The Conditions for Sustainability. Complexity, Social Learning and Integrated Climate Governance in a Warming World
This paper introduces the concept of the ‘Conditions for Sustainability’ and reviews some of the main conceptual approaches dealing with the relationships between complexity, social learning and global environmental change. The aim is to produce fresh theoretical insights and to outline an operational synthesis to better understand the types of interactions, ways of knowing, and required feedbacks that influence the production of social-ecological complexity and affect our structural conditions and learning capacities to cope with accelerating global change. Social learning is understood as the only possible means to overcome current cultural constraints for a rapid societal transformation, and to provide the kinds of fair and quality of life development pathways that may allow humanity a dignified way out of the present unsustainability predicament.
In particular, my approach uses an ecological sociology perspective based on a further operationalisation of the SEIC conceptual model (Tàbara & Pahl-Wostl, 2008) and focuses on the case of the integrated governance of climate change. From a non-dualistic standpoint, I look at the agents’ interactions and social-ecological systems dynamics in complexity production and their implications for social learning and transformation. Such analysis is carried out in a relational mode within and between the following social-ecological components and systems: 1. Structures, rules and institutions (S) 2. Energy and resources (E) 3. Information and knowledge (I) and 4. Cumulated socio-ecological change (C). It is argued that such a framework can provide a more robust theoretical understanding of the required conditions for a global sustainability transformation and support Integrated Climate Governance (ICG) policies and options.