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Open Access for Sustainable Development

On September 2015, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were officially adopted. Supporting countries have committed themselves to “mobilizing efforts to end all forms of poverty, fighting inequalities and tackling climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind” [1].

Achieving inclusive and equitable quality education for all is one of the United Nations’ SDGs. Through its open access policy, MDPI aims to contribute to sustainable development by making research available for everyone, thus facilitating new discoveries and empowering researchers to have rapid and efficient access to knowledge.

We had the honour of discussing the SDGs with Prof. Marc Rosen, Editor-in-Chief of Sustainability. Through our conversation, we were able to find out more about his vision on sustainable development solutions for a better future.

MDPI: In 2009, you founded Sustainability, an international and cross-disciplinary, open access journal published by MDPI; since then, you have acted as Editor-in-Chief. What do you see as the role of researchers and institutions like MDPI in solving global challenges such as economic and social development, health and environmental safety?

MR: Sustainability is a relatively new field and in many ways is still in its infancy. There is a strong need for much research and development in sustainability and the many areas it straddles, such as identifying holistic measures of sustainability that are practical, meaningful and theoretically sound. As well, there is a need for the sharing of knowledge, experiences and best practices related to applications of sustainability principles, in order for the field to develop and thrive. Researchers involved in sustainability—whether from economic, social, health, environmental, technical or other fields—are critical to advancing the field and to implementing new and improved approaches to sustainability. And institutions like MDPI play a key role, by facilitating the efficient and effective sharing across the world of relevant, vetted and advanced information on sustainability and its applications, thereby aiding efforts to solve global sustainability challenges.

MDPI: What distinguishes Sustainability from other journals in the field, and are there any particular research topics that, in your opinion, should be tackled in the future?

MR: Sustainability is a high quality journal covering all areas of sustainability in one place. It does this particularly well through having sections and Special Issues in topical areas, while accommodating all relevant areas of sustainability in the general section. The journal is growing rapidly, attracting an increasing number of submissions each year. As an open access journal, it allows all interested readers globally to access readily the publications. The topics that should be tackled in the future, and will likely be reflected in the articles in Sustainability, are wide ranging, in line with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I believe those goals are quite comprehensive and reflect well the areas of sustainability that need to be tackled immediately and over the next couple decades.

MDPI: Your research spans a broad range, from energy and the environment, and sustainable and alternative energy technologies to mechanical engineering and thermodynamics. What progress has most impressed you in the last few years and which current trends are you most excited about?

MR: My work can be viewed broadly as falling into the category of energy sustainability. In the field of energy, the progress has been immense in recent years, with many impressive advances. Some examples include cleaner automobiles like electric and hydrogen vehicles, as well as low-energy or net-zero-energy buildings. Advances in many renewable energy technologies, such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass, have allowed their prospects to grow rapidly. These developments have allowed the shift of societies from fossil fuels to more environmentally benign forms of energy to move ahead more rapidly than would otherwise be the case.

MDPI: What are some of the challenges that we face in our “quest for a better and sustainable future”?

MR: We face numerous challenges in various fields in our quest for a sustainable future. These include addressing adequately environmental challenges like climate change, economic issues like regional and global disparities in wealth, and social issues like low living standards and health care in many countries. Some of these issues will require scientific, engineering and technological solutions while others will require sociological, economic and political approaches. And more broadly, we need to have experts from all of these fields and others come together to advance solutions holistically, given the multifaceted and interrelated nature of many of the challenges. But I remain optimistic that humanity will move in the direction of sustainability, by necessity and by choice, and I also believe that Sustainability will play an important role in this progress, allowing it to be more beneficial and rapid.

Prof. Marc Rosen, Editor-in-Chief and founder of Sustainability

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