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Sustainability, Volume 13, Issue 9 (May-1 2021) – 731 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Existing research suggests that regions can develop their long-term competitive advantage through well-functioning innovation-driven interregional cooperation. In this article, we examine regional innovation approaches in neighbouring Dutch and German regions. Our focus is on the role of academic institutions and innovation brokers in supporting innovation in agri-food SMEs and in facilitating the establishment of a cross-border innovation space. We conclude that regional differences in knowledge infrastructures, economic structures, institutional set-ups, visions and identities can be seen as complementary strengths and should be used by regional innovation actors more strategically, thereby leading to hybridisation effects. Our findings are highly relevant for the further development of the Interreg Europe programme and the implementation of the EU’s Territorial Agenda 2030. View this [...] Read more.
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Article
Beliefs about Climate Change and Their Relationship with Environmental Beliefs and Sustainable Behavior: A View from Rural Communities
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5326; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095326 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 929
Abstract
The study of beliefs and environmental behavior is of special interest, given the implications of climate change as a social phenomenon and the disagreements about what is socially believed about this phenomenon. This research was aimed at determining the associations between environmental beliefs [...] Read more.
The study of beliefs and environmental behavior is of special interest, given the implications of climate change as a social phenomenon and the disagreements about what is socially believed about this phenomenon. This research was aimed at determining the associations between environmental beliefs and sustainable behavior in a group of inhabitants of southern Colombia. The methodology was exploratory and cross-sectional, with descriptive and correlational analyses. The sample was made up of 368 people from two regions in southern Colombia (57.5% female and 42.5% male); their ages ranged between 18 and 69 years (X = 19.36; SD = 8.59). Information was collected with questionnaires that measured climate change risk perception, environmental beliefs, and sustainable behavior. The results show higher scores for equitable behavior and environmental beliefs. Environmental beliefs—egobiocentrism—and risk perception of climate change predict both sustainable and pro-ecological behavior, as well as altruistic, frugal, and equitable behavior. It is concluded that the presence of environmental beliefs, along with information regarding a sense of environmental deterioration, climate change and the consequences for the future, can predict the implementation of actions for sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Environmental Beliefs)
Article
Smart Water Grid Research Group Project: An Introduction to the Smart Water Grid Living-Lab Demonstrative Operation in YeongJong Island, Korea
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5325; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095325 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 614
Abstract
In South Korea, in line with the increasing need for a reliable water supply following the continuous increase in water demand, the Smart Water Grid Research Group (SWGRG) was officially launched in 2012. With the vision of providing water welfare at a national [...] Read more.
In South Korea, in line with the increasing need for a reliable water supply following the continuous increase in water demand, the Smart Water Grid Research Group (SWGRG) was officially launched in 2012. With the vision of providing water welfare at a national level, SWGRG incorporated Information and Communications Technology in its water resource management, and built a living lab for the demonstrative operation of the Smart Water Grid (SWG). The living lab was built in Block 112 of YeongJong Island, Incheon, South Korea (area of 17.4 km2, population of 8000), where Incheon International Airport, a hub for Northeast Asia, is located. In this location, water is supplied through a single submarine pipeline, making the location optimal for responses to water crises and the construction of a water supply system during emergencies. From 2017 to 2019, ultrasonic wave type smart water meters and IEEE 802.15.4 Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) networks were installed at 527 sites of 958 consumer areas in the living lab. Therefore, this study introduces the development of SWG core element technologies (Intelligent water source management and distribution system, Smart water distribution network planning/control/operation strategy establishment, AMI network and device development, Integrated management of bi-directional smart water information), and operation solutions (Smart water statistics information, Real-time demand-supply analysis, Decision support system, Real-time hydraulic pipeline network analysis, Smart DB management, and Water information mobile application) through a field operation and testing in the living lab. Full article
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Article
Explanatory Analysis of Factors Influencing the Support for Sustainable Food Production and Distribution Systems: Results from a Rural Canadian Community
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5324; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095324 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 644
Abstract
Investigating the viability of alternative food networks (AFNs) is more important than before because of the disruptions in global supply chains and evolving resident composition in different regions. In this regard, this paper reports on findings of a project aimed at identifying factors [...] Read more.
Investigating the viability of alternative food networks (AFNs) is more important than before because of the disruptions in global supply chains and evolving resident composition in different regions. In this regard, this paper reports on findings of a project aimed at identifying factors influencing support for local, sustainable food production, and distribution systems. In the first phase, local residents and international students in Cape Breton, Canada, were surveyed prior to the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic to assess their attitudes and values relative to shopping at farmers markets and buying local. In the second phase, mid-pandemic, text mining of Twitter data was used to gauge sentiments related to these same activities. The results of our explanatory analysis suggest that the top two factors influencing decisions to buy local farm products were food attributes and supporting community economic development. In contrast to previous studies, we included an alternate sample group, namely, international students, and explored the relevance of the social aspect of buying local, e.g., meeting the farmer. Among our findings from the application of a logistics regression model to our survey data (N = 125) is the suggestion that the senior non-international student residents of the Cape Breton Island were more probable to be in the category of consumers whose perception of an authentic buy-local experience was limited to distribution channels that allowed for the social aspect of buying local, e.g., meeting the farmer. Full article
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Article
Automatic Detection of Photovoltaic Farms Using Satellite Imagery and Convolutional Neural Networks
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5323; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095323 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 733
Abstract
The number of solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays in Greece has increased rapidly during the recent years. As a result, there is an increasing need for high quality updated information regarding the status of PV farms. This information includes the number of PV farms, [...] Read more.
