Pathways to Sustainability and Green Transformation

Date: 1 April 2015

Venue: University of Antwerp, Stadscampus, Building R, room R007 - Building R, Rodestraat 14 - 2000 Antwerp

Time: 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Short description: Masterclass by Prof Melissa Leach

Climate change, threatened biodiversity, water shortages, epidemic outbreaks, food crisis and land grabbing, persisting poverty and inequality,...  the list of severe challenges to the sustainability of our current ways of living and their use of the planet's resources is long and impressive.  In the face of these challenges, there is a growing recognition of the complexity and the dynamism of the inter-coupled social, economic and technological systems in our increasingly integrated global, but also highly unequal world. Many of the problems are indeed 'wicked problems', characterized by inherent uncertainties and  the involvement of many interdependent stakeholders with their own ambitions, interests, problem framings and resources. In such a context,  expert-based, top-down and piecemeal technological-managerial solutions become very problematic.

This lecture introduces an alternative 'pathways approach' to understanding and action around sustainability, as developed by the STEPS-centre founded by Prof. Leach.  This approach recognizes inevitable biases and gaps in our knowledge frames in the face of sustainability challenges, and tries to take due account of uncertainty and diversity in negotiating pathways to sustainability that are both more effective and adequate in terms of social and environmental justice. The pathways approach can in turn help chart 'green transformations' which are political as much as technical, and must involve new and strengthened alliances between citizens as well as state and market actors.

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