The need for regional transformation steps and spatial justice

Ulf Hahne Transformation
Prof. Dr. Ulf Hahne
Universität Kassel

In his environmental encyclica Pope Francis calls for a transformative policy shift which faces the ecological and social crisis of our planet. This transformation requires not only global efforts but also local and regional action. The multilevel perspective hits contemporary discussions regarding a »great transformation for sustainability«. An effective transformative shift needs the contributions of cities and regions for cushioning the multiple crisis.

This contribution discusses the Pope’s attitude and suggestions from the sight of urban and regional development. The urban century requires vital inputs of cities urging resilience and transformation. But, without fostering a rural policy streams of migration will be heated up and the urban crisis would be exacerbated. Both, urban and rural societies act as drivers of our ecological and social problems. However, as solvers they also create numerous innovative and transformative virtues and ideas.

An ecological transformation to resource scarcity and an economic transformation in line with people’s needs comprise changes in both production and consumption. Especially due to small producers, cooperatives, sufficient and non-consumerist models of life the encyclica takes a position near degrowth-strategies. But, it has to be mentioned that a lot of technical, economic, social and cultural innovations are needed. In general, the Pope pleads for a new cultural ecology which respects the history and identity of each place and in addition considerates the special local limitations and fosters local ideas and activities.

Small-scale strategies become questionable when they use their power and resource prosperity for egoistic goals, especially as resource-rich regions can realise a higher grade of resilience compared with resource-poor areas. Thus, a post-fossil transformation possibly sharpens the divide between islands of prosperity and regions of devastation. All this poses the question of just development and ethic responsibility in a spatial dimension. Therefore the encyclica delivers a good contribution for a fruitful dialogue with transformative science and its normative aspects.

Prof. Dr. Ulf Hahne

Author: Prof. Dr. Ulf Hahne

Prof. Dr. Ulf Hahne Universität Kassel

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