HomeIs the concept of sustainability misleading?

HomeIs the concept of sustainability misleading?

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Published on Friday, December 04, 2020 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

The Symposium will thus offer an excellent opportunity to question the concept of sustainability at the crossroads of our various disciplines and practices, in order to better understand and master the way it affects environmental research lato sensu. The ambition of this symposium will be to contribute to the emergence of a “new innovative sustainability science discipline” by questioning the misuse that may have been made of the concept over the last forty years, by reflecting on the means of ruling out such abuses, by rigorously drawing the contours of “environmental sustainability” and by trying to understand how it still makes sense.

Announcement

Argument

The recently set-up FEdération de Recherche en Environnement et Durabilité (FERED) (University of Strasbourg/CNRS/INSERM), with the goal to inaugurate this new research structure, launch a Call for contributions. The event will be held in Strasbourg (and if needed, also online) on 20-22 October 2021 on the topic :« Is the concept of "environmental sustainability” misleading? Mixed perspectives ». The Symposium will thus offer an excellent opportunity to question the concept of sustainability at the crossroads of our various disciplines and practices, in order to better understand and master the way it affects environmental research lato sensu.

The ambition of this symposium will be to contribute to the emergence of a "new innovative sustainability science discipline" by questioning the misuse that may have been made of the concept over the last forty years, by reflecting on the means of ruling out such abuses, by rigorously drawing the contours of "environmental sustainability" and by trying to understand how it still makes sense.

Project proposals are invited in four directions:

Session 1: Sustainability or Environmental Sustainabilities? A Plural Concept?

This session, which is intended to be introductory, aims to contribute to clarifying the plural, dynamic and even vague concept of "sustainability". What have been the role of temporal, geographical, cultural, social, environmental, geo-political, economic or other contexts in the diversity of meanings and representations given to the concept of "sustainability"?

Contributions on the following questions will be particularly appreciated:

Temporal trajectories of the concept of "sustainability", particularly on theoretical, philosophical and/or ideological levels. What has been the multi-level governance of sustainability? Is the concept of environmental "sustainability" understood in the same way across states of Europe and worldwide? What are the determinants controlling the way in which this concept is understood and/or used? Contributions focusing on specific territories and/or crossing diverse cultural/national approaches in Europe, or according to a vertical articulation (local, national, supranational) will be particularly appreciated.

Session 2: Sustainable goods, services and processes: a multiple implementation?

The objective of this second session is to enter through sustainable goods, services and processes in order to deepen the knowledge of the evolution of the concept of environmental sustainability and the characteristics that resulted from its implementation. Many uncertainties remain at the implementation stage. These include, but are not limited to, covering the following topics.

How definitions and characteristics of environmental sustainability have evolved in the following areas: Agriculture/fisheries, food systems, cultivation, manufacturing, construction, marketing, distribution and consumption processes? Transportation systems? Urban planning, urban mobility, architecture, building design, construction, housing? Management and rehabilitation of agro-ecosystems and river socio-ecosystems? Management of natural resources?

Session 3: The evolution of measures and indicators of environmental sustainability

The aim of this session is to question the changes that have taken place in the assessment or measurement of "environmental sustainability" according to the various scientific disciplines. What is the state of science on the observation, measurement and assessment of environmental sustainability? What are the scientific controversies in this regard, and if so, how are they being overcome or even circumvented? How can "ecological limits" be measured in the long term and at what scale (local/national/international)? How to define the indicators? How are boundaries, limits, thresholds set?  How to consider their evolution over time, particularly in relation to emerging disturbances and/or technological progress? 

How does the proliferation of "sustainability" diagnostics and indicators change the concept of "sustainability" and the public's perception of it? Should they be regulated? If so, by whom and how?

Interventions involving modelling, in hard sciences as well as in human and social sciences, will help us understand these issues.

Session 4: The sustainability of the concept of 'environmental sustainability': Is this the sustainability our anthropocene era needs?

Drawing upon the lessons of the last 30 years and upon current literature, this last session is intended to be forward-looking and will question the evolution and possible impact of the concept of sustainability in the medium/long term. It will also question the development of sustainability sciences based on the classical disciplines of environmental sciences. With which models does the concept of environmental sustainability compete or which models does it favour? What do related concepts such as "Planetary Boundaries" offer us, and how can the concept of "environmental sustainability" be insufficient? It will also about questioning concepts that are potentially similar, such as resilience, and

of assessing how they do not cover the same thing, such as, for example, public goods or common goods in law.

How should the transition to sustainability be steered?  What instruments/tools should be combined to deploy sustainability? What are the technical, economic and political challenges of environmental sustainability? Is the transition towards a "sustainable" tomorrow desirable and can it, should it, be sustainable? Doesn't the sustainability approach reproduce the anthropocentric approach that is now so decried? What are the potential downsides of development that is focused, or too focused, on sustainability? How can intergenerational equity be prioritised again and from a North-South perspective?

Sublission guidelines

Please send your resume, title and abstract (1000-1500words) of the proposal before Monday 15th February 2021 to fered-symposium@unistra.fr

Abstracts  of  the  work  that  is  to  be  presented  at  the  Symposium  should  be  written  in  English.  Every abstract should present unique/original researchnot previously published. Abstracts can be for oral or poster presentations, but please note that orals are not guaranteed. A poster presentation is organized in a poster session (Day 2 and/or 3). The programme committee will schedule your presentation and recommend  either  an  oral  or  poster  presentation.  You  will  be  informed  by  email  when  your  time  is assigned. The results will be communicated at the beginning of March. Final papers in view of the publication process  will have to be submitted end of 2021. Depending on the number of papers being selected, acollective publication under the form of a special issue in a journal, or a book or Dictionary will be prepared for 2022.

Scientific Committee

  • BARBIER, Rémi, Prof. ENGEES, directeur de l’UMR GESTE
  • IMFELD, Gwenaël, DR CNRS, Lhyges, Directeur de la FERED
  • LAMBERT, Elisabeth, DR CNRS, juriste, SAGE, membre du comité de pilotage de la FERED
  • PIERRET, Marie-Claire, Géochimiste LHyGeS , Responsable de l'OHGE (Observatoire Hydro-Géochimique de l'Environnement)
  • SCHMITT, Laurent, Professeur, Fac. De géographie, LIVE, directeur adjoint de la FERED
  • WANTZEN, Karl-Matthias, Prof. Dr., UNESCO Chair River Culture/ Fleuves et Patrimoine, CNRS UMR Citeres (Université de Tours, France)

Places

  • Salle de Conférences - MISHA 5, allée du Général Rouvillois
    Strasbourg, France (67)

Date(s)

  • Monday, February 15, 2021

Keywords

  • durabilité, soutenabilité, sciences de l'écologie, anthropocène

Contact(s)

  • Élisabeth Lambert
    courriel : e [dot] lambert [at] unistra [dot] fr

Information source

  • Élisabeth Lambert
    courriel : e [dot] lambert [at] unistra [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Is the concept of sustainability misleading? », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, December 04, 2020, https://calenda.org/821312

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