The number of solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays in Greece has increased rapidly during the recent years. As a result, there is an increasing need for high quality updated information regarding the status of PV farms. This information includes the number of PV farms, power capacity and the energy generated. However, access to this data is obsolete, mainly due to the fact that there is a difficulty tracking PV investment status (from licensing to investment completion and energy production). This article presents a novel approach, which uses free access high resolution satellite imagery and a deep learning algorithm (a convolutional neural network—CNN) for the automatic detection of PV farms. Furthermore, in an effort to create an algorithm capable of generalizing better, all the current locations with installed PV farms (data provided from the Greek Energy Regulator Authority) in the Greek Territory (131,957 km2) were used. According to our knowledge this is the first time such an algorithm is used in order to determine the existence of PV farms and the results showed satisfying accuracy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Transition and Climate Change in Decision-making Processes)
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Article
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of an Innovative Compact Hybrid Electrical-Thermal Storage System for Residential Buildings in Mediterranean Climate
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5322; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095322 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 741
Abstract
The buildings sector is one of the least sustainable activities in the world, accounting for around 40% of the total global energy demand. With the aim to reduce the environmental impact of this sector, the use of renewable energy sources coupled with energy [...] Read more.
The buildings sector is one of the least sustainable activities in the world, accounting for around 40% of the total global energy demand. With the aim to reduce the environmental impact of this sector, the use of renewable energy sources coupled with energy storage systems in buildings has been investigated in recent years. Innovative solutions for cooling, heating, and domestic hot water in buildings can contribute to the buildings’ decarbonization by achieving a reduction of building electrical consumption needed to keep comfortable conditions. However, the environmental impact of a new system is not only related to its electrical consumption from the grid, but also to the environmental load produced in the manufacturing and disposal stages of system components. This study investigates the environmental impact of an innovative system proposed for residential buildings in Mediterranean climate through a life cycle assessment. The results show that, due to the complexity of the system, the manufacturing and disposal stages have a high environmental impact, which is not compensated by the reduction of the impact during the operational stage. A parametric study was also performed to investigate the effect of the design of the storage system on the overall system impact. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy Storage in Building Applications)
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Article
Building Teacher Identity in Environmental and Sustainability Education: The Perspectives of Preservice Secondary School Geography Teachers
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5321; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095321 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1243
Abstract
Geography teachers have an important role within environmental education and, in England, are developing their professional identities at a time when environmental education is contested. This study considers the experiences of five trainee secondary school geography teachers who are all part of a [...] Read more.
Geography teachers have an important role within environmental education and, in England, are developing their professional identities at a time when environmental education is contested. This study considers the experiences of five trainee secondary school geography teachers who are all part of a university-based teacher education programme rooted in an environmental justice approach. Data is drawn from three interviews with each of five individuals over the course of their training (15 interviews in total) and participants’ written reflections. Findings include (1) teachers draw on a range of approaches to implement Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE), (2) teachers share and value their own and their students’ stories of and personal connections with the environment and (3) teachers seek to enable young people to bring about change to their lives and communities. The contested nature of foregrounding ESE in the geography classroom is noted, as are the tensions and emotional load that teachers experience when seeking to develop their professional identity. Reflections are shared regarding the ways in which PGCE programmes provide teachers with opportunities to build ESE identities, in particular the role of semi-structured, reflexive interviews in providing an important space for identity work that could be usefully considered within the broader context of the newly implemented Early Career Teacher framework for England. Full article
Article
The Impact of COVID-19 on Highway Traffic and Management: The Case Study of an Operator Perspective
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5320; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095320 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 714
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic created an enormous disruption to the everyday life of the modern society. Among the various urban systems, transportation services were among those that suffered the most significant impacts, particularly severe in the case of highways. This paper addresses the challenges [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic created an enormous disruption to the everyday life of the modern society. Among the various urban systems, transportation services were among those that suffered the most significant impacts, particularly severe in the case of highways. This paper addresses the challenges and responses to the pandemic from a private highway operator’s perspective and from a multidisciplinary perspective. Highway operators faced two main challenges: on one hand, the need to cope with the potential disruption caused by the pandemic and a national lockdown for almost three months, the provision of road services, and the requirement to ensure the proper operation and maintenance, and on the other hand, the strong negative impact of the pandemic on levels of traffic. Our case study shows that the operator’s management response in question is essentially characterised by being a first response to short term impacts while balancing for workers health and safety, engineering and management, internal business management, and overall economic impact. Highway operators were hardly prepared for such an event and became more focused on prioritising their employees and clients’ safety to avoid service disruption. Regarding levels of traffic, the pandemic has had severe effects, although to a varying degree, depending on the different types of vehicles (heavy, light, passenger, freight, among other types of vehicles) and the location of highways (coastal vs. interior). The lessons learnt can be valuable in future disruptive events and for other highway concession operators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning and Disruption Outbreaks)
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Article
Photogrammetry as a New Scientific Tool in Archaeology: Worldwide Research Trends
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5319; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095319 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 642
Abstract
Archaeology has made significant advances in the last 20 years. This can be seen by the remarkable increase in specialised literature on all archaeology-related disciplines. These advances have made it a science with links to many other sciences, both in the field of [...] Read more.
Archaeology has made significant advances in the last 20 years. This can be seen by the remarkable increase in specialised literature on all archaeology-related disciplines. These advances have made it a science with links to many other sciences, both in the field of experimental sciences and in the use of techniques from other disciplines such as engineering. Within this last issue it is important to highlight the great advance that the use of photogrammetry has brought for archaeology. In this research, through a systematic study with bibliometric techniques, the main institutions and countries that are carrying them out and the main interests of the scientific community in archaeology related to photogrammetry have been identified. The main increase in this field has been observed since 2010, especially the contribution of UAVs that have reduced the cost of photogrammetric flights for reduced areas. The main lines of research in photogrammetry applied to archaeology are close-range photogrammetry, aerial photogrammetry (UAV), cultural heritage, excavation, cameras, GPS, laser scan, and virtual reconstruction including 3D printing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Scientific Tools for Cultural Heritage Sustainability)
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Article
Spatial and Temporal Measurement of the Interaction between the County Economy and Rural Transformation in Xinjiang, China
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5318; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095318 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 580
Abstract
Given the background of urbanization and rural revitalization in the new era, it is important to explore the synergy between regional macroeconomics and rural transformation, as a balanced and coordinated urban–rural relationship must be built to promote regional sustainable development and rural revitalization. [...] Read more.
