Innovation for Sustainability in a Changing China: Exploring Narratives and Pathways

Working Paper
  • Published 13/10/15
  • ISBN: 978-1-78118-273-4

STEPS Centre Working Paper Series

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Given the environmental impacts of China’s current development trajectory and the country’s increasing economic and strategic focus on innovation, China’s progress on sustainable and low-carbon innovation is of crucial global importance. In order to better understand how the government is accelerating progress in these areas, this working paper explores some of the key political slogans that have underpinned China’s policies around sustainable development (可持续发展 kechixu fazhan) and innovation (创新 chuangxin) within the context of broader narratives and changes. Drawing on theoretical insights from work that investigates the role of power in shaping narratives, knowledge and action around specific pathways to sustainability (Leach et al 2010a), this paper begins 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, we look at ecological civilisation (生态文明 shengtai wenming) as a slogan that has gradually evolved to become an official narrative, and is likely to influence pathways to sustainability over the coming years. The paper raises important questions for future research that could help to clarify the relationship between narratives and pathways to sustainability in changing China.

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