What Could Possibly Go Right? | Interview with Kate RaworthWednesday, 22 September 2021
From Vicki Robin's podcast "What Could Possibly Go Right?"
Roman Krznaric is a public philosopher who writes about the power of ideas to change society. His latest book is The Good Ancestor: How to Think Long Term in a Short Term World. His previous international bestsellers, including Empathy, The Wonderbox and Carpe Diem Regained, have been published in more than 20 languages.
Kate Raworth is a renegade economist focused on making economics fit for 21st century realities. She is the creator of the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries, and co-founder of Doughnut Economics Action Lab.
Together, they address the one core question of “What Could Possibly Go Right?” with thoughts including:
- That Doughnut Economics offers a model to “meet the needs of all people within the means of the Living Planet”.
- That “one of the ways that the world changes is through empathy”, which can overcome our social divides.
- That we need to be good ancestors and “step into the shoes of people in tomorrow’s world as citizens of the future.”
- That recognizing and respecting boundaries is good for our own and the planet’s health, while also being a means to unleash our creativity.
Regenerative Systems Conference -- Coming Soon!Tuesday, 21 September 2021Change-makers are gathering across the nation at The ReGenerative Communities Summit, and we’re inviting you to take your seat at the table. A round-table for doers and dreamers, activists and community leaders, farmers and entrepreneurs, educators and artists, and the multitude of people eager to reimagine and rebuild our world. Please join us in attending the hybrid summit from
Friday, September 24th-Sunday, October 10th!
The virtual summit presents a unique opportunity to amass a movement without financial or geographic borders for local, cultural, and ecosystem sovereignty and healing.
As the climate emergency, social crises, natural and everyday disasters continue to rock our communities, it is now the time to call upon the spirit of “hope with its sleeves rolled up.”
Register to connect and learn with this incredible assembly of national change-makers
Free for Youth + BIPOC visionaries
- Pay-what-you-can for movement builders (suggested donation of $45/registrant) *all proceeds donated to Transition US to support local, regional and programmatic growth for regenerative U.S. communities.
- Get live or recorded access to thought-provoking panels, inspiring speakers, film screenings followed by live discussions, powerful workshops, and more co-creation connections.
Register nowPreview of the events and workshops:
“Regenerative Systems” (Plenary Panel) - Oct 2 from 1-3pmPT/4-6pmET
Understand new and provocative economic and political solutions for a thriving world that supports our communities and builds resilience.“Crisis as Catalyst for Transformation” (Plenary Panel)- Oct 3 from 1-3pm PT/4-6pm ET
Learn how Rupa Maraya, Tom Llewellyn, and Elaine Miller-Karas have transformed depleting energies into innovative solutions for just, resilient and regenerative actions in their communities.Regional Food Systems: Essentials for Resilience (Workshop)- Sept 29 at 5pm PT/ 8pm ET
Trail-blazers like Bryan Deans, Niaz Dorry, and Molly Anderson have responded to corporatized food systems by re-establishing scaled trade routes. Hear their stories and work on your own regional food sovereignty solutions.
and many more! To take a closer look at our schedule please check out the 2021 Regenerative Communities Summit's website. Register nowThank you and gratitude for the Summit's partners and sponsors!Partner Spotlight:"Earthaven Ecovillage is a living laboratory and educational seed bank for a sustainable human future. In the midst of planetary change, the Earthaven experiment helps inform and inspire a global flowering of bio-regionally appropriate cultures."Thank you so much for your time! We hope you have a great weekend!
Transition US Staff
Review of Richard Falk's Autobiography in the Netherlands International Law ReviewThursday, 02 September 2021Check out the new review of Richard Falk's Public Intellectual: The Life of a Citizen Pilgrim in the Netherlands International Law Review. An excerpt is below:
"...This book should be an inspiration to many young lawyers and academics who want to serve justice and not just join the Wall Street rat race, become Washington consultants or work for dubious think tanks. Richard Falk succeeded in combining rigorous legal argument with ethics and common sense. Of course, there is a price to pay for independent thinking and acting, from lost career opportunities to actual hostility including mobbing, defamation and death threats. The young generation of lawyers need not settle for the low-lying fruit, sell out to the ‘establishment’ and engage in the vain pursuit of fame and power. Falk has demonstrated that it is possible to be an independent scholar, a conscientious objector to war, a social progressive, and still have a satisfying legal and personal career, advance legal sensitivities in various fields and contribute to the day-by-day building of a more equitable society that believes in justice at home, peace and justice abroad."
Share | Transformation Catalysts: Weaving Transformational Change for a Flourishing World for AllMonday, 30 August 2021Sandra Waddock has a new article, co-authored with Steve Waddell, in Cadmus entilted "Transformation Catalysts: Weaving Transformational Change for a Flourishing World for All." You can read the excerpt below and the full article here.
This article lays out the emerging roles of new entities here called transformation catalysts (TCs). Transformation catalysts act catalytically by aggregating, cohering and amplifying actions of transformation initiatives and change-makers working towards fundamental socio-ecological systems. As catalysts, TCs connect other actors synergistically together towards system innovation, alignment of efforts, and transformation. TCs make three distinctive contributions to address the purposeful transformation challenges of time span, speed, scale, and complexity. They (1) research and analyze to ‘see’, map and otherwise understand their transformations systems’ participants and dynamics; (2) they connect the transformations systems’ actors so they, too, see and identify highly strategic actions from a collective perspective, and (3) support implementation of the actions. Although their development faces significant challenges, the promise of TCs as a new organizational form is the ability to much more rapidly and effectively address socio-ecological crises.
She also recently penned an article for Sustainability entitled "Reframing and Transforming Economics around Life." You read it here and find the abstract below.
This article offers a framework for economics that affirms life to replace the flawed yet
dominant paradigm of neoliberal economics. Building an argument for a new set of core memes—core ideas that are the building blocks of stories and narratives (like neoliberalism)—this article presents a proposed set of economics memes that support life drawn from a wide range of sources. The framework’s six memes are: stewardship of the whole; co-creating collective value; governance through cosmopolitan-localism; regeneration, reciprocity, and circularity; relationship and connectedness; and equitable markets and trade, all of which are consistent in supporting other recent economics framings like ‘doughnut economics’.
Book Review: Decolonizing PoliticsThursday, 26 August 2021Chella Rajan recently reviewed Decolonizing Politics: An Introduction by Robbie Shilliam for the LSE Review of Books.
You can read the full article here and an overview below.
In Decolonizing Politics: An Introduction, Robbie Shilliam explores the colonial and racist logics enfolded within the history of political thought while also identifying decolonising moves within the discipline. Recontextualising and reconceptualising the intellectual roots and routes of political science, this book is infused with new possibilities and optimism, providing practical solutions for scholars keen to go beyond power-laden racialised and gendered categories of thinking, writes Sudhir Chella Rajan.
Radical Climate Justice for the Global Commons: A Nearly-Carbon Neutral Online ConferenceThursday, 26 August 2021Radical Climate Justice for the Global Commons
A Nearly-Carbon Neutral Online Conference
October 4-25, 2021
UCSB EJ/CJ Research Hub
Dear friends and colleagues, activists, students and teachers moved by the climate crisis we are in, you are all invited to attend and participate in the UC Santa Barbara Environmental and Climate Justice Hub’s conference, “Radical Climate Justice for the Global Commons,” which opens on Monday, October 4 and will run till Monday, October 25.
The call is below, and you can see the full call here: https://ejcj.orfaleacenter.ucsb.edu/2021-call-for-participation/
To contribute to the conference, please send by Saturday, August 28 an abstract/proposal of 100 words for your pre-recorded individual talk or a whole panel along with a brief biographical note on the speaker(s).
Please send your abstracts and any questions to John Foran (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This conference invites pre-recorded talks and panel conversations devoted to concrete proposals and analyses addressing our cascading crises, assessing the kinds of movements that we have or need now, and imagining how we might connect both crises and movements in a common struggle for a better, more life-affirming and just global commons and future.
Final videos of 8-15 minutes per speaker or 60-90 minutes for a panel discussion will be due on Monday, September 20. We encourage international submissions!
In addition to the theme of Radical Climate Justice for the Global Commons, we hope to create spaces for real-time discussion and analysis of the People’s Assemblies to prepare for COP 26, the current state of the pandemic, and the unforeseeable events that will occur everywhere between now and then.
We welcome your proposals, analyses, visions, and practices in hopes of radicalizing climate justice for the global commons we seek to co-create. Let us be bold, creative, and brave – and come together in October 2021 to see how much of this we can do!
Brian Tokar: "The IPCC Report: Key Findings and Radical Implications"Monday, 23 August 2021Brian Tokar has a new article in Climate & Capitalism about the implicatins of the latest IPCC report. Read an excerpt below and the full article here.
The report affirms much of what we already knew about the state of the global climate, but does so with considerably more clarity and precision than earlier reports. It removes several elements of uncertainty from the climate picture, including some that have wrongly served to reassure powerful interests and the wider public that things may not be as bad as we thought. The IPCC’s latest conclusions reinforce and significantly strengthen all the most urgent warnings that have emerged from the past 30 to 40 years of climate science. It deserves to be understood much more fully than most media outlets have let on, both for what it says, and also what it doesn’t say about the future of the climate and its prospects for the integrity of all life on earth.
Scholarships for Research into Capitalism from a Commons LensMonday, 23 August 2021If you know of any brilliant young students with a BA or MA degree from any background interested in a unique experience of critical multidisciplinary understanding of capitalism from a commons perspective, please tell them to apply at www.iuctorino.it .
Classes start in January 2022 and thy continue through July
Rasigan Maharah in the "Errant Journal"Friday, 20 August 2021Rasigan Maharajh has a new article -- "A Vaccine against Intellectual Hubris?" -- in the second issue of the new Errant Journal. You can read it here.
The Web of Meaning: Integrating Science and Traditional Wisdom to Find Our Place In the UniverseThursday, 19 August 2021Jeremy Lent's news book The Web of Meaning: Integrating Science and Traditional Wisdom to Find Our Place In the Universe was just published and is available for purchase here.
We need a new story. Our civilization is careening rapidly toward a precipice. Climate breakdown, ecological degradation, and gaping inequalities are symptoms of an underlying pathology: the worldview of the dominant culture that has brought us to this crisis. It’s a worldview based on disconnection, telling us that we’re each split within ourselves between mind and body; that as individuals we’re separate from each other; and that a fundamental gap exists between humans and the rest of the natural world.
This worldview has passed its expiration date. It was formed in seventeenth-century Europe, and is based on a series of flawed myths that have been superseded by modern findings in science. It is causing enormous unnecessary suffering throughout the globe and driving our civilization toward collapse.
The Web of Meaning offers a rigorous and intellectually solid foundation for an alternative worldview based on connectedness, showing how modern scientific knowledge echoes the ancient wisdom of earlier cultures. Weaving together findings from modern systems thinking, evolutionary biology, and cognitive neuroscience with insights from Buddhism, Taoism, and Indigenous wisdom, it offers a coherent and integrated worldview that could enable humanity to flourish on the Earth harmoniously into the future.
The book presents a new story of meaning, pointing to a central core of wisdom that people have known throughout history but was obliterated by the mainstream European tradition—the understanding that, at the deepest levels, we are all interconnected. It lays out the framework for a new integrated global consciousness, based on an underlying and all-infusing recognition of connectedness: within ourselves, with other humans, and with the entire natural world. Living with this deep realization, we find ourselves at home in the universe—and are naturally driven to engage in the transformation to the life-affirming future our civilization desperately needs.
The Imperial Mode of Living: Everyday Life and the Ecological Crisis of CapitalismThursday, 19 August 2021Ulrich Brand is the co-author (with Markus Wissen) of the new book The Imperial Mode of Living: Everyday Life and the Ecological Crisis of Capitalism, published by Verso. You can order a copy here and read a description below.
With the concept of the Imperial Mode of Living, Brand and Wissen highlight the fact that capitalism implies uneven development as well as a constant and accelerating universalisation of a Western mode of production and living. The logic of liberal markets since the nineteenth century, and especially since World War II, has been inscribed into everyday practices that are usually unconsciously reproduced. The authors show that they are a main driver of the ecological crisis and economic and political instability.
