Sustainability transformations in complex systems: a political economy perspective

  • Published 02/12/19

By Hubert Schmitz and Ian Scoones

Chapter in Global Challenges, Governance, and Complexity: Applications and Frontiers, edited by Victor Galaz

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Making the world more sustainable is the biggest challenge of our time. Views on ways forward differ greatly but tend to concur that transformations are urgent. History tells us that there are no single lines of causation: transformations result from a concurrence of multiple changes. Given this challenge of both complexity and urgency, this chapter addresses two questions: Is it possible to accelerate sustainability transformations in a purposeful way? Who drives rapid transformations and who holds them back? In seeking answers, we adopt a political economy perspective and ask what can be learnt from rapid transformation in the past and what lessons emerge for the present and future.