Sustainability and Transition

Positive Pathways report

This Cascade Institute report explores how to translate an understanding of polycrises into actionable strategies to alleviate them. It suggests ways in which polycrisis analysis can build on existing approaches to systemic change to help chart positive pathways to better futures, by examining multiple factors — the sorts of systems changes required to avoid, mitigate […]

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The Disruption Nexus

Roman Krznaric explores the conditions in which crises lead to transformative societal change. He finds that transformative responses are most common in conditions of war, disaster, revolution, and disruption. The latter refers to “a moment of system instability that provides opportunities for rapid transformation” which is created by the “disruption nexus” of crisis events (typically

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Transition and Climate Crisis with Sabrina Fernandes at the University of Bath

In this video, Dr. Sabrina Fernandes discusses how to rethink the Polycrisis from an internationalist Global South perspective and how it relates to transition and climate justice. Fernandes begins by using an aerial photograph as an illustration of the influences human actions have on nature and the climate crisis. Fernandes then touches on topics such

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Evolution of the polycrisis: Anthropocene traps that challenge global sustainability

Using expert solicitation, the authors identify 14 “evolutionary traps” (global, technological, and structural) that risk locking humanity into unfavorable (maladaptive) trajectories that seriously restrict its ability to adapt to the Anthropocene. These traps develop over four phases: initiation, scaling, masking (of harmful interactions), and trapping. The fourth phase involves one of five trapping mechanisms: constraints,

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Understanding Polycrisis: Definitions, Applications, and Responses

This paper compares conceptualizations of the term “polycrisis,” raising questions about the key aspects of different definitions while stressing a convergence in critical features. It conceives a polycrisis as a state in which multiple, macroregional, ecologically embedded, and inexorably interconnected systems face high – and advancing – risk across socioeconomic, political, and other dimensions. After

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Let’s Avoid ‘Trigger Fixation’

The authors argue that a trigger event can’t start a crisis by itself; some underlying stress or stresses must also be operating. They contend that leaders should pay far more attention to these stresses, because they’re ultimately far more important. The original title of the article was “Let’s Avoid ‘Trigger Fixation.” The Globe and Mail

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Global Polycrisis as a Pathway to Economic Transition

In this report for the Strategic Innovation Unit of the United Nations Development Programme, Zack Walsh argues that the underlying driver of the polycrisis is our unsustainable and unjust economic systems, and the polycrisis opens opportunities to transform those systems. Additional drivers include overshoot, inequality, complexity, and uniformity and interconnectedness. The article then considers two

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Navigating Polycrisis: Long-Run Socio-Cultural Factors Shape Response to Changing Climate

Societies throughout history have faced polycrises, but the outcomes range widely from collapse to positive adaptation. The authors have developed a Crisis Database of 150 past societal crises and find that three pressures make societies especially vulnerable to environmental stresses (and consequent polycrises) by impeding collective action: popular immiseration, elite overproduction and conflict, and state

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The Fundamental Issue – Overshoot

Interviewed by Nate Hagens, William E. Rees argues that overshoot is a fundamental issue underlying all environmental problems. Our economy is premised on unlimited growth but the global human ecological footprint exceeds by 100% the biocapacity of Earth, and we are reaching a tipping point where nature will restore balance. He thus argues we must

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