The Imperial Mode of Living implies that people’s everyday practices, including individual and societal orientations, as well as identities, rely heavily on the unlimited appropriation of resources; a disproportionate claim on global and local ecosystems and sinks; and cheap labour from elsewhere. This availability of commodities is largely organised through the world market, backed by military force and/or the asymmetric relations of forces as they have been inscribed in international institutions. Moreover, the Imperial Mode of Living implies asymmetrical social relations along class, gender and race within the respective countries. Here too, it is driven by the capitalist accumulation imperative, growth-oriented state policies and status consumption. The concrete production conditions of commodities are rendered invisible in the places where the commodities are consumed.
"They Knew The US Federal Government's Fifty-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis "Gus Speth's new book They Knew: The US Federal Government's Fifty-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis comes out later this month -- August 24th. You can order a copy here.
In 2015, a group of twenty-one young people sued the federal government in Juliana v. United States for violating their constitutional rights by promoting climate catastrophe and thereby depriving them of life, liberty, and property without due process and equal protection of law. They Knew offers evidence supporting the children's claims, presenting a devastating and compelling account of the federal government's role in bringing about today's climate crisis. James Gustave Speth, tapped by the plaintiffs as one of twenty-one preeminent experts in their climate case, analyzes how administrations from Carter to Trump—despite having information about the impending climate crisis and the connection to fossil fuels—continued aggressive support of a fossil fuel based energy system.What did the federal government know and when did it know it? Speth asks, echoing another famous cover-up. What did the federal government actively do and what did it fail to do? They Knew (an updated version of the Expert Report Speth prepared for the lawsuit) presents the most definitive indictment yet of the US government's role in the climate crisis.Since Juliana v. United States was filed, the federal government has repeatedly taken unprecedented steps to delay the case and force it to the appellate courts' shadow dockets. Yet as the case progresses slowly but certainly, it is inspiring a generation of youthful climate activists.
"From Planetary to Social Boundaries"Friday, 30 July 2021Several GTN members were among the co-authors of a new article "From planetary to societal boundaries: an argument for collectively defined self-limitation" in Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy: Marlyne Sahakian, Ashish Kothari, Clive Spash, Thomas Jahn, Giorgos Kallis, Vishawas Satgar, and Michelle Williams.
The article critiques and expands upon the framework of planetary boundaries, asserting the importance of a social dimension to such a framework of limits:
The planetary boundaries concept has profoundly changed the vocabulary and representation of global environmental issues. We bring a critical social science perspective to this framework through the notion of societal boundaries and aim to provide a more nuanced understanding of the social nature of thresholds. We start by highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of planetary boundaries from a social science perspective. We then focus on capitalist societies as a heuristic for discussing the expansionary dynamics, power relations, and lock-ins of modern societies that impel highly unsustainable societal relations with nature. While formulating societal boundaries implies a controversial process ‒ based on normative judgments, ethical concerns, and socio-political struggles ‒ it has the potential to offer guidelines for a just, social-ecological transformation. Collective autonomy and the politics of self-limitation are key elements of societal boundaries and are linked to important proposals and pluriverse experiences to integrate well-being and boundaries. The role of the state and propositions for radical alternative approaches to well-being have particular importance. We conclude with reflections on social freedom, defined as the right not to live at others’ expense. Toward the aim of defining boundaries through transdisciplinary and democratic processes, we seek to open a dialogue on these issues.
Diversifying Power – A MAHB Dialogue with Jennie C. StephensFriday, 23 July 2021Jennie Stephens was recently interviewed by the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and Biosphere. You can read the interview here and an excerpt below.
Diversity matters in climate and energy policy because for too long, concerns of vulnerable communities have been minimized and dismissed while white-male-dominated-fossil-fuel interests have profited from exploiting marginalized people. Without diverse leadership, the United States has invested in concentrating wealth and power by supporting the “polluter elite” rather than investing in the basic needs of people and communities. Research shows us that when women, people of color, and indigenous folks show up in leadership spaces where they have been historically excluded, they bring with them different lived experiences and different perceptions of risk that lead to more socially just outcomes. Research also shows that more diverse teams, more diverse organizations, and more diverse sectors are more innovative. For the transformative changes that are needed to effectively respond to the climate crisis and equitable transition to a renewable-based future, diverse leadership is essential.
Marjorie Kelly: "Scaling up employee ownership is key to an equitable economic recovery"Friday, 16 July 2021Marjorie Kelly co-authored a recent article in Fast Company about the role that employee ownership coul play in the economic recovery. Read an excerpt below and the full article here.
Despite these benefits, the number of employee-owned U.S. firms has not grown for decades. What’s needed to scale up conversions, we argue in our new report, Opportunity Knocking, is risk capital, similar to the kind that the Fund for Employee Ownership provided to Phoenix Coffee. Our research found about a dozen such investment funds in existence or being launched to finance employee ownership conversions, many offering investors midrange annual returns of 12 percent to 15 percent. These funds are financed by a growing group of impact investors (whose assets under management reached $715 billion in 2019) committed to using investments to drive social change. Such impact investing in employee ownership could become the lever to redirect wealth into the hands of working Americans, creating a more equitable economy that is more resilient against future shocks.
Opportunity Knocking: Impact capital as the transformative agent to take employee ownership to scaleFriday, 16 July 2021“Opportunity Knocking: Impact capital as the transformative agent to take employee ownership to scale.” This Dec. 2020 report – the result of two years’ research funded by a Rutgers University fellowship – suggests a bold new approach for the decades-long stalled growth of employee ownership. Instead of an information approach – persuading exiting owners to consider employee ownership – authors Marjorie Kelly and Jessica Rose suggest what is needed is a capital approach: organized capital that can become “the knock upon the door,” like private equity is, simply asking owners if they wish to sell, and having the capital available to make it happen, then preparing the company and exiting to employee ownership. The report includes a look at dozen emerging funds taking this approach.
Read the full report at https://democracycollaborative.org/learn/publication/opportunity-knocking-impact-capital-transformative-agent-take-employee-ownership.
Gus Speth in the New York TimesFriday, 16 July 2021Gus Speth recently had a letter to the editor printed in the New York Times. Read it below (and linked here).
To the Editor:
On May 30 of this year, carbon dioxide levels at the measuring site atop Mauna Loa, in Hawaii, reached 420 parts per million, or 50 percent above the preindustrial level. Forty years have passed since The Times carried an article warning of the grave risks of allowing carbon dioxide to exceed that level.
The study covered in your article was issued by the Carter administration, in one of its last acts. It was widely appreciated four decades ago that climate protection required strong government action. Those of us working on the issue even knew enough to hazard a guess at an upper limit that should not be exceeded (though we were too lenient, later work would reveal).
We have now had decades of gross dereliction of civic responsibility by the federal government, and greenhouse gases continue steadily to build in the atmosphere. We Americans are faced today with a great test of whether we care enough for our children to finally act. We will be late but at least not absent.
James Gustave Speth
The writer was chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality in the Carter administration and is the author of the forthcoming book “They Knew: The U.S. Federal Government’s 50-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis.”
"The Sharing Economy: Rhetoric and Reality"Friday, 16 July 2021Juliet Schor co-authored a new article in the Annual Review of Sociology entitled "The Sharing Economy: Rhetoric and Reality." You can read the full article here and the abstract below.
The sharing economy is transforming economies around the world, entering markets for lodging, ride hailing, home services, and other sectors that previously lacked robust person-to-person alternatives. Its expansion has been contentious and its meanings polysemic. It launched with a utopian discourse promising economic, social, and environmental benefits, which critics have questioned. In this review, we discuss its origins and intellectual foundations, internal tensions, and appeal for users. We then turn to impacts, focusing on efforts to generate user trust through digital means, tendency to reconfigure and exacerbate class and racial inequalities, and failure to reduce carbon footprints. Though the transformative potential of the sharing economy has been limited by commercialization and more recently by the pandemic, its kernel insight—that digital technology can support logics of reciprocity—retains its relevance even now.
Herman Daly: "The dual nature of money: why monetary systems matter for equitable bioeconomy"Friday, 16 July 2021Herman Daly co-authored a recent article for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, entitled "The dual nature of money: why monetary systems matter for equitable bioeconomy." You can read the abstract below and the full piece here.
Money can be understood from an individual perspective as an abstract form of wealth. From a communal perspective, however, money is better regarded as a debt, a biophysical liability, a lien on future real income of the community. Proper recognition of this dual nature raises concerns over modern, aggressive practices of money creation. It provokes a general reassessment of current institutional agreements surrounding money. In this contribution, said agreements are shown to endow money with an unnatural power to preserve its function despite structural decay. The origin of money interest derives from such institutionally given, unnatural power, where it should be noted that interest itself leads to a strong temptation among entities with money issuance rights to issue more and more. Ultimately, considered together, the dual nature of money and the biophysical origin of money interest provoke the need for a societal reappraisal of which entities should properly be given the right to create money, and which are functioning as “legal counterfeiters”. If a transition towards a more sustainable, more equitable bioeconomy is to be realized one day, discussion over who those entities are and what their rightful role is must be reopened.
Jayati Ghosh: "The G7's tax reform could entrench global inequality"Thursday, 15 July 2021In a new article for International Policy and Society entitled "The G7's tax reform could entrench global inequality," Jayati Ghosh argues that the G7 tax reform deal doesn't live up to the hype around it:
The G7 compromise (in its ‘second pillar’ of the tax proposal) has led to a dramatically lower minimum rate of ‘at least 15 per cent’, close to the very low rates of tax havens like Ireland and Switzerland. It would lead to dramatically lower tax revenues as well: estimates by the EU Tax Observatory suggest that projected revenues for the European Union, for example, would decline from €167.8bn at 25 per cent, to €98bn at 21 per cent to only Euro €48.3 bn at 15 per cent. For the US, the projected decline in revenues is from €165.4bn at 25 per cent to €104.4 bn at 21 per cent to only €40.7 bn at 15 per cent.
It is remarkable that G7 governments are willing to give up so much potential tax revenue that could be usefully deployed for major social and physical investment, simply because of the lobbying power of large corporations. Clearly, the public in these countries is either unaware or unwilling to demand a more just outcome.
You can read the full analysis here and listen to Ghosh speak on a panel about this topic here.
Ashish Kothari: "The 'Net Zero' Greewash"Thursday, 15 July 2021In his new article "The 'Net Zero' Greenwash" in Wall Street International, Ashish Kothari highlights the underlying flaws of the rhetoric and promises around "net zero":
Firstly, a mindset that equates pollution emitted or forest cut in one place to pollution absorbed or afforestation done elsewhere, is ecologically and socially ignorant (or willfully negligent). This comes from a flawed view that the climate crisis is only about carbon and that a forest is only a collection of trees, a grassland a collection of grass, a wetland a body of water with fish in it. The emissions of a thermal power station are not only carbon dioxide, but other gases and liquid effluents, with their own hazards to human and environment health. How can capturing an equivalent amount of carbon somewhere else, possibly compensate for the other emissions (or for the impacts of associated activities such as coal mining, fracking, pipelines, transmission lines)? Similarly, in the case of biodiversity, a rainforest is a complex of thousands of species and varieties (many of which we may not even have yet identified or described), and there is no human mechanism that can it possibly be replicated elsewhere, certainly not in any short time-span. The same for complex grasslands, wetlands, coastal and marine areas, and other natural ecosystems.
Read the full article here.
New Conceptions of Sufficient Home Size in High-Income Countries: Are We Approaching a Sustainable Consumption Transition?Thursday, 01 July 2021Maurie Cohen has a new article in Housing, Theory and Society entitled "New Conceptions of Sufficient Home Size in High-Income Countries: Are We Approaching a Sustainable Consumption Transition?" You can read it here and find the abstract below.
Housing plays a significant role in impelling demand for natural resources and driving economic growth in high-income countries. Public policies, commercial prerogatives, and other inducements have encouraged construction and occupancy of ever-larger homes and this pattern has persisted in the face of decreasing household size, declining fertility, ageing populations, and increasing complexity of domestic relationships. This situation has created a perverse mismatch between available housing stocks and residential requirements. Additionally, imperatives to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions and to hasten progress on the United Nations 2030 Agenda demand new planning priorities. Building on the sufficiency turn in the field of sustainable consumption, this paper first formulates parameters for estimating an environmentally tenable and globally equitable amount of per person living area. It then highlights five emblematic cases of “space-efficient” housing. While acknowledging that prevalent spatial norms are evolving, the conclusion discusses the profound challenges of achieving a successful sustainable consumption transition.
