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This panel discussion session explores some of the central dimensions of the Crisis in the Anthropocene that constitute global social challenges in the context of development studies. The conference theme highlighted the profound human impact on our blue-green-brown planet, that is already breaching planetary boundaries and pushing us beyond the roughly 1.5°C tipping point. This threatens liveability and sustainability in many localities and regions and may well rapidly be ‘off the scale’ of imaginability and survivability. Inevitably, as mounting empirical evidence and increasingly clear projections by the IPCC and other authoritative bodies show, these impacts are unevenly spread, both socially and spatially, both now and over the coming decades. The urgency of appropriate action is undeniable and we already know many dimensions of the required adaptations and transformations. Yet progress mostly remains too slow. These challenges are vital to the development studies community – heterogenous as it is – with our concerns for tackling poverty, inequality, deprivation and environmental degradation globally and locally.

Hence this symposium asks what the crisis means for development theory, policy and practice and what development studies can and should be contributing to – and, indeed, whether it is capable of – addressing some key dimensions that warrant greater attention.

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This study examines how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be leveraged to facilitate strategic change towards sustainability involving multiple stakeholders in a pluralistic city environment. By drawing on an exemplary case study of the localisation of the SDGs in Bristol, a medium-sized UK city, we show how the goals can operate as a boundary object. In particular, we identify a pattern in which the discursive localisation of the SDGs moved from problematisation and visioning through strategising and structuring towards embedding and performing. In addition, we elaborate on the three tensions that the SDGs help participants to understand and use productively, that is, across scale, time and different ways of valuing. Our study contributes to research on strategic change in pluralistic settings, such as cities, by offering a nuanced account of the discursive use of the SDGs by organisations involved in a city’s sustainable development. Furthermore, by proposing a framework based on the specific tensions that play an important role in the discursive localisation, our study advances research on the role of city strategising and practice more generally.

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The city of Bristol, UK, set out to pursue a just transition to climate change in 2020. This paper explores what happened next. We set out to study how just transition is unfolding politically on the ground, focusing on procedural justice. Over the course of a year, we conducted interviews and observations to study decision making at three levels – public sector, private sector and civil society. We found that not only is it difficult to define what just transition means, even for experts, but that the process of deciding how to pursue such a transition is highly exclusionary, especially to women and ethnic minorities. We therefore argue there is an urgency to revise decision-making procedures and ensure that there is ample opportunity to feed into decision-making processes by those who are typically excluded. Inclusive decision making must be embedded into the process of just transition from the beginning and throughout its implementation – it is not a step that can be ‘ticked off’ and then abandoned, but rather an ongoing process that must be consistently returned to. Finally, we conclude that cities have the unique opportunity to pilot bottom-up participatory approaches and to feed into the process of how a just transition might be pursued at the global level – for example, through their participation in the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) processes.

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Following the 2008 global financial crisis, Digital Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) have become a common feature of the urban landscape in cities throughout Europe. An emerging body of literature suggests that Fab Labs go beyond providing access to digital fabrication tools, and function as ‘third places’ as they enhance social connectedness. Drawing on a case study of a Fab Lab in the English city of Coventry, this article utilises the concept of ‘austerity urbanism’ to understand the changing nature of third places in England since the 2008 global financial crash. In doing so, we argue that a confluence of austerity urbanism and digital advancements has influenced both the emergence of new third places (such as Fab Labs) while simultaneously undermining long-established third places (such as libraries). As a result, vital aspects of social infrastructure are being shaped and reshaped in the contemporary era. The article reflects on what these changes mean for individual and community well-being.

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How does a Forstian theory of transnational justice help us understand regional governance structures of the Arctic, such as the Arctic Council, and how could it contribute to implementing procedural aspects of justice? The purpose of this chapter is to discuss transnational justice for the Arctic, taking into account the regional, indigenous and environmental aspects of this specific region. Based on literature reviews on normative traditions of justice, the account suggested here draws on Critical Theory, primarily the work of Rainer Forst (2001, 2014 and 2020). The suggested framework proposes normative criteria required for a comprehensive theory of Arctic justice. In addition, it also recommends an analytical structure for assessing justice in the Arctic. The guiding principles suggested as the backbone for a theory of Arctic justice are reciprocity, generality, transparency and responsibility. Inherently important in the current structure are also the principle of sovereignty and the ‘all affected’ principle, which are discussed and assessed in this chapter.

