ISSN: 2297-6477 doi: 10.12924/librello.CiS

Challenges in Sustainability (CiS; ISSN 2297-6477) is an international, open access, academic, interdisciplinary journal dedicated to the publication of high-quality research articles and review papers on all aspects of global environmental and transformational change toward sustainability. Research articles, reviews, communications or short notes and films are welcomed. Manuscripts must be prepared in English; they will undergo a rigorous peer review process, and they will appear online immediately after final acceptance. We especially encourage submissions from early stage researchers.

Objectives & Aims

The objective of the journal is to be a front-runner for original science that stimulates the development of sustainability solutions in an era of global environmental change. CiS defines its place at the interface between natural, socio-economic, and the humanistic sciences, creating a unique platform to disseminate analyses on challenges related to global environmental change, associated solutions, and trade-offs. The journal helps to further the field of sustainability science by bridging gaps between disciplines, science and societal stakeholders while not neglecting scientific rigor and excellence. The journal promotes science-based insights of societal dynamics, and is open for innovative and critical approaches that stimulate scientific and societal debates.

Examples of topics to be covered by this journal include, but are not limited to:

  • Environment and resource science
  • Governance for sustainability
  • Transition experiments and pathway studies
  • Education for sustainability
  • Future and anticipatory studies
  • Transdisciplinarity
  • Sustainable urban systems
  • Sustainable energy
  • Place-based sustainability studies
  • Resource exploitation
  • Impact assessment and integrated modeling
  • Carbon accounting and compensation
  • Remote sensing and geoinformation

Latest publications

doi: 10.12924/cis2021.09010001 | Volume 9 (2021) | Issue 1
Caxton Gitonga Kaua 1, * , Thuita Thenya 1 and Jane Mutune Mutheu 1
1 Wangari Maathai Institute of Peace and Environmental Studies, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
* Corresponding author
Publication Date: 24 February 2021

Climate variability is variation of climate elements from the longterm mean state on all spatiotemporal scales. Climate variability affects microfinance institutions directly and indirectly through physical and transition risks. However, no studies have analyzed the effects of climate variability in relation to informal microfinance institutions. The study, therefore, aimed to analyze the effects of climate variability in relation to informal microfinance institutions. It used a descriptive study design and multi-stage sampling design. Data was analyzed using thematic analysis, descriptive analysis, and Kendall’s tau-b correlation analysis. The study found a positive trend in climate variability (τb = 0.174, α>0.05). Local people are highly vulnerable to climate variability as confirmed by 98.7% of the respondents who observed that climate variability affects their livelihoods. This vulnerability stems from the effect of climate variability on access to capital assets and livelihood strategies. Vulnerability to climate variability has a significant negative effect on loan repayment performance, loan access and sustainability, and hence on informal microfinance performance (τb = - 0.109**, P<0.01). Nevertheless, climate variability increases participation in informal microfinance institutions as shown by the positive relationship with the number of people who joined informal microfinance institutions (τb = 0.239**, P<0.01) and the number formed per year (τb = 0.137, P<0.01) from 1981 to 2018. This is because informal microfinance institutions help vulnerable households in building resilience to climate variability as observed by 80.8% of the respondents.. The characteristics of informal microfinance institutions have positive or negative relationships with vulnerability to climate variability. These relationships are and could be further leveraged upon to address effects of climate variability on informal microfinance institutions. Detailed contextual analysis of informal microfinance institutions in the nexus of climate variability is thus imperative to inform actions aimed at cushioning the groups and their members against the impacts.

doi: 10.12924/cis2020.08010030 | Volume 8 (2020) | Issue 1
Oliver Gerald Schrot 1, * , Hanna Krimm 2 and Thomas Schinko 3
1 Faculty of Geo- and Atmospheric Sciences, Institute of Geography, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
2 alpS GmbH, Innsbruck, Austria
3 Risk and Resilience Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
* Corresponding author
Publication Date: 19 October 2020
Abstract: Human influences on Earth's natural systems are accelerating, with anthropogenic climate and global change posing existential risks for mankind. To overcome the policy implementation gap in practice both collective and transformative actions for sustainability involving science, policy and society are urgently needed. In the realms of science, this relates to taking inter-and transdisciplinary research approaches to foster exchange and co-designing policy options between researcher, decision-makers and other societal stakeholders; however, such collaboration is often limited by time, funding and complexity constrains.
This paper recognises that particularly early career climate change and sustainability researchers are exposed to both the claim for and practical challenges of inter- and transdisciplinarity. For a first qualitative investigation of Austrian early career researchers’ preparedness for conducting participatory research with societal stakeholders, this study examines perspectives of twelve early career researchers participating in a young scientists' workshop.
Using a pre-post survey and analysing data by content, our findings indicate that workshop participants have to manage stakeholder processes directly after graduation and, due to a lack of methodological training, only use a small fraction of existing social science methods and participatory settings for stakeholder collaboration. To support other early career researchers and future students in Austria in developing strong inter-and transdisciplinary research skills, we highlight the added-value of integrating hands-on workshops with societal stakeholders, regular exchange of lessons learned and transdisciplinary lectures into university education. Offering more practice-oriented transdisciplinary learning activities during undergraduate education, like excursions and mini-projects in which students can develop and train participatory methods together with stakeholders under guidance, is believed to be a fruitful strategy in this context.