Earth Day Special with Prof. Maurie CohenThursday, 22 April 2021From Anna Chashchyna's podcast:
On this special day, Earth Day of 2021, we are looking 30 years back at what has been achieved in terms of sustainable development since Rio-1992, how sustainable consumption developed over the years and what lead to the relatively recent shift towards minimalism and zero-waste movement.
We speak with Prof. Maurie Cohen about what environmental policy means, who has the power to change the world, and what was first – life or the instruction how to live it.
Financing for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement: The UN Ecosystem of Initiatives on Private Sector FinanceThursday, 15 July 2021On July 13, 2021, on the virtual sidelines of the 2021 United Nations High-level Forum on Sustainable Development in New York – the HLPF, Stakeholder Forum and New World Frontiers held an HLPF ‘Pop-up’ Side Event to launch a new paper:
Financing for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement: The UN Ecosystem of Initiatives on Private Sector Finance
A RECORDING OF THAT SIDE EVENT CAN BE FOUND HERE. AND THE PRESENTATIONS, A SINGLE PDF FILE, HERE.
About the paper:
This timely paper is an overview of the UN Ecosystem of Initiatives on the private sector finance role in helping to finance the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. The delivery of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been estimated by several organizations, from the World Bank to the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, to be in the region of US$3-$5 trillion annually. This dwarfs the contribution from Overseas Development aid, which is in the region of US$150 billion annually.
The financing for the SDGs and the Paris Agreement will need a refocusing of private sector finance. In that context, this paper explores the state of the UN ecosystem of initiatives on private sector finance in support of this.
The realignment of private sector finance to support sustainable development and to stop funding activities that take us in the wrong direction has accelerated since the 2012 Rio+20 conference, the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (2015), the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, and the Paris Agreement.
2021 has seen action on fossil fuel company boards where, recently, three directors committing to move them towards renewables (EXXON-Mobile) have been elected. And a Netherlands court ruled that the Royal Dutch Shell company needs to slash its greenhouse gas emissions. Moody’s estimated in 2019 that the total green bond market was heading to $250 billion with the COVID recovery packages being built around green technology; this is going to increase substantively in the coming years.
Moderated by Charles Nouhan, Chairman, Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future, the expert panel included a number of the authors of this timely document:
- Felix Dodds, Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina, USA, a contributor to and editor of the paper
- Krishnan Sharma, Chief, Strategic Engagement Unit, Financing for Sustainable Development Office, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
- Olcay Patrycja Tetik, Knowledge Management, and Communications Specialist at the United Nations Development Programme SDG Finance Sector Hub
- Marie Morice, Head of Sustainable Finance United Nations Global Compact
- Tony Bonnici, Officer in Charge Cooperation and Partnerships Section, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
- Raymond Landveld, Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, New York Office
- Liesel Van Ast, Membership and Regional Co-ordination Manager, United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative
New Book: Tomorrow's People and New TechnologyThursday, 15 July 2021Felix Dodds is the co-editor of a new edited collection "Tomorrow's People and New Technology: Changing How We Live our Lives". You can order a copy here --- see flyer below for a discount code.The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by the emergence of new technologies that are blurring the boundaries between the physical, the digital, and the biological worlds. This book allows readers to explore how these technologies will impact peoples’ lives by 2030. Providing an indication of what the world might look likein 2030, this book is essential reading for students, scholars, professionals, and policymakers interested in the nexus between emerging technologies and sustainabledevelopment, politics and society, and global governance.
Felix Dodds on the Glasgow Climate SummitThursday, 15 July 2021Felix Dodds has been chronicling the political jockeying in the lead-up to the COP-27 Glasgow Climate Summit this fall.
Read some of his recent articles:
Why Stakeholder Coalitions Could Be Key to the Glasgow Climate Summit’s Success" (May 27)
"Why Mixed Messages Could Turn Boris Johnson’s Glasgow Climate Summit Dream into a Nightmare" (June 11)
Why Do We Buy? -- Juliet Schor in VoxWednesday, 07 July 2021Juliet Schor was recently interviewed in Vox about the question of why we buy what we do. The interviewer opens,
"I recently spoke with Juliet Schor, a sociologist at Boston College, about the history of modern American consumerism — what it’s rooted in, how it’s evolved, and how different groups of people have experienced it. Schor, who is the author of books on consumerism, wealth, and spending, has a bit of a unique view on the matter. She tends to focus on the roles of work, inequality, and social pressures in determining what people buy and when. In her view, marketers have less to do with what we want than, say, our neighbors, coworkers, or the people we follow on social media."
Read the full interview here.
Launch of the Social GuaranteeWednesday, 23 June 2021Social Guarantee Launch Event
Thursday 1 July 6-7 pm (online)
This is the new initiative that develops work we have been doing on Universal Basic Services (UBS) and on the social dimension of the Green New Deal. We are working in partnership with the New Economics Foundation and the Institute for Global Prosperity at UCL to build both theory and practice.
The Social Guarantee enshrines every person’s right to life’s essentials: a stable planet, education, health and social care, a decent home, childcare, nutritious food, clean air and water, energy, transport and access to the internet. For this to happen, everyone must have access to services that meet their needs as well as to a fair living income. Please join us at 6pm on Thursday 1st July as we discuss why we need a Social Guarantee – what it means, why it matters and how it can be put into practice.
We have a great line-up of speakers: Ann Pettifor - Award winning economist and author of The Case for The Green New Deal, Kate Raworth - Renegade economist and creator of Doughnut Economics, Georgia Gould - Leader of Camden Council and Chaitanya Kumar - Head of Environment and Green Transition at the New Economics Foundation. The event will be chaired by Maeve Cohen – Project Officer, The Social Guarantee.
For any enquiries contact email@example.com.
OPINION: G7 leaders should end not just coal, but also oil and gas finance in 2021Thursday, 10 June 2021Ahead of the G7 summit, more than 100 economists issued a letter calling on G7 countries to commit to shift their finance out of all fossil fuels (not just coal) this year, to enable a green pandemic recovery.
You can read the full letter here.
Among the signers were GTN members Andrew Simms, Ashok Khosla, Inge Røpke, Juliet Schor, Kate Raworth, Michael Pirson, and Neva Goodwin.
"These Alternative Economies Are Inspirations for a Sustainable World"Thursday, 10 June 2021Ashish Kothari has a new article in Scientific American entitled "These Alternative Economies Are Inspirations for a Sustainable World," in which he talks about efforts on the ground to build alternatives to corporate globalization and how they outline a path forward.
As Kothari argues, "To walk away from the cliff edge of irreversible destabilization of the biosphere, I believe we must enable alternative structures, such as those of the Dalit farmers, the Quechua conservers and the Lisbon volunteers, to flourish and link up into a tapestry that ultimately covers the globe."
Great Transition on ClubHouseMonday, 07 June 2021
I have joined many clubs in Clubhouse, including the European Union club, with 3,600 members. In the European Union club, I have started rooms with topics such as (1) What do all human beings have in common? (2) Is love for the world the best patriotism? (3) Can the European Union be a model for a World Parliament? and (4) Should UN ambassadors be elected by popular vote?
I have talked in Clubhouse rooms about globalization, the future of the world, and the Great Transition with people in Siberia, Ulaanbaatar, Kathmandu, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Jakarta, Bangkok, Mumbai, Tehran, Riyadh, Cairo, Lagos, and Istanbul, as well as with people in lots of places in Europe and the Americas. Many of the people I talk with are in their 20's, so they may well be alive in 2084. Because club members can recommend new members, club membership can expand rapidly. The Creative Executive Officers club has 75,000 members, the Tech Talks club has 70,000 members, and the Community Club has 31,000 members.
Recently, I started a new club on Clubhouse called "Great Transition." As of June 7, 2021, the club had the following description and 71 members:
The World in 2084: A Brief Summary of Paul Raskin's New Paradigm Scenario
Paul Raskin's 2016 Journey to Earthland presents six possible scenarios for the world in the latter half of the 21st Century. His most hopeful scenario, the New Paradigm, may be possible, but only if humanity successfully and significantly changes its current direction.
Commitment to the New Paradigm requires understanding what it is, why it is much better than the alternatives, and what we can do today to help realize it. The purpose of this summary is to introduce the scenario, provide an initial basis for discussing it, and encourage people to read Journey to Earthland. Here is a link to download a free pdf of the book or to purchase it: https://greattransition.org/publication/journey-to-earthland?
Pages 71 to 108 of Journey to Earthland present a description of the New Paradigm in 2084. (Raskin chose 2084 because it is 100 years after George Orwell's dystopian future, 1984.) In Raskin's 2084, people still face real problems, so the world is not a utopia. It is, however, much more sustainable, just, and secure than in 2020. The dominant values have changed from consumerism, individualism, and exploitation of the natural world to quality of life, solidarity with others, and harmony with the natural world.
The goal of accumulating ever more individual material wealth has been replaced by the goal of having a high quality of life in a world where everyone's basic material needs are satisfied. "Enough is enough" and "enough for all" (page 76). This has led to great reductions in wealth and income disparity through changes in tax policies. It has also led to time affluence through productivity increases, reductions in unnecessary production, and full employment policies. "Workweeks in the formal economy typically range from 12 to 18 hours" (page 97). The desire for money is giving way to the cultivation of artistic skills, personal relationships, and wellness of body, mind, and spirit.
World population has stabilized at just less than 8 billion people, far less than the 10 billion or more peak the UN projected in 2020. Universal education and healthcare, combined with more equitable economic policies, have reduced population growth even while increasing life expectancy.
Raskin divides the Great Transition from 1980 to 2084 into five stages: Takeoff (1980-2001), Rolling Crisis (2001-2023), General Emergency (2023-2028), Reform Era (2028-2048), and Commonwealth of Earthland (2048-2084).
To join Clubhouse and become a member of the Great Transition club, click this link:
Chronicle of a Tectonic Year – Point of No Return, Or Returning to Our True Wholeness?
Kavita Byrd has just published a new book, a compilation of 25 articles she wrote from lockdown in rural India during the first momentous year of the coronavirus pandemic: Chronicle of a Tectonic Year – Point of No Return, Or Returning to Our True Wholeness? Tracing the pivotal arc of events unfolding during this world-changing time, and responding to them in real-time, Kavita brings a spiritual and holistic perspective to how we can meet our crises with grace, wisdom, love and vision, co-creating a new regenerative world of interconnection, justice, thriving and wholeness. The book is available here, or GTI members can get a free PDF copy by contacting Kavita at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is an excerpt from the first article, which also appeared on the GTI Forum “After the Pandemic: Which Future?” in May 2020: “There is no going back to normal... Either we allow ourselves to be herded into a new totalitarian age, where all our rights and freedoms are taken away, and we are subjected to repeated lockdowns and martial control as further collapses hurtle down the pipeline – or we assert massive resistance to that trajectory and take it into our own power to create another one, based on entirely different values, ones that can actually save us – love, cooperation and caring, simplicity, community, interconnectedness, a sacred reverence for the preciousness of our existence and the whole web of life that sustains us.”
She also has a new article which continues on these themes: “Mistaking the Problems for the Solutions: Reversing the Fatal Flaw Behind Our Proliferating Crises”, contrasting the dangers of top-down, man-made agendas with sustainable solutions in cooperation with each other and nature.
Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our PlanetTuesday, 01 June 2021
Johan Rockström has a new documentary coming out on Netflix this summer, entitled Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet. With Sir David Attenborough, he narrates the story of how humans are increasingly encroaching on planetary boundaries and, importantly, how we still have time to chart a more sustainable direction -- if we act quickly.
Beyond the Knowledge Crisis: A Synthesis Framework for Socio-Environmental Studies and Guide to Social ChangeFriday, 28 May 2021Debbie Kasper has a new book out: Beyond the Knowledge Crisis: A Synthesis Framework for Socio-Environmental Studies and Guide to Social Change (Palgrave MacMillan 2021).
