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Special Issue "Political Economy and Sustainability"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2010)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Robert Krueger

Worcester Community Project Center; and Environmental Studies Program; Office Project Center Building, Second Floor, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609-2280, USA
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +1 508 831 5485
Interests: developing and applying political economic theory to questions of urban sustainability and economic development and the environment; examining economic theory from a critical cultural perspective

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is generally accepted that we, as a world, must learn to live more sustainably. While many recipes for structures of governance and economy exist in the academic and popular literature, one only has to revisit the recent COP-15 meeting to realize that sustainability is not a technological problem. It is a political problem. Sustainability is about overcoming embedded power relations at macro-scales (i.e., nation-state and international governance), and meso-scales (i.e., local and regional development) on down to the micro-scale (e.g., communities and households). Neoliberals and Neo-Keynesians may promise the hidden hand of the market or a third way of market based regulation present the keys to success. However, the sustainability transformation, like any other socio-political change of the past 100 years, is going to be fraught with the unintended-and intended-consequences of corrupt epistemologies, co-opted institutions and the limitations of human knowledge. Many of the world's countries have espoused their sustainability credentials-even George W. Bush-but who is seriously living up to the tripartite concerns of sustainable development: economic prosperity, social equity and ecological integrity?

This special issue is about exploring issues related to the sustainability transition in the context of current economic institutions, dominant forms of knowledge and embedded actors and institutions. We welcome theoretical contributions, case studies and methodological papers on this timely and important topic.

Dr. Robert Krueger,
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • sustainability transition
  • critical sustainability studies
  • Urban environment
  • economy-environment relations
  • political ecology

