As has become our tradition, we begin this new issue by wishing our readers a happy new year in 2022. This editors’ note introduces volume 12 of Regions & Cohesion, our second as an open access journal. Already we view 2022 as a promising new year. The COVID-19 pandemic is still with us, but we are showing signs of adaptation at different levels. The arrival of the Omicron variant has resulted in fewer fatalities than previous variants. New vaccines and alternative treatments are being developed, and despite numerous logistical, political, and ideological challenges, the percentage of the vaccinated global population is increasing (Shet et al., 2022). These developments, combined with promising research on neonatal immunity and children's immune tolerance indicate that we are heading in the direction of increased resilience.
In past issues, we have highlighted the subjects of vulnerability and resilience. The former refers to our exposure to external shocks, and the latter addresses our abilities to withstand them. Above all, we have emphasized how vulnerabilities and resilience are socially, politically, economically, culturally, and ecologically constructed (Garcia Acosta, 2018; Lucero Álvarez, et. al., 2021). Research published in this journal has shown how systemic inequalities (Agnew, 2020) and unequal access to strategic resources (Azamar Alonso & Maganda Ramírez, 2021) weaken social cohesion, all of which exacerbates vulnerability. Shocks are inevitable, but crises, and their prevention/resolution, are constructed.
This first general issue of 2022 addresses these themes in different ways. The first article (Koff et. al.) was awarded the Robert VH Dover Prize for Best Paper presented at the 2021 International Conference of the Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion–Social Elevation (RISC–RISE). We remember Dr. Robert Dover, a member of Regions and Cohesion's editorial board before his untimely passing, for his humanity, his generous spirit, and his commitment to community engagement. Dr. Dover was an expert on citizen involvement in public health, among other fields. This article, co-authored by a team of researchers and stakeholders, honors him by emphasizing the need to make policy coherence for sustainable development more participative in nature to improve responsiveness to the needs of local communities.
In many ways, the second article presented in this issue also relates to Dr. Dover's legacy in the RISC–RISE Consortium. Vincent's Rollet's analysis of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation's (ASEAN) response to the COVID-19 pandemic emphasizes the gap between “actorness” and “effectiveness” in regional health policymaking. This study notes that important political, economic, and social disparities in Southeast Asia as well as great concern over national sovereignty have negatively affected the regional response toward COVID-19. Nonetheless, the article does recognize important advances in ASEAN's COVID-19 response strategies, and it indicates conditions for the further improvement of regional pandemic response capacity.
The third article, by Ana Laura Pacheco Soriano, Ariane Dor, and Dora Elia Ramos Muñoz, also highlights community engagement. Implementing a transdisciplinary approach, this research describes how a group of scientists (doctos) and people of the coast of Chiapas, Mexico (legos) perceive the Sterile Insect Technique, and it analyzes how knowledge is socially constructed around it. The co-production of knowledge is relevant for both science and effective policymaking. Regions & Cohesion is committed to publishing transdisciplinary research aimed at improving community resilience.
The final scientific article in this issue introduces a different approach to understanding inequalities by incorporating geographic analysis. Anna Mikhaylova and Vasilisa Gorochnaya examine the differences in the impact of urban agglomeration externalities on the development dynamics of different spatial zones of the region of Rostov, Russia. The article indicates that municipalities with an intermediate location in the region are characterized by territorial underperformance. These settlements are not located close enough to the agglomeration core to be attractive for pendulum labor migration and the location of enterprises, and they are not far enough to develop an independent infrastructure system for economic development.
Finally, we are pleased to present another contribution to RISC–RISE's ongoing World Family Portrait initiative. Esther Madrid Morales shares with us her view of Atoyac de Álvarez, Guerrero in Southern Mexico.
Volume 12 of Regions & Cohesion begins with an issue that once again highlights the importance of citizen-based initiatives that address vulnerabilities and promote resilience. As we begin 2022 with guarded optimism concerning the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to note that January 2022 has been characterized by other important challenges. In terms of environmental risk, we have witnessed wildfires in the United States, flooding in Indonesia, and the massive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano in Tonga. Of course, climate change remains an existential threat in the background of these events. Politically, the tension surrounding Russian troop build-up on the border with Ukraine has raised fears of international military conflict. Economically, people throughout the world are contending with supply chain issues, transportation disruptions, and rising inflation. Paradoxically, as we seem to have learned to live with COVID-19, other challenges have emerged that threaten our well-being. For this reason, commitments to dialogue, shared knowledge, and resilience acquire a significance that surpasses our ongoing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Agnew, J. (2020). Revisiting Europe in search of regional cohesion. Regions and Cohesion 10(3), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.3167/reco.2020.100303.
Azamar Alonso, A., & Maganda Ramírez, C. (2021). The 2020 paradox. Regions & Cohesion 11(3), 1–6. https://doi.org/10.3167/reco.2021.110302.
Garcia Acosta, V. (2018). Cohesión social y reducción de riesgos de desastre. Regions & Cohesion 8(1), 107–118. https://doi.org/10.3167/reco.2018.080106.
Lucero Álvarez, A., Alviso, C. R., Frausto Martínez, O., López, J. L. A., Díaz Garay, A., & Reyes Umaña, M. (2021). Recognition of factors that promote resilience to hurricanes. Regions & Cohesion 11(2), 26–56. https://doi.org/10.3167/reco.2021.110203.
Shet, A. et al. (2022). Impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on routine immunisation services: Evidence of disruption and recovery from 170 countries and territories. The Lancet. December 21. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(21)00512-X.