Read a description below, and use the the following token on https://www.palgrave.com/ to order a copy: p85nMkF7YyDyjxT / Valid Jun 1, 2021 – Jun 29, 2021
In the face of complex, interwoven, planet-scale problems, many cite the need for more integrated knowledge—especially across the natural and social sciences. Excessive specialization, they argue, gets in the way of knowing what we know, much less being able to use it to address urgent socio-environmental crises. These concerns, it turns out, go back centuries. This book picks up where most leave off, exploring the history of how we got here and proposing a way forward. Along the way, readers find that the synthesis long called for depends on theoretical advancements in social science. Fortunately, the author argues, we have everything we need to achieve those advancements. Integrating insights from history, science, sociological theory, and more, this book neatly packages the upgraded paradigm we need to be able to meaningfully address complex socio-environmental problems and more intentionally shape humanity’s collective future.
From win-win to net zero: would the real sustainability please stand up?Friday, 21 May 2021
Ducan Austin has a new article in the Responsible Investor, entitled "From win-win to net zero: would the real sustainability please stand up?" In it, he argues that conventional "win-win" approaches to corporate sustainability rely on a narrow view of sustainability as "more sustainable than before" and fail to grapple with ecological limits.
With today’s clash between the demands of net zero and the hopes of win-win, we have reached the decisive moment. Contrary to early hopes that a win-win narrative might stimulate sufficient voluntary action to constitute ‘enough sustainability’, the learning has emphatically been that win-win cannot scale to deliver enough ecological improvement, fast enough. This difficult truth can no longer be ignored.
The challenge for all organisations aspiring to be sustainable – from governments to businesses to non-profits – is to clarify for themselves and their various stakeholders what definition of sustainability they intend to work to. Are they ‘more sustainable than before’ organisations or are they organisations committed to creating a world that is ‘sustainable enough before it is too late’?
The ramifications are enormous. To persist with the former definition, which has been the tacit default for the sustainable business movement, is to propagate an increasingly untenable win-win narrative that suppresses the recognition of the emergency situation we now face. It also perpetuates complacency about economic growth at a time when most growth is not green at all and ecological thresholds are fast approaching. In contrast, to adopt the latter definition is to accept we now must do everything possible to catalyse science-based policies and behavioural change, and work back from there to new definitions of ‘growth’ and ‘profit’.
Moreover, the situation is not static. In a race against time, every moment of inaction, or even of insufficient action, is effectively a costly delay. We are fast approaching the time when ‘more sustainable than before’ is ‘not sustainable at all’.
The Corruption of CapitalismWednesday, 19 May 2021
Guy Standing's The Corruption of Capitalism: Why Rentiers Thrive and Work Does Not Pay is now available in its third edition, which encompasses debates around the pandemic slump and Brexit. You can read a description of the book below and order a copy here.
There is a lie at the heart of global capitalism. Politicians, financiers and global bureaucrats claim to believe in free competitive markets, but have constructed the most unfree market system ever.
It is corrupt because income is channelled to the owners of property – financial, physical and intellectual – at the expense of society.
The classic book reveals how global capitalism is rigged in favour of rentiers to the detriment of the precariat and others, an inequity that has been made starker by the advent of coronavirus. A plutocracy and elite enriches itself, not through production of goods and services, but through ownership of assets and the privatisation of public services. Meanwhile, wages stagnate as labour markets are transformed by outsourcing, automation and the on-demand economy, generating more rental income while expanding the precariat.
Guy Standing also has a new article, "Why we should support the vaccine waiver," in the Progressive Economy Forum--available here. In the article, Standing argues that "the global patent system needs to be dismantled in its entirety," using the current debates about intellectual property rights and the COVID-19 vaccine as an illustrative example.
Threats: Intimidation and Its DiscontentsWednesday, 19 May 2021
David Barash has a new book Threats: Intimidation and Its Discontents, published last October by Oxford University Press. You can order a copy here and read the description below:
From hurricanes and avalanches to diseases and car crashes, threats are everywhere. Beyond objective threats like these, there are also subjective ones: situations in which individuals threaten each other or feel threatened by society. Animals, too, make substantial use of threats. Evolution manipulates threats like these in surprising ways, leading us to question the ethics of honest versus dishonest communication. Rarely acknowledged--and yet crucially important--is the fact that humans, animals, and even plants don't only employ threats, they often respond with counter-threats that ultimately make things worse. By exploring the dynamic of threat and counter-threat, this book expands on many fraught human situations, including the fear of death, of strangers, and of "the other." Each of these leads to unique challenges, such as the specter of eternal damnation, the murderous culture of guns and capital punishment, and the emergence of right-wing nationalist populism. Most worrisome is the illusory security of deterrence, the idea that we can use the threat of nuclear war to prevent nuclear war!
Threats are so widespread that we often don't realize how deeply they are ingrained in our minds or how profoundly and counter-productively they operate. Animals, humans, societies, and even countries internalize threats, behind which lie a myriad of intriguing questions: How do we know when to take a threat seriously? When do threats make things worse? Can they make things better? What can we do to use them wisely rather than destructively? In a comprehensive exploration into questions like these, noted scientist David P. Barash explains some of the most important characteristics of life as we know it.
Post Growth: Life After CapitalismMonday, 17 May 2021Capitalism is broken. The relentless pursuit of more has delivered climate catastrophe, social inequality and financial instability – and left us ill-prepared for life in a global pandemic. Tim Jackson’s passionate and provocative book dares us to imagine a world beyond capitalism – a place where relationship and meaning take precedence over profits and power. Post Growth is both a manifesto for system change and an invitation to rekindle a deeper conversation about the nature of the human condition. You can order a copy here.
The Fascinating Memoir of a “Citizen Pilgrim”: Q&A with Richard FalkMonday, 10 May 2021
Check out the new interview in Counterpunch with Richard Falk about his new book. Read the full interview here and an excerpt below.Will this happen? We should know from experience that the future unfolds in unpredictable ways. There are hints that there are active cultural tremors seeking transition to an ecologically oriented civilization. There are also contradictory signs that the human species has no collective will to survive beyond its own mortality. My response is that since the future is unknowable and has given rise throughout history to major unpredicted changes for better and worse, we have no excuse but to struggle as best we can for the future we prefer. We are living in an unprecedented time in human history signaled by geologists and others identifying this epoch as the Anthropocene in recognition of the fact that human activity has the capability to impact on the basic ecological balances of the earth. In this sense, the necessary utopia as seen from the perspective of the dysfunctional present is nothing other than ‘responsible anthropocentrism,’ entailing renegotiating our relations with nature, the future, and learning to live together on the planet in a spirit of coexistence and dialogue.
Next Steps for a People's VaccineMonday, 10 May 2021Jayati Ghosh penned a recent op-ed in Project Syndicate about the importance of public vaccine manufacturing:
The case for public production becomes even stronger when one considers that private vaccine producers have little financial incentive to meet current global needs. Once the pandemic is contained, the demand for vaccines is likely to revert to much lower “normal” levels. To win the race against the virus, we must build and deploy public manufacturing capacities in the US and other countries. And when COVID-19 is brought to heel, these facilities should be maintained for future pandemics.
You can read the full article here.
Covid-19 in India—profits before peopleTuesday, 04 May 2021Jayati Ghosh writes in Social Europe about the Indian government's privileging of profits over people in response to COVID:
Only on April 16th, after the pandemic had reached crisis proportions across India and showed no signs of abatement, did the central government finally move to allow three public enterprises to make the vaccine—though three other public-run units, with greater expertise and capacity, were inexplicably left out. Even these new units will now need several months to gear up for production.In the interim, in a uniquely cynical strategy, the Modi government has passed the buck on vaccination to the states, without providing any funding—indeed making them pay higher prices. It has agreed with the private producers a pricing system whereby state governments already desperately short of finances and facing hard budget constraints will have to pay up to four times what the central government pays for the same vaccines. They are now also being allowed to import vaccines from abroad—they will have to bid on their own for that. To create such a Hunger Games among state governments, without central funding and procurement of vaccines for every resident, can only have disastrous outcomes.You can read the full article here.
Nobel Prize Laureates and Other Experts Issue Urgent Call for Action After ‘Our Planet, Our Future’ SummitTuesday, 04 May 2021Last week, following the 2021 Nobel Prize Summit, a group of Nobel laureates and other experts, including GTN member Johan Rockström, issued a call for far-reaching global action on climate change and other global crises:
We need to reinvent our relationship with planet Earth. The future of all life on this planet, humans and our societies included, requires us to become effective stewards of the global commons — the climate, ice, land, ocean, freshwater, forests, soils, and rich diversity of life that regulate the state of the planet, and combine to create a unique and harmonious life-support system. There is now an existential need to build economies and societies that support Earth system harmony rather than disrupt it.
You can read the full letter -- and list of signers -- here.
Climate manipulation? Not all 'solutions' should be advancedTuesday, 04 May 2021Jennie Stephens recently co-authored an editorial for The Hill warning against the inclusion of geoengineering in our approach to climate mitigation:
As the Biden-Harris administration advances an all-of-government approach to the worsening climate crisis, we need to acknowledge that not all proposed climate solutions should be advanced. Solar geoengineering, a controversial proposed set of technologies that could potentially cool the planet by reflecting incoming sunlight back to space, used to be on the fringes of climate policy.
You can read the full piece here.
Paradigm Shift: An Overview of Global and Local Ecosocial ChallengesFriday, 09 April 2021
On March 25, Asoka Bandarage gave a presentation at the Sri Lankan National Trust entitled "Paradigm Shift: Global and Local Ecosocial Challenges." You can read a description below and watch the full talk here.
While humanity has achieved incredible technological and material growth, ecosystems and human communities are collapsing due largely to that very advancement. The challenge before us is not the acceleration of competitive, economic and technological growth and the creation of a ‘post- nature’, ‘post-human’ world but a fundamental transformation to a balanced path of social and psychological development. This presentation will explore the worldview of domination underlying the contemporary market and technological paradigm and the worldview of partnership that would underlie an alternative ecological paradigm. Drawing upon the presenter’s book, Sustainability and Well-Being: The Middle Path to Environment, Society and the Economy (Palgrave MacMillan), this presentation will seek to provide an integrated ecosocial approach defining sustainability as simultaneously constituting the well-being of the human species and that of the natural world.
Drawing from a wide range of information and academic disciplines, the presentation will provide an overview of the fundamental shift in consciousness, public policy and social action needed for ecological and social protection at both the global and the local Sri Lankan levels.
UNESCO's Future of Education InitiativeTuesday, 06 April 2021
UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative has been catalysing a global debate on how education, learning and knowledge need to be re-imagined in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty, and fragility. This consultation has engaged nearly a million people already and has helped to inform the Report that the International Commission on the Futures of Education is in the process of preparing.
The International Commission has now released a Progress Update (March 2021) that provides background information on the initiative and its ambitions, the provisional outline of the report, and an explanation of the main points and arguments currently envisioned for each section and sub-section
It would be of great use to the International Commission to receive comments and suggestions on this Progress Update—particularly around:
(a) the coherence of the arguments presented
(b) what elements need further attention, development or are missing, and
(c) what is most novel and promising about the forthcoming Report as currently envisioned.
Responses should be received by 30th April 2021 and may be submitted either through the online platform below, or sent by email to email to email@example.com.
An open letter to Joe Biden on International Corporate TaxationMonday, 01 March 2021Jayati Ghosh,
As members of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT), we urge you to fulfill your promise to “lead efforts internationally to bring transparency to the global financial system, go after illicit tax havens, seize stolen assets, and make it more difficult for leaders who steal from their people to hide behind anonymous front companies.” To do that, your administration should engage actively in ongoing efforts to overhaul the international tax system to ensure fair taxation of multinationals, which is currently being discussed within the G20-mandated OECD process.
Unfortunately, these negotiations have not gone well. The governments of leading member states (including the previous US administration) have negotiated under the misplaced assumption that their national interest is best served by protecting those multinationals headquartered within their borders. Discussions on the reform of international taxation have thus sacrificed common ambition to the lowest common denominator.
What POST-COVID-19 lifestyles may look like? Identifying scenarios and their implications for sustainabilityMonday, 01 March 2021Fabián Echegaray reflects on the possible futures stemming out of the COVID-19 crisis in his new article "What POST-COVID-19 lifestyles may look like? Identifying scenarios and their implications for sustainability" for Sustainable Production and Consumption. Read an excerpt below and the full website here.
