Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN12_07a: Environmental Sociology and Sustainable Development
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Peter Oosterveer, Wageningen University
Location: BS.3.21
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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Sustainable Development and Populism

Christian Kroll

Bertelsmann Stiftung, Germany

The UN Sustainable Development Goals provide an overarching framework that world leaders have pledge to achieve until 2030. This agenda comprises 17 goals ranging from ending extreme poverty to tackling climate change. At the same time, a key challenge for many developed societies in recent years has been the rise of populism that threatens international cooperation. This is the first study to systematically examine the relationship between the rise of populism and sustainable development. It analyzes country performance over time with respect to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as measured by the SDG Index (Sachs et al. 2018) and how this performance relates to support for populist parties. A nuanced picture emerges regarding the economic, social, and environmental dimension of sustainable development and its relationship with political populism.

Citizens and Consumers in Sustainability Transformation: The Case of the Zero Waste Movement

Xinyu Zhan, Marlyne Sahakian

University of Geneva, Switzerland

Faced with unprecedented challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, individuals across the globe are engaging in transformations towards more sustainable societies. Over the last few years, citizens have grown to be more aware of the negative impact of plastics, manifested in a global movement of zero waste. The aim of this paper is to propose a conceptual framework for studying the zero waste movement in two differing contexts, that of Switzerland and China. Through the social practice theory lens, we grapple with shared understandings, procedure and engagement (Warde, 2014). We begin with a literature review of the zero waste movement in social and environmental studies, noting a research gap in how the movement – albeit global in its aspirations - is being practiced in different local and regional settings. We then provide historical insights on how the movement emerged in Switzerland and China, based on available data, suggesting that more emphasis could be placed on uncovering forms of collective action as a social practice, building on Welch and Yates (2018). Finally, we outline the conceptual framework and propose an analytical tool for further studying the zero waste movement in these two contexts, building on social practice theory, which can be relevant to further studies on collective action towards more sustainable consumption and production.

Identification Of Sustainability Goals: Application Of A Decision Support Tool To A Dual-purpose Chicken Case Study

Felix Zoll1, Diehl Katharina2, Siebert Rosemarie1

1Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research; 2University of Potsdam

The transition towards sustainable consumption patterns first requires innovation in prevailing unsustainable production regimes. However, the development and implementation of such innovations can be a challenge for the actors involved, since sustainability encompasses many different aspects. To successfully integrate sustainability into an innovation, goal congruency among actors and a clear communication of the added value within the actor network but also towards consumers is needed. The challenging identification of common sustainability goals calls for the use of decision support tools. Thus, the aim of our research was to develop such a tool and to explore if the tool is useful to reveal commonalities and differences in actors' sustainability goals along a value chain. Furthermore, we wanted to know if the tool could assist in showing concrete aspects to be improved within the value chain. In a case study that aims at increasing the sustainability of poultry production by rearing so called dual-purpose chickens, the decision support tool was applied by three different actor groups. The results show that there are manifold goals within the innovation network but only some goals overlap and the perception of their implementation diverges as well. Based on the visualization of commonalities and differences of joint sustainability goals, we proved that the tool is suitable to identify fields of action in which the sustainability aspects should be improved. The application of the tool also fostered thinking processes for possible adaptions of the value chain regarding aspects such as information flows or marketing processes.

Transitions in the Making: Novel Practices in Food Consumption Unravelled

Mari Niva1, Senja Laakso1, Minna Kaljonen2

1University of Helsinki, Finland; 2Finnish Environment Institute, Finland

Increasing concerns for both climate change and other environmental problems call for radical systemic changes in society. As reminded by a number of practice theorists and sustainable transition theorists, no spread of innovation, or enduring change in eating practices, is possible without alterations in intertwined, differentiated and interlinked practices that steer not only our daily consumption, but also processes of production and policy. For instance, any durable lessening of meat in our eating would require changes not only in available products and services, but also in know-how of using them and in social and cultural meanings related to meat. Practices also differentiate and diffuse socially, underlining the dynamics of social interaction and contestations in transition dynamics, as well as interlink across areas of daily life.

Our on-going study brings together sociotechnical transition and practice theories, and connects them with an analysis of institutional disruption in transition, in order to develop further the understanding of reconfigurations that are required for altering the interconnected patterns of production and consumption. In this presentation, we use this framework in studying meat reduction cases and the ways these cases could be seen as ‘transitions in the making’, leading to a more sustainable food system. We focus especially on social media campaigns promoting veganism and experiments in school catering that aim to make school lunches more sustainable. We identify key processes of interconnected relations in food consumption practices in sustainability transitions and the role of policy mixes therein.

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