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Editorial on Environmental Planning and Modeling

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The aim of this Special Issue is to facilitate environmental decision making by considering the natural environment, as well as social, political, economic, and governance issues [...]
Citation: Madu, C.N. Editorial on
Environmental Planning and
Modeling. Sustainability 2022,14,
9728. https://doi.org/10.3390/
su14159728
Received: 1 August 2022
Accepted: 4 August 2022
Published: 8 August 2022
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sustainability
Editorial
Editorial on Environmental Planning and Modeling
Christian N. Madu 1,2
1
Department of Management & Management Science, Lubin School of Business, Pace University, 1 Pace Plaza,
New York, NY 10038, USA; cn_madu@yahoo.com or cmadu@pace.edu
2Center for Environmental Management & Control, University of Nigeria, Enugu
Campus, Nsukka 410001, Nigeria
The aim of this Special Issue is to facilitate environmental decision making by con-
sidering the natural environment, as well as social, political, economic, and governance
issues. This holistic approach of the natural environment around achieving sustainability
offers a win–win for both society and the environment. It is therefore imperative that
models developed as decision-supports to enhance environmental policy and decision
making consider the vital influences of socio-economic, political, and governance issues in
effective decision/policy making. This is even more important as concerns about climate
change, food security, and resources limitations are linked with increasing population
growth in developing countries. Our focus here was to solicit research papers that are
systemic in scope and yet integrative of these factors; building a framework to consider
these factors, developing novel methods or models, or applying existing models may be
carried out to solve any of the environmental management problems. Many of the models
available in the areas of mathematics, statistics, engineering, management, and social
sciences have been found useful in solving an array of multi-faceted problems and are
equally applicable in solving environmental problems. Specifically, papers that address
optimization, or “satisficing” techniques to solve problems in the areas of environmental
planning, resources allocation, biodiversity, and ecology, were of great interest to address
some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems. We successfully sought papers
that may be conceptual, application-based, or theoretical.
The Special Issue presents five major papers that were published, each with uniqueness
and contributions to the field of environmental planning and management. The views and
models articulated in these articles can be beneficial in solving some of the environmental
problems that confront the world today. This editorial summarizes the conclusions of
our Special Issue which was highly successful. All the published papers have policy
implications and are easier to read and interpret without losing the scientific component.
It is our hope that the ideas espoused here will find wider applications in solving these
important environmental problems. We aimed to address macro-environmental problems
by understanding that environmental issues interface and interact with other subsystems
on Earth. Environmental problems cannot be addressed by looking only at a problem
as independent of all other subsystems that it interacts with. Some of the work has also
attempted to draw parallels with sustainability development goals.
In this editorial, we shall briefly discuss the contributions of the five published papers
in this Special Issue. We shall follow the sequence of publication by starting from the first
published article to the last.
Shi, K., Zhou, Y., and Zhang, Z., in their article titled “Mapping the Research Trends
of Household Waste Recycling: A Bibliometric Analysis”, considered household waste
recycling as a major cause of municipal solid waste pollution. They reviewed the status and
mapped the research trend of research in household waste recycling published in the Web of
Science database from 1991–2020. A bibliometrix analysis of these publications was carried
out to identify the top contributing authors, countries, institutions, and journals. They note
that most of the influential and well-cited articles focused on factors influencing residents’
Sustainability 2022,14, 9728. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14159728 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2022,14, 9728 2 of 4
recycling behavior. Recycling behavior is viewed primarily from an sociopsychology and
economics perspective. However, research in house waste recycling now includes other
areas such as e-waste, source separation, life cycle assessment, sustainability, organic waste,
and circular economy. These studies are increasingly becoming interdisciplinary, thus
suggesting a systemic view of household waste recycling.
The article is very informative and shows an exponential growth rate in the number of
publications on household waste recycling from 1991 to 2020. This growth rate signifies the
growing interest in this research field and may very well align with the growing concerns of
the general society about climate change and the resultant effects of pollution (see
Figure 1
of the paper). China, the United Kingdom, and the USA seem to be the leading countries
in terms of research, based on the number of citations of work in this area. This may also
suggest growing environmental consciousness and awareness, and also represents the
growing, and concerning, volume of waste in those countries. Interestingly, none of the
developing countries appear to be on the top ten list and only China and Japan appear from
the Asian countries. More awareness is required to solve household waste problems. Al-
though the number of publications and citations may not be indicative of the environmental
burden in a country, it may show the level of awareness and environmental consciousness.
Then again, the database that was used may affect the number of publications that may
be obtainable from the different countries. We understand the fact that the Web of Science
is the leading database for quality research, but this may not necessarily cover some of
the local publications that exist in many of the other countries. It is however imperative
that we make all countries understand the consequences of household waste. Research
collaborations with researchers from other countries that are not listed here may help to
promote research interests and illuminate research works in household recycling.
Nnadi, V.E., Madu, C.N., and Ezeasor, I.C., in their article titled, “A systematic tech-
nic of prioritization of biodiversity conservation in Nigeria”, developed a multi-criteria
decision model to prioritize biodiversity conservation. This model is based on the use
of analytic hierarchy process (AHP)—a multicriteria decision-making model. A group of
biodiversity experts in the country was used to rank the three biodiversity conservation ap-
proaches, namely eco-system-, area-, and species-based approaches. The result showed the
high performance of countries using eco-system-based approaches, followed by area-based
and species-based approaches, respectively. The priorities developed were subsequently
applied in resource allocation modeling. The research identifies areas for performance gap
in the country and offers a policy-making approach for allocating limited resources to solve
biodiversity conservation problems. This paper introduced management techniques and
operational research models that can be used to address biodiversity problems. Although
it is focused on a particular country, it has wider application since the frameworks and the
model approaches presented can be applied in different settings.