The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply disrupted society´s priorities and individuals’ lifestyles with major implications for sustainable development. Economic shutdown and social isolation reduced society's ecological footprint by lowering transportation and industrial activity while prompting families to engage in non-commercialized modes of leisure and social relations. Yet economic recession has intensified problems of under-consumption and poverty, while social isolation has worsened physical and mental illness.
The pandemic's short-term effects are visible to everyone experiencing it, yet the global health crisis will also have long-term effects which are presently unknown but whose configurations can be spotted by identifying scenarios based upon individual relations with their material, symbolic and social environments. This perspective article reviews changes in two critical domains of practice: consumption and social relations, based on a theory of scarcity, and proposes an approach to foresee post-COVID-19 scenarios across several areas of social practice. The experience of scarcity in consumption and socializing redefines priorities and values yielding two ideal-types of responses for each domain: the assimilation of reduced levels of material wellbeing and social interactions or the drive for self-indulgence to compensate sacrifices in those areas.
Four different lifestyle scenarios are thereby generated based on that analytical framework, enabling the identification of long-term scenarios, beyond the simplistic old normal versus new normal dichotomy. Grounded in available secondary data and relying on the recent Brazilian experience, which can be generalized to other Global South contexts, this proposed framework illustrates distinctive behavioral patterns for each lifestyle across ten areas of practice.
Half-Earth or Whole-Earth?Sunday, 28 February 2021Ashish Kothari's new article "Half-Earth or Whole-Earth? Green or transformative recovery? Where are the voices from the Global South?" was published in Oryx magazine. Read the first few paragraphs below and the full article here.
A debate is swirling around various bold proposals to protect biodiversity. One of these proposals arose in part from E.O. Wilson's (2016) book Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life. The essence of the idea is summarized by the Half-Earth Project (2021), which ‘…is working to conserve half the land and sea to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity, including ourselves’. Critics have argued the idea is fraught with implications for human rights, likely to be ineffective and that—contrary to the proposal—transformations in economic activity across the Earth are needed to bring us within ecological limits (Büscher et al., 2017).
In parallel to this and related ideas (e.g. CBD, 2020), new approaches to development in a post COVID-19 world are being proposed, some of which—such as nature-based solutions—are attracting mainstream attention. The basic tenets, of acting in accordance with the principles and flows of nature, with sustainable management and use of nature for tackling socio-environmental challenges, are unexceptionable. But this approach too ignores the power and rights dimensions of such solutions, and lends itself to another kind of greenwash, in which corporations and governments continue their destructive activities while paying or pressurizing others to offset them (Global Forest Coalition, 2020a).
But what I find of greatest concern in all these proposals and approaches is their origin in the Global North. Most of the proponents, and even many of their critics, are based in institutions in northern or western countries, or in the rich and powerful sections of the south. Noticeably missing or weakly represented are voices from the Global South (e.g. Agrawal, 2020), including Indigenous people or other local communities who live amidst or use the areas containing most biodiversity.
The US Returns to the Paris Agreement Today—With Lots of Work Ahead for the WorldTuesday, 23 February 2021With the US re-entering the Paris Climate Accord, what does that mean for the future of international climate policy? Tom Athanasiou explores this question and more in The Nation in his article "The US Returns to the Paris Agreement Today—With Lots of Work Ahead for the World." You can read the full article here and an excerpt below.
As the United States reenters the Paris circle, a bit of reflection is in order. Scientists are terrified, and delivering messages that are difficult to hear, particularly now, when we have good reasons to doubt that our political systems will rise to the challenge. Despair, with the complacency it can breed, is a real danger. It’s easy to see why many people believe the accord’s weaknesses is more evidence of the larger institutional impotence.
In fact, though, the Paris Agreement can work, but the first crucial steps must be completed, soon. This year will bring the new emission reductions pledges. Finance breakthroughs will also have to come, and we have to face the new science (which, by the way, is not all dark). Then, in 2023, there will be the “global stock take,” in which the world’s nations will be asked if they’ve done enough.
Time to get to work.
Relationship-to-Profit: A Theory of Business, Markets, and Profit for Social Ecological EconomicsMonday, 22 February 2021Jennifer Hinton recently completed her PhD dissertation at Stockholm University, entitled "Relationship-to-Profit: A Theory of Business, Markets, and Profit for Social Ecological Economics." You can read about it below and read it here.
How does the relationship between business and profit affect social and ecological sustainability? Many sustainability scholars have identified competition for profit in the market as a key driver of social exploitation and environmental destruction. Yet, studies rarely question whether businesses and markets have to be profit-seeking. The widespread existence of not-for-profit forms of business, which approach profit as a means to achieving social benefit, suggests that there are other ways of organizing business and markets that might be more sustainable.
In this thesis, I use a critical institutional economics lens and systems thinking to synthesize existing theory and knowledge about how business, markets, and profit affect sustainability outcomes, in order to explain how alternative approaches to these institutions might produce different outcomes. The result is a new theory about how relationship-to-profit (the legal difference between for-profit and not-for-profit forms of business) plays a key role in the sustainability of an economy, due to the ways in which it guides and constrains actors’ behavior, and drives larger market dynamics.
In Paper 1, I develop a conceptual framework for understanding the tradeoffs and synergies between profit and social-ecological sustainability. I show how profit-seeking strategies can be examined to assess whether they derive profit from: efficiency gains; willing and informed contributions from social stakeholders; or exploitation of social or ecological stakeholders. These bounded sources of profit imply limits to profit. Therefore, in order for businesses and markets to be sustainable, they should treat profit as a means rather than an end in itself. In Paper 2, I explain that whether profit is treated as a means or an end manifests through both voluntary objectives (i.e., if a business explicitly pursues profit as a goal) and financial rights (i.e., the right or obligation to distribute profit to private owners).
Some forms of business encourage profit-as-an-end more than others. In Paper 3, I outline ideal types of for-profit and not-for-profit economies, and describe the expected dynamics of these systems based on the regulative aspects of relationship-to-profit. The legal purpose, ownership (i.e., private financial rights), and corresponding investment structures of for-profit forms of business all encourage firms to treat profit as an end. The pursuit of unlimited financial gain and the private distribution of the surplus by for-profit businesses tend to drive the growth of consumerism, environmental degradation, inequality, market concentration, and political capture. In a not-for-profit type of economy, businesses do not have a financial gain purpose or private financial rights. Profit in such a system is used as a means to achieve social benefit. This results in higher levels of equality and opens up the space for more effective sustainability interventions.
Yet, relationship-to-profit is only one dimension of business that is important for sustainability. In Paper 4, I develop a framework to structure analyses and wider discussions of post-growth business around five key dimensions of business: (1) relationship-to-profit, (2) incorporation structure, (3) governance, (4) strategy, and (5) size and geographical scope.
The theory developed in this thesis offers an explanation of how key institutional elements of business and markets drive social and ecological sustainability outcomes.
New Memoir by Richard FalkWednesday, 17 February 2021
Richard Falk's memoir Public Intellectual: The Life of a Citizen Pilgrim was published earlier this month. Read about it below -- and order a copy here.
This political memoir reveals how Richard Falk became prominent in America and internationally as both a public intellectual and citizen pilgrim. Falk built a life of progressive commitment, highlighted by visits to North Vietnam where he met PM Pham Von Dong, to Iran during the Islamic Revolution after meeting Khomeini in Paris, to South Africa where he met with Nelson Mandela at the height of the struggle against apartheid, and frequently to Palestine and Israel. His memoir is studded with encounters with well-known public figures in law, academia, political activism and even Hollywood. Falk mentored the thesis of Robert Mueller, taught David Petraeus.
His publications and activism describe various encounters with embedded American militarism, especially as expressed by governmental resistance to responsible efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons, and his United Nations efforts on behalf of the rights of the Palestinian people. In 2010 he was named Outstanding Public Scholar in Political Economy by the International Studies Association. He has been nominated annually for the Nobel Peace Prize since 2009.
Jayati Ghosh Named by UN to High-Level Advisory Board on Economic, Social AffairsThursday, 28 January 2021GTN member Jayati Ghosh is among 20 prominent economists appointed by the United Nations to a high-level advisory board that will provide recommendations for the UN Secretary-General to respond to the current and future socio-economic challenges in the post-COVID-19 world. You can find the full list here.
The New Possible: Visions of Our World Beyond CrisisWednesday, 27 January 2021Several GTN members had esasys featured in the new collection The New Possible: Visions of Our World Beyond Crisis:
Will pandemic, protests, economic instability and social distance lead to deeper inequalities, more nationalism and further erosion of democracies around the world?Or are we moving toward a global re-awakening to the importance of community, mutual support, and the natural world? In our lifetimes, the future has never been so up for grabs.The New Possible offers twenty-eight unique visions of what can be, if instead of choosing to go back to normal, we choose to go forward to something far better.
Authors include Mamphela Ramphele, Helena Norberg-Hodge, David Korten, Riane Eisler, Arturo Escobar, Jeremy Lent, Ellen Brown, and David Bollier. You can order a copy here.
Four Ways Biden Can Boost the Global Economy -- Jayati GhoshTuesday, 26 January 2021In a recent article for Project Syndicate, Jayati Ghosh outlines four ways President Joe Biden can boost the global economy:
(1) drop all objections to a World Trade Organization proposal to waive temporarily certain intellectual-property obligations in response to COVID-19
(2) allow the International Monetary Fund to provide a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights to all its member countries
(3) cooperate with other countries to create an effective global system for taxing multinationals’ profits
(4) rejoining the Paris Agreement
You can read the full article here.
Amsterdam Embraces "Doughnut Economics"Monday, 25 January 2021Time Magazine recently profiled the ity of Amsterdam's embrace of Kate Raworth's "doughnut economics." Read an excerpt below and the full article here.
In April 2020, during the first wave of COVID-19, Amsterdam’s city government announced it would recover from the crisis, and avoid future ones, by embracing the theory of “doughnut economics.” Laid out by British economist Kate Raworth in a 2017 book, the theory argues that 20th century economic thinking is not equipped to deal with the 21st century reality of a planet teetering on the edge of climate breakdown. Instead of equating a growing GDP with a successful society, our goal should be to fit all of human life into what Raworth calls the “sweet spot” between the “social foundation,” where everyone has what they need to live a good life, and the “environmental ceiling.” By and large, people in rich countries are living above the environmental ceiling. Those in poorer countries often fall below the social foundation. The space in between: that’s the doughnut.
No Safe Options: A Conversation with Andreas MalmWednesday, 13 January 2021
Wen Stephenson has a new interview with Swedish scholar and climate activist Andreas Malm in the LA Review of Books. The interview focuses on Malm's new provocatively titled How to Blow Up a Pipeline: Learning to Fight in a World on Fire.
Of the book, Stephenson writes, "Malm’s new book will no doubt be dismissed by a lot of very serious people, including climate activists and policy advocates, as fringe and even dangerous. That would be a very serious mistake. Nothing could be more dangerous at this moment in human history than a blind faith in politics — or activism — as usual."
You can read the interview here.
"Trump happens when cultures believe private can cover for public "Wednesday, 13 January 2021Duncan Austin has a new article in Responsible Investor entitled "Trump happens when cultures believe private can cover for public."
Here is a brief summary of the article:
History shows that when cultures favour ‘private’ too much, tyrants emerge and public problems accumulate that private cannot fix.This time, the lurch to ‘private’ has been rationalized by the belief that markets ‘have it all covered’ and, hence, all we need is ‘minimal’ government to uphold property rights. The mantra of our times: ‘markets are the solution/government is the problem’.But ‘government is the problem’ becomes self-fulfilling. Persistent discrediting of government drives the best of society into the silos of private business and a vacuum slowly forms in the public square into which ambitious men are emboldened to venture. Tyrants emerge when we believe it safe simply to 'mind our own business'.The same 'anti-public' narrative underlies the widespread belief we can solve global public goods problems primarily via voluntary private effort. To fit with the times, ESG has claimed that solving problems like climate change is a 'win-win': “Government can’t be the solution. But, Unilever and Tesla can fix things instead…”Now may be the time for the ESG community to think about whether its core ‘win-win’proposition holds true, or whether it is a belief forced upon it by our 'anti-public' times. It may also be the moment to ask corporations to suspend political donations permanently and to front up to the reality that our sustainability challenges have real costs we can no longer ignore.
