WCSG Conference 2024 Governing sustainability transformations

March 25, 2024
WCSG Conference 2024 Governing sustainability transformations

WCSG Conference 2024 Governing sustainability transformations

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275 Euro
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Context

Transformation of society and sustainability governance requires significant reordering: one that changes existing drivers and structures to drive change towards fundamentally novel systems. During the conference we focus on the central question, can sustainability transformation be governed? And if so by whom, what and how?

In our quest to answer this question we explore the four main themes detailed below.

What is this conference about?

Can sustainability transformation be governed?

With multiple sustainability crises unfolding, from climate change to biodiversity loss, from increasing levels of pollution and threats to global public health to increased socio-environmental and intergenerational inequality, poverty and intersectional discrimination, from the digital divide, food and energy insecurity to forced migration and disruptive use of emerging technologies, there is a need for transforming society as well as the way in which sustainability is governed. Therefore, transformation of society and sustainability governance requires significant reordering: one that changes existing drivers and structures to drive change towards fundamentally novel systems.

This is often framed as radical but global crises can only be reversed when the underlying root drivers of sustainability problem(s) rather than its proximate causes and symptomatic effects are addressed. sustainability transformation is characterized by complexity and raises questions about the possibility of its governance. Indeed, sustainability transformation goes beyond emergent and incremental change within existing interactions, practices and governance arrangements, which are rooted in history and reflect current power relations. Transformative change, therefore, should take place at both the individual level, and collectively as a society, i.e. in terms of beliefs, dominant practices and nature worldviews, values and norms.

In addition, transformational change is seen as, multi-scalar, complex and inherently political as they involve actors, knowledges, interaction, institutions and power dynamics that shape both the triggers and capacities for governing sustainability change.

During the conference we focus on the central question, can sustainability transformation be governed? And if so by whom, what and how? In our quest to answer this question we explore four main themes:

Four Central Conference Themes
  1. Defining transformative sustainability change
  2. Actors and just transformations
  3. Governance approaches in and for transformations
  4. Evaluating sustainable transformations

Research questions and context behind the themes

1. Defining transformative sustainability change
What is transformative sustainability change?

Transformative sustainability change includes shifts in social, economic, environmental, and technological dimensions, and underpinning paradigms, goals and values. Thinking and discussing explicitly how we are defining transformative sustainability change facilitates more coherent discussions about the assumptions and goals that are shared or contested. Other important questions in this regard are about how the concept of transformative sustainability change relates to different governance aspects, and which conceptual frameworks can or should be used to understand the governance of transformative sustainability change, and in what (legal) commitments, it could be translated?

2. Actors and just transformations
Which entanglements of (human and non-human) actors drive transformative change and what are justice implications?

Sustainability change can be driven by governments at different scales, but also by community, civil society, consumer, and (local) societal groups. What are the enabling and constraining conditions (e.g., justice, inequity, temporality/history, coloniality, profits) for different groups of actors to drive change? Who are leaders of change and how have they been able to contribute to sustainability transitions? What is enabling and constraining human and non-human actors to use their capacity to drive (transformative) change?

3. Governance approaches in and for transformations
Which solutions, pathways and leverage points for change are addressed by different governance approaches, arrangements and tools? And what are the enabling and constraining conditions in developing these governance approaches, arrangements and tools?  

We need to discover how societal norms, different governance arrangements and policies are able to drive transformative changes. The potential of the law and other types of governance ensure just changes with the general aim to achieve more equitable and sustainable society. Question include How can governance be more agile, adaptive and dynamic in order to better respond to transformative change and articulate principles of resource prioritization during societal (r)evolutions.

4. Evaluating sustainable transformations
How can we evaluate if efforts to change are sustainable and advance both environmental and public health improvements as well as social equity?

If sustainability change is about changing governance structures and power relations and are long-term but non-linear processes, how do we know whether law and other public, private and societal initiatives contribute to just sustainability change? Also given that current changes rely on decisions in the past, how do we assess solutions, pathways and leverage points for change towards sustainability governance? Which approaches can we use to evaluate changes in governance, impact logics outcomes and impacts?  What discourses and paradigms surround current thinking around sustainability governance? What are the ethical considerations, and what about the positionality of sustainability governance researchers?

 

Date And Time

October 16, 2024 to
October 17, 2024
 

Registration End Date

July 31, 2024
 

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