Tuesday, April 4, 2017 -
9:00am to 10:00am
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Weil Town Hall (B-L-1), HKS, 79 JFK St., Cambridge

Pathways towards Sustainable Development: Transforming Global Socio-Technical Regimes

The Sustainability Science Program at HKS hosts a talk with Christian Binz, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Lund University; former Post-Doctoral Fellow, Harvard Sustainability Science Program.

The Earth has entered the Anthropocene, a phase in which human action has profound—and often adverse—impacts on the ecosystem services that sustain human well-being. At the same time, economic globalization is increasingly binding people, technologies, and natural resources into a single social-ecological system at the global scale. Sustainability science scholars have accordingly argued that a global transformation of the ways we produce and consume goods is needed in order to sustain our planet’s life support systems. Yet, our theoretical understanding of such long-term cultural transformations remains limited at best and we lack a heuristic that may inform key stakeholders on how to best navigate the transition. This talk will address this gap with a novel analytical framework at the intersection of sustainability science and socio-technical transitions literature. It proposes a ‘global’ regime perspective that embraces the multi-scalar actor networks and institutions which influence contemporary transition dynamics. I will argue that transformative change is in many sectors hampered by unsustainable regime logics which are influential at a global scale. Shifting to more sustainable development trajectories thus depends not only on governance reform in local social-ecological systems, but equally on action at national and global scales that transforms various sectors’ dominant development logic. This basic idea—and ways to assess the sustainability of alternative regime logics—will be discussed based on case studies from the water sector and the sharing economy. I will conclude by outlining a new research agenda on transition dynamics in complex socio-technical-ecological systems.

Contact Name: 

Nora O'Neil

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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