Special Issue "Covid-19 and Its Impact on Environmental, Economic And Social Sustainability"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Elena Rada
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The COVID-19 emergency is affecting many aspects of our life. Obviously, the focus of research is concentrated on the health impact (prevention and treatment). However, there are additional aspects of this emergency that cannot be forgotten, like its relationship with sustainability. During the pandemic, some issues have emerged regarding this concern, such as the role of air pollution and consequently the use of renewable energy sources, as well as the criticalities in the selective collection of municipal solid waste and the risk of infection among the operators not only for the waste and wastewater sectors, but also for many others, etc.

The present Special Issue will promote the production of articles able to analyze the consequences of the pandemic on the recent paradigms related to the environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainability. For instance, some single-use products, generally fought against in the framework of circular economy, could see a new age due to health protection priorities.

The aim of this Special Issue on “COVID-19 and Its Impact on Environmental, Economic and Social Sustainability” is to collect up-to-date research articles that explore and examine issues surrounding this topic and give proposals for a better world, taking into account both the pandemic and the benefits of sustainable strategies.

The Guest Editors will select high-quality research papers to proceed with blind peer reviews. Reviewers will be selected among researchers active in the field, whose works are present in international databases.

In the framework described above, this Special Issue invites contributions from authors which address the following fields:

  • COVID-19
  • Environment
  • Economy
  • Health
  • Impact
  • Social
  • Sustainability 

Dr. Elena Cristina Rada
Prof. Dr. Vincenzo Torretta
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be 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 1900 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.