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Deliberative Ecological Economics for Sustainability Governance
Sustainability 2010, 2(11), 3399-3417; doi:10.3390/su2113399
Received: 29 June 2010 / Revised: 26 October 2010 / Accepted: 27 October 2010 / Published: 29 October 2010
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (221 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We discuss the recent emergence of ‘deliberative ecological economics’, a field that highlights the potential of deliberation for improving environmental governance. We locate the emergence of this literature in the long concern in ecological economics over the policy implications of limited views of
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We discuss the recent emergence of ‘deliberative ecological economics’, a field that highlights the potential of deliberation for improving environmental governance. We locate the emergence of this literature in the long concern in ecological economics over the policy implications of limited views of human action and its encounter with deliberative democracy scholarship and the model of communicative rationality as an alternative to utilitarianism. Considering criticisms over methods used and the focus of research in deliberative decision-making, we put forward a research agenda for deliberative ecological economics. Given the promising potential of deliberative processes for improving the effectiveness and legitimacy of environmental decision-making, work in this area could help advance both theory and practice in environmental governance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Political Economy and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Global Mining and the Uneasy Neoliberalization of Sustainable Development
Sustainability 2010, 2(10), 3270-3290; doi:10.3390/su2103270
Received: 5 September 2010 / Revised: 27 September 2010 / Accepted: 12 October 2010 / Published: 18 October 2010
Cited by 16 | PDF Full-text (184 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As transnational mining firms have sought to position themselves as drivers of sustainable development, a key component of their efforts has been the implementation of social development programs in their areas of operation. This paper situates the expansion of corporate-led development in the
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As transnational mining firms have sought to position themselves as drivers of sustainable development, a key component of their efforts has been the implementation of social development programs in their areas of operation. This paper situates the expansion of corporate-led development in the mining sector as part of an ongoing reconfiguration of the frameworks and processes through which mineral production is governed, interpreting such initiatives as illustrative of “roll-out” neoliberalization. Based on an analysis of firm-led development at the Pierina gold mine in Andean Peru, I explore how the mining company has been able to advance a version of sustainability broadly compatible with contemporary large-scale mining. Taking on the role of development agent, however, is not an uncomplicated endeavor in that it has left the firm subject to escalating development claims from nearby populations. In this context, I raise the question of whether the mining industry’s adoption of notions of partnership and participation amounts to a strategy for diffusing responsibility when necessary and deflecting the claims of affected communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Political Economy and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Hurdles to Forest Friendly Farming: Sustainability Lessons from Southeastern Mexico
Sustainability 2010, 2(9), 3129-3141; doi:10.3390/su2093129
Received: 13 August 2010 / Revised: 20 September 2010 / Accepted: 21 September 2010 / Published: 27 September 2010
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (247 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Worldwide the search is on for sustainable solutions to the competing needs for forest conservation and agricultural development. A strategy with contemporary salience arises in intensive, sedentarized agriculture that can protect forests and enhance livelihoods for forest dwellers. This paper investigates why intensive
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Worldwide the search is on for sustainable solutions to the competing needs for forest conservation and agricultural development. A strategy with contemporary salience arises in intensive, sedentarized agriculture that can protect forests and enhance livelihoods for forest dwellers. This paper investigates why intensive agriculture does not limit deforestation in southeastern Mexico’s Calakmul Municipality. It argues that agriculture faces challenges from a range of biophysical and socioeconomic factors in tropical regions and that this encourages expanded land use for intensive farmers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Political Economy and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Sustainable Capital? The Neoliberalization of Nature and Knowledge in the European “Knowledge-based Bio-economy”
Sustainability 2010, 2(9), 2898-2918; doi:10.3390/su2092898
Received: 6 August 2010 / Revised: 2 September 2010 / Accepted: 7 September 2010 / Published: 13 September 2010
Cited by 37 | PDF Full-text (243 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As an EU policy agenda, the “knowledge-based bio-economy” (KBBE) emphasizes bio-technoscience as the means to reconcile environmental and economic sustainability. This frames the sustainability problem as an inefficiency to be overcome through a techno-knowledge fix. Here ecological sustainability means a benign eco-efficient productivity
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As an EU policy agenda, the “knowledge-based bio-economy” (KBBE) emphasizes bio-technoscience as the means to reconcile environmental and economic sustainability. This frames the sustainability problem as an inefficiency to be overcome through a techno-knowledge fix. Here ecological sustainability means a benign eco-efficient productivity using resources which are renewable, reproducible and therefore sustainable. The KBBE narrative has been elaborated by European Technology Platforms in the agri-food-forestry-biofuels sectors, whose proposals shape research priorities. These inform policy agendas for the neoliberalization of both nature and knowledge, especially through intellectual property. In these ways, the KBBE can be understood as a new political-economic strategy for sustainable capital. This strategy invests great expectations for unlocking the productive potential of natural resources through a techno-knowledge fix. Although eco-efficiency is sometimes equated with biological productivity, commercial success will be dependent upon new combinations of “living” and “dead” labour. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Political Economy and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Small Cities, Neoliberal Governance and Sustainable Development in the Global South: A Conceptual Framework and Research Agenda
Sustainability 2010, 2(9), 2833-2848; doi:10.3390/su2092833
Received: 22 July 2010 / Revised: 31 August 2010 / Accepted: 31 August 2010 / Published: 6 September 2010
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (145 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Development and environmental issues of small cities in developing countries have largely been overlooked although these settlements are of global demographic importance and often face a “triple challenge”; that is, they have limited financial and human resources to address growing environmental problems that
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Development and environmental issues of small cities in developing countries have largely been overlooked although these settlements are of global demographic importance and often face a “triple challenge”; that is, they have limited financial and human resources to address growing environmental problems that are related to both development (e.g., pollution) and under-development (e.g., inadequate water supply). Neoliberal policy has arguably aggravated this challenge as public investments in infrastructure generally declined while the focus shifted to the metropolitan “economic growth machines”. This paper develops a conceptual framework and agenda for the study of small cities in the global south, their environmental dynamics, governance and politics in the current neoliberal context. While small cities are governed in a neoliberal policy context, they are not central to neoliberalism, and their (environmental) governance therefore seems to differ from that of global cities. Furthermore, “actually existing” neoliberal governance of small cities is shaped by the interplay of regional and local politics and environmental situations. The approach of urban political ecology and the concept of rural-urban linkages are used to consider these socio-ecological processes. The conceptual framework and research agenda are illustrated in the case of India, where the agency of small cities in regard to environmental governance seems to remain limited despite formal political decentralization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Political Economy and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Promoting Cultural Sustainability in the Context of Public Health: A Thai Perspective
Sustainability 2010, 2(8), 2707-2718; doi:10.3390/su2082707
Received: 12 July 2010 / Revised: 23 August 2010 / Accepted: 23 August 2010 / Published: 24 August 2010
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (148 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Over the last 4 decades, the concept of sustainable development has emerged in response to environmental and economic crises related to the consumption of non-renewable resources. The challenge of developing a sustainable economy has moved beyond the disciplines of economics, environmental and political
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Over the last 4 decades, the concept of sustainable development has emerged in response to environmental and economic crises related to the consumption of non-renewable resources. The challenge of developing a sustainable economy has moved beyond the disciplines of economics, environmental and political science to include an ecological approach involving the public health community. The role of cultural values in defining and addressing the issue of sustainability from a public health perspective varies among nations and is dependent on multiple factors. This paper highlights the challenges related to sustainability and current health problems in Thailand. An innovative educational approach from Mahidol University, a leading public health institution, incorporates the principles of a sufficiency economy while integrating the school’s mission of preserving and applying national and local culture and wisdom to sustain and improve quality of life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Political Economy and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Political Economy, Capitalism and Sustainable Development
Sustainability 2010, 2(8), 2601-2616; doi:10.3390/su2082601
Received: 13 July 2010 / Revised: 5 August 2010 / Accepted: 10 August 2010 / Published: 18 August 2010
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (161 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
After a critical review of conventional approaches to sustainability, this paper contrasts orthodox (neoclassical) economic theory with a political economy approach, arguing that such an approach focusing on the historically specific organizational form of production and the inherent characteristics of the capitalist mode
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After a critical review of conventional approaches to sustainability, this paper contrasts orthodox (neoclassical) economic theory with a political economy approach, arguing that such an approach focusing on the historically specific organizational form of production and the inherent characteristics of the capitalist mode of production is crucial for exploring the preconditions, the content and the prospects of sustainability. Analyzing briefly these characteristics and the developmental trends of capitalism, we locate the basic causes behind the currently exacerbated economic and ecological crisis, and on these grounds we briefly explore the required systemic transformations necessary to ensure a socially and ecologically, truly sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Political Economy and Sustainability)

