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Strategies for Eco-Social Transformation: Comparing Efficiency, Sufficiency and Consistency

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Re-directing human progress cannot be done by means of superior ethics and good will alone. Instead, effective forms of management and governance are required. Realizing sustainable development in practice takes place under highly diverse conditions of targeting-conflicts about priorities, utilization competences about resources as well as divergent interests and contrasting visions of how “our common future” should look like. Facing “great challenges” of humankind therefore means tailoring well-designed interventions in the ongoing dynamics of existing patterns: in communicative culture as well as in material culture, in the organizational sphere as well as in the technological sphere. But how to do so?

Three transformational strategies that are well known in sustainability science, science-technology-studies and systemic design are “efficiency”, “sufficiency” and “consistency”. They are driven by contrasting rationalities, respond to different groundings and favor distinct instruments. They are supported by different arguments and seem to be excluding each other, as suggested by the corresponding semantics of “hard” and “soft” sustainability. We can understand them as strategies that are competing for attention on the public agenda for being accepted and having the chance to become converted into practice. But how to combine these strategies with effective principles of design such as to enable far reaching transformations in material culture and social life?

Besides of focusing on the advantages of a “balanced approach” in theoretical reasoning there is need to initiate and realize further empirical research about concrete applications of these strategies, “best practices” and what could be learned from failures. Moreover, there should be tackled their unintended consequences, probable rebound effects and, finally, possibilities to deploy them in smart combinations together with accompanying measures. But how to elaborate some comparative research design that is able to address all these issues effectively?

Authors: Andreas Metzner-Szigeth

Additional Info

  • Topics of presentation: Design for Sustainable Materials and Energy
  • Venue: Italy


Question and Answer  

# milan oral Andreas Metzner-Szigeth 2019-04-03 10:32
# milan oral Cindy Kohtala 2019-04-03 14:58
What is the optimum team(s) or scale(s) at which to actually analyse and implement systems or models according to these concepts?
# milan oral Andreas Metzner-Szigeth 2019-04-03 16:28
Besides efficiency, sufficiency and consistency I should mention as well resilience that is as valuable as the aforementioned strategies. All of them are well-known in the communities of Science-Technology-Studies and Sustainability Science and progressively also in that of Systemic Design. As strategies they can give orientation about distinct ways of tackling sustainability issues. Simultaneously, they facilitate reflections about strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for own projects. With regard to your question which kind of team would be able to support this ideas best I would guess that diversity of scientific and professional competences is a key requirement. Another is the ability to observe problems and solutions from different angles and to integrate different insights.

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