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Environment, Society and Governance

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Offering a unique introduction to the study of justice in the European, North American and Russian Arctic, this collection considers the responsibilities and failures of justice for environment and society in the region.

Inspired by key thinkers in justice, this book highlights the real and practical consequences of postcolonial legacies, climate change and the regions’ incorporation into the international political economy. The chapters feature liberal, cosmopolitan, feminist, as well as critical justice perspectives from experts with decades of research experience in the Arctic. Moving from a critique of current failures, the collection champions an ethical and sustainable future for Arctic development and governance.

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This chapter focuses on the challenges of transitioning toward just and sustainable energy systems in the Arctic. Whereas the need for moving away from fossil fuels, and oil and gas in particular, is widely understood and supported, the transition is slowed by a host of socio-economic challenges, especially in the regions with a history of oil and gas production. The Arctic is among such regions with over a hundred years of oil and gas development and a high degree of reliance on fossil fuels for energy services. This chapter examines an approach for addressing these challenges to the energy transition in the Arctic region through the affirmative and prohibitive principles of energy justice based on collective capabilities. An analytical framework for assessing collective capabilities needed for the energy transition is introduced and discussed.

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This chapter examines the history of Forest Sámi colonialism in northern Finland, the current strong economic development in their territories, and related issues of justice. It is recognized that the history of the Forest Sámi is a darker chapter in (Swedish) Finnish history, and it has been strongly impacted by colonization as well as the resilience of generations seeking justice to ensure the survival of their culture, language and way of life. The situation in Finland has become even more complex in recent years. The Forest Sámi group is fighting for their rights to land and water in their traditional territories and struggling to recognize their identity within the Sámi community. This legal-historical chapter investigates current economic development in the northern parts of Finland and shows how the Forest Sámi’s reindeer husbandry and other traditional land use have been taken into account. An additional perspective is illuminated: how the European Union (EU) and Finnish national needs to support green energy and climate goals are paradoxical; while supporting one another, they also turn their back on each other, through an immersed colonialism.

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Justice is for many a reiterative and ongoing process. To see where, for whom and how justice can be achieved begins by identifying both existing and potential future injustices that form the epicentre from where transformation can emerge. The work of this volume has intended to introduce justice to the conversation on development and research on the Arctic, but also to flag injustice and to bring forth new ideas. In this conclusion, we discuss some of the key findings of the chapters, and how the chapters relate and speak to each other, and this final chapter concludes with a few ideas for further research. In this chapter, we are returning to the notions of justice and injustice, and we address how these concepts have been useful in the analyses in the preceding chapters.

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This chapter focuses on procedural and intergenerational justice within the context of solar radiation management and ice-geoengineering in the Arctic. Research has framed geoengineering as an option to avoid the more disastrous consequences of climate change in the Arctic, but the development and potential application of geoengineering in the Arctic may affect Indigenous participation. Indeed, thus far there has been very limited dialogue and engagement on geoengineering research and development with Arctic Indigenous peoples. The challenge is to ensure Indigenous participation in this highly complex issue, as the current legal framework for participation may be ill-equipped to deal with the introduction of geoengineering and intergenerational justice. Thus, the introduction of geoengineering equally has the potential to exacerbate structural injustices, especially as it will impact the dynamics of justice and what is typically required of justice as a legal concept. As more state and non-state actors engage with this concept, this chapter reflects on the legitimate concerns raised over transparency, Indigenous consent and intergenerational justice where the implementation of geoengineering is concerned, and it examines the free, prior and informed consent procedure (FPIC) as a potential step towards addressing these issues.

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