Review

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Open AccessReview Why Does Environmental Policy in Representative Democracies Tend to Be Inadequate? A Preliminary Public Choice Analysis
Sustainability 2010, 2(12), 3710-3734; doi:10.3390/su2123710
Received: 4 October 2010 / Revised: 15 November 2010 / Accepted: 22 November 2010 / Published: 30 November 2010
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (185 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is a widespread consensus among the most important players in developed countries (voters, politicians, producers, traditional and green interest groups and bureaucracies) that a shift towards an eco-social market economy is essential for sustainable growth. Nevertheless, market-based instruments have not as yet
[...] Read more.
There is a widespread consensus among the most important players in developed countries (voters, politicians, producers, traditional and green interest groups and bureaucracies) that a shift towards an eco-social market economy is essential for sustainable growth. Nevertheless, market-based instruments have not as yet been implemented satisfactorily in environmental policy. To identify the reasons for this insufficient implementation over the past decade, the Public Choice theory is used. The players’ behavior is analyzed in order to show that their incentives for implementing market-based instruments in environmental policy, instead of command-and-control measures, are surprisingly weak. Knowing the obstacles to implementing market-based instruments provides valuable insight into how to overcome them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Political Economy and Sustainability)
Open AccessReview Sustainable Development: Between Moral Injunctions and Natural Constraints
Sustainability 2010, 2(11), 3608-3622; doi:10.3390/su2113608
Received: 14 October 2010 / Revised: 8 November 2010 / Accepted: 17 November 2010 / Published: 22 November 2010
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (184 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainable development must satisfy the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Although it looks at the economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainability, this article focuses specifically on an analysis of the concept in conjunction
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Sustainable development must satisfy the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Although it looks at the economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainability, this article focuses specifically on an analysis of the concept in conjunction with the use and protection of natural resources. It shows how taking account of environmental goods, including the finite nature of certain natural resources, can change the way economists deal with the issues of growth, development and equity between generations. In this context, after a brief historical perspective on the concept of development, the paper shows how the potential for substitutability between natural and manufactured capital, for example in production technologies, lead to two paradigms, that of weak sustainability and that of strong sustainability. These two approaches are presented in an effort to explain how their merits can be mutually reinforcing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Political Economy and Sustainability)

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