Cities, Sustainability, and Complex Dissipative SystemsMonday, 28 December 2020Gilberto Gallopín has a new article, entitled "Cities, Sustainability, and Complex Dissipative Systems. A Perspective" in Frontiers in Sustainable Cities. In it, he critiques conventional notions of urban sustainability, arguing, "...because cities are dissipative structures, a city cannot be sustainable if the system is defined as the city itself in isolation from its environment." He further uses the Global Scenario Group's scenarios to analyze how the Earth System itself could change and the implications this would have on subsystems.
You can read the full piece here.
SHE Changes Climate Open LetterFriday, 11 December 2020This month, more than 400 female climate leaders, including Kate Raworth, Roz Savage, and Sandrine Dixson-Declève sent an open letter to the UK Government, calling on them for greater accountability and transparency on male/female parity on the UK COP26 leadership team. The three demands of the letter were
1. A balanced representation of men and women at the high-level team for COP26. Embrace women’s equal participation and support gender equality (GAP). COP26 approach is transparent and accountable.2. Show global leadership by ensuring the UK’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution includes a gender analysis and commitment to tackling gender inequality via action on reducing emissions.3. Ensure climate finance is gender inclusive (developing minimum standards) to increase accessibility to finance for women-led and women’s rights organisations addressing climate change impacts on the front line.
You can read the full letter here.
The Great Unraveling? SeriesThursday, 10 December 2020Over the summer, the Post Carbon Institute hosted a series of interviews with some of the world’s foremost experts on a broad range of environmental and societal challenges, to set a foundation for understanding the accelerating and interrelated stresses we face. Among the interviewees were GTN members Johan Rockström, Nnimmo Bassey, Walden Bello, and Richard Heinberg.
You can watch the series here.
What Could Possibly Go Right? Interview SeriesThursday, 10 December 2020In this new interview series for the Post Carbon Institute, Vicki Robin, activist and best-selling author on sustainable living, talks with provocative thought leaders about emerging possibilities and ways humanity might step onto a better, post-pandemic path. You can watch the episodes here.
Reform of Global Taxation Cannot WaitTuesday, 08 December 2020In a new piece in Social Europe, Jayati Ghosh argues that global tax reform to avoid givewaways and loopholes favoring the rich andlarge corporations is more important now than ever.
We can no longer afford to allow this. This is not only because of concerns about the massive inequality it encourages, the injustice and the absence of level playing-fields for all taxpayers. Most important, right now, is that governments across the world—even those which have used central-bank liquidity to increase spending immediately—must make even larger expenditures in coming days.
They will have to deal with the pandemic and its effects on economies, support and provide social protection to those devastated by economic collapse, address and cope with the climate crisis and try to meet the United Nations sustainable development goals, which have been hugely set back. No country can afford the luxury of coddling its richest residents and large corporations by allowing this tax avoidance and evasion—and the international community cannot continue to look the other way as vast sums are denied to governments and their citizens.
You can read the full piece here.
The Biden Presidency: A New Era, or a Fragile Interregnum?Tuesday, 08 December 2020In his new article "The Biden Presidency: A New Era, or a Fragile Interregnum?," Walden Bello argues that a return to orthodox centrist policies will be a disaster and that progressives must seize the opportunity. Read the full article here and an excerpt below.
As Marx said, history first occurs as tragedy, then as farce.
Owing to the erosion of the credibility of globalization and neoliberalism, the return to an anachronistic orthodox centrism is not likely to hold. It will serve at best as an extremely unstable, short-lived interregnum amidst deepening polarization between left and right.
In this struggle, the far right — under the leadership of a charismatic personality who, while he lost the elections, will continue to be the dominant figure in Republican Party politics in the Biden era — is currently far more united politically and ideologically than the left. Trump’s heated mass base and traditional Republican conservatives will combine to make even pallid technocratic centrist initiatives, like Bernanke and Yellen’s quantitative easing, very difficult to push through. The coming Biden era may well be a mere interregnum in a political trajectory of the far right’s rise to power.
Or it can be the antechamber to a new era in progressive politics, an outcome that will depend on whether the left can mobilize the Democratic Party’s base of workers, progressives, and minorities to seize the initiative from a center that is devoid of both ideas and courage to break with the past.
Diversifying Power: Why We Need Antiracist, Feminist Leadership on Climate and EnergyThursday, 03 December 2020This webinar, part of SCORAI's speaker series, will explore connections between the field of sustainable consumption and ideas presented in Stephens’ recent book, Diversifying Power, which shows that anyone working on issues related to energy or climate (directly or indirectly) can leverage the power of collective action. The work to shift away from an extractive, oppressive energy system has already begun. By highlighting the creative individuals and organizations making change happen, Diversifying Power provides inspiration and encourages action on climate and energy justice.
Stephens argues that the key to effectively addressing the climate crisis is diversifying leadership so that antiracist, feminist priorities are central. Stephens examines climate and energy leadership related to job creation and economic justice, health and nutrition, and housing and transportation. She explains why we need to reclaim and restructure climate and energy systems so policies are explicitly linked to social, economic, and racial justices.
Watch the webinar here.
Jennie C. Stephens is an educator, social justice advocate, energy expert and sustainability science researcher. She is a professor and Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University where she also holds leadership roles at the Global Resilience Institute and the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program.
On Laudato Si', Fratelli Tutti, and the Terminal Decline of Patriarchal CivilizationWednesday, 02 December 2020The encyclical letter Laudato Si' (Pope Francis, 2015) is about "everything is connected." The encyclical letter Fratelli Tutti (Pope Francis, 2020) is about "everyone is connected." But what about the artificial disconnections that are induced by the patriarchal culture? What about the artificial disconnections due to patriarchal gender ideology? What about the artificial disconnections due to religious patriarchy? The patriarchal religions are a grave obstacle to integral human development, and the transition to an integral ecology, during the terminal decline of patriarchal civilizatio, Luis Gutierrez argues in a new http://www.pelicanweb.org/solisustv16n12page24.html.
The Transformative Potential of the Not-for-Profit EconomyWednesday, 02 December 2020
In July, Jennifer Hinton delievered a Schumacher Lecture on " The Transformative Potential of the Not-for-Profit Economy." It is now available on YouTube here. Read a description below.‘…….the institutional layers of ‘profit-orientation’ and ‘legal purpose’ play a key role in determining a firm’s behaviour. ….Therefore, the most common business structures in an economy play an essential role in generating the system dynamics seen on the macro-level of the economy.
I ….explore the emergence of not-for-profit forms of business and explore how an economy made up of institutions designed to deliver social benefit might lead to very different system dynamics. In doing so, I …present a range of scenarios developed using systems analysis methods to explore how legal business frameworks shape system behaviour on the macro-level of the economy…….I explore the potential of different business structures as a key leverage point for systemic transformation to a more socially and ecologically sustainable economy.
A Time to Choose | Allen White in TNITuesday, 01 December 2020Allen White's article "A time to choose" was published this morning on the Transnational Institute's blog. In it, he surveys how the COVID-19 pandemic and concurrent crises create a branch point, with multiple scenarios emergent and the final decision dependent on our actions.
As he says in the conclusion,
"As the complexity of the pandemic becomes increasingly evident, forecasting is fraught with uncertainty. From a GT perspective, this very complexity may prove to be an asset rather than an impediment to systemic change. Because of the intersectional nature of actors and impacts, COVID-19 signals an inflection point for mobilizing across boundaries and issues.
The time is ripe for a surge of such formations, powered by shared grievance, conscious of a rare conjuncture of events, and enabled by technology. Will we seize the moment?"
You can read the article here.
Human Security in World AffairsWednesday, 18 November 2020
As a new member to the GT Network, I would like to introduce two books that are the culmination of my professional activities over the past half decade. The first is a textbook. Both books have relevance for the GT context.
Lautensach, A.K. & S.W. Lautensach (eds.). 2020. Human Security in World Affairs: Problems and Opportunities, 2nd edition. Prince George, Canada: UNBC; Victoria, Canada: BCcampus. https://opentextbc.ca/humansecurity/.
Human security has been endorsed by the UN since 1994 as a comprehensive goal for development at all levels. It rests on the four pillars of socio-political security, health security, economic security and environmental security.
What distinguishes this open-access university textbook on human security?* This is still the only textbook of human security of its kind, to our knowledge. Its themes are relevant for a wide range of academic areas.
* Its 22 chapter authors include academics and activists from all over the world.
* It is accessible entirely online, free of charge, including free downloading, at a time when online course delivery is being prioritized and students are less able than ever to afford costly hardcopy texts. Nevertheless, hardcopies can be ordered from the website.
* It addresses diverse aspects of human security, especially health security, that are at the forefront of current world affairs in the COVID context and the Anthropocene predicament. Implications of GT scenarios are discussed.
Lautensach, A.K. 2020. Survival How? Education, Crisis, Diachronicity and the Transition to a Sustainable Future. Paderborn, Germany: Schoeningh-Brill. E-Book & Paperback Publication Date: 16 Nov 2020. https://brill.com/flyer/title/53644
This impassioned call for reforming education at all levels takes into account the inevitable transition to a sustainable future of some sort. If that future includes humans, diverse composite scenarios are still possible for us and the biosphere. With the help of appropriately reformed education, the coming generations can sway their fate towards the more secure scenarios. This will require Deep Adaptation, ecocentric ethics and a new view on ‘progress’, as well as ‘cultural learning’ at the collective level.
A summary is given here: Lautensach, A.K. 2020. "Educating Teachers as if Sustainability Mattered." International Portal of Teacher Education. The MOFET Institute. http://education.eng.macam.ac.il/article/5031.
I look forward to contributing to discussions and initiatives of this unique network!
Economics and Climate EmergencyWednesday, 18 November 2020
Barry Gills co-authored the introductory essay to a new Globalizations special issue on Economics and the Climate Emergency.
In this essay we provide introductory comment for the collection of solicited essays on Economics and Climate Emergency. In the first section we suggest that recent critique of the climate movement has broader systemic significance and this is indicative of issues that bear on the collected essays. In the following section we rehearse some of the standard arguments leading to complacency and delay to action on climate change and ecological breakdown. In the last section we set out the broad themes of the essays.
You can read the full essay here.
Job Opening: Full-Time Lecturer, Sustainability Policy and Planning, Tufts UniversityMonday, 09 November 2020
Tufts University School of Arts and Sciences: Faculty Search
URBAN AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AND PLANNING:
Full-time Lecturer (non-tenure track): Sustainability Policy and Planning
The Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) is seeking a full-time lecturer in Sustainability Policy and Planning to start September 1, 2021. UEP is an interdisciplinary department that is dedicated to research and education at the intersection of social justice and sustainability.
The primary research and teaching interests of the successful candidate should be in the area of sustainability and may include: sustainability policy/planning and/or science, sustainable solutions, systems performance, sustainability metrics and decision tools, and the impacts of sustainability solutions on marginalized communities. Additional fields may include: resilient urban ecosystems, multispecies planning and decision making, the role of social equity and physical vulnerability in disaster recovery, infrastructure and transportation planning, resilient urban design, and related areas. An important secondary qualification of the successful candidate will be a strong competency in research methods, which may comprise but not be limited to, data visualization techniques, quantitative methods, qualitative methods, GIS, remote sensing, and/or big data analytics.
The candidate will be expected to develop and teach core and elective courses in the department's programs in Sustainability (MS) and Environmental Policy & Planning (MS), including the core course Socio-ecological Systems Thinking for Sustainability and electives in his/her/their field of concentration. The candidate will also serve as a thesis and capstone advisor to masters level graduate students. The successful candidate will be expected to grow UEP's new MS in Sustainability, serving as program director and internship coordinator. Responsibilities consist of four courses per year plus thesis advising, administrative responsibilities, and participation in department and university committees.
A Ph.D with a focus on sustainability or a Ph.D. with substantial sustainability-related experience. Candidates in the following fields are encouraged to apply: urban planning, civil and environmental engineering, environmental science and agriculture, geography and related disciplines with a focus on sustainability. A record of scholarship is desirable. Connections with professional practice in sustainability will be highly valued.
