Bildtext får vara max två rader text. Hela texten ska högerjusteras om den bara ska innehålla fotobyline! Photo: B. Christensen/Azote
A tipping point alone will not guarantee a transformation, what comes afterwards is crucial
- Whether a shock or crisis provides an opportunity for transformation depends on a range of variables
- Opportunities for transformation need to be navigated carefully or else the consequences may be furthering inequitable and unsustainable circumstances
- Capacities related to preparedness and navigating socio-political shocks are required
A successful transformation goes through phases, and each phase must be navigated carefully
WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Can COVID-19 help make our world fairer, greener and more compassionate? There are plenty of those who believe that amid the tragedy that surrounds this virus, the world has been given an opportunity it may never get again.
However, opportunities need to be navigated carefully or else the consequences risk furthering unsustainable and inequitable circumstances.
In a study published in Global Environmental Change, centre researchers Maja Schlüter, Per Olsson and Carl Folke, together with colleagues from Germany and Chile, investigate the opportunities for transformation created by large-scale socio-political shocks such as the end of apartheid or the break-up of the Soviet Union.
A successful transformation depends on factors such as preparedness for change, an enabling environment, stewardship and capacities to navigate these phases.
Maja Schlüter, co-author
Complex and fragile process
With case studies from South Africa, Chile and Uzbekistan the authors demonstrate the complex and fragile process of navigating towards biosphere stewardship:
- In South Africa the political and economic change after Apartheid resulted in a transformation to a more egalitarian system where safe access to water and sanitation became available to more than just a White minority. Efforts have since been hampered by a constantly changing staff, a lack of strategic leadership and implementation.
- Uzbekistan experienced a socio-political shock in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Intense cotton production had for decades put a strain on water resources, however, transfer of water management to Uzbek authorities after independence did not result in a transformation towards more sustainable water management. Not even two devastating droughts in 2000 and 2001 triggered any major reforms.
- The democratization process after the end of 17 years of Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile was used to transform the governance of coastal fisheries from top-down government interventions to a system based on Territorial User Rights for Fisheries (TURF). Today, TURF is increasingly influenced by global trade and price drops which is decoupled from the local management.
“A crisis can create a window of opportunity for large-scale transformation and positive change, but there needs to be capacities to navigate the subsequent process towards equitable and sustainable futures,” co-author Per Olsson adds.
There is high demand for this knowledge and change-makers such entrepreneurs, investors, NGOS and governmental agencies must be made aware of this more nuanced understanding of a transformation if they want to use the current COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity for positive change.
The researchers selected cases that experienced a large socio-political shock and have a looming ecological crisis. They delineated the different phases of transformation in each case study based on the timing of the shock (distinction between preparation and navigation phase) and other major changes on the landscape level, but also by the occurrence of new social interactions and change of old ones within the respective governance regime itself (distinction between navigation and stabilizing phase).
From the literature, they identified a number of features, which were associated as critical elements of transformations. Changes in natural resource governance or lack thereof before and after the shock were analysed with respect to the features and the levels they operated at.
The paper is primarily based on analysis of secondary data documented in the literature, results of own field work of the authors in all three case studies, as well as reports. This literature review has been supplemented by revisiting field notes and interviews of the authors´ previous research projects in the case study countries.
Herrfahrdt-Pähle, E., Schlüter, M., Olsson, P., Folke, C. Gelcich, S., Pahl-Wostl, C. 2020. Sustainability transformations: socio-political shocks as opportunities for governance transitions. Global Environmental Change, Volume 63, July 2020, 102097, DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2020.102097
For more information about the publication, contact:
General news | 2023-09-19
New Google.org grant funds Centre research on AI-powered climate risk tool
Google.org has awarded five million US dollars to a group of scientists, including Centre researchers, to develop and scale ClimateIQ , an artificial intelligence-powered climate risk evaluation tool for cities
General news | 2023-09-19
Researchers and chefs team up for a sustainable lunch week
“Risotto on Swedish oat-rice, with apple cider vinegar, blue mussels from Bohuslän, parsley, and grated Svecia cheese”. That’s one of the science-cooked dishes that guests can enjoy at “A Planetary Lunch” — an experimental lunch week at Stockholm university
Research news | 2023-09-14
The SDGs are not on track — new report outlines what needs to happen
Humanity is set to miss the Sustainable Development Goals. But decisive and timely policy actions can kickstart extraordinary turnarounds and a giant leap toward achieving the SDGs
Research news | 2023-09-13
All planetary boundaries mapped out for the first time, six of nine crossed
For the first time, an international team of scientists is able to provide a detailed outline of planetary resilience by mapping out all nine boundary processes that define a safe operating space for humanity.
General news | 2023-09-04
Centre secures 28 MSEK research funding in two new Formas grants
The two grants worth 14 million SEK each will focus on the intersection of climate, water and biodiversity
General news | 2023-08-30
Science and music met as Centre research was presented in a concert at the Baltic Sea Festival
“Dialogues” premiered – a piece of music written about Carolin Seiferth’s PhD research