Will a Sustainability Transition Be Sufficient?

Organizer: Maurie Cohen
Format: Online, Evening

The question “How much is enough?” has been a latent and largely unarticulated consideration in studies of sustainability transitions to date. At the same time, researchers have increasingly recognized the inadequacy of strategies predicated on efficiency improvements and the tendency of such interventions to contribute to rebound effects and other perverse outcomes. The last few years have given rise to a “sufficiency turn” in sustainability science with particularly prominent work carried out with respect to dietary practices, mobility, and housing. It is notable that the current trajectory avoids misplaced emphasis on “self-sufficiency” which has been historically salient in some communities as an alternative lifestyle but of limited efficacy and policy relevance at larger scales. This forum session aims to take stock of the recent wave of research on cultural and civic conceptions of sufficiency and to consider its implications for future work on socio-technical transitions. Contributions will address a range of issues including how lessons from overconsumption of healthcare could usefully inform discussions about sufficiency and sustainability transitions, governance of “sufficient” mobility in India, determination of globally sufficient thresholds for sustainable housing, and reframing sufficiency from the standpoint of more effective communication strategies.

Themes: Knowledge-to-Action