Planetary boundaries, politics and
pathways
Melissa Leach
Plenary Dialogue
Montpellier, 7 May 2014
Intensified poverty and inequalities
Ecological stresses
Ill healthLand grabs Water scarcity Energy poverty
RR
Social, ins...
Source: Raworth 2012,
based on Rockström et
al 2009
Planetary and social boundaries:
Creating a safe and just space for hu...
Urgent challenges …..
• Building pathways that
enhance sustainability
and resilience,
integrating:
• Ecological integrity
...
Source: Leach,
Raworth and
Rockström
2013
This means building and steering alternative
pathways....
6
That respect three Ds:
What directions are different pathways headed in?
What goals, values, interests, power relations ...
Politicising planetary boundaries
Whose boundaries? Whose
safety?
Whose goals? Sustainability
and resilience of what for
w...
8
Planetary boundaries – discourse and narrative
‘Planetary boundaries’ as a discourse
A particular ‘regime of truth’ co-c...
9
Whose boundaries? Whose safety?
A two degree ‘safety barrier’ or ‘guardrail’ for climate change
Safety involves meanings...
Alternative sustainable food futures
transgenics
industrial hybridssmall-scale farmer
livelihoods
participatory breeding
B...
11
One forest, multiple values and sustainabilities
Carbon
sequestration
Hydrological
services
Biodiversity
Ecotourism
Tim...
12
Global governance
A global referee (Rockstrom et al
2009)
Recognition of the ‘earth system’
and ‘safe operating space’ ...
13
To aspirations for directed control and ‘planetary management’
“control variables of the Earth” (Rockstrom et al 2009)
...
14
A “landscape approach” means taking both a geographical and
socio-economic approach to managing the land, water and for...
15
Insert a geo engineering pic
Techno-scientific fixes
Climate geo-engineering
Crop biotechnologies
16
Green market fixes
“Selling nature to save it”
(Kathy McAfee 2010)
Original artwork (water colour on 20 x 30 illustration board, 2011) by Filipino painter Boy Dominguez
‘Green Grabbing’, JP...
18
Pathways marginalised?
Transformative pathways – involving alliances that
challenge and rework political, economic and ...
19
Citizen pathways – involving grassroots innovation,
mobilisation and collective action
Slum and shack
dwellers’
network...
20
Emergent pathways – involving alignments in diverse
bottom-up marginal interests, pursuing contending –
even unknown – ...
Democratising planetary boundaries?
Matters for inclusive deliberation and debate
Whose boundaries? Whose
safety?
Whose go...
22
Towards politics and governance for
sustainability, resilience and development
Challenging unsustainable and unjust pat...
Safe and just futures?
Innovation and transformation
Freeman et al 1973
SPRU, UK
Importance of science, technology and
inn...
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Melissa Leach: Planetary boundaries, politics and pathways. Plenary dialogue, Resilience 2014.

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Professor Melissa Leach, IDS Director and former STEPS Centre Director, gave this presentation as part of a Plenary Dialogue with Johan Rockstrom of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at the Resilience 2014 conference in Montpellier, France on 7 May 2014. Find out more: http://steps-centre.org/

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Melissa Leach: Planetary boundaries, politics and pathways. Plenary dialogue, Resilience 2014.

