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Sustainability Manifesto brings social sciences to bear on climate change

Hit by climate change: the main road in Tuvalu in September 2015 Viliami Fifita, a PhD student in the School for Policy Studies

7 December 2015

A manifesto for COP21, co-drafted by a Bristol academic, is being backed unanimously by UNESCO’s social sciences governing body.

The Sustainability Manifesto aims to establish a foundation for efforts in the social sciences to investigate the problem of climate change – an area hitherto more explored by the natural sciences.

The manifesto, developed under the auspices of the International Association on Social Quality and signed by over 200 social scientists from around the world, argues that:

‘one-dimensional solutions cannot address multidimensional problems like those we currently face… environmental change is still viewed primarily in physical science terms, whereby the (interrelationships of) socio-environmental, socio-economic, socio-political and socio-cultural dimensions of sustainability receive insufficient attention’.

David Gordon, Professorial Research Fellow in Social Justice in the School for Policy Studies, who helped to draft the manifesto, said: ‘We now know a lot about the environmental and economic aspects of climate change, but this hasn’t been enough to persuade some politicians, or some sections of the public, that major actions are required which may affect their lifestyles. We need cross-disciplinary research in order to fill the gaps in our knowledge about socio-political and socio-cultural aspects of sustainability. Then we can determine how best to overcome these barriers to sustainability.’

The Sustainability Manifesto has received the unanimous backing of the executive committee of the International Social Science Council (the World’s governing body for the social sciences under the auspices of UNESCO) and the ISSC president, Alberto Martinelli, has called on ‘scientists and colleagues all around the world to support the initiative’.


Further information

For more information about the University of Bristol at COP21, please visit the Green Capital website.

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