Nantasaksiri, K., Charoen-amornkitt, P., Machimura, T., and Hayashi, K. titled their
paper “Multi-Disciplinary Assessment of Napier Grass Plantation on Local Energetic, Envi-
ronmental and Socioeconomic Industries: A Watershed-Scale Study in Southern Thailand”.
They investigated the potentials of using Napier grass in power generation in Southern
Thailand. Napier grass is supposedly an energy crop that has far-reaching impacts on
energy, environment, and socioeconomic features. A soil and water assessment tool (SWAT)
is used to investigate its impacts on runoff, sediment, and nitrate loads in Songkhla Lake
Basin (SLB), Southern Thailand. The results obtained show that Napier grass decreased
the average surface runoff and sediment in the watershed. These results were applied in a
multidisciplinary framework for decision support. It is shown that Napier grass provides
benefits to hydrology and water quality when nitrogen fertilizers were applied at the levels
of 0 and 125 kgN ha
1
. Conversely, benefits in terms of reducing energy supply, farmer’s
income, and carbon dioxide were highest when 500 kgN ha
1
of nitrogen fertilizer was
applied. The paper concludes that the planting of Napier grass should be supported to
increase energy supply; provide jobs; and reduce surface runoff, sediment yield, nitrate
load, and carbon dioxide emission. The findings of this research are of particular impor-
Sustainability 2022,14, 9728 3 of 4
tance, especially as we aim to decrease the demand on fossil fuel for energy consumption.
Napier grass is a renewable source of energy. It is clean and sustainable and can contribute
in reducing the generation of carbon dioxide, thereby helping to reduce global warming.
While biogas energy generated from organic matters may release carbon in generating
power, they are carbon-neutral, as crops also absorb the same amount of carbon during
their growth. This is, however, not the only benefit of biogas as they also have higher yields
and shorter life cycles. This ensures a stable fuel supply. This study should encourage an
exploration of other organic matters and renewable resources, in terms of their efficiency in
replacing, substituting, or reducing the use of fossil fuels.
H. Jiang and Y. He, in their paper titled “Evaluation of Optimal Policy on Environ-
mental Change through Green Consumption”, explored the association between green
consumption and sustainable economic growth. They looked at the demand side of green
consumption and how to use it to design an environmental policy package, in order to
achieve economic growth and optimal social allocation. Using mathematical models, they
concluded that: (1) green consumption does not necessarily have to be supply-side-driven
to improve the environment; (2) green consumption driven by the demand side is bet-
ter than the supply side in improving the environment and increasing the social welfare;
(3) environmental
change is more efficient when the environmental policy package includes
green consumption. It is important to note that production activities that drive the economy
will impact both the environment and social welfare. It is therefore significant to investigate
the demand-side policy, which is exemplified by green consumption, and compare it to
the supply-side policy, exemplified by green production on how they influence and/or are
associated with environmental changes and social welfare.
Koo, J., Kim, J., Ryu, J., Shin, D.-S., Lee, S., Kim, M.-K., Jeong, J., and Lim, K.-J., in
“Development of Novel QAPEX Analysis System Using Open-Source GIS”, developed an
Agricultural Policy/Environmental eXtender (APEX) interface that uses an open-source-
based GIS software to simulate water quality impacts on various management practices
for local farming activities. This model provides opportunities for farm/small watershed
management and for local farmers, especially in developing countries, since there is no
fee payment to use the interface. This new interface is also more flexible than the existing
interface that requires paid license subscription. Furthermore, it can simulate hydrology
and water quality with considerable precision. This model also presents visual output,
making it easier to interpret simulation results. The open source model may also be used to
derive data for sustainable agricultural practices and to develop effective policies on the
different agricultural farming practices.
This Special Issue presents five different articles that took different approaches to
address sustainability issues from planning and modeling perspectives. These articles are
holistic in their considerations and are multidisciplinary as they adopt modeling approaches
from other areas of learning, especially from management. They also emphasize the need
to serve as decision support for policy and decision making. It is worth noting that to
address the issues of sustainability and climate change, which are crucial in environmental
planning and modeling, we must be cognizant of human involvement and the different
worldviews that may inform such policies and decisions. The papers offer policy guidelines
and framework, making the outcomes easier to implement. These articles address some
of the complex issues in environmental planning and modeling. However, they are not
exhaustive. Rather, they provide a stepping-stone for more work on developing approaches
that can help to address these important problems. We do not necessarily need to start from
scratch or reinvent the wheel. We can borrow from existing knowledge and models, and
also take advantage of the multidisciplinary nature of environmental issues. We should also
view the environment as a system that interacts with other systems and strive to develop a
systemic approach to problem solving. The issues raised here are thought-provoking and
aim to solve some crucial existing problems. The insights gained here could be used to
solve other problems and to develop effective implementation plans. Ongoing research
and future studies are required to continue to explore environmental problems and/or
Sustainability 2022,14, 9728 4 of 4
climate change issues from a holistic perspective, while considering other stakeholders to
develop an efficient and effective solution.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Conflicts of Interest: The author declared no conflict of interest.
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