All application materials must be submitted via Interfolio at: apply.interfolio.com/xxx. Submit a cover letter, CV, teaching statement, names of three references, and evidence of effective teaching and mentorship, such as student evaluations or letters of support (three maximum) from students or peers about teaching and mentoring experience. Questions about the position may be addressed to the Department Administrator Maria Nicolau at firstname.lastname@example.org. Review of applications will start on November 1, 2020 and will continue until the position is filled.
Tufts University, founded in 1852, prioritizes quality teaching, highly competitive basic and applied research, and a commitment to active citizenship locally, regionally and globally. Tufts University also prides itself on creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. Current and prospective employees of the university are expected to have and continuously develop skill in, and disposition for, positively engaging with a diverse population of faculty, staff, and students.
Tufts University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. We are committed to increasing the diversity of our faculty and staff and fostering their success when hired. Members of underrepresented groups are welcome and strongly encouraged to apply. See the University's Non-Descrimination Statement and Policy at: https://oeo.tufts.edu/policies-procedures/non-descrimination/. If you are an applicant with a disability who is unable to use our online tools to search and apply for jobs, please contact us by calling Johny Laine in the Office of Equal Opportunity (OED) at 617-627-3298 or at email@example.com Applicants can learn more about requesting reasonable accommodations at http://oeo.tufts.edu.
Diversifying Patriarchal LeadershipWednesday, 04 November 2020Jennie Stephens recently wrote an op-ed for The Hill about the importance of diversifying leadership across fields to making us more resilient in our resposne to crises:Research on risk perceptions shows that white American men see all kinds of threats — from climate change to automobile accidents to cancer — as less risky than non-white American men and women. When women, people of color and Indigenous leaders join leadership spaces where they have been historically excluded from, they bring different perceptions of risk and a different capacity to center social justice. Therefore, diversifying leadership is essential to effectively balance risk perceptions and center social justice in our policies.
The Environmental Crisis: Metanarrative and the Moral Evolution of Modern Human SocietyWednesday, 04 November 2020New Book by Stephen Purdey For anyone interested in the relationship between narrative and the global environmental crisis, this new book is now available online free (in pre-publication draft form) for comments. Visit https://stephenpurdey.ca and look under the ‘Metanarrative Project’ button. Here’s the blurb:
The Environmental Crisis: Metanarrative and the Moral Evolution of Modern Human Society
A major thesis of this book is that material and applied ethics approaches to the environmental crisis cannot succeed without the power of a legitimating discourse – a new metanarrative – which fundamentally changes the ideational landscape of human development. The self-induced peril we now face calls for comprehensive, interpretive, even philosophical sensibilities to tackle and resolve. This book aims to encourage the development of those sensibilities with a sustained focus on the moral dimension of human behavior on Earth.
Sustainability -- New Book by Maurie CohenFriday, 30 October 2020
From the publisher, on Maurie Cohen's new book Sustainability:Sustainability is one of the buzzwords of our times and a key imperative for economic growth, technological development, social equity, and environmental quality. But what does it really mean and how is it being implemented around the world?In this clear-eyed book, Maurie Cohen introduces students to the concept of sustainability, tracing its history and application from local land-use practices, construction techniques and reorientation of business models to national and global institutions seeking to foster sustainable practices. Examining sustainable development in scientific, technological, social and political terms, he shows that it remains an elusive concept and evidence of its unambiguous achievements can be difficult to ascertain. Moreover, developed and developing countries have formulated divergent agendas to engage the notion of sustainability, further complicating its application and progress across the world.
You can order a copy of the book here.
To order a paperback copy with a 20% discount, go to www.politybooks.com and use code SUST1 at checkout. Discount valid until 31 January 2021.
“Final Solution” or Renewal?Wednesday, 21 October 2020In a new essay, Kavita Byrd lays out the stakes of our global future, evoking the GT scenarios:
If we look clearly, we can see three basic forces contending today in a grand global showdown, determining the direction our world will take now and in the future: one — neoliberal capitalism, in a last-gasp grab for total global control; two — rising fascism, right-wing police states and martial law worldwide; or three — a progressive turn-around for ecological renewal, social justice and true participatory democracy, a communion of people and planet, at all scales local to global.
Read the full piece here.
Jayati Ghosh: How the Green Revolution Is Harming AfricaThursday, 15 October 2020In a new article for Project Syndicate, Jayati Ghosh argues that well-intentioned efforts to improve food security in Africa are instead increasing small farmers’ dependence on global agribusinesses without raising their incomes, and making farming systems more fragile. You can read an excerpt below and the full piece here.
This approach is exemplified by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an initiative launched in 2006 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. AGRA’s programs support the use of high-yielding commercial seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and chemical pesticides in a monocropping model to increase yields per acre. Surprisingly, advocates of this approach seem largely unaware that similar projects in many Asian developing countries previously produced medium-term results that were mixed at best and were often associated with major ecological problems.AGRA initially aimed to double the household incomes of 20 million small-scale African farmers by 2020, and halve food insecurity in 20 countries through productivity improvements. It then adopted the more ambitious targets of doubling yields and incomes for 30 million farming households by 2020. But with the deadline approaching, AGRA has shifted the goalposts, and is now promising, much more modestly, to increase incomes (by an unspecified amount) and improve food security for 30 million smallholder farm households in 11 African countries by 2021. In a recent response to criticism, AGRA was even more circumspect, claiming that its goal is to reach only nine million farmers directly and the remaining 21 million indirectly (though what that means is not clear).
Should ESG view sustainability as a quicksand problem?Tuesday, 13 October 2020Duncan Austin has a new article in Responsible Investor entitled "Should ESG view sustainability as a quicksand problem?". You can read the piece here.
Paradoxes like this – ‘the solution is the problem’ – tend to be resisted by the human psyche. A metaphor might help. Our sustainability problem resembles the quicksand dilemma of old adventure movies. The hero falls into quicksand and must quickly escape or else drown, but every move he makes to escape only drags him further down.Ecological sustainability is a quicksand problem.Such ‘double bind’ problems repeat throughout the natural and social world. Within the private sector, they may be most familiar to those who have managed debt relationships near covenant thresholds. In such circumstances, the lender may fall into the trap that they can only avoid breaching covenants by taking on more debt, typically at worse terms. But this ‘solution’ only worsens the problem, bringing the lender ever closer to an irrecoverable debt spiral.In a way, it is a small pity that the ESG movement originated as an equity movement, because it is debt investors and their counterparties who likely have the better intuition for our predicament. For example, corporate treasurers who, in real time, manage cash liquidity levels and debt coverage ratios against pre-established covenants, will have an instinctive feel for our ecological problem of fundamentally the same form.
Juliet Schor and Jennie Stephens on Their New BooksThursday, 08 October 2020Listen to Juliet Schor talk about her new book After the Gig: How the Sharing Economy Got Hijacked and How to Win It Back on WORT: Madison community radio.
Listen to Jennie Stephens talk about her new book Diversifying Power: Why We Need Antiracist, Feminist Leadership on Climate and Energy on WAMC Northeast Public Radio.
Purchase Juliet Schor's book here.
Purchase Jennie Stephens's book here.
New Research on Nuclear Power and Renewable EnergyThursday, 08 October 2020Andy Stirling is the co-author of a new article in Nature Energy on nulear power and renewable energy, entitled "Differences in carbon emissions reduction between countries pursuing renewable electricity versus nuclear power:"
Abstract: Two of the most widely emphasized contenders for carbon emissions reduction in the electricity sector are nuclear power and renewable energy. While scenarios regularly question the potential impacts of adoption of various technology mixes in the future, it is less clear which technology has been associated with greater historical emission reductions. Here, we use multiple regression analyses on global datasets of national carbon emissions and renewable and nuclear electricity production across 123 countries over 25 years to examine systematically patterns in how countries variously using nuclear power and renewables contrastingly show higher or lower carbon emissions. We find that larger-scale national nuclear attachments do not tend to associate with significantly lower carbon emissions while renewables do. We also find a negative association between the scales of national nuclear and renewables attachments. This suggests nuclear and renewables attachments tend to crowd each other out.
Click here to read the full article.
The New Systems Reader: Alternatives to a Failed EconomyThursday, 08 October 2020The recognition is growing: truly addressing the problems of the 21st century requires going beyond small tweaks and modest reforms to business as usual—it requires "changing the system." But what does this mean? And what would it entail? The New Systems Reader, edited by Gus Speth and Kathleen Courrier, highlights some of the most thoughtful, substantive, and promising answers to these questions, drawing on the work and ideas of some of the world’s key thinkers and activists on systemic change. Amid the failure of traditional politics and policies to address our fundamental challenges, an increasing number of thoughtful proposals and real-world models suggest new possibilities, this book convenes an essential conversation about the future we want.
You can pre-order a copy here. See discount information below.
Ashish Kothari on "Reimagining Food"Wednesday, 16 September 2020Ashish Kothari writes about reimagining food and fighting for food justice in Food & Wine:
In a world where food matters are dominated by powerful corporations and nation-states, and where vast numbers of the public believe that its entirely legitimate for such a situation to exist, struggles for food justice are very, very uphill. But they are not impossible, as thousands of examples of resistance and alternatives around the world demonstrate. Ongoing global crises including Covid-19, have created opportunities for such initiatives to gain legitimacy, to challenge the deep faults in the system, and demand that food justice be made as central to human well-being as the stomach is to the body.You can read the full article here.
Upstream Two-Part Documentary Series on a Basic IncomeWednesday, 16 September 2020In a recent two-part series for Upstream Podcast, Della Duncan explores the idea of a universal basic income, interviewing economists, practitioners, and everyday people about this proposal and how it can contribute to a social and economic transformation.
Interviewees include the following:
- Julianna Bidadanure - Assistant professor in political philosophy at Stanford University
- Doug Henwood - Journalist, economic analyst, and writer whose work has been featured in Harper’s, Jacobin Magazine, and The Nation
- Rutger Bregman - Journalist and author of Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders and a 15-hour Workweek
- Kathi Weeks - Marxist feminist scholar, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Duke University and author of The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries
- Eric Richardson - A recipient of basic income / Mincome
- Evelyn Forget - Economist and professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba and Academic Director of the Manitoba Research Data Centre
- Erik Olin Wright - Marxist scholar and sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
- Matt Bruenig - Writer, researcher, and founder of the People's Policy Project
- Richard Wolff - Marxist economist, economics professor emeritus at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, founder of Democracy at Work, and host of the weekly radio show Economic Update
- Martin Kirk - Co-founder and Director of Strategy at The Rules
- Manda Scott- Novelist, columnist, and broadcaster
- Sofa Gradin -Sofa Gradin - Political Organizer and Lecturer in Politics at King's College in London
Duncan Austin: Milton Friedman’s hazardous feedback loopMonday, 14 September 2020In light of the fiftieth anniversary of Milton Friedman's famous statement that the "social responsibility of business it to increase its profits," Dustin Austin approaches the question of social responsibility from a systems perspective, highlighting the perverse feedback loops created by Friedman's line of thinking:In a political system where corporations can influence policymaking – via lobbying, financial support for candidates, or other means – Friedman’s contention justifies corporations investing to shape policies in their interest. For, if the expected return on expenditures committed to influencing regulations is greater than a company’s weighted average cost of capital, and if lobbying against regulations is permitted under what Friedman terms the ‘rules of the game’, then the notion that companies have a social responsibility to maximize profits equates to firms having a social responsibility to resist any regulation that appears costly. Not all companies may choose to act this way, but the key is that companies have a profit incentive to do so and so enough companies will. And, over a long enough period, this will affect the behaviour of the whole system.
Deeper City: Collective Intelligence and the Pathways from Smart to WiseWednesday, 09 September 2020This is to introduce the new book - Deeper-City: Collective-Intelligence-and-the-Pathways-from-Smart-to-Wise. Deeper City sets out to explore collective intelligence – learning and thinking at higher levels. It addresses the combined challenges of cities, economies, ecologies, technologies and political systems. It maps out 40 ‘pathways’ in visual thinking, from local neighbourhoods to global finance, and from smart-wise cities to global climate. To explore further, you are invited to join the Conversations – a series of events on the theme of collective intelligence, each with an international panel, and interactive visual tools (online until November and then ‘blended’). Next event - Deeper City 3.0 – 09-11 - on Conversations Also you are invited to the visual ‘mind-games’ on the theme of Pandemic 3.0, on https://urban3.net/mind-games/.
