• 7 July 2023

ECCA theme „Reframing Societal Transformation by Challenging Underlying Assumptions” summary

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The theme „Reframing Societal Transformation by Challenging Underlying Assumptions” led by Elisabeth Worliczek (BOKU University) and Fernanda Rollo (NOVA University), was represented by six sessions throughout Day 2 and Day 3 of the ECCA conference (20th – 21st June, 2023). The main aim of the sessions was to question the elementary function of society and rethink it, as well as discuss and present novel and implemented ideas in an open space by utilizing scientific, creative and interdisciplinary approaches.

The activities of Day 2 started off with a session on adaptation policy and philosophy. This session stressed the importance of shifting our values from a human-centred world view to a more holistic earth-centred world view, as well as offered an example of a currently implemented National adaptation policy: the first Canadian National Adaptation Strategy.

The second session was organised as a panel discussion that focused on the title of the theme (watch the discussion here; from 5:27:19). The invited guest speakers took up the challenge of looking for the deeper root causes of societies’ auto-destructive behaviour through the lens of their disciplines ranging from neurosciences, philosophy, theology, social & cultural anthropology to activism. The importance of storytelling, gender equality, and the HIV epidemic were presented as learning examples for how society can deal with the climate emergency. Also, the importance to care for the land and the negative framing of climate action narratives in the media were presented and subsequently discussed amongst the experts and the audience.

The last session of the day was an invite only policy brief workshop building on the ideas presented during the panel and delving deeper into the questions of root causes and underlying assumptions. The policy brief will further be worked on in a second workshop as part of the International Conference: Reflections on Transformation in Graz (September 18th – 20th, 2023).

Day 3 kicked-off with a session on narratives, focusing on local climate action and how it can be upscaled, the importance of a participatory process and how peer-to-peer transformational learning can enhance critical thinking. The second session of the Day explored creative approaches to climate action through presenting the Irish Creative Climate Action Programme and offering creative tools to help re-frame our vision. Subsequently, participants got creative by using poetry to reframe societal assumptions we hold about the future. The final session of the theme focused on different levels of policy, by strengthening local resilience for Pan-European policy making in a World Café format.

Participants were given the opportunity to learn about three projects in the field of Climate Adaptation and explore different approaches to climate action.

Conclusions

  • Ultimately, we all stand for a fairer society, with more equality, seeking to pursue an agenda of happiness and well-being.
    We need public policies, we need science, we need public engagement, community participation, generosity, solidarity. And… we also need imagination and creativity.
  • Social scientists, artists, help us interpret reality and ask questions about how the paths we have pursued have been shaped by the past. And, like artists, they encourage us to think about the future, to imagine an alternative one.
  • Last consideration: science needs to engage more explicitly with existing—and perhaps changing—social contracts to conceive, plan, implement, and fund adaptation.
  • The new social contracts are still unclear and need to be co-developed through transdisciplinary
    approaches.
  • Forums like this, convening the various disciplinary areas, are essential, proving the indispensability of everyone’s contribution. May they continue and provide us with dialogues that are not only parallel but also crossed.

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