  1. 1. Planetary boundaries, politics and pathways Melissa Leach Plenary Dialogue Montpellier, 7 May 2014
  2. 2. Intensified poverty and inequalities Ecological stresses Ill healthLand grabs Water scarcity Energy poverty RR Social, institutional and political-economic processes Scarcities, challenges, deprivations, ill-being Development threats in the Anthropocene
  3. 3. Source: Raworth 2012, based on Rockström et al 2009 Planetary and social boundaries: Creating a safe and just space for humanity
  4. 4. Urgent challenges ….. • Building pathways that enhance sustainability and resilience, integrating: • Ecological integrity • Social equality • Human rights, well- being and security
  5. 5. Source: Leach, Raworth and Rockström 2013 This means building and steering alternative pathways....
  6. 6. 6 That respect three Ds: What directions are different pathways headed in? What goals, values, interests, power relations are driving particular pathways – and how might they be ‘re-steered’? Is there a sufficient diversity of approaches? - to resist powerful processes of lock-in, build resilience in the face of uncertainty, and respond to a variety of contexts, goals and values? What are the implications for distribution? Who stands to gain or lose from current or alternative pathways? How will choosing between them affect inequalities of wealth, power, resource use, and opportunity? Need to attend to contestations, tensions and trade-offs….
  7. 7. Politicising planetary boundaries Whose boundaries? Whose safety? Whose goals? Sustainability and resilience of what for whom? Which pathways? Choosing and shaping interlocked with power Who gains, who loses? Planetary boundaries as power grab, undermining justice and democracy?
  8. 8. 8 Planetary boundaries – discourse and narrative ‘Planetary boundaries’ as a discourse A particular ‘regime of truth’ co-constructed through power, knowledge and institutions ‘Accelerating human influence in the anthropocene threatening planetary boundaries’ as a powerful narrative  A storyline – with a beginning, middle and end  Created by people and institutions  Assigns responsibility and blame  Underpins, justifies, legitimates action
  9. 9. 9 Whose boundaries? Whose safety? A two degree ‘safety barrier’ or ‘guardrail’ for climate change Safety involves meanings and values beyond climate per se.... Secure livelihoods? Freedom from gender-based violence? Too hot for coral reefs? Too hot for small island states? 1.5 degrees? 3 degrees? ??
  10. 10. Alternative sustainable food futures transgenics industrial hybridssmall-scale farmer livelihoods participatory breeding Biochar and climate-smart agriculture Whose goals? Sustainability and resilience of what for whom?
  11. 11. 11 One forest, multiple values and sustainabilities Carbon sequestration Hydrological services Biodiversity Ecotourism Timber and building supplies Ancestors and cultural practices Fallows for farming Food and medicines
  12. 12. 12 Global governance A global referee (Rockstrom et al 2009) Recognition of the ‘earth system’ and ‘safe operating space’ as legal entities that can legitimise supra- national governance Which pathways?
  13. 13. 13 To aspirations for directed control and ‘planetary management’ “control variables of the Earth” (Rockstrom et al 2009) “identification of mechanisms amenable to human control” (E. Ehlers and T. Krafft, Eds., Earth System Science in the Anthropocene, 2006). “planetary management” (European Commission Directorate General for Research, 2009). Planetary control and management From human ‘control’ in the anthropocene, and planetary domination “we…” who “…are taking control of Nature’s realm” P. J. Crutzen and C. Schwagerl, “Living in the Anthropocene: Toward a New Global Ethos,” Yale Environ. 360, no. 24 January, pp. 6–11, 2011.
  14. 14. 14 A “landscape approach” means taking both a geographical and socio-economic approach to managing the land, water and forest resources that form the foundation – the natural capital – for meeting our goals of food security and inclusive green growth.... we are better able to maximize productivity, improve livelihoods, and reduce negative environmental impacts’ (Landscape approaches in sustainable development, World Bank) Landscape rationalisation and planning Before: Forest livelihood After: 34,000 ha Jatropha biofuel plot
  15. 15. 15 Insert a geo engineering pic Techno-scientific fixes Climate geo-engineering Crop biotechnologies
  16. 16. 16 Green market fixes “Selling nature to save it” (Kathy McAfee 2010)
  17. 17. Original artwork (water colour on 20 x 30 illustration board, 2011) by Filipino painter Boy Dominguez ‘Green Grabbing’, JPS Special Issue 39(2), April 2012. Edited by James Fairhead, Melissa Leach and Ian Scoones
  18. 18. 18 Pathways marginalised? Transformative pathways – involving alliances that challenge and rework political, economic and social structures Zero carbon energy Ecological agriculture
  19. 19. 19 Citizen pathways – involving grassroots innovation, mobilisation and collective action Slum and shack dwellers’ networks Food sovereignty and agroecology
  20. 20. 20 Emergent pathways – involving alignments in diverse bottom-up marginal interests, pursuing contending – even unknown – ends.
  21. 21. Democratising planetary boundaries? Matters for inclusive deliberation and debate Whose boundaries? Whose safety? Whose goals? Sustainability and resilience of what for whom? Which pathways? Choosing and shaping interlocked with power Who gains, who loses? Planetary boundaries as power grab, undermining justice and democracy?
  22. 22. 22 Towards politics and governance for sustainability, resilience and development Challenging unsustainable and unjust pathways, opening up to appreciate alternatives, enabling and supporting transformational pathways Multi-scale – to respond to challenges across global, national, regional, local settings Adaptive – to respond to complexity, uncertainty and dynamics in social, ecological, political and economic systems Networked and alliance-based – combining state and non-state actors and institutions, formal and informal processes, planning and mobilisation, leadership and distributed action Deliberative – to foster inclusive, democratic debate around boundary- placing, goals, and means to get there Engaged with science – but as reflexive partner in framing questions, investigating processes, debating implications (rather than distant authority)
  23. 23. Safe and just futures? Innovation and transformation Freeman et al 1973 SPRU, UK Importance of science, technology and innovation Stretching limits, steering within them Hererra et al 1972 Fundacion Bariloche, Argentina Values-based vision: a society ‘based on equality and full participation of all its members ....intrinsically compatible with its environment.’ Human creativity Social and political transformation
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