Monday, 31 March 2014
This paper is concerned with how resilience approaches can be used as a practical tool in helping to understand complex systems in an urbanising world and how resilience approaches can contribute to initiatives to enhance environmental integrity and social justice. Some key debates around differing understandings and uses of the term resilience are summarised, and criticisms discussed. In-depth case studies demonstrate opportunities for the use of resilience approaches as an integral part of initiatives that seek to enhance sustainability in dynamic urbanising situations.
Save and Grow: A policymaker’s guide to the sustainable intensification of smallholder crop production
A straightforward guide from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to the need for a change in direction in food production away from intensive mono-cropping and towards smallholder productivity with an ecological focus. 7 articles consider the challenges, farming systems, soil health, crops and varieties, water management, plant protection and policies and institutions. Aimed at policy makers, this report makes a great introduction to a topic close to the heart of permaculture; who will grow our food in the years to come and how will they grow it. Permaculture practitioners may not agree with all the solutions put forward, but will recognise the need for a paradigm shift in how humanity grows its food.
In the wake of a species extinction event unprecedented in human history, how the variety, distribution, and abundance of life on earth may influence health has gained credence as a worthy subject for research and study at schools of public health and for consideration among policy makers. This article reviews a few of the principal ways in which health depends on biodiversity, including the discovery of new medicines, biomedical research, the provision of food, and the distribution and spread of infections. It also examines how changes in biological diversity underlie much of the global burden of disease and how a more thorough understanding of life on earth and its relationships has the potential to greatly alleviate and prevent human suffering.
This paper critically analyses the construction of eco-cities as technological fixes to concerns over climate change, Peak Oil, and other scenarios in the transition towards “green capitalism”. It argues for a critical engagement with new-build eco-city projects, first by highlighting the inequalities which mean that eco-cities will not benefit those who will be most impacted by climate change. Second, the paper investigates the foundation of eco-city projects on notions of crisis and scarcity. Third, there is a need to critically interrogate the mechanisms through which new eco-cities are built, including the land market, reclamation, dispossession and “green grabbing”. Lastly, a sustained focus is needed on workers geographies in and around these “emerald cities”, especially the temporary settlements housing the millions of workers who move from one new project to another.
How can the “transition paradigm” be implemented in poor communities in South Africa where most people are dependent on income from government grants? Here, the aim cannot be to have a transition to a lower consumption society; these societies are actually under-consuming. Rather, it is necessary to create settlements which are sustainable in almost every way: in terms of livelihoods, natural resources, energy and water usage, health and education, transport, and waste disposal. In this model, sustainable communities use the skills, assets and resources of their members to generate livelihoods. This paper observes three existing communities in South Africa with the objective of analysing how such models are integrated (or not) into the local economy. Thereafter aspects of a model that envisages ways that poor communities can create sustainable livelihoods, using local skills and resources, are presented. This model requires strategies for creating localised systems, including micro finance, local markets, com-munity exchange networks, cooperative construction, production and distribution systems; and infrastructure and technology systems.
Monday, 3 March 2014
In this report, the German Advisory council on Global Change explains the reasons for the desperate need for a post-fossil economic strategy, yet it also concludes that the transition to sustainability is achievable, and presents ten concrete packages of measures to accelerate the imperative restructuring. If the transformation really is to succeed, we have to enter into a social contract for innovation, in the form of a new kind of discourse between governments and citizens, both within and beyond the boundaries of the nation state. Factsheet 5 includes detailed descriptions of 'Drivers of Transformation', such as permaculture activists and transition towners.