Category Archives: English

Recommendation to consider the crucial impacts of trends in smaller household size on sustainable development goals

The Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation on sustainable consumption and production, and the Rio+20 Declaration have consistently emphasized the essentiality of promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production to realize objectives of and requirements for sustainable development. To support these goals, this brief makes a recommendation to consider the crucial impacts of trends in smaller household size.

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Inclusive Green Economy and Structural Transformation in Africa

Over the last decade, African economies recorded impressive economic growth rates. Economic growth remains vigorous and growth is forecasted to be 5.5% in 2013-2014 in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today, almost a third of the countries in the region are growing at 6% or more. African countries are now routinely among the fastest growing countries in the world (World Bank, 2013). Despite the remarkable economic performance, Africa has the world’s highest proportion of poor people and is off track to meeting key MDGs (ECA, 2014). It is also projected that the continent’s population will increase by approximately 800 million people by 2040, putting even more pressure on natural resources. The challenge confronting the region therefore is not only to maintain, but to translate the rapid economic growth into sustained and inclusive development, based on economic diversification that creates jobs, contributes to reduced inequality and poverty, and enhances access to basic services. This underlies the renewed calls by countries for a structural transformation that fosters sustained and inclusive economic growth (Lin, 2012). Rodrik(2013) notes that while East Asian countries grew rapidly and turned their farmers into manufacturing workers, diversified their economies, and exported a range of increasingly sophisticated goods, little of that is taking place in Africa today.

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Gender equality and sustainable development

Africa’s powerful economic performance has been accompanied by many development challenges that threaten to slow down the continent’s path and pace towards structural transformation and sustainable development. Among those, the twin challenges of tackling widespread inequality particularity gender inequality and the un-sustainability inherent in the over exploitation/depletion of the continent’s
natural and mineral resources reveal is a critical imperative. As the continent strives to achieve the structural transformation of its economy then order to achieve its agenda 2063, a greater understanding of the strong linkages between gender equality and sustainable development is a condition sine qua non for its socio-economic transformation. It will also inform effective implementation of the African Common Position and priorities on the Post2015 as well as the domestication of the sustainable development goals that will be endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in its September 2015 session.

This brief contributes to the 2015 Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) by shedding light on the powerful nexus between gender equality and sustainable development.

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Making a sustainable long term perspective and national reports

The Rio +20 outcome document, paragraph 85(k), calls for a Global Sustainable Development Report GSDR, in order to bring together dispersed information and existing assessments and to strengthen the science-policy interface at the High Level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF). The United Nations Secretary-General tasked the Division for Sustainable Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs with elaborating a first prototype report. A first prototype report has been published this year. It is a rich and open cluster of approaches and contents, with an open structure, inviting discussion and further elaboration about methods and content. “It focuses on global sustainable development in terms of issues, impacts, institutions and technology. It maps sustainable development assessments and related processes and highlights emerging issues identified by scientists; assesses sustainable development progress; tells the “Stories” of future pathways toward sustainable development based on the literature and discusses investment and technology needs; assesses various approaches to measuring sustainable development progress; identifies lessons learnt from national, regional and global case studies of the climate-land-energy-waterdevelopment nexus; presents illustrative science digests for decision-makers; and suggests a number of issues for consideration.”

Thinking of the forthcoming SDGs, the starting work of the HLPF, the UN-Conferences and Special Programmes on different subjects that are crucial for a global sustainable development as well as of the many national and international efforts to advance it, the usefulness of a GSDR seems quite evident. It would provide a worldwide overview about the state of the process, key issues, key players, best practices, special difficulties and long-term perspectives. So all persons and institutions involved would be in position to acquire useful information, the necessary orientation, and be able to determine more precisely where and how to concentrate their efforts and whom to collaborate with. But as soon as one starts to discuss more precisely the structure, contents, range and methods of such a report, the enormous challenge of composing it becomes obvious: The more generally and globally the perspective chosen, the less it says about the specific situation or development in a determined region or subject. What political or geographical borders should structure the report? Should it be structured by them at all? What range of time should be covered – past, present and the future, and to what degree? How to determine key issues? – Should the seventeen SDG be taken as a basis of the report? Or should they be further reduced to its five roots of assuring basic human needs, basic human rights, good house-holding, good governance and political coherence? It seems to be by far easier to formulate difficult questions than to find good answers.

