Story | 06 Dec, 2022

Special Issue: the Roles of Culture and Values in Sustainable Development in the journal ‘Sustainability’

CEESP News: Dr. J. Marc Foggin, University of British Columbia & IUCN CEESP member, Dr. Richard Gunton, University of Winchester, and Dr. Daniele Brombal, Ca' Foscari University, Venice.


A special issue has recently been launched in the journal Sustainability with focus on the central roles of worldviews, culture, values, and ethics as “lenses” through which we see the world and make decisions, thus essential elements for successfully achieving Sustainable Development – inclusive of global conservation goals and human rights. 

Full announcement available at

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Roles of Culture and Values in Sustainable Development 

Photo: Marc Foggin

Sustainable development has long been accepted in principle, yet it has been variably defined and often has been applied in relatively individualistic and economics-oriented ways —over and against more community-oriented worldviews, beliefs, values and ethics as often held, for example, by many Indigenous peoples and local communities globally. 

Current standard approaches oft inadequately account for the real-world complexities of integrated socioecological systems. It is also widely appreciated that virtually all human groups – incl. formal, informal and natural associations, corporations, faith communities, and more, i.e. all major stakeholders and rights holders — have intrinsic cultures (whether recognized or not) and hold certain values, leading toward particular norms and modes of thinking and action. Yet, the critical roles of culture and values for achieving sustainability have largely been overlooked, especially with the critically important relational values of some stakeholder groups being ignored or suppressed in favour of narrower economic valuations and the commodification of nature being implicitly and sometimes explicitly endorsed and promoted by more powerful agencies.

In sum, how we see the world and how we relate to other stakeholders and rights holders around us is broadly oriented through the “lens” of culture and worldviews. This reality is the foundation for the present planned compilation, noting especially that our individual and collective perspectives and choices (hence our actions) are ‘refracted’ through our lenses, which are deeply held values and socially agreed norms of behaviour—ethics. 

The Guest Editors for this issue are seeking to receive contributions from a plurality of places and cultures across the world’s diverse socioecological systems, aiming to bring together in a single issue a wide range of players, places and perspectives and through this to explore how culture and value systems are contributing, positively and negatively, to sustainability. 

Thematically, the issue will draw together experiences and literature from across many fields of study related to social-ecological theory and sustainability science, with the latter focused especially on emerging dialogues in relational theory and practice, and thus build synergies and crystalize new ways to envisage sustainability. Descriptive, normative and mixed contributions are all welcome, but all must engage with the broader literature and be informed by concrete examples since sustainability is only ever achieved within the contexts and tangible realities of particular ecological and sociopolitical spaces.

Submission deadline: 30 September 2023

For more information see this webpage or contact Dr. Marc Foggin