ISDRS NEWSLETTER, Volume 2017, Issue 1

Editors: Olawale Olayide, Volker Mauerhofer and Pontus Cerin.
Email: newsletter@isdrs.org

Dear reader,

We hereby like to bring you the latest information about recent activities and news about our Society and direct your attention to interesting developments and up-coming events.

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CONTENTS

Message from the President
ISDRS News 
Bogotá Conference 
Opinion Piece
Publication
Institutional Member News
Members Survey
African Thematic Working Group Update
Conference Announcement
Colophon

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Message from the President

The year of 2017 is going to be a challenging year in various ways. After the 2016 excitement of reaching the Paris agreement and getting the world community aligned towards climate adaptation and mitigation activities, this year we need to adjust to a new reality with one of the major players pulling out the plug, at least in his own country. This victory of ‘old thinking’ may very well be repeated on a wider scale during this year.

However, as researchers in the sustainable development field, often actively connected to the fast growing practice of sustainability initiatives, we also know that there is a strong growing energy in the many ‘communities of the willing’, which do not (anymore) depend on the regulatory power of single leaders. Just to give one example: one might try to re-open old fossil mines, but solar energy is now gaining momentum so strongly, not requiring government support anymore.

I would call upon all of you, not to be disillusioned by some of these recent political backlashing events. The work towards sustainable development is more and more embedded in strong social capital, with resilient societies implementing solutions, exchanging experiences and speeding up transformations.

As the ISDRS we can play a catalysing role in this. In this opening note I want to call our members to share best practices and critical analysis in the many subfields that they study, analyse and work in developing solutions and innovative approaches. More than we have been doing before we can use our Thematic Groups as exchange platforms for this (please look at: http://isdrs.org/thematic-groups/overview/). Some of these groups are active, also beyond the tracks in the annual conferences, but in quite a few of these we would like to encourage members to use these as platforms for connecting to fellow scholars in the same field anywhere else on our single planet. Just give us a message to help you start this up.

Our own great challenge for 2017 will be the exciting 23rd annual conference in Bogotá, Colombia, at Universidad de los Andes in June (http://www.isdrsconference.org/).  We have received again an overwhelming number of abstracts.  As chair of one of the tracks I saw again very high quality inputs, from researchers from all continents, which will enable very rich knowledge sharing.

Our friends in Colombia are the best ones that -by experience- can show us the route out of negativity, built on a strong social capital and believe in human values and progress.

Walter J.V. Vermeulen, President ISDRS

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ISDRS News

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ISDRS Conference 2018


University of Messina, Italy
13-15 June 2018

The ISDRS is delighted to announce that the annual ISDRS conference in 2018 will be hosted in Messina, Italy by the University of Messina! The conference will be held from 13th to 15th of June 2018So save the date! More information will follow after the 2017 Bogotá Conference.  

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ISDRS 2017 Bogotá Conference 

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Early Bird Deadline 15th April

To ensure the best price, please note that the ISDRS early bird deadline for registration closes at the 15th of April. 

Register here!

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Opinion Piece

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The SDGs - hot air or comprehensive progress?

Since the SDGs have been adopted, the focus of the policy, civil society and academic debate is on how to implement “the SDGs”. However, a recent analysis by Joachim Spangenberg of the ISDRS board found inherent contradictions, making it impossible to implement all goals, and requiring a choice to be made.
He analysed the SDGs regarding their political coherence and the impacts this has on their implementation, going beyond the ICSU / ISSC scientific analysis which found only 29% of the 169 targets to be well defined and based on latest scientific evidence, while 54% were classified as needing more work and 17% as weak or non-essential (ICSU, ISSC, 2015).