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Communication
National Vaccination and Local Intervention Impacts on COVID-19 Cases
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8282; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158282 - 24 Jul 2021
Viewed by 748
Abstract
COVID-19, as a global pandemic, has spread across Indonesia. Jakarta, as the capital of Indonesia, is the province with the most positive cases. The government has issued various guidelines, both at the central and regional levels. Since it began in 2021, the planned [...] Read more.
COVID-19, as a global pandemic, has spread across Indonesia. Jakarta, as the capital of Indonesia, is the province with the most positive cases. The government has issued various guidelines, both at the central and regional levels. Since it began in 2021, the planned new measures, called ‘Pemberlakuan Pembatasan Kegiatan Masyarakat Darurat’, or PPKM emergency public activity restrictions, began with the possibility that the number of active cases might decrease. Accordingly, global vaccinations were also carried out, as they were in Indonesia. However, the first phase prioritized frontline health workers and high-risk elderly people. This study conducted a causal impact analysis to determine the effectiveness of PPKM in Jakarta and its vaccination program against the increase in daily new cases. Based on this test, PPKM showed a significant effect on the addition of daily new cases and recovered cases. Conversely, the vaccination program only had a significant impact on recovered cases. A forecast of the COVID-19 cases was conducted and indicated that the daily new cases showed a negative trend, although it fluctuated for the next 7 days, while death and recovered cases continued to increase. Hence, it can be said that the vaccination program has still not shown its effectiveness in decreasing the number of daily new cases while PPKM is quite effective in suppressing new cases. Full article
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Communication
Did Noise Pollution Really Improve during COVID-19? Evidence from Taiwan
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 5946; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13115946 - 25 May 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 909
Abstract
Background and objectives: The impacts of COVID-19 are like two sides of one coin. During 2020, there were many research papers that proved our environmental and climate conditions were improving due to lockdown or large-scale restriction regulations. In contrast, the economic conditions deteriorated [...] Read more.
Background and objectives: The impacts of COVID-19 are like two sides of one coin. During 2020, there were many research papers that proved our environmental and climate conditions were improving due to lockdown or large-scale restriction regulations. In contrast, the economic conditions deteriorated due to disruption in industry business activities and most people stayed at home and worked from home, which probably reduced the noise pollution. Methods: To assess whether there were differences in noise pollution before and during COVID-19. In this paper, we use various statistical methods following odds ratios, Wilcoxon and Fisher’s tests and Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) with various comparisons of prior selection. The outcome of interest for a parameter in Bayesian inference is complete posterior distribution. Roughly, the mean of the posterior will be clear with point approximation. That being said, the median is an available choice. Findings: To make the Bayesian MCMC work, we ran the sampling from the conditional posterior distributions. It is straightforward to draw random samples from these distributions if they have regular shapes using MCMC. The case of over-standard noise per time frame, number of noise petition cases, number of industry petition cases, number of motorcycles, number of cars and density of vehicles are significant at α = 5%. In line with this, we prove that there were differences of noise pollution before and during COVID-19 in Taiwan. Meanwhile, the decreased noise pollution in Taiwan can improve quality of life. Full article
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Article
COVID-19 Risk Assessment: Contributing to Maintaining Urban Public Health Security and Achieving Sustainable Urban Development
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4208; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13084208 - 09 Apr 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 716
Abstract
As the most infectious disease in 2020, COVID-19 is an enormous shock to urban public health security and to urban sustainable development. Although the epidemic in China has been brought into control at present, the prevention and control of it is still the [...] Read more.
As the most infectious disease in 2020, COVID-19 is an enormous shock to urban public health security and to urban sustainable development. Although the epidemic in China has been brought into control at present, the prevention and control of it is still the top priority of maintaining public health security. Therefore, the accurate assessment of epidemic risk is of great importance to the prevention and control even to overcoming of COVID-19. Using the fused data obtained from fusing multi-source big data such as POI (Point of Interest) data and Tencent-Yichuxing data, this study assesses and analyzes the epidemic risk and main factors that affect the distribution of COVID-19 on the basis of combining with logistic regression model and geodetector model. What’s more, the following main conclusions are obtained: the high-risk areas of the epidemic are mainly concentrated in the areas with relatively dense permanent population and floating population, which means that the permanent population and floating population are the main factors affecting the risk level of the epidemic. In other words, the reasonable control of population density is greatly conducive to reducing the risk level of the epidemic. Therefore, the control of regional population density remains the key to epidemic prevention and control, and home isolation is also the best means of prevention and control. The precise assessment and analysis of the epidemic conducts by this study is of great significance to maintain urban public health security and achieve the sustainable urban development. Full article
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Article
Tourism and Air Quality during COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons for the Future
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3906; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13073906 - 01 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1100
Abstract
The pandemic caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (associated to the disease named COVID-19) is having a global impact that affects health, the economy and the environment. These impacts are negative in most of the sectors but benefits also occurred in specific fields. Tourism was [...] Read more.
The pandemic caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (associated to the disease named COVID-19) is having a global impact that affects health, the economy and the environment. These impacts are negative in most of the sectors but benefits also occurred in specific fields. Tourism was one of the most negatively affected economic sectors, and in terms of benefits, the improvement of air quality can be highlighted, with positive health implications. This paper aims to evaluate the impacts on these two particular fields—tourism and air quality—focusing on Portugal due to the relevance of tourism in the country. The research carried out in this paper enables us to find the most critical areas and identifies lessons learnt and recommendations for the post-COVID period. Tourism and air quality data were collected for both 2019 and 2020 and compared in terms of quantitative and spatial analysis. The Lisbon metropolitan area—the geographical area where the capital of the country is located—was the area that suffered the most negative impacts in terms of tourism activity but was also the one where highest benefits in terms of air pollution reduction and human exposure were felt. Recommendations for future strategies are suggested, including new concepts of tourism connected to the environment; the investment in online/virtual tourism activities; promotion of the domestic market; mitigation of the over-tourism problem and using environmental issues, such as air quality, as new attractiveness criteria for tourism destinations. Full article
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Communication
Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Electricity Production Due to Lockdown
