Challenges in the transition towards sustainable development in Bulgaria
Abstract: An understanding of the causes for changes of ecosystems at the local and national level is essential for initiating learning processes and for designing interventions to reduce adverse environmental impacts. However, transition economies have not been studied much in this context. Taking Bulgaria as a case study, this paper explores the difficulties and obstacles on the path to sustainability. The methods applied include a review of policy documents and expert interviews, based on a qualitative and transdisciplinary research approach. It emerges with new clarity that the strive for economic growth leads to increasing economic activities that put ecosystems under severe pressure, especially for the purpose of tourism in mountainous regions and on the Black Sea coastline. This reveals a major gap in the integration of environmental concerns in policy areas and economic sectors and, further, highlights the need for raising awareness of how this process can be handled more effectively. Possible options include fostering scientific input, stakeholder dialogue, and alternative models for development. Furthermore, the experiences of other countries with similar contextual conditions can be drawn upon. There are important practical applications for policy-makers, such as capacity and institution building, while the methodological approach used in this study is of interest for researchers dealing with sustainability-related problems in the context of transition economies and new Member States.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Challenges in the transition towards sustainable development in Bulgaria“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.