Given the background of urbanization and rural revitalization in the new era, it is important to explore the synergy between regional macroeconomics and rural transformation, as a balanced and coordinated urban–rural relationship must be built to promote regional sustainable development and rural revitalization. This paper used the spatial econometric model to study the spatiotemporal synergy and interaction between Xinjiang’s county economy and rural transformation from 2007 to 2017. The conclusions were as follows. A clear spatial difference exists between the county economy and the rural transformation level, and regional bulk agricultural products lack competitiveness. The synergy between the county economy and rural transformation is weak, as the county economy is lagging while rural transformation progresses without collaboration, indicating different types of non-equivalence. The county economy has a stronger spatial dependence on rural transformation and insufficient spillover, a stagnating effect, mainly negative driving effects, and unstable interaction effects; while the unstable changes in rural transformation affect the county economy. The urbanization rate, urban wage level, rural employment structure, and planting area per capita were the main influencing factors. It is necessary to deepen rural transformation, consolidate and enhance its stability, cultivate regional growth poles, promote overall development, and promote regional coordination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cities and Regions – Statistical Approaches)
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Article
The Influence of Extruded Sugar Beet Pulp on Cookies’ Nutritional, Physical and Sensory Characteristics
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5317; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095317 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 690
Abstract
Sugar beet pulp (SBP) is a by-product of the sugar industry in which the dietary fiber content ranges from 73% to 80%. Compared to cereal fibers mainly used in biscuit production, sugar beet fibers are gluten free and have a perfect ratio of [...] Read more.
Sugar beet pulp (SBP) is a by-product of the sugar industry in which the dietary fiber content ranges from 73% to 80%. Compared to cereal fibers mainly used in biscuit production, sugar beet fibers are gluten free and have a perfect ratio of 2/3 insoluble fiber. In this work, sugar beet pulp was extruded with corn grits (ratios of corn grits to sugar beet pulp in extrudates were 85:15, 70:30, and 55:45), and the obtained sugar beet pulp extrudates (SBPEs) were used for improving the nutritional quality of cookies. The wheat flour in cookies was replaced with SBPEs in the amount of 5, 10, and 15%. The influence of three factors (the percentage of sugar beet pulp in the SBPEs, the size of the SBPE particles, and the percentage of wheat flour substituted with SBPEs) and their interactions on the nutritional quality of cookies, as well as their physical and sensory characteristics are examined using the Box–Behnken experimental design. The addition of extruded sugar beet pulp (SBPEs) significantly increased the amount of total dietary fiber and mineral matter of cookies. On the whole, the addition of SBPEs increased cookie hardness, but the hardness decreased with an increase in extrudate particle size. Sensory characteristics (except for the taste) were the most influenced by extrudate particle size. Full article
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Article
Digital Newspapers’ Perspectives about Adolescents’ Smartphone Use
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5316; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095316 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 567
Abstract
The growth of ICTs has led to a new socialization model and a continuous dynamic flow of communication and information, wherein smartphones have become very popular with teenagers. This paper investigates what teenagers use smartphones for and the related intervention measures published in [...] Read more.
The growth of ICTs has led to a new socialization model and a continuous dynamic flow of communication and information, wherein smartphones have become very popular with teenagers. This paper investigates what teenagers use smartphones for and the related intervention measures published in digital newspapers. A qualitative methodology was used to analyze 362 news items published in 53 Spanish digital newspapers. The results and conclusions indicate that teenagers use smartphones mainly for recreational purposes and sparingly for educational ones. The published intervention measures are primarily aimed at stimulating citizens’ reflections on the subject, in order to improve proper smartphone use by teenagers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ICT and Sustainable Education)
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Article
The Relationship between HRM Strategies and Sustainable Competitive Advantage: Testing the Mediating Role of Strategic Agility
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5315; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095315 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 755
Abstract
This study aims to investigate the impact of strategic agility on the relationship between Human Resources Management (HRM) strategies and Sustainable Competitive Advantage (SCA). A total of 227 large and medium-sized manufacturing companies were surveyed and studied. Using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), this [...] Read more.
This study aims to investigate the impact of strategic agility on the relationship between Human Resources Management (HRM) strategies and Sustainable Competitive Advantage (SCA). A total of 227 large and medium-sized manufacturing companies were surveyed and studied. Using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), this study found a positive and direct impact of HRM strategies on SCA. The study revealed a mediating effect of strategic agility on the relationship between HRM strategies and SCA. This study provides practical guidance for Yemeni large and medium-sized manufacturing companies to maintain SCA by focusing more on strategic agility in a turbulent business environment. Full article
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Article
Seismic Behavior of Stone Pagoda Structure by Shaking Table Test
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5314; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095314 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 480
Abstract
In general, the stone pagoda structures with discontinuous surfaces are vulnerable to lateral forces and are severely damaged by earthquakes. After the Gyeongju earthquake in 2016 and the Pohang earthquake in 2017, numerous stone pagoda structures were damaged due to slippage, rotation, and [...] Read more.
