Read our April issue

This month we cover the sustainability of the Olympics, conservation and agriculture, air quality and energy policy in India, area-based management for the ocean SDG, plastic microbeads and more.


  • As a result of the significant disruption that is being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic we are aware that many researchers will have difficulty in meeting the timelines associated with our peer review process during normal times. Please do let us know if you need additional time. Our systems will continue to remind you of the original timelines but we intend to be highly flexible at this time.

  • This summer’s Tokyo Olympics were meant to showcase how the global megaevent can be held in a more responsible manner. However, new research suggests that the Olympics are becoming less sustainable over time.

Nature Sustainability is a Transformative Journal; authors can publish using the traditional publishing route OR via immediate gold Open Access.

Our Open Access option complies with funder and institutional requirements.


  • The authors show how untreated wastewater laced with microplastics and raw sewage is routinely discharged into UK river flows that are too low to disperse the microplastics downstream. This discharge creates acute microplastic contamination of river beds that threatens biodiversity and the quality of riverine habitats.

    • Jamie Woodward
    • Jiawei Li
    • Rachel Hurley
  • While the food–energy–water nexus has become a focal point for inter- and cross-disciplinary studies in recent years, this analysis of rural communities contextualizes how effective the nexus is for describing and studying interactions.

    • Henry P. Huntington
    • Jennifer I. Schmidt
    • Michelle Wilber
  • Not all meat sources have equal climate and environmental impacts, leading to hopes that fish and chicken could ‘displace’ red meat. However, this analysis of five decades of international data casts doubt that such a substitution effect is happening, and that instead all meat consumption is rising.

    • Richard York
    Brief Communication
  • An analysis of national economies’ unequal exposure to biocapacity constraints and purchasing power reveals how increasing demand of natural resources can lead to inescapable poverty traps.

    • Mathis Wackernagel
    • Laurel Hanscom
    • Peter Raven
  • In-stream turbines could be a viable alternative to storage-based large hydropower projects. This study finds that about two-thirds of the planned hydropower generation in the Brazilian Amazon basin could be harnessed using in-stream turbines.

    • Suyog Chaudhari
    • Erik Brown
    • Yadu Pokhrel
  • Freshwater salinization syndrome is an emerging threat to freshwater globally. Here the authors quantify the contribution of indirect potable reuse to sodium pollution and suggest a variety of behavioural and technological interventions to address this growing environmental problem.

    • Shantanu V. Bhide
    • Stanley B. Grant
    • Todd Schenk
    • Expanding renewable energy sources in remote rural Alaska villages promises to improve sustainability and resilience. What happens to the food–energy–water nexus when critical resources are abundant public goods?

      • James Magdanz
      News & Views
    • The International Olympic Committee has long trumpeted its own sustainability credibility. But are the Olympic Games actually sustainable or are they greenwashing gold?

      • Jules Boykoff
      News & Views
    • Divergent conceptions of living nature between conservationists and other groups of people can hinder progress to protect biodiversity. This Perspective reflects on the use of the concept of biodiversity, willingness to expand its ambit, and engagement with the various drivers of change.

      • Unai Pascual
      • William M. Adams
      • Esther Turnhout
    • The photocatalytic conversion of CO2 to fuels could contribute to a carbon-neutral energy cycle, but it works only when sunlight is available. Here the authors propose a persistent photocatalyst system that prolongs solar fuel production and discuss emerging trends and design strategies.

      • Joel Y. Y. Loh
      • Nazir P. Kherani
      • Geoffrey A. Ozin
  • Sustainably transitioning to electric vehicles is challenging where transport and electricity systems are poorly defined due to a lack of data, such as those dominated by paratransit (informal, privately owned ‘public’ transport). We call for a more systemic approach to data collection as a key enabler for this transition.

    • Katherine A. Collett
    • Stephanie A. Hirmer
  • Consensus on carbon accounting approaches at city-level is lacking and analytic frameworks to systematically link carbon mitigation with the Sustainable Development Goals are limited. A new accounting approach anchored upon key physical provisioning systems can help to address these knowledge gaps and facilitate urban transitions.

    • Anu Ramaswami
    • Kangkang Tong
    • Karen C. Seto
  • Awaiting the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to be held in China late in 2021, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary to the CBD, talks to Nature Sustainability about the challenges of stepping up efforts to address biodiversity decline.

    • Monica Contestabile
  • The delayed Tokyo Olympics were promised to be an example of how to stage an ecologically and socially responsible mega-event, but historical evidence and current trends suggest this may not be possible.

  • Staging the Olympics now requires attention to sustainability and urban legacy. Resolving their competing demands rests on recognizing the realities of the host city–IOC relationship.

    • John R. Gold
    • Margaret M. Gold
  • Experts around the world have been informing governments’ plans for a post-pandemic recovery. Leena Srivastava, Deputy Director General for Science at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), and Heide Hackmann, Chief Executive officer at the International Science Council (ISC), talk to Nature Sustainability about the recent joint effort ‘Bouncing forward sustainably. Pathways to a post-COVID world’.

    • Monica Contestabile