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Rethinking policies to face climate change. Insights from two grassroots innovation experiences

AuthorsBelda Miquel, Sergio; Pellicer Sifres, Victoria
KeywordsClimate change
Grassroots innovation
Learning in social action
Socio-technical transitions
Issue Date2016
CitationSTS Conference Graz (2016)
AbstractThere is no doubt that assures a sustainable development for present and future generations is one of the greatest challenges our planet lives. However, many authors suggest that efforts made so far to address Climate Change (CC) don’t seem to have been successful due to how CC is being perceived, interrogated and narrated from mainstream approaches (O’Brien, et al., 2010). Some voices consider that the dominant approach is almost exclusively focused on regulations, policies and changes in behavior; it is based on a top- down approach; lies on the idea that the climate system and society can be controlled through proper policies (Adger, et al. Al, 2006); exclusively value scientific-rational knowledge and do not face the underlying structural causes that are at the root of CC. We stand up for an alternative approach to CC that could be able to consider elements that are absent in mainstream approaches, based in three main issues: 1) The importance of values, believes and world visions that people have about CC, as well as alternative actions and strategies to confront it emerging from communities. 2) There exist grassroots initiatives, coming from below, were innovation occurs through informal learning processes. In these processes, alternative perspectives are articulated, as well as proposals, technologies and social arrangements for addressing the challenge of CC, on the bases of people’s lives and aspirations. 3) These innovations can contribute to the transition towards an alternative model of sociotechnical configurations, thus addressing the systemic bases of the challenge of CC. In order to build our framework, the paper develops original connections among ideas coming from three different fields: grassroots innovation for socio-technical transitions, human development and learning in social action. First, in the field of innovation studies, grassroots innovation (Seyfang and Smith 2007) refers to networks of people and organizations that generate new “bottom-up” solutions for sustainable development; solutions that respond to local situations and to the interests and values of communities involved. This approach is based on socio-technical transitions literature, and offers a multi-level and multidimensional approach to change, connecting macro, meso and microprocesses. Second, Human development approach helps us both to build a framework which considers people’s aspirations and perspectives, and to introduce a normative reference based on values such as: equity, diversity, sustainability, participation and empowerment. Finally, we combine the mentioned ideas on grassroots innovation with insights form adult education literature, where processes of learning in social action have been studied as emergent, informal, non-planned, tacit and incidental ones (Foley, 1999). In this paper we analyze two cases of innovative grassroots initiatives taking place in Spain: a national-scale green energy cooperative and the case of several associations of local organic buying food in the city of Valencia. We use both: primary sources (semi-structured interviews, discussion groups and participatory observation) and secondary sources (web and written documents analysis). The field work will allow us to test the relevance of the framework to capture alternative and practices discourses to confront CC, as well as to evidence that grassroots initiatives are experimenting alternative models and contributing to the transitions towards more sustainable models in different systems.
DescriptionTrabajo presentado a la 15th Annual Conference STS Conference Graz: "Critical Issues in Science, Technology and Society Studies", celebrada en Graz (Austria) del 9 al 10 de mayo de 2016.
Appears in Collections:(INGENIO) Comunicaciones congresos
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