Saturday, April 17, 2010

Complexity of environmental problems

Far from all people are interested in environmental issues, if they were, it would be slightly easier to get to the action of the imbalance of the whole earth but also to the problems closer to us. But put in another way, the reason that we have environmental problems is that someone unconsciously or consciously use natural resources in such a way that a conflict arises. Without disagreement, no environmental problems.Hence people have to be interested in environmental issues to have an environmental issue. Questions are many, beacuse environmental problems are complex.

Environmental conflict
Environmental problems are a result from conflicts. Daniels and Walker say that there may be no conflict setting more complex than environmental policy (p. 43). They identify seven different salient sources of environmental conflict complexity;

  • Multiple parties
  • Multiple issues
  • Cultural differences
  • Deeply held values and worldviews
  • Scientific and traditional knowledge
  • Legal requirements
  • "Conflict industry", wich referes to anyone whose personal interests are better served by the perpetuation of a competitive and conflictual approach to environmental policy than on some calm, quiet settlement.
Hallgren and Ljung (2005) also listed; no single actor has enough of an overview or knowledge to be able to describe or deal with the problems; there is lack of information in several different areas; unclear system boundaries when dealing many issues simultaneously; and that there are power structures which often has to be questioned or challenged.

The communicative turn
Urbanisation has been at a furious pace over the past 100 years all over the world and now live more than half the world's population in cities. World Bank at the EcocityWorld Summit conference in 2009 claimed that 400 000 km2 of land is under planning in the developing world, a total size of al built area today- a whole new world before 2030!

The problems, which we have because of a rapid movement to the cities, are many and affect both ecological, economic and social systems, both in and outside cities. Similarly, the proposals on how to solve them endless and the questions are; who's going to solve them, and which are the tools required to build our communities so that they contribute to sustainable development? The questions have become so numerous that people talk about 'the communicative turn "a discussion of the Western democracy essence and its future. Increasingly they believe that we must move away from an expert-driven approach to a process-oriented community where citizens are seen less as a spectator and become more involved in community decision making.

Sustainable development
A huge difference is found in the meaning of the words sustainable future and sustainable development. Just because, put another way; the difference in building sustainable cities and to build cities that contribute to sustainable development. Although the concepts of future and development are combine in the definition in the Brutland report, which defines sustainable development as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sentence just told that this is our goal, not a map of how to get there.

Working with sustainable development may today seem different from the goal, sometimes nothing else than just information sharing. Meaning, sustainable development is not happening at all. More books and groups have been created to work on climate issues in recent years, than ever. But the strategies are often to get more people knowing about the problem, "if only everyone was in it, it would go easy". Information sharing and real action is not the same thing; The information is about something outside ourselves, while the action is a deliberate act, the target is the environment but the process is about people. Similar, UN says that "human beings are at the center of concerns for sustainable development "in the first principle in Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992. So how human respons, not her interest in sustainable issues is a key to make the process towards a sustainable future more succesful. That is the reason why we have to work sustainable within the process while working towards the goal. Sustainable development as a process is as important as sustainable future.

Sustainable development as a process
Hallberg and Ljung (2005) argues that sustainable development is a society's attention created through conversation. "It is through talks that sustainable development will realized and a society's attention on our common future issues are created" (freely transl. from Swedish).

Sustainable development can therefore bee seen as a process that is constantly changed and are concerned of those involved. The Richard Register, founder of the organisation Ecocity Builders mean that "you have to change the map over and over again, it [ecocity mapping] will never be finished and final; such is the way of all maps" (Register, 2006) -and so the process to a sustainable future.


References
Hallgren and Ljung (2005), Miljökommunikation- aktörssamverkan och processledning
Register (2006), Ecocities- rebuilding cities with nature
Daniels and Walker (2001), Working through environmental problems- the collaborative learning approach

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