Sustainability Frontiers: Inner Transformation and Imaginaries

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts about the Sustainability Frontiers conference, written by Laila Mendy. The first can be read here, the second post can be read here, and click here for the third. Diego Galafassi curated the next session and explained how this session appeared to be cross-cutting, noting how the idea of the imagination and imaginaries had been brought up throughout conversations in the conference. Galafassi introduced the topic, shortly explaining that imagination and creativity is a real component and important skill for transformation. He was joined by panellists Myanna Lahsen, Henrik Karlsson and Lara Houston. Myanna Lahsen began, following the same structure as the earlier sessions, with a five minute intervention into the theme from her own field. She probed the idea of the individual when it comes to inner transformations, suggesting that this is an important component but also a significant hurdle in societal change. As a cultural anthropologist by training, Lahsen explained that looking at who counts and where impact happens in democracies gives an indication that it is the economic elites, business-oriented organisations and interest groups who matter. So when it comes to the idea of inner transformation, scaling that…

Sustainability Frontiers: Decolonising Sustainability

This blog is part of a short series written by Laila Mendy, PhD student at NRHU, as she attended the Sustainability Frontiers conference. Opening and Decolonial Perspective on Sustainability Science: The day began with a demonstration of what much of decolonial scholars have been arguing for: by centring the perspectives and insights from decolonial scholars and indigenous researchers in the sustainability sciences conversation. Vasna Rasamar curated an panel discussion with Professor Lyla Mehta, Professor Bagele Chilisa, and Senior Lecturer Anna-Lill Drugge, all concerned with addressing what they see as a sustaining weakness of the sustainability sciences: the reproduction of colonial dynamics, practises and norms. Rasamar began by asking each of the speakers to present what they consider to be an ongoing frontier in sustainability. These are summarised shortly below: From Lyla Mehta: The term “Sustainability” came from German forestry management in the 1800s, which wanted to explore ways to continue resource extraction into the long term. From there it was consolidated and instrumentalised with – and alongside- other colonial practises of territory grabbing, othering and racialised categorisation, and removal of- and restriction of access to- indigenous peoples. Such practices adhere in much mainstream sustainable development today where, in the name…

Sustainability Frontiers: Digitalisation and Sustainability Transitions
Futures , Just Transition / 14 February 2022

The fourth session at Sustainability Frontiers discussed Digitalisation and Sustainability Transitions, and will be the third in the series of blog posts about this conference written by Laila Mendy, PhD student at NRHU, Uppsala University. The first can be read here and the second post can be read here. Somya Joshi moderated a conversation between Stefan Daume, Maja Essebo and Andrea Owe. Joshi introduced the hope and parallel concern about the relationships between technological development and innovation and the environment. She then invited each speaker to present their approach to this issue. Stefan Daume began on the idea of digitalisation from the perspective of disruptive technologies and AI for Sustainability science. He pointed out the meta-quality of the conversation and how the online conference structure can facilitate fantastic connections around the globe more quickly and without attributed transport emissions. Daume’s research spans the mature forms of technologies to the niche and cutting edge. He suggested that the internet acts as a mature tool for sustainability and pointed towards Greta Thunberg’s social movement enabled through the availability of social media. He considered open access research as another form. To the more cutting edge innovations, he introduces the idea of AI, block…

COP26 and the importance of frontrunners
COP26 Analysis , Government , Just Transition / 11 November 2021

COP26 have been flooded by frontrunner initiatives, trying to move beyond the painstakingly slow process of raising ambitions by consensus, from alliances to tackle methane emissions and deforestation to a number of initiatives to phase out coal and the launch today of a new alliance to phase out oil and gas. From one perspective these initiatives only make a small dent to the remaining gap to meet the Paris goals. From another perspective frontrunners are key to accelerate climate action and push the overall ambitions.

Transforming the Future and Societal Metamorphosis
Futures , Just Transition / 11 November 2021

Ahead of the Climate Change Leadership Friday event in the COP26 Nordic Pavilion, titled “Fair Climate Transformation Governance”, Laila Mendy at CCL reflects on the concept of metamorphosis. Climate change and the need for just societal transitions to low carbon economies are not a new topic for us here at Climate Change Leadership. We hear all the time about the importance of societal transition to mitigate severe climate change, but transition has not grasped the more transformative nature of rapid reductions in emissions and lifestyle changes needed to reach this goal. How, though, might we transform into something which has already been decided? We look to nature for inspiration: Metamorphosis. Perhaps this transformation could be considered in terms of societal metamorphosis. We know the quantified end goals and limitations that we need to follow in our transformations, whether they are mainly guided by the science of planetary boundaries, of carbon budgets or science-based climate laws. Here in Sweden the present end goal of our societal transformation means reaching Net Zero 2045. But the act of transformation into this fossil free future has yet to be decided and described. Contributing pathways have been proposed by industry in Fossil Free Sweden, and…

Democracies that fail to act on climate change face ‘existential’ threat

Daniel Lindvall is interviewed by Thomson Reuters News foundation. Read the full article here. The interview is about a new paper Daniel has written with IDEA about “Democracy and the Challenges of Climate Change“. Daniel Lindvall presented his paper at the IDEA webinar earlier this week, where the findings indicate that democratic countries’ failures to act on climate change can lead towards an existential threat to their democratic institutions. New ways to engage the public with democratic participation in climate change policy development is key to counter these risks. As Daniel Lindvall claims, scientists and scientific expertise do not hold all the answers and experiences and perspectives from the public can be used in the democratic process. You can watch the IDEA webinar here:

Climate, Covid and the Global Care Crisis
Just Transition , Stefania Barca / 7 September 2021

To mark the start of the Autumn 2021 semester, fourth Zennström Professor in Climate Change Leadership Stefania Barca delivered the CEMUS start up lecture to a collection of students both in person and online. You can watch a recording of the talk, ‘Climate, Covid and the Global Care Crisis – New Pathways to a Just Transition,’ below. Former MSc in Sustainable Development student Juliane Höhle made a graphic recording of the session, found below.