In general, the stone pagoda structures with discontinuous surfaces are vulnerable to lateral forces and are severely damaged by earthquakes. After the Gyeongju earthquake in 2016 and the Pohang earthquake in 2017, numerous stone pagoda structures were damaged due to slippage, rotation, and the separation of stacked stone. To evaluate seismic resistance of masonry stone pagoda structures, we analyzed the seismic behavior of stone pagoda structures using the shaking table test. Shaking frequency, permanent displacement, maximum acceleration, rocking, and sliding were assessed. Responses to simulations of the Bingol, Gyeongju, and Pohang earthquakes based on the Korean seismic design standard (KDS 41 17 00) were analyzed for return periods of 1000 and 2400 years. We found that the type of stylobate affected the seismic resistance of the stone pagoda structure. When the stylobates were stiff, seismic energy was transferred from lower to upper regions of the stone pagoda, which mainly resulted in deformation of the upper region. When the stylobates were weak, earthquake energy was absorbed in the lower regions, which was associated with large stylobate deformations. The lower part of the tower body was mainly affected by rocking, because the structural members were slender. The higher part of the stone pagoda was mainly affected by sliding, because the load and contact area decreased with height. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Tourism, Culture, and Heritage)
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Article
The Use of Hydromulching as an Alternative to Plastic Films in an Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus cv. Symphony) Crop: A Study of the Economic Viability
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5313; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095313 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 619
Abstract
The use of mulching in agriculture suppresses the weeds around crop plants, enhances the nutrients status of soil, controls the soil structure and temperature, and reduces soil water evaporation. Excessive use of low-density polyethylene mulches is contributing to the accumulation of high amounts [...] Read more.
The use of mulching in agriculture suppresses the weeds around crop plants, enhances the nutrients status of soil, controls the soil structure and temperature, and reduces soil water evaporation. Excessive use of low-density polyethylene mulches is contributing to the accumulation of high amounts of plastic wastes, an environmental problem for agricultural ecosystems. Fragments of plastic from such wastes can be found in soils, in water resources, and in organisms, including humans. The objective of this work was to study the economic viability of the use of different hydromulches in an artichoke crop. Three blends were prepared by mixing paper pulp (recycled from used paper) and cardboard (from paper mills) with different additives: wheat straw (WS), rice hulls (RH), and substrate used for mushroom cultivation (MS). These were compared with low-density polyethylene (Pe), a treatment without mulching on bare soil where hand weeding was performed (HW), and a treatment without mulching on bare soil where herbicide was applied (H). The results indicate that the use of hydromulch in an artichoke crop represents a good alternative for reducing plastic waste in agriculture. The net profits of the hydromulch treatments (MS, WS, RH) were higher than for HW and H, and slightly lower than for Pe. The most profitable treatment was Pe (€0.69 m−3), followed by RH (€0.59 m−3), WS (€0.58 m−3), MS (€0.47 m−3), HW (€0.36 m−3), and H (€0.32 m−3). A sensitivity analysis showed a probability of negative results of 0.04 in Pe, 0.13 in SM, 0.08 in WS, and 0.07 in RH, so the probability that the grower will make a profit is greater than 0.9 with the use of mulch (except mushroom substrate) or polyethylene. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Economic Profitability and Agriculture Sustainable Development)
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Article
A Literature Review of the Impacts of Heat Stress on Human Health across Africa
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5312; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095312 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 672
Abstract
Heat stress-related illness attributed to the changing climate, particularly the more frequent extreme high temperatures, is becoming a theme of public concern, especially in the most vulnerable regions, such as the African continent. Knowledge of the existing research directions and gaps on heat [...] Read more.
Heat stress-related illness attributed to the changing climate, particularly the more frequent extreme high temperatures, is becoming a theme of public concern, especially in the most vulnerable regions, such as the African continent. Knowledge of the existing research directions and gaps on heat stress and human health is vital for informing future strategic research foci capable of influencing policy development, planning, adaptation, and mitigation efforts. In this regard, a bibliometric analysis was conducted, with an emphasis on Africa, to assess regional research contributions to heat stress impacts on human health. The goals of the study were to review publication growth and patterns of the scientific publications and to identify key players (especially collaborating institutions and countries) and the evolution of research themes on the African continent, while paying attention to global trends and emergent hot topics and methodology of heat stress research. Using the Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus core collection databases, a structured keyword search was undertaken, which yielded 463 and 58 research publications from around the world and Africa, respectively. The retrieved scientific documents, published between 1968 and 2020, were analyzed and visualized using a bibliometric analysis technique and the VOSviewer software tool. The results indicate low statistics and slow scientific growth in publication output, with the highest peak having been reached in 2018, resulting in 13 scientific publications. While global research collaborations are successfully reflected in the literature, there is a considerable gap in understanding heat stress and related collaborations between African countries and international institutions. The review study has identified key opportunities that can benefit Africa through the expansion of the scope of heat stress and human health research on the continent. These opportunities can be achieved by closing the following research gaps: (1) vulnerability assessments within demographic classes, such as the elderly, (2) personal exposure and associated risks, (3) Urban Heat Island (UHI) evaluation for urban environments, and (4) heat adaptation research, which will enable informed and targeted preventive actions that will limit future heat health impacts. The authors opine that the pursuit of such studies will be most impactful if the current knowledge gaps are bridged through transdisciplinary research supported by local, regional, and international collaborators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Health Related to Climate Change)
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Article
The Effectiveness of Online Education during Covid 19 Pandemic—A Comparative Analysis between the Perceptions of Academic Students and High School Students from Romania
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5311; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095311 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2276
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted normal activities such as going to school, moving education online. Based on data gathered through a survey (N = 784), this paper analyses students’ perceptions regarding the effectiveness of online education in a period when this type of [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted normal activities such as going to school, moving education online. Based on data gathered through a survey (N = 784), this paper analyses students’ perceptions regarding the effectiveness of online education in a period when this type of education is the only available option. Although several studies suggest that online education can be as effective as traditional education which requires attendance, few studies have focused on learner satisfaction with online instruction, particularly in the transition to online learning from traditional approaches. The results indicate that students react differently to online education, and their reaction is based on their proficiency in using online tools, their ability to technically access online courses, and the instructors’ manner in conducting learning activities. Full article
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Article
Marinated Anchovies (Engraulis encrasicolus) Prepared with Flavored Olive Oils (Chétoui cv.): Anisakicidal Effect, Microbiological, and Sensory Evaluation
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5310; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095310 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 594
Abstract
To meet the food demand of future generations, more sustainable food production is needed. Flavored olive oils (FOOs) have been proposed as natural additives to ensure food safety and quality through a more sustainable approach. The chemical composition and antioxidant potential of two [...] Read more.
