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2014.03.27 - NAEC Seminars - Social-Ecology

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2014.03.27 - NAEC Seminars - Social-Ecology

  1. 1. Éloi LAURENT (OFCE/Sciences-po, Stanford University) eloi.laurent@sciencespo.fr New Approaches to Economic Challenges OECD, Paris, March 27 2014. Social-ecology: Exploring the missing link in sustainable development
  2. 2. Outline What is the social-ecological approach? How inequality matters in un- sustainability; How ecological crises aggravate inequality; What can we do about it?
  3. 3. The social-ecological approach  Social-ecology: environmental challenges are truly social problems that arise largely because of income and power inequality and can find their true resolution by putting forward justice principles and building good institutions;  Three lines of work in the last 5 years:  Social-ecology framework (2008, 2011 books + articles);  “Social-ecological state” (new book -> 2014);  New indicators of well-being and sustainability (Stiglitz-Sen- Fitoussi Commission and Report, 2009 + classes at Sciences Po and Stanford + research center project in Sciences Po);
  4. 4. Two general insights from Social-Ecological approach  First insight, analytical: Social sciences (and humanities) hold the key to the solution of environmental problems that “hard” sciences have revealed over the last three decades;  We should thus invest in social-ecological knowledge = learning how to reform our social systems (framing human attitudes and behaviors) in order to preserve our natural life- support system (climate, ecosystems, biodiversity);  Second insight, empirical: strong and reciprocal relation linking social justice and ecology;
  5. 5. The scientific context  “Missing link” in sustainable development, but seminal work by Boyce and Ostrom;  New approach gaining momentum: UN Report in 2011 linking inequality and sustainability + National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (Motesharrei, Rivas and Kalnay, 2014): "Collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion."
  6. 6. Source: Laurent, 2014. The missing link in sustainable development
  7. 7. The political context  Paradox of environmental emergency: Environmental degradations gradually become unbearable and increasingly visible (2013, 2014) but environmental concern seems to become intolerable in public debate;  Two reasons: environmentalist movement has not managed enough to embed ecological challenges in tangible social realities + “great recession” shortens collective horizons;  Need to connect the inequality crisis to ecological crises, show how social capital and natural capital are complementary;  Progress at the Policy level: SDG process in UN, French National Strategy for ecological transition (2014-2020);
  8. 8. How inequality pollutes the planet  Micro-ecological: Veblen, Gandhi;  Macro-ecological: five channels;  1) Inequality increases the need for environmentally harmful and socially unnecessary economic growth (PIketty-Saez data on US);  2) Inequality increases the ecological irresponsibility of the richest, within each country and among nations (Niger Delta, EJ in US);
  9. 9. How inequality pollutes the planet  3) Inequality, which affects the health of individuals and groups, diminishes the social-ecological resilience of communities and societies and weakens their collective ability to adapt to accelerating environmental change (Wilkinson, Pickett, Farmer);  4) Inequality hinders collective action aimed at preserving natural resources (e.g. political polarization in US and environmental policy);  5) Inequality reduces the political acceptability of environmental preoccupations and the ability to offset the potential socially regressive effects of environmental policies (carbon tax in France);
  10. 10. Source: Bonica, McCarty and Rosenthal, JEL 2013. Polarization, inequality and environmental retreat in the US Golden Age of environmental policy US environmental recession
  11. 11. Injustice in cycle: linking environmental and social inequalities  The other side of the social-ecological nexus;  The rise of “environmental inequalities” (Laurent, 2011);  Nurturing injustice: from environmental inequalities to social inequalities via institutions (school, labor market Currie );  “Social-ecological”, not natural disasters: the revenge of Rousseau (Lisbon, 1755); 2013: flooding in Europe, Hayian, Oklaoma;
  12. 12. Fuel poverty in the UK Source: UK Government and Laurent (2011). All households Year Number of households (000's) Proportion of households fuel poor (%) Fuel poor 2003 1 222 5,9 2004 1 236 5,9 2005 1 529 7,2 2006 2 432 11,5 2007 2 819 13,2 2008 3 335 15,6 2009 3 964 18,4 2010 3 536 16,4 2011 3 202 14,6
  13. 13. Source: Equit’Area. Pollution and poverty Social disadvantage NO2 Concentration
  14. 14. The heat wave of 2003 in France: 15 000 dead Latest estimate for the death toll in EU: 70 000 dead from the heatwave of 2003. Latest research: directly caused by climate change The highest risk of dying faced by poor and socially isolated people. 14 729 dead < 35 67 35-65 1254 > 65 13 407 (90%)
  15. 15. What we are faced with: social-ecological trade-offs Source: Laurent 2014.
  16. 16. What we can do: social-ecological policies Source: Laurent 2014.
  17. 17. The territorial level, key battleground for social-ecological policy Territorial social-ecology; “Synergetic indicators” to overcome well- being dilemmas and trilemmas (How’s Life in your Region, 2014); Need for multi-level governance policy;
  18. 18. What we are faced with: territorial social-ecological trade-offs Source: Laurent 2014.
  19. 19. What we can do: multi-level social-ecological policies Source: Laurent 2014.

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