The policy coherence analysis is twofold. One element is a DPSIR analysis, looking at Driving Forces, Pressures, State, Impact and Response of sustainability challenges. The SDGs are found to be focussing on State (for instance poverty and malnutrition) and Impact (the need to change this situation, e.g. Ascertain equal rights to economic resources, access to services, ownership and control of land and property), but neglecting the Pressures, i.e. the factors which have caused the current unsustainable situation. The closest the come to naming the causes is indirectly, when they call for “Fiscal, wage and social protection policies to achieve greater equity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices” (emphasis by JHS). The main drivers of income polarisation in and between countries, deregulation, globalisation and financialisation, are not criticised but even endorsed, calling for an inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the WTO, no restrictions of trade (10 YFP-SCP), and continued promotion of “meaningful trade liberalization” (Declaration § 68).

The opportunities for success are assessed by a closer look at the agency mentioned in the SDG/Agenda 2030 text. The SDGs are found to be weak on naming agency, with limited obligations to governments and none to business (it is invited but not obliged to contribute) or to consumers. Thus civil society is not a recognised agent of sustainable development, and business is off the hook – even more than it has been in Rio 1992 or Johannesburg 2002.

In conclusion, the positive targets will either not be realised, or the means of implementation must be upgraded significantly, addressing pressures and driving forces, and by holding business responsible for the social and environmental impacts of its actions (as China is beginning to do).

As a result, we should stop speaking about and calling for “implementing the SDGs” as this is a contradiction in terms. Instead what is needed is to highlight which SDGs can and should be implemented immediately, while being aware and noting that this will be in contradiction to other SDGs: the contradictions inherent to the SDGs make their joint achievement impossible.

As the International Sustain able Development Research Society, we cannot ignore this challenge but should use our multidisciplinary competence to look for solutions. If you have comments, contradictions or additional aspects to discuss, please send you feedback to Joachim.Spangenberg@seri.de

The paper published in the Sustainable Development journal associated with ISDRS is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sd.1657 or from the author.

 

If you want to respond to the point raised above, please send an email to assistant@isdrs.org

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Publication

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The Formations of Terror and Project Fear

Simon Bell.

Over the last four years I have been working on two related projects, both with a book in mind.

The climate change debate had really got me agitated and so I decided to look into the fear factor which is involved in existential threats. This led me to some strange places and has resulted in the publication of ‘Formations of Terror’ (see below). The book is an attempt to make methodological sense of weaponised fear. But academic books, even books about fear, rarely get read – even by other academics. I found the subject matter intriguing and wanted to reach out to a wider readership. This led to an Open University supported companion graphic novel: ‘Project Fear’, illustrated by Charles Cutting (see below). Project Fear will be available as an e-book and with print on demand from the website indicated. There will also be an animation available on YouTube – hopefully by late April.

If we want to get our messages across we cannot expect audiences of readers to just come to us. we need to reach out and try to make our stories and messages interesting and full of practical hope. We need to show how we can push back against fear and to do this we need to use new and different approaches rather than falling back on the old devices which got us into the mess in the first place. After all, you cannot fight dragons with ghosts.  

The Formations of Terror

http://www.cambridgescholars.com/formations-of-terror-2

There are a host of books about fear but, as yet, there has been little attempt to methodically and systemically assess how fear emerges and is targeted. In this highly readable yet rigorous book, Simon Bell sets about the methodical assessment of fear as an emergent property. Working from the personal experience of fear as ‘everyman’ and then by use of examples and case studies, the author derives the main principles which lie behind the manifestation of fear of all kinds. Using climate change as his specific point of focus, fear is seen to be a major force in problem assessment and analysis and, by accident or intention, a significant confusion to human decision making. By the systemic development of the main features of the Paradigm of Fear and the identification of Fear Amplifying and Fear Attenuating systems, the author demonstrates how fear can be contained, how new social forms can arise and how new behaviours and social qualities can mitigate the Formations of Terror.

Project Fear

http://open.edu/openlearn/projectfear

We are all victims of fear. Project Fear has been with us for hundreds of years. So far, we have made little attempt to map fear or understand how it is used. Find out how fear is weaponised and targeted and how to avoid making things worse!

Simon Bell

is Professor of Innovation and Methodology and the Open University. He is possibly uniquely qualified to write about fear. With a diverse academic career in development studies, information technology and sustainability assessment and with over 100 refereed papers and books published on subjects as diverse as group measurement and dynamics, social, visual and participatory methods and problem structuring; he has been keenly interested in the impact of fear as a major force in human problem structuring in over thirty countries and for over thirty years.