To meet the food demand of future generations, more sustainable food production is needed. Flavored olive oils (FOOs) have been proposed as natural additives to ensure food safety and quality through a more sustainable approach. The chemical composition and antioxidant potential of two different olive oils flavored, respectively, with cumin (Cm) and with a mixture of parsley, garlic, and lemon (Mix) were investigated. Cm-FOO and Mix-FOO were tested against Anisakis both in vitro and ex vivo through an exposure test of anchovy fillets experimentally parasitized with Anisakis larvae. Microbiological and sensory analysis were carried out on marinated anchovy fillets exposed to both FOOs to evaluate their effects on the shelf life and their sensory influence. The addition of herbs and spices did not affect the chemical composition of the olive oil (free acidity, UV absorbance, and fatty acid composition). Only Mix showed antioxidant activity, while Cm had no effect in this regard. Cm-FOO and Mix-FOO devitalized the Anisakis larvae both in vitro within 24 h and ex vivo after 8 and 10 days of exposure, respectively. The results of microbiological analyses showed that FOOs inhibited the growth of typical spoilage flora in the marinated anchovies without negatively affecting their sensory characteristics, as observed from the sensory analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Safety and Quality of Sustainable Food)
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Article
Mărginimea Sibiului Tells Its Story: Sustainability, Cultural Heritage and Rural Tourism—A Supply-Side Perspective
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5309; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095309 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 775
Abstract
Territorial development and rural tourism are linked. Rural tourism involves tourists in rural areas who are attracted by the distinctive character of the landscape, recreation such as local and food resources, and the potential for spiritual, environmental, and cultural growth. The aim of [...] Read more.
Territorial development and rural tourism are linked. Rural tourism involves tourists in rural areas who are attracted by the distinctive character of the landscape, recreation such as local and food resources, and the potential for spiritual, environmental, and cultural growth. The aim of the present paper is to investigate the economic, sustainable, and social role of tourism in the development of the rural area of Mărginimea Sibiului in Romania. It highlights the role of local entrepreneurs in developing new practices and sustainable approaches. Drawing on the literature review on the topic of sustainable rural tourism, this paper uses the case study as a methodological approach. We have developed consistent desk research relying on the processing of official governmental data and of national statistics, supported by analytical strategies involving induction and deduction. The main findings lead towards the conclusion that Mărginimea Sibiului has managed to gain both national and international notoriety while developing coherently, capitalizing on its natural and cultural heritage, and providing services in successful agritourist boarding houses and rural guesthouses, which have continuously developed both numerically and in terms of comfort levels. Because more than two thirds of the initially established lodgings in the early 2000s continue to function today, these facilities have proven to be sustainable and attractive businesses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability of Rural Tourism and Promotion of Local Development)
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Towards More Balanced Territorial Relations—The Role (and Limitations) of Spatial Planning as a Governance Approach
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5308; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095308 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 697
Abstract
Decision-makers, planners and administrators involved in different policy domains at different governance levels face the important challenge of fostering more balanced, sustainable and territorially integrated development. Well-designed, multi-level, multi-sector and multi-actor governance arrangements can play a key role in this process through orchestrating [...] Read more.
Decision-makers, planners and administrators involved in different policy domains at different governance levels face the important challenge of fostering more balanced, sustainable and territorially integrated development. Well-designed, multi-level, multi-sector and multi-actor governance arrangements can play a key role in this process through orchestrating the interplay between different spheres, activities, actors and interests. In this paper, we examine the role of spatial planning in improving the relations between rural, peri-urban and urban areas. We analyse the strengths and limitations of spatial planning and explore the connections with territorial development. The methodology used for this analysis combines regional case studies in seven European locations—Ede, Frankfurt/Rhein-Main, Styria/Graz, Helsinki, Lisbon, Lucca and Mid Wales, with rapid appraisals, the analysis of published data, expert judgement and triangulation. We ask under which conditions spatial planning can induce more balanced, sustainable territorial relations, and look at the contribution planning can make to achieving sustainable development goals. The problem of ineffective (or toothless) plan implementation provides the entry point into the analysis and discussion. We illustrate why mutually beneficial relations between urban, peri-urban and rural communities (and territories) cannot simply be planned. Instead, these relationships need to be supported by strategies, policy instruments and governance arrangements that foster synergies between different actors and activities. The planning process itself needs to become more transparent and participatory. We conclude that the questions addressed in this article in an exploratory fashion merit further research especially as a more sustainable and territorially integrated development is becoming increasingly important in European policy making. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Spatial Planning and Territorial Governance)
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Article
COVID-19: An Outcome of Biodiversity Loss or a Conspiracy? Investigating the Attitudes of Environmental Students
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5307; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095307 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 885
Abstract
The global environment is being constantly degraded, placing humans at increased risk for outbreaks of infectious diseases. In this regard, environmental quality must be enhanced in order to prevent pandemics in the future. However, it is unknown whether future environmental experts are aware [...] Read more.
