Resilience and Engagement: some thoughts on the magnetic impact of small change

Angelique Edmonds

Abstract


This paper considers the gap between knowing and mobilised action and investigates local urban examples where action is mobilised. The purpose of this is to consider what such examples can tell us about the conditions required to mobilise action and hence how to foster those conditions. Making cities sustainable is now a major aim and claim of most cities in the world. A myriad of definitions of sustainable development have been proposed but it has not been easy to find one that simultaneously satisfies economists, ecologists, sociologists, philosophers and policy makers. The problem in part relates to uncertainty about the object of sustainability, rather than the idea itself. What is it that ought to be sustained? It is increasingly internationally recognised that many effective solutions for environmental sustainability have their roots in local action and co-ordination. For that reason capacity within local government and the mobilisation of participation at the local level is a pivotal enabler for change. In the context of the discussion raised by the Cities, Nature Justice Conference and project, this paper focuses on discussion of urban local contexts and discusses the importance of local participation and engagement as critical enablers for mobilised action. Of particular interest in these local contexts, is the movement from a state of awareness of social and environmental issues of sustainability, to an active, constructive awareness that informs changes in behaviour and action that lead to sustainable practices of living.

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