Climate Justice Colloquium

CLIMATE TALK #6: The 1st Climate Justice Colloquium
Villanova University, Driscoll Hall, Room 240
November 10, 2011, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
On BlackBoard:


Industrialized humanity has advanced to a point where we now demand more resources than the Earth can provide. The status quo (Plan A) is not sustainable. Continued failure to correct the unsustainable practices inherent in our industrial economic model will lead to the collapse of natural support systems and the destabilization of human societies.

We need an economy for the 21st century, one that is in sync with natural support systems, not destructive of them. In the words of Lester Brown:

…the situation in which we find ourselves pushes us to redefine security in twenty-first century terms. The time when military forces were the prime threat to security has faded into the past. The threats now are climate volatility, spreading water shortages, continuing population growth, spreading hunger, and failing states. The challenge is to devise new fiscal priorities that match these new security threats. We are facing issues of near-overwhelming complexity and unprecedented urgency. Can we think systematically and fashion policies accordingly? Can we move fast enough to avoid economic decline and collapse? Can we change direction before we go over the edge? (World on the Edge, 2011, p. 15) 

Brown’s work to create a “Plan B” rests on the insight that our economic model must include ecological honesty. Conventional economics measures human exchange activity and values only what carries value at market; ecology does not have the luxury of such a narrow view, because it must grapple with the intervention of all influences in the fabric of complex natural systems that sustain and promote life.

If the systems that make civil society possible, and so the whole of our economic output, are destabilized or wiped out, without natural support systems we cannot create or restore civilization. Therefore, the integrity or well-being of those natural systems must be valued beyond all other economic priorities.

The Climate Justice Colloquium will focus on the following questions:

  • Why are questions of climate justice and sustainability worthy of our consideration?
  • What are our responsibilities/obligations and to whom?
  • How should we respond as individuals, cultures, nations, and as a human species?

On the evening of November 3, 2011, student participants organized into presentation teams, at the preparatory Caucus event. Those teams are, in alphabetical order:

  1. Economics & Development
  2. Food Scarcity & Security
  3. Global Commonwealth
  4. The Right to Know
  5. The Rights of Current & Future Species
  6. Technology: Innovation, Solutions & Environmental Ethics
  7. We are the Environment

During the 2nd working session of the module, on November 10, each of these 7 groups put forward a global strategy for shared work toward addressing the challenge area they chose as their focus. In each case, cooperation between countries was a vital focus. Solutions ranged from multi-level collaborations within and between societies to a new model for global governance as such, with a more open participatory and democratic structure for global negotiations.

In the new proposed global governance model, cooperation between people working at different levels of influence, between distinct sectors of technical and economic activity, and between representatives of distinct nation states, would allow for a focus on thematic challenge areas and shared progress toward operational outcomes. The key innovation was to privilege ideas for their problem-solving value over the political choices of nation states, so actors across the world would be empowered to pursue those better ideas.

Faculty Organizers:

  • Chara Armon
  • Chaone Mallory
  • Joseph Robertson

Faculty Moderators:

  • John Olson
  • Paul Rosier

Please explore below some key links relating to the speakers and their work, and to Villanova’s nationally recognized sustainability efforts:

Villanova Climate & Sustainability Efforts:

The event is co-sponsored by:

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