Levers and Leverage Points for Pathways to SustainabilityFriday, 04 September 2020Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Kai Chan, and Marcel Kok were among the co-authors of "Levers and Leverage Points for Pathways to Sustainability," published this month in People and Nature. You can read the abstract below and the full article here.
1. Humanity is on a deeply unsustainable trajectory. We are exceeding planetary boundaries and unlikely to meet many international sustainable development goals and global environmental targets. Until recently, there was no broadly accepted framework of interventions that could ignite the transformations needed to achieve these desired targets and goals.2. As a component of the IPBES Global Assessment, we conducted an iterative expert deliberation process with an extensive review of scenarios and pathways to sustainability, including the broader literature on indirect drivers, social change and sustainability transformation. We asked, what are the most important elements of pathways to sustainability?3. Applying a social–ecological systems lens, we identified eight priority points for intervention (leverage points) and five overarching strategic actions and priority interventions (levers), which appear to be key to societal transformation. The eight leverage points are: (1) Visions of a good life, (2) Total consumption and waste, (3) Latent values of responsibility, (4) Inequalities, (5) Justice and inclusion in conservation, (6) Externalities from trade and other telecouplings, (7) Responsible technology, innovation and investment, and (8) Education and knowledge generation and sharing. The five intertwined levers can be applied across the eight leverage points and more broadly. These include: (A) Incentives and capacity building, (B) Coordination across sectors and jurisdictions, (C) Pre‐emptive action, (D) Adaptive decision‐making and (E) Environmental law and implementation. The levers and leverage points are all non‐substitutable, and each enables others, likely leading to synergistic benefits.4. Transformative change towards sustainable pathways requires more than a simple scaling‐up of sustainability initiatives—it entails addressing these levers and leverage points to change the fabric of legal, political, economic and other social systems. These levers and leverage points build upon those approved within the Global Assessment's Summary for Policymakers, with the aim of enabling leaders in government, business, civil society and academia to spark transformative changes towards a more just and sustainable world.
It's Already Tomorrow: Poems by Gus SpethFriday, 04 September 2020After award-winning books on environment and scores of articles, this is Gus Speth's second book of poetry. Speth has organized this collection around four ways we address the world: Love, Howl, Laugh, and Remember, which "cover a lot of life's territory." He writes in one poem that "the world bends with the weight of massive contradiction," and, as these poems depict, so do our lives.
You can order a copy here.
The Oldest Trick in the Book by Ben DebneyFriday, 04 September 2020Ben Debney's new book The Oldest Trick in the Book: Panic-Driven Scapegoating in History and Recurring Patterns of Persecution was published in July. You can read more below and order a copy here.
This book investigates the normalisation of blame-shifting within ideological discourse as a broad feature of history, working from Churchill’s truism that history is written by the victors. To that end, it explores historical episodes of political persecution carried out under cover of moral panic, highlighting the process of ‘Othering’ common to each and theorising a historical model of panic-driven scapegoating from the results. Building this model from case studies in witch panic, communist panic and terrorist panic respectively, The Oldest Trick in the Book builds an argument that features common to each case study reflect broader historical patterning consistent with Churchill’s maxim. On this basis it argues that the periodic construction of bogeymen or ‘folk demons’ is a useful device for enabling the kind of victim-playing and victim-blaming critical to protecting elite privilege during periods of crisis and that in being a recurring theme historically, panic-driven scapegoating retains great ongoing value to the privileged and powerful, and thus conspicuously remains an ongoing feature of world politics.
The New Systems Reader: Alternatives to a Failed EconomyTuesday, 11 August 2020The New Systems Reader, edited by Gus Speth and Kathleen Courrier, tackles an essential question as the world faces a broken economy, climate catastrophe, deepening inequality, and the decay of institutional legitimacy: If truly addressing the problems of the 21st century requires "changing the system," what does that mean? The Reader highlights some of the most thoughtful, substantive, and promising answers to that question, drawing on the work and ideas of some of the world’s key thinkers and activists on systemic change. Amid the failure of traditional politics and policies to address our fundamental challenges, an increasing number of thoughtful proposals and real-world models suggest new possibilities. This book convenes an essential conversation about the future we want.
You can order a copy of the book here.
"Still No Care for Care Workers"Monday, 20 July 2020In a new piece for Project Syndicate, Jayati Ghosh addresses the impact of COVID-19 on care workers:
Decades of public neglect and underspending have brought us to the point that even an unprecedented global health emergency and economic collapse are not enough to make mistreatment of low-paid essential workers socially and politically unacceptable. Our applause is no longer enough to keep them keeping us safe.
Read the full article here.
Addressing Inequality: The First Step Beyond COVID-19 and Towards SustainabilityMonday, 13 July 2020Nicholas Ashford has co-authoered a new piece for Sustainability on the policy inteventions needed to steer us toward sustainability in the wake of COVID-19. You can read the article here and the abstract below.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted billions of lives across the world and has revealed and worsened the social and economic inequalities that have emerged over the past several decades. As governments consider public health and economic strategies to respond to the crisis, it is critical they also address the weaknesses of their economic and social systems that inhibited their ability to respond comprehensively to the pandemic. These same weaknesses have also undermined efforts to advance equality and sustainability. This paper explores over 30 interventions across the following nine categories of change that hold the potential to address inequality, provide all citizens with access to essential goods and services, and advance progress towards sustainability.
Excluded Futures: The Continuity Bias in Scenario AssessmentsMonday, 13 July 2020Paul Raskin and Rob Swart's new article "Excluded Futures: The Continuity Bias in Scenario Assessments" was recently published in Sustainable Earth. You can read the abstract below and the full article here.
Global scenario assessments in support of climate, biodiversity, energy and other international policy deliberations tend to focus on a narrow bandwidth of possibilities: futures that unfold gradually from current patterns and trends. This “continuity bias” downplays the real risks (and opportunities) of structural discontinuity in the evolution of the global social-ecological system. The inclination to focus on mathematically tractable representations and conventional futures preferred by decision-makers is understandable, but constrains the scientific imagination and the scope of policy guidance. Earlier studies spotlighted discontinuous global futures, thereby revealing a broader spectrum of possibilities and repertoire of actions than found in contemporary scenario analysis. The paper revisits three types of futures introduced 25 years ago; examines three truths they convey about the contemporary moment; and points to three courses of action they suggest. Contemporary assessments centre on incrementally changing Conventional Worlds, yet varieties of global disruption (Barbarization) and progressive transformation (Great Transition) remain plausible alternatives. Corresponding to this triad, three synergistic action prongs—reform (incremental policies), remediation (emergency preparedness and prevention), and redesign (deep cultural and institutional change)—come into focus. Recovering a comprehensive perspective on the global possible would reinvigorate debate on the kind of transformation needed, broaden the action agenda, and stimulate innovative research for illuminating our indeterminate future. The COVID-19 pandemic, a concrete illustration of historical discontinuity, underscores the critical importance of emphasizing nonconventional futures in policy assessments.
Walden Bello, Jayati Ghosh, and Ashish Kothari featured in ourVoices PodcastThursday, 25 June 2020Jayati Ghosh, Yanis Varoufakis, Walden Bello, and Ashish Kothari were featured guests on a recent episode of openDemocracy's podcast ourVoices. On it, they and other insightful guests dicuss how the rules of today’s global economy are skewed in favour of large corporations and financial institutions. You can listen here.
Is Race Real? A Discussion with Dr. Rasigan MaharajhThursday, 18 June 2020
Racism is making headlines as yet another Black person is the victim of extrajudicial assassination by the US police force. More people are engaging in protest than ever before, but how many of us even understand what we mean by the term "race"? Join Peace Vigil as Dr. Rasigan Maharajh from the Institute of Economic Research on Innovation at Tshwane University of Technology explains.
Video available here
Now Is the Time – Revolution, Inner and OuterMonday, 15 June 2020
In a two-part series for Resilience, Kavita Byrd writes about the inner revolution and social revolution required for us to end interlocking systems of impression:
The same patterns of domination and submission exist in our present society at all levels and scales. The way humanity as a whole dominates and exploits nature, the way whites dominate and exploit people of color; the way men dominate and exploit women; is the same way the most aggressive, rapacious strong-men at the top, nationally and globally, dominate and exploit everyone else and the planet. It is one pyramid, one pecking order, of power-over relationships that is now destroying us all, collapsing from the unsustainability of its own top-heaviness, teetering and toppling from its own egregious imbalances.
But there is in fact another power far stronger than even the top-men in this scale of domination; and that is the power erupting now, that is causing it all to collapse. What is happening has clearly spun out of the control of even those who would create a new order of their total control – nature herself, and the sacred itself speaking though her, rising up through indigenous people, people of color, youth, women, people of good will around the world, demanding radical change.
Read Part I here and Part II here.
The Sacrifice Zone: A New Novel by Roger GottliebWednesday, 10 June 2020”Sacrifice Zone”—a place so polluted it can never be cleaned up.
“How does she do it?” marvels Daniel Aiken. While the environmental crisis fills him with rage and fear his lover and fellow activist Sarah Carson still takes joy in life. As their work becomes increasingly dangerous, a tragic accident makes him face another question: can he learn her secret—or will his heart become yet another sacrifice zone? American Buddhist teacher Anne Sattvic’s spiritual tranquility is giving way: long suppressed memories bring back the devastation caused by her sister’s heroin addiction. Facing the past, Anne must decide how much of her mastery of Buddhist teaching is only a mask hiding a sacrifice of both family ties and her own ability to feel. In the face of loss and helplessness Daniel and Anne have both given up something essential. Can they find a way to love? Is there a third way beyond abandoning the world or being miserable in it?
Read an excerpt
Order paperback or Kindle versions at Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Covid 19 - Indigenous Communities in Resistance responding to the current crisisThursday, 28 May 2020Join the Global Tapestry of Alternatives on Monday, June 1st (11:30 AM EST), for a discussion with Xochitl Leyva Solano from the perspectives of resistance and re-existence driven by the militant and reflective experiences of the Zapatista and autonomous communities of Chiapas (Mexico).
Learn more and RSVP here.
"There's No Going Back to Normal"Wednesday, 29 April 2020
Kavita Byrd published a new essay, "There Is No Going Back to Normal: Which Way Do We Choose Going Forward?," which explains clearly that the current crisis is a branch point -- and we can and need to take the opportunity to shift the world into a more sustainable and caring direction.
As Kavita says, "Many people see the coronavirus crisis as a one-off event, something that will pass and then we’ll go back to normal. But we have to see the bigger systemic picture – the background of the global capitalist system that has caused the crisis, and will cause many more to come –cascading into further crises and ultimate collapse — if we don’t wake up now, take the reins in our hands, and radically change course."
Living Earth Community: Multiple Ways of Being and KnowingWednesday, 22 April 2020Living Earth Community: Multiple Ways of Being and Knowing -- a new anthology edited by Sam Mickey, Mary Evelyn Tucker, and John Grim -- is a celebration of the diversity of ways in which humans can relate to the world around them, and an invitation to its readers to partake in planetary coexistence. Innovative, informative, and highly accessible, this interdisciplinary anthology of essays brings together scholars, writers and educators across the sciences and humanities, in a collaborative effort to illuminate the different ways of being in the world and the different kinds of knowledge they entail – from the ecological knowledge of indigenous communities, to the scientific knowledge of a biologist and the embodied knowledge communicated through storytelling.
Liberato Bautista: "Collaboration can help eradicate COVID-19"Tuesday, 21 April 2020Liberato Bautista wrote about the implications of the coronavirus pandemic, and the needed solutions, in United Methodist News:
Nongovernmental organizations, including faith-based organizations like our United Methodist representations at the U.N., are in a kairos moment to help achieve the U.N.’s mandates.
COVID-19 may have been virulent and will forever change the rules of social etiquette and socialization. But the novel coronavirus has done what multilateral negotiations have not done — pause globalization and its unbridled pursuit of profit and capital.
When the world reopens from the ravages of the virus, we have a momentous task not to return to, but to transform, global and local arrangements to protect humanity and the planet, at least from the ravages of pandemics and social inequalities.