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A new institution for sustainably shaping our future

The insight that modern democracy, its procedures and decision-making are rather short-term guided, is not new.

When Alexis de Tocqueville travelled through the United States of America in the first half of the 19th century, he made an honest effort to understand what American democracy was and how it worked. He thought American democracy – and democracy as he came to understand it in general – hardly able to deal with long-term issues and to work steadily and effectively for long-term goals. The short time until the next elections, its influence on the behaviour of the elected politicians, the fast changing emotions of the people, the many possibilities to manipulate them and the readiness among influential members of the society to do so for particular interests – all these were and still are good reasons for serious doubt in this matter.

Because of the enormous growth of our economical, technical and organizational possibilities to change the world’s outlook within a few years’ time and the racing speed of the development of our societies, the issue of shorttermism and ways to reform and develop our political decision-making institutionally in order to allow a sustainable, long-term shaping of our future have become more and more urgent. By now, they are crucial for our efforts to guide communities, countries and the whole world away from actual nofuture paths towards sustainable, long-term pathways of development.

The Future Council Foundation, founded in 1997, has since tried to initiate the creation of future councils to complement the work of governments and parliaments systematically and institutionally with a long-term dimension and to make it politically arguable and convincing. Within the last years quite a few institutions of that kind have been created – not very strong ones, but already quite tenacious. By creating the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and by establishing global sustainable development goals, within the United Nations a kind of a World Future Council is being created these months.

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Defensive approaches to extreme weather

The problem:
Extreme weather such as floods, droughts and heatwaves has huge human and economic costs at present. The problem is set to get worse not only due to climate change but also because of projected demographic changes such as a growing and aging global population, increasingly located in areas exposed to extreme weather.

Key facts/ messages:
– Combining scenarios of demographic change with predicted climate change demonstrates that people and their assets will be increasingly exposed to extreme weather over coming decades.
– There are a range of defensive options that can reduce the impact of extreme weather on people.
– While engineering options such as sea walls tend to be the most effective, ecosystem-based options can be more affordable and have positive additional benefits. Hybrid options can combine the advantages of both.

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Measuring the SDGs Progress with Data Envelope Analysis

How do you gauge the accomplishments of policy and its failures? While a number of nations are successful in maximizing a socioeconomic welfare function, others are woefully falling short of the optimal frontier. Considering the large number of SDGs and development targets, the accomplishments and failures of nations and their policy performance will always be multidimensional. Once we have agreed on a single measure of such progress, it becomes possible to document numerically how policymakers succeed (or fail) in achieving their goals and communicate them politically.

Data envelopment analysis (DEA), codeveloped by Abraham Charnes and William Cooper in 1978, is ideally suited for the purpose, delivering a metric that evaluates the performance of Decision Making Units DMUs(nations, regions, cities, enterprises, banks, schools, etc.) according to their ability to use inputs, and marshal economic and social policy to attain a spectrum of desired goals. We propose a DEA framework to assess an empirical production function and to serve as an interactive-iterative policy evaluation system for monitoring the multi-dimensional progress various nations make towards
achievement of the SDGs.

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Disaster risk reduction: a cross-cutting necessity in the SDGs

The year 2015 presents an unparalleled opportunity to align landmark UN agreements through the convergence of three global policy frameworks: the post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (March 2015), The Sustainable Development Goals (September 2015; SDGs) and the Climate Change Agreements (December 2015: COP21). These major global policy instruments need to align urgently to facilitate and encourage better participation in disaster risk reduction (DRR), sustainable development and climate-change mitigation and adaptation from the science and technology communities.

Implicit in the SDGs, is the conviction that health is not just a matter of biology but also a product of societal architecture and is, therefore, amenable to human intervention – an approach with a large body of evidence behind it. Similarly, disasters are not natural events. They are endogenous to society and disaster risk arises when hazards interact with the environmental, social, physical and economic vulnerabilities and exposure of populations. Thus, the overall focus of disaster risk management has to shift from shielding social and economic development against what are seen as external events and shocks, to one of transforming development in order to accept and manage risks, as well as to strengthen resilience, thereby enabling development that is sustainable.

