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Social innovation for a just transition to sustainability

Social innovation for a just transition to sustainability

At a time of climate emergency and rapid biodiversity loss, the need for transformation to a more sustainable economy and society becomes ever more urgent. Rapid change requires social innovations of different types and at different scales, Prof Fergus Lyon writes ahead of the #ISIRC2021 conference—a just transition cannot be a top-down endeavour but needs community level initiatives and actions.

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How can we address the climate and ecological emergency while also maintaining and improving wellbeing? CUSP work shows how the two elements cannot be separated, but it also requires social innovation that draws together diverse evidence, breaking down the silos of knowledge that hinder the development of policy and practice.

This is a focus within the International Social Innovation Research Conference (ISIRC) with a stream on social innovation in a time of climate and biodiversity emergency currently inviting paper abstracts and ideas for panels from around the world.

Social innovation and the development of novel practices, approaches and institutions is desperately needed. This is accentuated by the pandemic and widespread calls to build back better and build back fairer. Questions remain about the best processes of encouraging the required changes.

One of the key elements of such processes is to make sure that the transition is socially and economically just: we need to ensure that certain places are not unduly disadvantaged. This requires identification of the places most at risk from negative consequences—whether it’s communities, regions or nations; we also need to be sure to work with the industries that are particularly affected. The transition to low carbon economies is an opportunity to create ‘decent work’—i.e. more stable, healthy sources of employment; and CUSP has been working on the matter in a number of projects over the past five years.

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