Global sustainability is increasingly influenced by processes of industrialization and urbanization in non-OECD countries. This is especially the case in Asia, where rapidly growing economies generate new large demands for resources and further play a significant role in international commodity and technology markets, while contributing heavily to global environmental problems, including climate change.
Traditional growth models suggest that developing economies and regions will become relatively more resource- and pollution-intensive, before converging on more resource-efficient and low-pollution production and consumption patterns expressed in developed countries. However, alternative growth models promise both a faster transition to resource-efficient and low emissions development pathways, as well as social and economic benefits in the short- and long-term, with technological innovation and capability building playing a key part in generating and anchoring new, more sustainable ways of doing things. Yet, the degree to which this innovation and learning takes place is as still unknown.
Key approaches used in the drive toward creating these "sustainable development pathways" are called sustainability experiments (SEs). SEs represent a significant new source of innovation and capability formation, linked to global knowledge and technology flows, which could reshape emergent socio-technical regimes and thereby contribute to alternative development pathways in late-industrializing countries.
SEs can be defined as planned initiatives that embody a highly novel socio-technical configuration likely to lead to substantial (environmental) sustainability gains. These experiments play a key role in innovating socio-technical regimes, which constitute the social, institutional and technological fabric of economic activity. That is, socio-technical regime change is fundamental to structural change in economies, of the type that leads toward greater sustainability. However, there is still much to learn about the processes by which innovations emerging from SEs could shape alternative, more sustainable development pathways.
Our related activities
We're happy to present to you the full video recording of Sir Partha Dasgupta's recent lecture at the IHDP Secretariat. Enjoy his fascinating and comprehensive address on “Sustainability and the Idea of Wealth“ as he touches on issues such as happiness and human well-being, the valuing of human life, the productive base of nations, and how we measure national prices. As always, your comments are very welcome!
20 February 2013 | Read more
Policy Brief on the Case of Energy Sector in few Asian Countries
Editor's Note: This is the second policy brief that was produced during our Green Economy Workshop in China in 2012. It was written by the participants Md. Mahmudul Alam, Nalaka G. D. A., Nissanka N. A. A. P, Sacchidananda Mukherjee and Yuti Ariani Fatimah, who will be happy to receive your thoughts and feedback about their work. Use the comments function below to share your ideas and critique and let them know what you like about the policy brief, where you see areas for improvement, and if you think it has the potential to catch a policy-makers attention.
In 1987, the Brundtland Commission introduced the term “sustainable development” to highlight the needs for taking the future generations into account. The term has evolved from only focusing on the human kind to reconciliation between humans and nature. On one hand, this evolution opens space for nature and vulnerable people to be acknowledged, on the other hand, it raises difficulties in implementing the idea due to its heterogeneity. By the mid 1990s, for instance, there were more than 100 definitions of sustainability (Marshall and Toffel, 2005). Rather than following previous scholars trying to find a general definition for sustainability, we try to approach it through the idea of translation. From this perspective, diversity is being bounded via others’ right such as a practice is wrong whenever it might harm others and not because it looks different. Based on the argument above, we look at the energy sector within Asian countries in an attempt to increase variety in understanding sustainability.
5 February 2013 | Read more