Public Seminar with Prof. Arun Agrawal: Strengthening Sustainability Science for Sustainable Development

Strengthening Sustainability Science for Sustainable Development– Conducting research on forests and the environment in contested spaces in the Global South

Seminar Key Note: Prof. Arun Agrawal, followed by panel discussion and open Q&A 

Thursday, 12. December 2019, 15.00-16.30
AddressThink Lounge, Think Corner 2nd floor, Yliopistonkatu 4, 00100 Helsinki

Please register to the event by December 10th

The space for sustainability and sustainable development is a highly contested space for diverse interests and interventions, especially in lower and middle-income countries. Vast numbers of residents in poor countries rely on natural resources and the environment for their very lives and livelihoods – yet protection and conservation in many environmental domains often targets the very resources that support the livelihoods of the poor. These tensions are particularly evident in calls for reduction of terrestrial emissions, adoption of new renewable energy sources, protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and changes in everyday practices of existence.

These tensions require researchers to pay particular attention to the relationships among the social, environmental, and economic outcomes of policies and interventions that attempt to realize sustainability and development goals. Policies that change incomes, change costs of labour, support industrial and agricultural changes, or affect international trade all have environmental and sustainability outcomes. Analogously, interventions to protect ecosystems, restore forests, intensive agriculture, or reduce emissions all have livelihood, economic, and distributional implications. Yet, research on sustainability often focuses on individual outcomes instead of examining drivers and patterns of joint outcomes associated with social, economic, and environmental interventions, and examines the trade-offs and co-benefits among these outcomes even more rarely. A stronger sustainability science demands more insistent and systematic attention to trade-offs, co-benefits, drivers, and patterns of joint outcomes that concern the three pillars of sustainability in the social, environmental and economic domains.

Equally importantly, understanding the past trajectories and transitions of social and environmental systems is crucial to a stronger sustainability science if it is to play a role in helping shift current trajectories of unsustainability. This event will explore key issues regarding sustainability science and sustainable development, with particular attention to forests and forest lands in the lower and middle income countries and discuss promising research avenues. Speaker and panellists will discuss the role of research for forests and people when asking whose development matters, and when identifying pathways for a more sustainable – and equitable – future.

15.00 – 15.45 Strengthening Sustainability Science for Sustainable Development (Arun Agrawal)

15.45 – 16.30 Panel discussion and open Q&A with Arun Agrawal, Markku Kanninen (UH), Marikki Stocchetti (Development Policy Committee) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (tbc) - Moderator: Maria Brockhaus

Short bio: Arun Agrawal is Professor of Governance and Sustainability at the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. He has written critically on indigenous knowledge, community-based conservation, common property, population resources, and environmental identities. Prof. Agrawal is the coordinator for the Sustainability and Development Initiative and is currently carrying out research in east Africa, South Asia, Brazil, and Indonesia. Since 2013, Prof. Agrawal has served as the editor-in-chief of World Development and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in the United States in 2018. His recent work has appeared in Science, PNAS, Conservation Biology, Development and Change, among other journals. Preceding his work at U-M, Agrawal was educated at Duke University, the Indian Institute of Management, and Delhi University and has held teaching and research positions at Yale, Florida, McGill, Berkeley, and Harvard among other universities.