Today's environmental challenges reflect the systemic failure of our political structures to safeguard the common good. The real issues are not technical but social. IUAES and WCAA are therefore co-sponsoring this panel to bring global environmental concerns to the heart of the social sciences.
Today's overwhelming environmental challenges reflect the systemic failure of contemporary socio-political structures and processes to safeguard the common good. The failure to implement already available solutions reveals that this is not simply a technical problem. Social science knowledge is indispensable for delivering the incisive socio-cultural changes environmental challenges now demand of us. The IUAES and the WCAA thus are co-sponsoring this panel from a commitment to bring pressing global environmental concerns to the heart of the social sciences. Anthropologists are well aware of the diversity of human cultures and societies, and the associated diversity of knowledge and practical skills, but also of the immense loss of such diversity in the wake of neo-liberal globalization. Demonstrating the survival value of cultural diversity has become an urgent task. Local research can illustrate strategies other societies have used to prevent vested interests from destroying their lives, how their agricultural traditions have managed to ensure sustainable production, or how they are applying today's best available technology and their own innovative ideas to tackle environmental problems locally. We can also produce case studies of the consequences of social and environmental injustice, or demonstrate how socio-cultural factors impact on large-scale environmental projects such as carbon trading schemes (e.g. REDD+). We invite speakers to this panel who have conducted research in this field or who would like to develop new theoretical frameworks for getting to the heart of the practical environmental issues now threatening our survival.