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Opportunities for Global Sustainability (Global ABCD)
Josephine Brennan, Susan Garrett, Mike Purcell
In spite of our substantive knowledge about global un-sustainability, insufficient progress is being made to halt systematic socio-ecological decline. Much information is readily available on downstream impacts, with limited focus on upstream activities driving such effects. This thesis uses backcasting from socioecological principles for sustainability to identify major upstream human activities violating these principles, the underlying drivers reinforcing such activities, alternative practices already in use with potential for significant expansion, and emerging opportunities for action across different sectors of society. Results show emerging patterns of high magnitude violations across all four socio-ecological
principles indicating nexus points in energy, transportation and agriculture. These activities are reinforced by our societal structure which is designed to meet human needs through a growth paradigm which in turn does not adequately consider the ongoing health of ecosystems or the sustainable functioning of society itself. Shifting to potential solutions, examples focus on themes such as renewable energy, green chemicals, organic agriculture, and self-organising network structures. Recognising that these actions may not be enough, the thesis explores elements of a global vision which could guide progress. Emerging nexus points for societal change include education, information flows (particularly the media), design (as a leverage point), self-organization, and governance.