doi: 10.12924/cis2020.08010017 | Volume 8 (2020) | Issue 1
Roland Ebel
Department of Health and Human Development, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA
Publication Date: 10 April 2020

Today, agroecology is more than a science; it is a movement that advocates for a sustainable redesign of the global food system. Some of its acknowledged protagonists plead for a redesign based on the support of and for small-scale farming because small farms are considered more sustainable than large farms. The present review explores the arguments that leading agroecologists use for justifying their preference for small (frequently peasant) farms. In this review, small farms are defined as possessing a mean agricultural area of maximum two hectares, being family-owned, emphasizing outdoor production, and annually producing at least two different crops or livestock. Peasant farms are defined as subsistent small farms in developing countries. The review includes an overview of the current state of small farms and their most severe challenges. Agroecological publications of the last thirty years were scanned for arguments that sustain the hypothesis that small farms are more sustainable. It was found that there are no studies that directly compare the sustainability of farms based on their size. Instead, most studies cited to confirm the sustainability of small farms compare farms that differ in terms of both, size and farm management. Hence, it is likely that the reason for the advanced sustainability of small farms is their management, not their size. The assertion that small farms are a priori more sustainable than large ones is not supportable. Misleading use of the term “small farms” may impede the efforts of agroecology to stimulate sustainable food production.

doi: 10.12924/cis2020.08010001 | Volume 8 (2020) | Issue 1
Todd L. Cherry 1, 2, * and Hanne Sæle 3
1 CICERO Center for International Climate Research, Oslo, Norway
2 Appalachian State University, North Carolina, USA
3 Department of Energy Systems, SINTEF Energy Research, Trondheim, Norway
* Corresponding author
Publication Date: 8 April 2020
Abstract: Solar power or photovoltaic (PV) systems have emerged as a leading low-carbon energy technology worldwide, but the deployment of residential PV systems in Norway has lagged behind other Scandinavian countries. Therefore, the Norwegian market provides an opportunity to gain insights on the demand factors that determine residential PV adoption. This paper presents results from a stated-preference survey designed to elicit household knowledge, preferences and willingness to pay for residential PV systems. Results suggest that meaningful growth in residential PV capacity depends greater knowledge among households, continued advances in technology, clarity with the grid tariff and stronger support systems. A review of recent experiences in the field corroborates the important role of effective regulatory structures and support programs.

doi: 10.12924/cis2019.07010030 | Volume 7 (2019) | Issue 1
Bob van der Zwaan 1, 2, 3, 4, * , Francesco Dalla Longa 1 , Helena de Boer 1 , Francis Johnson 5 , Oliver Johnson 5 , Marieke van Klaveren 1 , Jessanne Mastop 1 , Mbeo Ogeya 5 , Mariëlle Rietkerk 1 , Koen Straver 1 and Hannah Wanjiru 5
1 Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN-TNO), Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2 School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University , Bologna, Italy
3 Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
4 Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
5 Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Nairobi, Kenya
* Corresponding author
Publication Date: 3 September 2019

This article reports evidence for substantial public support for the large-scale deployment of three renewable energy options in Kenya: wind, solar PV, and geothermal energy. With these renewable technologies, the government of Kenya could make a large contribution to reaching its national commitment under the Paris Agreement. Prices, infrastructural needs, and land-use requirements importantly contribute to shaping public opinion about these renewable energy alternatives, in different ways and directions for wind, PV, and geothermal energy. While overall the evaluation of these technologies is positive, public authorities should be wary of the possible inconveniences and drawbacks associated with them. Anticipating and, where possible, mitigating these shortcomings in national climate and energy development plans could preclude some of them becoming possible hindrances for broad-scale adoption of wind, PV, and geothermal energy. Furthering quantitative public acceptance studies, like the one presented here based on (semi-)expert elicitation and information-choice questionnaires, can assist in Kenya fully reaching its national climate and energy ambitions. More generally, we argue that the establishment of affordable, clean, and secure energy systems, as well as the mitigation of global climate change, can benefit from stakeholder engagement and public survey analysis like the one performed in our study – in developing countries as much as in the developed part of the world.

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ISSN: 2297-6477
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