The global environment is being constantly degraded, placing humans at increased risk for outbreaks of infectious diseases. In this regard, environmental quality must be enhanced in order to prevent pandemics in the future. However, it is unknown whether future environmental experts are aware of the intricate relationship between environmental degradation and infectious diseases. This question is important because if they lack awareness about this relationship, they may not be able to contribute to biodiversity conservation which, in turn, can prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases. Hence, the aim of this paper is to investigate the attitudes of environmental students towards the pandemic. The primary objective is to examine their views on the origin of COVID-19 and a secondary objective is to discover the factors that affect the endorsement of conspiracy and non-conspiracy theories on the origin of COVID-19. Our findings indicated that an alarmingly high percentage of students endorsed the conspiracy theory that COVID-19 is a man-made virus for which there was a vaccine before it emerged, whereas only one in five students perceived that the virus is associated with climate change. These students are the future scientists who will be responsible for biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation. Therefore, it is necessary to pay more attention to environmental students, both in Greece and elsewhere, and examine if such perceptions stem from any deficiencies in curricula or from the effects of the media. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Science Education Promoting Sustainability)
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Article
Nature Ideas Exchange: Education of Sustainable Business Principles Based on Parallels with Forest Ecosystem
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5306; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095306 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 439
Abstract
Arne Næss considered nature the best source of knowledge and regarded the economists as morally responsible for the ecological crisis. Therefore, this research focused on students of economic fields at the university level. The experimental group (n = 236) led by a [...] Read more.
Arne Næss considered nature the best source of knowledge and regarded the economists as morally responsible for the ecological crisis. Therefore, this research focused on students of economic fields at the university level. The experimental group (n = 236) led by a teacher-as-researcher completed a Business Economic course by forest workshops for one semester because the sustainability principles can be very well explained and observed on examples of forest fauna and flora and then applied in managerial practice. Many similarities were found between forest and business principles (optimal growth rate, teamwork, cooperation models, parasitism). This paper aimed to identify if students’ proficiency in applying sustainable mindset from a forest ecosystem to practice increased. The achievement test compared outcomes of the experimental and control group (n = 190) of students. Based on statistical testing, it can be stated that the experimental intervention led to better results compared to the control group. For issues in which no suitable parallel with the forest ecosystem was found and were therefore explained according to the textbook, group (E) did not perform better than group (C). The methodology is based on qualitative and quantitative research, a mixed-methods approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Education and Approaches)
Review
The Severity of COVID-19 and Its Determinants: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis in China
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5305; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095305 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 801
Abstract
To analyse the prevalence of severe and critical COVID-19 cases and its determinants, a systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted using Review Manager. Four English and two Chinese databases were used to identify and explore the relationships between the severity of COVID-19 and [...] Read more.
To analyse the prevalence of severe and critical COVID-19 cases and its determinants, a systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted using Review Manager. Four English and two Chinese databases were used to identify and explore the relationships between the severity of COVID-19 and its determinants, with no restrictions on publication date. The odds ratio and 95% CI were combined to assess the influencing level of all factors. Twenty-three articles containing a total of 15,828 cases of COVID-19 were included in this systematic review. The prevalence of severe and critical COVID-19 cases was 17.84% and 4.9%, respectively. A total of 148 factors were identified, which included behavioural, symptom, comorbidity, laboratory, radiographic, exposure, and other factors. Among them, 35 factors could be included in the meta-analysis. Specifically, for example, the male (OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.42–1.69) and elderly (OR 1.06, 95% CI 1.03–1.10) populations tended to experience severe and critical illness. Patients with cough, dyspnea, fatigue, fever, and gastrointestinal symptoms could have severe and critical diseases. Regarding laboratory results, albumin, aspartate aminotransferase, creatinine, D-dimer, fibrinogen, neutrophils, procalcitonin, platelets, and respiratory rate were potential factors that could be used to predict the severity of COVID. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Health and Social Science on COVID-19)
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Article
Development of Model to Predict Natural Disaster-Induced Financial Losses for Construction Projects Using Deep Learning Techniques
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5304; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095304 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 493
Abstract
This study goals to develop a model for predicting financial loss at construction sites using a deep learning algorithm to reduce and prevent the risk of financial loss at construction sites. Lately, as the construction of high-rise buildings and complex buildings increases and [...] Read more.
This study goals to develop a model for predicting financial loss at construction sites using a deep learning algorithm to reduce and prevent the risk of financial loss at construction sites. Lately, as the construction of high-rise buildings and complex buildings increases and the scale of construction sites surges, the severity and frequency of accidents occurring at construction sites are swelling, and financial losses are also snowballing. Singularly, as natural disasters rise and construction projects in urban areas increase, the risk of financial loss for construction sites is mounting. Thus, a financial loss prediction model is desired to mitigate and manage the risk of such financial loss for maintainable and effective construction project management. This study reflects the financial loss incurred at the actual construction sites by collecting claim payout data from a major South Korean insurance company. A deep learning algorithm was presented in order to develop an objective and scientific prediction model. The results and framework of this study provide critical guidance on financial loss management necessary for sustainable and successful construction project management and can be used as a reference for various other construction project management studies. Full article
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Article
Managing Water and Salt for Sustainable Agriculture in the Indus Basin of Pakistan
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5303; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095303 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 664
Abstract
The Indus basin of Pakistan occupies about 16 million ha (Mha) of land. The Indus River and its tributaries are the primary sources of surface water. An estimated 122 km3 of surface water is diverted annually through an extensive canal system to [...] Read more.