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9397; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su12229397 - 12 Nov 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 778
Abstract
We analyzed real-time measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), with total electricity production and nationwide restrictions phases in China, the United States of America, Europe, and India due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on atmospheric CO2 [...] Read more.
We analyzed real-time measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), with total electricity production and nationwide restrictions phases in China, the United States of America, Europe, and India due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on atmospheric CO2. A decline of 3.7% in the global energy demand at about 150 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020 was recorded compared to Q1 2019 due to the cutback on international economic activities. Our results showed that: (1) electricity production for the same period in 2018, 2019, and 2020 shrunk at an offset of 9.20%, which resulted in a modest reduction (−1.79%) of atmospheric CO2 to the 2017–2018 CO2 level; (2) a non-seasonal, abrupt, and brief atmospheric CO2 decrease by 0.85% in mid-February 2020 could be due to Phase 1 restrictions in China. The results indicate that electricity production reduction is significant to the short-term variability of atmospheric CO2. It also highlights China’s significant contribution to atmospheric CO2, which suggests that, without the national restriction of activities, CO2 concentration is set to exceed 2019 by 1.79%. Due to the lockdown, it quickly decreased and sustained for two months. The results underscore atmospheric CO2 reductions on the monthly time scale that can be achieved if electricity production from combustible sources was slashed. The result could be useful for cost-benefit analyses on the decrease in electricity production of combustible sources and the impact of this reduction on atmospheric CO2. Full article
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Article
Changes in Air Quality during the First-Level Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic in Shanghai Municipality, China
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 8887; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su12218887 - 26 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 907
Abstract
Ongoing rapid urban population growth world-wide has led to serious environmental problems that affect ecosystems and also lower the security and happiness of urban residents about their living environment. The most frequently reported negative impact is a deterioration in urban air quality. In [...] Read more.
Ongoing rapid urban population growth world-wide has led to serious environmental problems that affect ecosystems and also lower the security and happiness of urban residents about their living environment. The most frequently reported negative impact is a deterioration in urban air quality. In this study, we performed a comprehensive assessment of the effects of the city lockdown policy in response to Covid-19 on air quality in Shanghai Municipality, China, and sought to identify a balance point between human activities and improving air quality. The first-level response (FLR) by Shanghai to control the spread of Covid-19 was to launch a lockdown, which remained in place from 24 January to 23 March, 2020. We compared airborne pollutant concentrations in different regions (downtown, suburbs) of Shanghai city in three periods (Pre-FLR, During-FLR, and Post-FLR) and in the corresponding periods in the previous year. The results showed that air quality improved significantly During-FLR compared with Pre-FLR, with the concentrations of PM2.5, PM10, SO2, NO2, and CO all decreasing significantly. The concentrations of all pollutants except O3 also decreased significantly compared with the same period in the previous year. There were also some differences in pollutant concentrations between the downtown region and the suburbs of Shanghai. However, we found that the concentrations of pollutants rebounded gradually when the restrictions on human activities ended after two months of lockdown. This study provides empirical evidence of the important effect of limiting human activities on air quality. For sustainable and clean future urban management in Shanghai and beyond, central government policy regulations requiring a low-carbon lifestyle and cleaner production in industries should be established. Full article
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Article
Atmospheric Emission Changes and Their Economic Impacts during the COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown in Argentina
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8661; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su12208661 - 19 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1134
Abstract
This work studied the emission changes and their economic effects during the Argentina’s COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. We have analyzed the atmospheric emissions of the main greenhouse gases (GHG: CO2, CH4, and N2O) and other pollutants (NOx, CO, [...] Read more.
This work studied the emission changes and their economic effects during the Argentina’s COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. We have analyzed the atmospheric emissions of the main greenhouse gases (GHG: CO2, CH4, and N2O) and other pollutants (NOx, CO, NMVOC, SO2, PM10, PM2.5, and BC) from various sectors such as private road transport, freight, public transport, agriculture machines, thermal power plants, residential, commercial, and governmental from January 2005 to April 2020. We focused on the months with the greatest restrictions of COVID-19 pandemic in Argentina (March and April 2020). The results show emissions reduction up to 37% for PM10, PM2.5, and BC, consistent with observed from satellite images and up to 160% for NOx, CO, NMVOC, and SOx. However, the residential sector has increased their emissions by 8% for the same period. As a consequence, 3337 Gg of CO2eq of GHG emissions were reduced, corresponding to a 20% reduction compared to the same period in 2019. Besides, a 26% reduction in gross domestic product (GDP) was observed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our results show that each Tg of GHG reduction was associated to a 0.16% reduction of the GDP from the analyzed sectors. Thus, without a voluntary reduction in consumption associated to significant cultural and technological changes, reduction in GHG would still be associated with deepening inequalities and asymmetries between high and low consumption sectors (i.e., with better (lesser) education, health, and job opportunities), even within countries and cities. Full article
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Communication
Air Quality Implications of COVID-19 in California
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 7067; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su12177067 - 30 Aug 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1728
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected human health and the economy. The implementation of social distancing practices to combat the virus spread, however, has led to a notable improvement in air quality. This study compared the surface air quality monitoring data from the [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected human health and the economy. The implementation of social distancing practices to combat the virus spread, however, has led to a notable improvement in air quality. This study compared the surface air quality monitoring data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA)’s AirNow network during the period 20 March–5 May in 2020 to those in 2015–2019 from the Air Quality System (AQS) network over the state of California. The results indicated changes in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) of −2.04 ± 1.57 μg m−3 and ozone of −3.07 ± 2.86 ppb. If the air quality improvements persist over a year, it could potentially lead to 3970–8900 prevented premature deaths annually (note: the estimates of prevented premature deaths have large uncertainties). Public transit demand showed dramatic declines (~80%). The pandemic provides an opportunity to exhibit how substantially human behavior could impact on air quality. To address both the pandemic and climate change issues, better strategies are needed to affect behavior, such as ensuring safer shared mobility, the higher adoption of telecommuting, automation in the freight sector, and cleaner energy transition. Full article
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Review

