Environmental Sciences: Open Access for an Open Issue

Paola Teti, our Journal Development Manager, Roberto Garbero and Jan Margulies, our Journal Development Editors tell us how open access helps promote environmental literacy by disseminating sustainability and environmental science research to the public.

From left to right: Roberto Garbero, Paola Teti and Jan Margulies
From left to right: Roberto Garbero, Paola Teti and Jan Margulies

Open access is an invaluable tool for the dissemination of knowledge in Environmental Sciences. The absence of pay walls encourages timely and topical sharing of information and research in this relevant topic, and content is immediately available to anyone, anywhere. Sustainability and the shortage of resources is a global conundrum which requires involvement of all communities and individuals, both to reflect the urgency of this issue and to effectively alter our collective behaviour in order to protect the environment. For instance, many research projects are carried out to understand what motivates communities to adopt pro-environmental behaviours.

Examples of research on more sustainable approaches to resources and conservation can be found in a great variety of fields and applications, such as power production through renewables – wind in particular, – transportation, fuel consumption and emissions, energy efficiency and conservation, how buildings are designed in terms of heat and energy demand, and many others.

Sustainable urbanism is in particular one of the most fascinating challenges of the future. Most of the world’s population is likely to be concentrated in big urban areas in the near future, and this means that cities as “organisms” will play a key role in sustainability. Concepts like density, hyper-density and compactness of urbanization are challenging the idea of what makes the urban space optimized in terms of resilience, sustainability and quality of life. Uncertainty is another key challenge that cities are facing – the impact of climate change, fragility to unpredicted developments and uncertain generation of energy. Cities are not only projected into the future, but are built on a past that they should not forget. To this extent, the management and valorisation of historical areas in cities should also be sustainable. “Cities of the future”, as perfectly summarised by this article, “should be a socially diverse environment where economic and social activities overlap and where communities are focused around neighbourhoods. They must be developed or adapted to enable their citizens to be socioeconomically creative and productive”.

The collective, open and shared dimension is perfectly supported by open access and its very fundamental values. The open nature of content encourages more people to reach out to the available knowledge and engage in discussion of key environmental issues, both as experts and citizens, as part of a more respectful culture and behaviour towards the environment.

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