The Indus basin of Pakistan occupies about 16 million ha (Mha) of land. The Indus River and its tributaries are the primary sources of surface water. An estimated 122 km3 of surface water is diverted annually through an extensive canal system to irrigate this land. These surface water supplies are insufficient to meet the crop water requirements for the intensive cropping system practiced in the Indus basin. The shortfall in surface water is met by exploiting groundwater. Currently, about 62 km3 of groundwater is pumped annually by 1.36 million private and public tube wells. About 1.0 million tubewells are working only in the Punjab province. Small private tubewells account for about 80% of the pumped volume. Inadequate water allocation along the irrigation canals allows excessive water use by head-end farmers, resulting in waterlogging. In contrast, the less productive use of erratic supplies by tail-end farmers often results in soil salinity. The major issues faced by irrigated agriculture in Pakistan are low crop yields and water use efficiency, increasing soil salinization, water quality deterioration, and inefficient drainage effluent disposal. Currently, 4.5 Mha (about 30% of the total irrigated area) suffers from adverse salinity levels. Critical governance issues include inequitable water distribution, minimizing the extent to which salt is mobilized, controlling excessive groundwater pumping, and immediate repair and maintenance of the infrastructure. This paper suggests several options to improve governance, water and salt management to support sustainable irrigated agriculture in Pakistan. In saline groundwater areas, the rotational priorities should be reorganized to match the delivery schedules as closely as possible to crop demand, while emphasizing the reliability of irrigation schedules. Wherever possible, public tubewells should pump fresh groundwater into distributaries to increase water availability at the tail ends. Any substantial reform to make water delivery more flexible and responsive would require an amendment to the existing law and reconfiguration of the entire infrastructure, including thousands of kilometers of channels and almost 60,000 outlets to farmer groups. Within the existing political economy of Pakistan, changing the current water allocation and distribution laws without modernizing the infrastructure would be complicated. A realistic reform program should prioritize interventions that do not require amendment of the Acts or reconstruction of the entire system and are relatively inexpensive. If successful, such interventions may provide the basis for further, more substantial reforms. The present rotational water supply system should continue, with investments focusing on lining channels to ensure equitable water distribution and reduce waterlogging at the head ends. Besides that, the reuse of drainage water should be encouraged to minimize disposal volumes. The timely availability of farm inputs can improve individual farmers’ productivity. Farmers will need to have access to new information on improved irrigation management and soil reclamation approaches. Simultaneously, the government should focus more on the management of drainage and salinity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Irrigation and the Environment: the Role of Governance)
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Article
Electronic Waste, an Environmental Problem Exported to Developing Countries: The GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5302; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095302 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1033
Abstract
Electronic waste (e-waste) is a rapidly developing environmental problem particularly for the most developed countries. There are technological solutions for processing it, but these are costly, and the cheaper option for most developed countries has been to export most of the waste to [...] Read more.
Electronic waste (e-waste) is a rapidly developing environmental problem particularly for the most developed countries. There are technological solutions for processing it, but these are costly, and the cheaper option for most developed countries has been to export most of the waste to less developed countries. There are various laws and policies for regulating the processing of e-waste at different governance scales such as the international Basel Convention, the regional Bamoko Convention, and various national laws. However, many of the regulations are not fully implemented and there is substantial financial pressure to maintain the jobs created for processing e-waste. Mexico, Brazil, Ghana Nigeria, India, and China have been selected for a more detailed study of the transboundary movements of e-waste. This includes a systematic review of existing literature, the application of the Driver, Pressure, State, Impact, Response (DPSIR) framework for analysing complex problems associated with social ecological systems, and the application of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for evaluating the environmental impact of electronic devices from their manufacture through to their final disposal. Japan, Italy, Switzerland, and Norway have been selected for the LCA to show how e-waste is diverted to developing countries, as there is not sufficient data available for the assessment from the selected developing countries. GOOD, BAD and UGLY outcomes have been identified from this study: the GOOD is the creation of jobs and the use of e-waste as a source of raw materials; the BAD is the exacerbation of the already poor environmental conditions in developing countries; the UGLY is the negative impact on the health of workers processing e-waste due to a wide range of toxic components in this waste. There are a number of management options that are available to reduce the impact of the BAD and the UGLY, such as adopting the concept of a circular economy, urban mining, reducing loopholes and improving existing policies and regulations, as well as reducing the disparity in income between the top and bottom of the management hierarchy for e-waste disposal. The overarching message is a request for developed countries to help developing countries in the fight against e-waste, rather than exporting their environmental problems to these poorer regions. Full article
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Article
Transport Airships for Scheduled Supply and Emergency Response in the Arctic
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5301; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095301 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 505
Abstract
As climate change progresses, the Arctic Ocean creates opportunities for new resource development and navigation routes. Such economic opportunities are attractive, but carry with them an increased risk of accidents and oil spills. Existing methods of emergency response face enormous challenges in the [...] Read more.
As climate change progresses, the Arctic Ocean creates opportunities for new resource development and navigation routes. Such economic opportunities are attractive, but carry with them an increased risk of accidents and oil spills. Existing methods of emergency response face enormous challenges in the Arctic because of its lack of transportation infrastructure and support services. Cargo airships offer a practical solution. Many airship designs are proposed that can carry over 30 tons, travel long distances at 150 km per hour, and land close to the emergency site. However, it is difficult to justify the economics of having enough capacity waiting and available to be marshaled in response to infrequent events. One solution is to develop a synergy with a new civilian cargo airship industry that can serve the regular transport needs of remote communities and mining operations. Through contingency contracts with these civilian operations, the Government of Canada could stretch its budgets and have access to the latest airship models and trained crews at locations across the Arctic. This paper gives valuable insight into the development of cargo airships. Advances in technology that make cargo airships a practical option in the 21st century are reviewed, and five competing airship designs are discussed. A case study of an existing rare earth mine proposal is used to illustrate the cost comparison of roads versus airships that could provide contingency services. Full article
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Article
Application of Data Validation and Reconciliation to Improve Measurement Results in the Determination Process of Emission Characteristics in Co-Combustion of Sewage Sludge with Coal
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5300; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095300 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 309
Abstract
One of the actions popularized worldwide to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels is the combustion of renewable fuels and the co-combustion of both of these fuels. To properly implement combustion and co-combustion processes in power-generation installations, operational characteristics, including emission characteristics are [...] Read more.