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Institutional Members News

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New Institutional Member

Research Institute for Sustainability Science and Technology (UPC)
Barcelona, Spain

The Institute in Sustainability Science and Technology (ISST) is a Research Institute of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. Its mission is to generate technical and conceptual tools to create a more sustainable production model, and to collaborate in the UPC’s endeavour to provide scientific and technical support for social, cultural and economic progress. The research of the ISST focuses in different areas such: Water and sanitation, Energy, Waste and Sustainable Development in Higher Education. It offers postgraduate and doctoral programmes in Sustainability.

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Members Survey

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Dear ISDRS members,

to improve the ISDRS in accordance to your wishes, could you please fill out a survey to express your opinion about the ISDRS?

Please fill the short survey out here

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News and Updates from the Africa Thematic Working Group

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ECOWAS Anglophone Regional Workshop on Malabo DeclarationBiennial Review Process Holds in Ghana

Olawale Emmanuel Olayide, Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

waleolayide@yahoo.com, oe.olayide@ui.edu.ng 

The Economic Communities of West Africa (ECOWAS) Anglophone Regional Workshop on Malabo Declaration Biennial Review Process was intended to present the technical guidelines and the country reporting template to the Anglophone countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Liberia). The ECOWAS Anglophone Regional Workshop is the first in the series of regional workshops on the Malabo Declaration Biennial Review Process. Each country had three participants in attendance. A representative of non-state actors also participated at the workshop. The experts that coordinated the training sessions on the Biennial Review reporting are: Drs Manson Nwafor, Daniel Sakyi, Raphael Babatunde, and Olawale Olayide. The ECOWAS, Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReKASS) and African Union (AU) team were also in attendance for logistical support. The workshop was held at Alisa Hotel in Accra, Ghana during 27 February – 3 March 2017. The ECOWAS Anglophone Regional Workshop on Biennial Review Process was a success. The time allocated to each indicator (duration) was adequate. However, there would be need to technical backstopping by experts for the countries as the countries proceed in the process of preparing and submitting their reports. Similarly, the observations and suggestions from the workshop would be necessary feedbacks for refinement of some of the performance indicators for the next round of the Malabo Declaration Biennial Review Process.

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Conference Announcement

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18th European Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production will be held in Skiathos Island, Greece from 1st to 5th of October 2017

We would like to inform you that the 18th European Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production will be held inSkiathos Island, Greece from 1st to 5th of October 2017. The Conference is organized by the National Technical University of Athens. 
Find attached the relevant 
3rd Announcement and the Conference Poster. 
We are inviting authors to prepare original Abstracts/Papers, state of the art reviews or case studies for the European   Roundtable   on   Sustainable   Consumption   and   Consumption   and   Production (ERSCP).
One page Abstracts of 400–500 words are invited in response to this Call for Papers. The abstracts must be prepared in English. Abstracts may be submitted via the following Link:https://www.eventora.com/en/Events/erscp2017/Submissions/Create
Advanced registration at
 https://www.eventora.com/en/Events/erscp2017 is strongly recommended. 
We remain at your disposal for any clarification.

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Colophon

This newsletter is presented by the International Sustainable Development Research Society on a regular base to all her registered Followers and Green(+) members. If you want to receive this newsletter, please register at: http://isdrs.org/membership-options/

Contributions to the newsletter and announcements of relevant activities are welcomed.

Please send any contribution to the editor:

Olawale Olayide, Volker Mauerhofer and Pontus Cerin.
Email: newsletter@isdrs.org

Followers and Green(+) members are invited to share innovative, creative and critical ideas about about the further enhancement of sustainable development in a short essay form. This would have a size of between 500-2000 words, follow the general rules of academic publishing (proper references etc.), but it would fill the gap between journal/conference abstracts and official journal publications.

Disclaimer; the ISDRS is not responsible for any content displayed on the websites that are hyperlinked in this newsletter. 

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