Special Issue "Understanding the Society-Environmental Policy-Practice Nexus and Its Implications for Sustainability Transformations under Uncertain Futures"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.
Interests: Climate and socio-economic changes; sea-level rise and flood risk assessment; coastal adaptation; cross-sectoral impacts; robustness of adaptation policies; food-water-land-ecosystems nexus; sustainability; spatial analysis
Interests: Global challenges, climate adaptation and adaptive capacity in urbanising coastal areas, governance, equity and social justice, transdisciplinary approaches to transformation
The impacts of climate and socio-economic changes cross traditional sectoral, spatial, and temporal boundaries . These are likely to cause cascading and potentially far-reaching repercussions on the social, economic, and environmental systems, with important implications for sustainability and sustainable development. Insights on the pace and magnitudes of these risks highlight the urgent need for devising appropriate adaptation responses to cope with the multifaceted challenges of climate change [e.g., 2]. In practice, climate change adaptation often takes various forms, involving a portfolio of measures, ranging from incremental infrastructural adjustments and socio-technical transitions to transformative changes across sectors and scales, and involving multiple actors such as communities and businesses. This is essential for building sustainable and resilient futures under uncertain changing conditions. Forging pathways to such futures means understanding the complex society–policy–practice interactions and associated synergies and trade-offs, and formulating appropriate ways of transforming socio-ecological systems.
With a growing shift away from ‘incremental adaptation’, the theme of transformative changes as part of climate change adaptation has been steadily gaining attention in the scientific literature worldwide [e.g., 3–6]. As such, various studies have used a multiplicity of terms, such as transition [e.g., 7], transformative [e.g., 8], transformational [e.g., 9], transformative agency [e.g., 10] and others, to describe the need for non-linear systemic changes [e.g., 11]. Potentially, this involves fundamental adjustments within and across the social, technological, economic, environmental, and political process spheres, to fully address global sustainability challenges. A rapidly expanding body of literature has explored various aspects of sustainability transformations, ranging from technical [e.g., 12], governance [e.g., 13], practice [e.g., 14], to justice [e.g., 15] and personal [e.g.,11] contexts. However, how the various aspects interact, and what the potential implications are, are still poorly understood, highlighting the need to develop the knowledge base to support policy and practice in societal transformations towards sustainable futures. This Special Issue aims to contribute to the emerging literature by addressing this gap, particularly focusing on understanding the society–policy–practice nexus interactions, synergies and trade-offs, and implications for sustainability. This is achieved through: (i) developing a comprehensive understanding of the social, economic, and environmental impacts and their interactions of exogenous and endogenous drivers of change, (ii) identifying the key scientific, policy, and practice barriers to informing robust transformational adaptation to climate change, (iii) identifying potential pathways of change toward the transformative global aspirations of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development [e.g., 16], and (iv) identifying and implementing equitable pathways to sustainable development (SDG16), encapsulating questions of justice and human rights , inclusivity , equity , education , and economic models .
We are confident that, with your contributions, the Special Issue can provide critical insights into addressing the scientific, policy, and practice challenges of climate change adaptation and sustainable development, as well as identifying alternative pathways to transformation in society and environmental policy in uncertain future climate and socio-economic conditions. Contributions may include original research, comprehensive review articles, or critical theoretical perspectives on recent advances on understanding the key challenges and opportunities to sustainability transformation.
 Harrison PA, Dunford R, Savin C et al. (2015) Cross-sectoral impacts of climate change and socioeconomic change for multiple, European land- and water-based sectors. Climatic Change, 128(3-4): 279–292.
 Driessen P, Behagel J, Hegger D et al. (2013) Societal Transformations in the Face of Climate Change. 2013.
 Fedele G, Donatti CI, Harvey, CA et al. (2020) Limited use of transformative adaptation in response to social-ecological shifts driven by climate change. Ecol Soc, 25(1):25.
 Feola G (2015) Societal transformation in response to global environmental change. Ambio, 44:376–390.
 Few R, Morchain D, Spear D et al. (2017) Transformation, adaptation and development: relating concepts to practice. Palgrave Communications, 3:17092.
 Burch S, Shaw A, Dale A et al. (2014) Triggering transformative change: a development path approach to climate change response in communities. Clim Policy, 14(4):467–487.
 Tompkins EL, Adger WN, Boyd E et al. (2010). Observed adaptation to climate change: UK evidence of transition to a well-adapting society. Global Environ Chang, 20(4):627–635.
 Park SE, Marshal NA, Jakky E et al. (2012) Informing adaptation responses to climate change through theories of transformation. Global Environ Chang, 22(1):115–126.
 Kates RW, Travis WR, Wilbanks TJ (2012) Transformational adaptation when incremental adaptations to climate change are insufficient. PNAS, 109(19):7156–7161.
 Westley FR, Tjornbo O, Schultz L et al. (2013) A theory of transformative agency in linked socialecological systems. Ecol Soc, 18(3):27.
 Wibeck V, Linner B-O, Alves M et al. (2019) Stories of transformations: A cross-country focus groupd study on sustainable development and societal change. Sustainability, 11:2427.
 Trutnevyte E, Hirt LF, Bauer N et al. (2019) Societal Transformations in Models for Energy and Climate Policy: The Ambitious Next Step. One Earth, 1:423–433.
 Patterson J, Schultz K, Vervoort J et al. (2017) Exploring the governance and politics of transformations towards sustainability. Environ Innov Soc Transit, 24:1–16.
 Vermeulen SJ, Dinesh D, Howden SM et al. (2018) Transformation in Practice: A Review of Empirical Cases of Transformational Adaptation in Agriculture Under Climate Change. Front Sustain Food Syst, 2:65. 3
 Blythe J, Silver J, Evans L et al. (2018) The dark side of transformation: latent risks in contemporary sustainability discourse. Antipode, 50(5):1206–1223.
 IPCC (2018) Global Warming of 1.5◦C. An IPCC Special Report on the Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5◦C above Pre-industrial levels and related global GHG Emission Pathways in the Context of Strengthening the Global Response to the Threat of Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Efforts to Eradicate Poverty, Masson-Delmotte et al. (Eds.), 616pp.
 Menton M, Larrea C, Latorre S et al. (2020) Environmental justice and the SDGs: From synergies to gaps and contradictions. Sustain Sci.
 Arts K (2017) Inclusive sustainable development: A human rights perspective. Curr Opin Env Sust, 24:58–62.
 Fleurbaey M, Kartha S, Bolwig S et al. (2014) Sustainable development and equity. In: O. Edenhofer et al. (Eds.), Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, New York, USA, 350pp.
 Barrett MJ, Harmin M, Maracle B et al. (2017) Shifting relations with the more-than-human: six threshold concepts for transformative sustainability learning. Environ Educ Res, 23(1):131–143.
 EMF (2013) Towards the circular economy. Economic and Business Rationale for Accelerated Transition, Ellen-MacArthur Foundation, 96pp.Dr. Abiy S. Kebede
Dr. Shona K. Paterson
Manuscript Submission Information
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- Climate and socio-economic change
- Impact assessment
- Science-policy-practice nexus
- Climate change adaptation
- Transformational adaptation policies
- Society transformation
- Socio-economic transformations
- Sustainability transformations
- Sustainable development
- Sustainable development goals (SGDs)