Call for Abstracts: Current Opinions in Environmental Sustainability [COSUST] Theme: Technology, Innovations, and Environmental Sustainability in the Anthropocene

COSUST is a leading international journal on sustainability research. Our focus is on publishing invited special issues bringing together short review of recent literature and synthesis articles on issues of cross-cutting relevance to sustainability and global change. A call for abstract for an (once a year) Open Issue is now available at:


On behalf of the editors,

Eduardo S. Brondizio



Call for Abstracts: Current Opinions in Environmental Sustainability

Technology, Innovations, and Environmental Sustainability in the Anthropocene 

The connection between technology and society is complex and multifaceted. Technology is developed and used to meet people’s daily livelihood needs, to explore new frontiers and shorten distances, establish markets, assemble material, enhance labour productivity, and transform knowledge into products intended to both create and meet demand. The twin forces of technology advancement and globalization are reshaping interaction between and among human and natural systems, raising concerns as well as optimism. Technology has contributed to the detachment and connection of people and nature; to dominating, domesticating as well as caring and protecting nature and humans. As a result, while technology has helped lift and enhance the quality of life it has also been associated with massive environmental degradation, enhanced social inequities, and threats to human health and survival. This Open Issue will bring together articles teasing out the relationship between technology and society, reevaluating to help redefine it for the future.

The global imprint of technology markers, from cement to plastic to radiation, has become a defining factor in our understanding of the Anthropocene, and our profound negative impact in the Earth system and fabric of life. Technology has been associated with both declining resilience in natural systems and new opportunities to confront environmental problems it has contributed to create, fueling our hopes to find alternatives to more sustainable development pathways. At the core of competing perspectives on progress and quality of life, competing powerful interests over the environment, and alternative visions of society’s futures, is technology. The term ‘disruptive technology’ is emerging to describe technological innovations that may completely transform known technologies and practices. As such, technology is also at the core of conflicting and often polarizing narratives and models of sustainability, often inhibiting collaborative thinking and creativity.

The 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) Declaration of Principles – Agenda 21, recognized technology as key to sustainable development. In particular, the need for technology innovations that decouple economic growth from pressures put on natural resources. Technology is considered to be key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and this also applies to the UN Framework on Climate Change Convention and as highlighted in nearly all IPCC reports including the recent 1.5°C global warming Special Report. However, Technology transfer particularly, from the Global North to the Global South is emphasized thus, re-enforcing the regional disparities characteristic of the Anthropocene. An encompassing and critical focus on the role of technology on environmental sustainability will shed light on future direction of sustainable technological inventions for resilient social-ecological systems.

For the Open Issue 2020, we invite submission of abstracts proposing review and synthesis articles within three key areas including:

  • Review and synthesis articles on the evolution of perspectives and conceptual models on technology and sustainability, including the role of narratives and framing in advancing technology-based approaches to sustainability issues.
  • Sectoral and cross-sectoral opportunities and solution spaces contributing among others the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, including:

o    Conservation and natural resources

o    Supporting human settlements, Indigenous People and local communities in remote areas

o    Water resources

o    Agriculture and food systems

o    Fisheries

o    Improving quality of life in urban areas

o    Sanitation systems in fast expanding urban areas

o    Disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and mitigation.

o    Emerging research frontiers in technology and sustainability in the midst of accelerating technology development and transfer.

We invite authors to consider a range of provocative questions, among others:

  1. Which areas of technological innovations and pathways have played a significant role in directly or indirectly constraining and or advancing environmental sustainability and what factors facilitated their role? What has happened to ‘appropriate technology’?
  2. What environmentally valued technological options and innovations remain to be harnessed? What factors determine selection, deployment and up-take of sustainable /environmental technologies? What is the potential for indigenous technologies, such as in resource management and protection, food production and medicinal needs?
  3. What kinds of technology ‘lock-ins’ limit technological innovations, such as in transitions in energy systems, water infrastructure, transportation, sanitation, and so forth?
  4. What are emerging areas in sustainable technologies, their potential and implications for transformative change?
  5. What is the potential for distributed technology (vs centralized and large scale), such as in areas of energy production, water and sewage treatment, recycling, agriculture, including their limitations and potential for scaling up?
  6. Are there examples of niche innovation that can eventually lead to large-scale technological changes and what is required to facilitate this transition?
  7. What are the prospects for ‘disruptive technologies’ such as artificial intelligence in galvanizing society to a carbon free and climate resilient development pathway?
  8. What have we learned and what is the role of technology in behavioral change, from the way we perceive the environment to our daily consumption and resource use decisions?
  9. Given regional differences in technology pathways, what possible opportunities exist for the global south to provide leadership in sustainable technologies? What are the prospects for leapfrogging technology?
  10. What is the role of narratives and framings in promoting approaches and diffusion models for particular technologies and technological pathways more broadly? What are possible points of convergence and emerging new paradigms?

COSUST articles are intended to provide concise (2,000 to 4,000 words excluding bibliography) synthesis and review papers based on (predominantly) recent literature on cross-cutting topics in sustainability and global change. We do not publish articles presenting empirical research, although examples are welcome to illustrate review and synthesis articles. Synthesis figures and tables are encouraged, including visual abstracts. Articles should include 3 to 5 short highlight points and provide a short summary (1-2 phrases) on selected (3-5) bibliographic references. See guide for authors for specific instructions []. Abstracts will be considered by the Editors and the Editorial Review Board on the basis of proposed rationale and scope, international composition of authors, and thematic/topical complementary within the issue.

The schedule for the preparation and publication of this Open Issue is as follows:

Abstract submission: 25 March 2019;
Invitation to authors: 23rd June 2019;
Paper submission: 1st December 2019;
Online-first publication immediately following review/revision process; Issue official publication date: August 2020.

Please send your abstract to the Editorial manager, Alison Langestraat by 25th March 2019 at , clearly marked: COSUST OPEN ISSUE 2020 Abstract Submission – (Author surname).

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