease household efficiency, and the QR analysis suggests that the negative impact is significant only for higher performance households; The presence of children, access of households to leased land markets, credit markets, and extension services all show heterogeneous impacts on household efficiency. On the basis of the findings of the study, policies suggestions to improve the program’s effectiveness are provided. Full article
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15 pages, 633 KiB  
Article
Evaluating Public Policy Support for Agricultural Cooperatives
by Erika Ribašauskienė, Diana Šumylė, Artiom Volkov, Tomas Baležentis, Dalia Streimikiene and Mangirdas Morkunas
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3769; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143769 - 10 Jul 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3839
Abstract
Creation of a sustainable agricultural sector involves boosting the cooperation activities as these contribute to the societal and economic development of the farms, farmers and rural societies. This paper contributes to the literature on the analysis of the drivers and obstacles of cooperation [...] Read more.
Creation of a sustainable agricultural sector involves boosting the cooperation activities as these contribute to the societal and economic development of the farms, farmers and rural societies. This paper contributes to the literature on the analysis of the drivers and obstacles of cooperation development in agriculture. The case of Lithuania is considered as the cooperation activities are lagging behind the European Union (EU) practice here. Specifically, analysis of the public support measures and the expert survey are carried out to analyse the effectiveness of the public policy measures as represented in the relevant legal acts. The experts involve policy makers, farmers’ organisations and academia, which are the major stakeholder groups in Lithuania. The results indicate the effectiveness of the measures linked to capacity building (in the sense of human capital) requires improvement, whereas those related to financial support and promotion of the farmers’ organisations are much better perceived. Thus, public support measures are available to promote cooperation in agriculture, yet the legal system of Lithuania still requires improvement in accommodating effective agricultural cooperatives. Full article
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15 pages, 1055 KiB  
Article
In a Search for Equity: Do Direct Payments under the Common Agricultural Policy Induce Convergence in the European Union?
by Artiom Volkov, Tomas Balezentis, Mangirdas Morkunas and Dalia Streimikiene
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3462; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11123462 - 24 Jun 2019
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3611
Abstract
The European Union (EU) is an integrated alliance of equally treated Member States sharing mutual values, legal principles and markets. Close cooperation, deep integration and convergence are the major priorities for the EU. Anyway, these principles are not always reflected in the EU-wide [...] Read more.
The European Union (EU) is an integrated alliance of equally treated Member States sharing mutual values, legal principles and markets. Close cooperation, deep integration and convergence are the major priorities for the EU. Anyway, these principles are not always reflected in the EU-wide policies which are implemented through financial support mechanisms. The direct payments financial support mechanism under the Common Agricultural Policy, the main instrument for promoting convergence in development of Member States’ agricultural sectors and rural sustainability, faces critique for failing to meet its objectives. One of the major deficiencies of the direct payments scheme is that it allocates more resources to already developed agricultural sectors of the older Member States and less resources to developing ones thus increasing the divergence among the Member States. The aim of this paper is to suggest new mechanisms for direct payment funds redistribution across the EU Member States which are based on the methodological principles that would more precisely correspond to the aims of convergence, transparency and fair redistribution. The results show that, regardless of the method chosen (to support more or less effective agricultural sectors of EU Member States), the proposed methodology lowers differences in direct payment rates among the EU Member States by two-fold. This ensures correspondence to the goal of convergence within the EU. Full article
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24 pages, 617 KiB  
Article
The Effects of Greenhouse Gas Emissions on Cereal Production in the European Union
by Mihaela Simionescu, Yuriy Bilan, Stanisław Gędek and Dalia Streimikiene
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3433; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11123433 - 21 Jun 2019
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 3864
Abstract
Considering food security and climate change mitigation as the main sustainability challenges for agriculture, the main goal is to achieve agricultural production at an acceptable level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In this paper, the effects of GHGs are described. Panel data models [...] Read more.
Considering food security and climate change mitigation as the main sustainability challenges for agriculture, the main goal is to achieve agricultural production at an acceptable level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In this paper, the effects of GHGs are described. Panel data models are built to assess the impact of greenhouse gases on harvested production of cereals in EU countries. The study is focused on the climate change cause by GHG emissions that have a direct impact on agriculture in what concerns cereal production. Therefore, the impact of GHGs on cereal production in the European Union, except Malta, in the period 2000–2016 was assessed. Moreover, the effects of GHGs on agricultural irrigated land in Denmark and Hungary, two EU countries with the large agricultural surface, were computed. The results indicated a positive impact of GHGs from agriculture and fertilizer consumption in the previous year on cereal production in the EU. Moreover, only in Hungary did the increase in GHG emissions determined a slow increase in the volume of agricultural irrigated lands in the period of 2000–2016. Full article
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15 pages, 649 KiB  
Article
Decomposing Dynamics in the Farm Profitability: An Application of Index Decomposition Analysis to Lithuanian FADN Sample
by Tomas Baležentis, Aistė Galnaitytė, Irena Kriščiukaitienė, Virginia Namiotko, Lina Novickytė, Dalia Streimikiene and Rasa Melnikiene
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2861; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102861 - 20 May 2019
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3044
Abstract
The changes in farm structure have been observed in Lithuania as well as in other Central and Eastern European countries. These changes, to a high extent, have been driven by decreasing profitability of the small farms. In this paper, we look into the [...] Read more.
The changes in farm structure have been observed in Lithuania as well as in other Central and Eastern European countries. These changes, to a high extent, have been driven by decreasing profitability of the small farms. In this paper, we look into the changes in the profitability of Lithuanian family farms across different farm size groups. Farm size is measured in terms of the standard output. The period covered is 2005–2016. The index decomposition analysis model and Shapley value are adapted for the analysis. The proposed framework ensures complete decomposition among other desirable properties. The decomposition of the changes in profitability was carried out following the DuPont identity. The results suggest that for small (respectively large) farms the asset turnover (respectively profit margin) component appear more important, whereas the leverage effect remained minimal irrespectively of the farm size group. Full article
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