Sustainability for the 21st Century: Overcoming Limitations to Creative Responses to Climate Challenge
The IPCC is accumulating sufficient evidence to the effect that the current climate challenge poses a global threat to human survival on an unprecedented scale (IPCC 2007). There is a need for a new paradigm of sustainable development which would both take on board the latest climate research and the possible scenarios of creative adaptation to the new conditions. Such adaptation involves forging new strategies of political, commercial and cultural sustainability. The project sets out to explore the limits to and strategies of innovative adaptation in three countries: Norway, Ghana and China. While SUM will remain the overall coordinator of the project, to enrich and strengthen the business strategy SUM will work in close alliance with The Norwegian School of Management (cf. Atle Midttun and Jørgen Randers). The core group includes researchers from Oslo, Oxford, Stanford and EUI in Florence. The study advances a comparative, multidisciplinary approach based on dialogue between the natural scientists and the researchers in the social science and the humanities. It also takes on board an empirical, multi-stakeholder perspective involving politicians, NGOs, religious leaders and businesses.
The aim of the project is threefold:
1) To identify cultural, political and economical sources of the main problems bedeviling creative adaptation to the climate challenge in Norway, China and Ghana
2) On the basis of obtained data, to draft out possible strategies for overcoming some of the daunting limitations
3) To rethink the agenda of sustainable development in the light of the findings
The secondary objectives include the following: 1) At the level of policy; to supplement the work of IPCC with political, economic and cultural insights into the processes which modify the human response to climate challenge; 2) At the level of expertise: to provide insights into the distinctiveness of human response to climate change in different cultural and political contexts; 3) At the level of method: to venture a new, comparative perspective on creative adaptation and to enrich the largely technologically oriented innovation theory with governance theory and cultural semiotics.