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Kinthaert, Leah, Bayrak, Mucahid, Dawson, Ashley, Ekhator, Eghosa, Harman, Oliver, Harvey, Blane, Ojino, Joyce, Pereira, Laura, Schipper, E. Lisa F., Tanner, Thomas, Telli, Henry and Verdini, Giulio (2022) How can policy makers be globally inclusive when it comes to sustainability? Taylor and Francis Insights [Opinion Pieces / Media / Blogs]

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Abstract

Many people in North America or Europe experience the concept of sustainability as one of limits: limiting air travel, limiting consumption or type of goods, limiting choices – choices around what we eat, wear, or do. These sorts of attitudes, unfortunately, have made for a great deal of resistance around the adoption of sustainable practices. In fact, in places like the U.S., conservatives – who make up over one-third of the population – have even politicized anti-sustainability and intentionally do not adopt sustainable business practices, as a form of protest. In addition to U.S. conservatives, there is a growing movement of other voices in the U.S., for example, who are challenging the idea of sustainability, and in doing so have exposed that environmentalist organizations, or "Big Green" groups, "have just 22% non-white senior staff in a nation that is about 40 percent non-white." As Zack Coleman wrote in Politico last year: "Would-be allies within the Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities are disaffected by an agenda that many see as focused on save-the-planet idealism at the expense of the nuts-and-bolts concerns of their communities." It may be a very frustrating time for people who want to put forth an agenda of implementing behavioral change in the fight against climate change. Perhaps, however, as we take a critical look at such an agenda, it is ripe for change. The mainstream discourse is not only out of touch with the U.S. population, it is in fact completely ignoring the Global South, which has, by far, most of the world’s population. As Harini Nagenda explains in Nature: "The limited Western view of sustainability is stifling progress, just as the world faces crises over water, climate change, energy, and biodiversity. That view… does a disservice to the variety and creativity of thinking and actions on sustainability in societies across the globe." Creativity and innovation, Nagendra points out, "have brought sustainability issues into everyday conversations in India. They have inspired generations of activists. Yet most university courses on sustainability omit them. Teachings still have a Western focus, even in India. Most books on sustainability frame the discourse in terms of Earth’s finite resources and rising population." So how can we frame the discourse to include all voices? I spoke with 11 researchers who have focused their scholarship on sustainability and the global south to find out. They include Henry Telli, Dr. Lisa Schipper, Joyce Ojino, Laura Pereira, Ashley Dawson, Oliver Harman, Mucahid Bayrak, Thomas Tanner, Blane Harvey, Giulio Verdini, and Dr. Eghosa Ekhator. With suggestions that range from a reconceptualization of sustainability to debt cancellation, they examine current roadblocks and provide a path to understanding.

Item Type: Opinion Pieces / Media / Blogs
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Development Studies
Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for Development, Environment and Policy
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2023 10:42
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/38552

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