Global Challenges, Governance, and Complexity
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Global Challenges, Governance, and Complexity

Applications and Frontiers

Edited by Victor Galaz

There is an increased interest in integrating insights from the complexity sciences to studies of governance and policy. While the issue has been debated, and the term of ‘complexity’ has multiple and sometimes contested interpretations, it is also clear the field has spurred a number of interesting theoretical and empirical efforts. The book includes key thinkers in the field, elaborates on different analytical approaches in studying governance, institutions and policy in the face of complexity, and showcases empirical applications and insights.
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Chapter 4: Sustainability transformations in complex systems: a political economy perspective

Hubert Schmitz and Ian Scoones


Making the world more sustainable is the biggest challenge of our time. Views on ways forward differ greatly but tend to concur that transformations are urgent. History tells us that there are no single lines of causation: transformations result from a concurrence of multiple changes. Given this challenge of both complexity and urgency, this chapter addresses two questions: Is it possible to accelerate sustainability transformations in a purposeful way? Who drives rapid transformations and who holds them back? In seeking answers, we adopt a political economy perspective and ask what can be learnt from rapid transformation in the past and what lessons emerge for the present and future.

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