Reference : Sustainability? Local opportunities and scalar contradictions
Scientific Presentations in Universities or Research Centers : Scientific presentation in universities or research centers
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Human geography & demography
Sustainability? Local opportunities and scalar contradictions
Carr, Constance mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Identités, Politiques, Sociétés, Espaces (IPSE) >]
Local Capacities, Political Energies
2-3-2015 to 3-3-2015
Centre International de Recherche sur l'Environnement et le Développement (CIRED)
[en] In 2014, a colleague and I guest edited a Special Issue of Local Environment. Focus was on the urban and local scale as it is often postulated to be the most appropriate site of sustainability intervention. But we were also interested in mechanisms of change that higher levels of authority are not able to engage. Clearly, there is a rich diversity of initiatives: Ideas are abound, technologies are available, and projects already exist in a variety of forms and at various stages of maturity. In this way, the issue contributes to the growing catalog of sustainability efforts. Significant, however, was that local initiatives must be viewed not as isolated events, but in association the wider multi-scalar contexts that enable them or inhibit them. If making a better planet ultimately means invoking change on a broad scale – which is the broad goal of sustainable development, sustainability, or sustainability transitions – then ideas have to originate with one or a few bodies, and there must be a process of translating the emerged new practice to anchor it at wider-reaching scales. In this way, the general course can be changed. Yet, it is a path that treads the fine line between alternative niches and mainstream, between counter and accepted practice, between the visionary ‘lone (eco)hero’ and conventional operations, between real change in the mainstream and expropriation of the alternative by the mainstream. At this point, a paradox often arises as local initiatives transgress from micro-local to wider, established and well known spheres. This tension – between what enables and what constrains actors interested in sustainability transitions – is the focus of this contribution.

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