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Review
The Implications and Effects of Medical Waste on Development of Sustainable Society—A Brief Review of the Literature
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3300; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13063300 - 17 Mar 2021
Viewed by 842
Abstract
The sustainable development of humanity imposes precise norms regarding the management of natural resources, their extraction, use, and the introduction in a complex, innovative circuit of the waste resulting from exploitation. The paper deals with some aspects related to the sustainable management of [...] Read more.
The sustainable development of humanity imposes precise norms regarding the management of natural resources, their extraction, use, and the introduction in a complex, innovative circuit of the waste resulting from exploitation. The paper deals with some aspects related to the sustainable management of general medical waste on the one hand and the medical waste specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, on the other hand. Medical waste requires special treatment given its impact on the environment and on humanity. The management of activities related to its storage, transport, destruction is an important point in the sustainable development of mankind, especially in the current context of the pandemic. Medical waste is in a continuous increase in quantity and involves many effects in various activity fields. Through a scientometric study in the Web of Science—WOS database, the authors identify clusters of keywords, analyze the articles identified in the WOS and identify the main research directions and existing concepts. Corroborating and interpreting the results obtained, three significant trends of approach to medical waste are identified: M—management (1); E—exposure (2); and D—distribution (3). An extensive map of the concepts is made, a narrow map of the concepts used, and a theoretical map of the concepts. The link between medical waste and the development of a sustainable society is demonstrated, and it is possible to open new research directions. The scientometric research undertaken on 1192 WOS articles that were published in 2020 led to the selection of 32, focused on issues related to hazardous medical waste, especially of COVID-19 patients. Following this approach, the authors were able to see, by comparison, the different forms of management of this waste in different countries, thus being able to contribute to the creation of procedures for the collection, storage, and destruction of this hazardous waste, with direct influence on the environment. Full article
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