The new politics and geographies of scarcity

Scarcity is a dangerous idea and has long been a totalising discourse in resource politics and mainstream economics. A large body of work has critiqued the naturalisation of scarcity in discourses of environmental change, and has highlighted problems in how scarcity is conceptualised and the ways in which scarcities are socially and politically generated. Despite…

How Deep Is Incumbency? Introducing a ‘Configuring Fields’ Approach to the Distribution and Orientation of Power in Socio-Material Change

This paper examines a variety of theories bearing on ‘socio-material incumbency’ and explores methodological implications. The aim is to develop a systematic general approach, which builds on strengths and mitigates weaknesses in prevailing analytical frameworks. Defining power as ‘asymmetrically structuring agency’, incumbency is visible in a diversity of power gradients constituted by multiple economic, political…

Low-carbon China: Emerging phenomena and implications for innovation governance

This paper is an introduction to the special section of the journal Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions (EIST). The special issue investigates emerging phenomena associated with low carbon transitions in contemporary China. It looks at supply and demand side dynamics, the changing role of citizens and a range of policy approaches characteristic of the Chinese…

Narratives and Pathways towards an Ecological Civilization in Contemporary China

This journal article by Sam Geall (chinadialogue.net, University of Sussex,  Chatham House) and Adrian Ely (SPRU/STEPS) draws on theoretical insights from the pathways approach to explore the ways in which dominant policy narratives in China might drive particular forms of innovation for sustainability and potentially occlude or constrain others. In particular, the authors look at ecological civilization (shengtai wenming)…

Transformative innovation in peri-urban Asia

This paper draws on two case studies from India and China to discuss how and why rapidly urbanizing contexts are particularly challenging for transformative innovation but are also critical sustainability frontiers and learning environments. We argue that lack of understanding and policy engagement with peri-urbanization in its current form is leading to increasing exclusion and…

T-Labs: A Practical Guide

T-Labs: A Practical Guide Using Transformation Labs (T-Labs) for innovation in social-ecological systems Pathways Network, September 2018 Between 2016 and 2018, the Pathways Network aimed to investigate new approaches for transformations to sustainability across different disciplines, cultures and contexts. The network carried out comparative research in six countries to explore how to work with local…

Transformations to Sustainability

STEPS Working Paper 104 September 2018 The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlight how transformations to sustainable economies and societies are a major global challenge. This Working Paper offers a brief overview of different conceptual approaches to transformation, and outlines a set of practical principles for effective research and action towards sustainability. We review three approaches…

Uncertainty in Climate Science: Extreme Weather Events in India

In May 2018, multiple extreme weather events claimed scores of lives, damaged property and brought public life to a standstill in parts of India. In the aftermath of these events, a blame game ensued with some assigning responsibility to scientific and state agencies, and others calling for more research and accurate weather forecasts. It is…

The Joys of Truth: Science Policy in the Public Interest

Since 1974, Professor Erik Millstone has been conducting research into the causes and consequences of scientific and technological change in food and agriculture. In 1987 he joined SPRU where his work has been centered on developing a policy-relevant approach to the sociology of regulatory science and has been highly influential in the areas of food additives,…

Brighton & Hove’s Farmland: Potentials for a more local and ecological food supply

The City of Brighton & Hove has made impressive progress toward improving access to healthy and sustainable food for its residents. Recent research and consultations have indicated a great potential for farmland surrounding Brighton & Hove to be used to further this progress. Much of the farmland surrounding the city is owned by the City…