One of the actions popularized worldwide to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels is the combustion of renewable fuels and the co-combustion of both of these fuels. To properly implement combustion and co-combustion processes in power-generation installations, operational characteristics, including emission characteristics are required. To determine these characteristics, tests must be conducted, within the scope of which, for individual operating stages of the installation’s work, the readings collected from a relatively large number of control and measurement instruments should be taken into account. All these instruments have different levels of accuracy, which, among other factors, bring about lower adequacy of the characteristics determined on the basis of these measurements. The objective of this study is to present possible adaptations of data validation and reconciliation methods to increase the adequacy of emission characteristics for the process of co-combustion of fuels. The methodology is discussed based on the example of studies on the co-combustion process of sewage sludge with coal in a grate furnace. The aforementioned characteristics were determined based on measurement tests of gaseous emissions of flue gas components. The tests were carried out for various preset operational conditions of the process, such as the thickness of fuel layer on the grate, the share of sludge in the fuel, the humidity of the sludge, the theoretical ratio of excess air to combustion, and the distribution of air stream during the process. The research object is described and detailed research results concerning two exemplary measurement tests are given, as well as the most important results referring to the whole research. The performed calculations indicate the necessity to take into account often significant corrections, which can amount to about 10% of the measured value. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Science and Sustainable Waste Management)
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Article
Recognizing the Key Drivers and Industry Implications of Sustainable Packaging Design: A Mixed-Method Approach
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5299; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095299 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 673
Abstract
Sustainable packaging design plays a strategic role across several industries. Using the Italian market as the perimeter of the analysis, this paper aims to broaden the knowledge of corporate attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors toward sustainable packaging along the entire supply chain. A mixed-method [...] Read more.
Sustainable packaging design plays a strategic role across several industries. Using the Italian market as the perimeter of the analysis, this paper aims to broaden the knowledge of corporate attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors toward sustainable packaging along the entire supply chain. A mixed-method approach was used, integrating qualitative and quantitative data collected from 33 in-depth interviews and a survey on a sample of 462 companies. The results revealed that a challenging goal will consist of reconciling technological advances and marketing instances, and that the entire supply chain should be synergistically involved in packaging sustainability. It was also found that larger companies consider sustainability as part of a broader business strategy, whereas smaller ones possess a tactical vision. The study provides valuable insights to better comprehend and manage a complex ecosystem such as that of sustainable packaging. Full article
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Article
Women Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Business Development: Key Findings from a SWOT–AHP Analysis
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5298; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095298 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 859
Abstract
This study highlights the perception of women entrepreneurs in Romania regarding specific drivers for a sustainable business model. This study uses a SWOT–AHP method to assess the importance of different factors that enforce or create barriers for the success in women entrepreneurial activities. [...] Read more.
This study highlights the perception of women entrepreneurs in Romania regarding specific drivers for a sustainable business model. This study uses a SWOT–AHP method to assess the importance of different factors that enforce or create barriers for the success in women entrepreneurial activities. SWOT analysis was conducted based on an extended literature review. An external expert in risk analysis assessed the importance of the SWOT analysis’ four dimensions—criteria. An AHP survey of 10 women entrepreneurs was conducted to evaluate the impact of each identified factor in sustaining or discouraging the success of their sustainable business model (SBM). The main results of the study present practical implications useful for designing a gender-balanced business environment. In the final part, the paper discusses women’s preference for the sustainable business model, the perceived importance of gender-related stereotypes for the development of sustainable business models, and the relevance of the new digital economy trend to Romanian women entrepreneurship. Full article
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Article
Spatiotemporal Variations of Landscape Ecological Risks in a Resource-Based City under Transformation
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5297; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095297 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 529
Abstract
The development of traditional resource-based cities requires drastic changes owing to the exhaustion of resources. During this transformation, the ecological environment of resource-based cities is threatened because of resource exploitation, in addition to the ecological risks caused by urban expansion. However, there is [...] Read more.
The development of traditional resource-based cities requires drastic changes owing to the exhaustion of resources. During this transformation, the ecological environment of resource-based cities is threatened because of resource exploitation, in addition to the ecological risks caused by urban expansion. However, there is currently a lack of research on the evolution of ecological dangers in cities during this transformational period. Therefore, conducting relevant studies is essential to establishing a mechanism to mitigate these dangers. The present study analyzed Xuzhou, a typical resource-based city in China, as a case study. The main objective was to consider the dynamic changes in land use and ecological risks during the transformation of this resource-based city. The land-use changes in Xuzhou in 2000, 2010, and 2020 were analyzed, using the Markov model and landscape-pattern indices, allowing an ecological risk-assessment model of land-use changes to be constructed. Additionally, the spatial heterogeneity of ecological risks was evaluated by using spatial autocorrelation. The results showed that urban expansion influenced land use in Xuzhou significantly. Owing to the rapid urban expansion, the area of extremely high-risk regions increased significantly in 2010. Furthermore, the subsidence areas caused by mining had profound impacts on the region’s ecology, and early interventions for ecological restoration are needed to prevent further deterioration. During the transformation, Xuzhou’s overall ecological risks reduced gradually, which was conducive to its transition into an ecological city. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues)
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