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Disaster Risk Governance: The essential linkage between DRR and SDGs

The issue of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is intimately linked to Governance model used by states to implement a comprehensive strategy to manage such risks and undertake integrated management. Depending on the chosen Governance model, the DRR circle can be either virtuous or vicious. At this moment when decennial appraisal of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) is taking place and looking for better strategies, the first results are mixed about the effectiveness of selected governance. Fortunately, as we shall see below, interesting and successful examples exist.

The Governance concept has undergone some trends in the last years and knows some nuances according to different authors. However, a more comprehensive approach of this concept can be stated. For the Canadian Institute on Governance (IOG), “Governance is a straightforward process, akin to a steersman in a boat. (…) Governance is complicated by the fact that it involves multiple actors, not a single helmsman. These multiple actors are the organization’s stakeholders (…) Decision makers are then accountable to those same stakeholders for the organization’s output and the process of producing it.” (IOG, 20151)

The same philosophy is included within the UNDP definition, which states “Governance is the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management of a country’s affairs at all levels. It comprises mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences.
Governance encompasses, but also transcends, government. It encompasses all relevant groups, including the private sector and civil society organizations.” (UNDP, 2010)

This more comprehensive approach to governance is found particularly in the field of Disaster Risk Governance.

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Loss Data Underpinning Disaster Risk Reduction

At present, our understanding of appropriate long-term disaster risk management is limited by the lack of in-depth knowledge on the impacts of disasters. In this regard, recording disaster impacts at detailed level is crucial for informed decision making, using methodologies that allow aggregation over space and in time. Scientific approaches for record disaster losses consistently and accurately are essential to move from undependable evidence driven mainly by media coverage to more systematic and proven datasets on disaster impacts. New partnerships between science and DRR actors are enabling just this.

Disaster loss data recording is the mechanism that links the science of risk assessment to the policy making for reducing disaster risks. Loss data collections are useful, for identifying trends and patterns in the data over time sand for tracking relationships between development and disaster risk (IFRC, 2005). As evidenced in the Global Assessment Report (GAR), loss data, recorded in national and global disaster databases are increasingly being used within risk modelling platforms to guide the decision-making processes of DRR (ISDR, 2013). When combined with ancillary data such as disaster risk
management expenditures or demographic information (Gall et al., 2015), disaster loss data are essential indicators on the relevance of DRR policies in a broader context of development and climate change.

This note discusses the relevance of disaster loss data for evidence based policy in DRR and the main application domains of loss data within the European Union (EU) Member States.

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Monitoring disaster risk reduction targets: the example of INFORM

Disaster risk consists of three elements: hazard, exposure and vulnerability. Risk can be reduced by controlling the frequency and intensity of hazards (e.g. flood protection, slope stabilization), reducing or limiting exposure (e.g. urban planning, urbanization policy, room for rivers to flood in unexposed areas) and reducing vulnerability (e.g. early warning, seismic building codes, contingency and response plans, evacuation). Further, to avoid disasters, society must build resilience to recover quickly after a hazard, mainly through effective response, reduced poverty, risk financing (public or private) and other coping mechanisms.

Accurate measurement of a complex phenomenon as risk is a non-trivial task. Because of its many dimensions, different stakeholders can perceive risk differently. One person’s loss can be another ones gain. Some communities express risk in terms of loss of life and others in financial numbers. Besides this conceptual uncertainty, the various components are not easy to quantify and involve scientific disciplines ranging from natural sciences to social sciences. Due to their nature, some risks can’t be compared on the same scale (e.g. earthquake risk versus droughts).

Nevertheless, there is a need to create multi-hazard risk metrics based on scientific evidence to inform disaster risk reduction policy. One tool that has been used to integrate information from different disciplines and communities is a composite indicator.

This note discusses the opportunities, challenges and strengths of composite indicators to measure progress in disaster risk reduction, and in particular the experience of a recently developed Index for Risk Management – INFORM.

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Science Diplomacy to support global implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Implementing the SDGs at global level requires ingenuity and willingness to cooperate on all sides of the multiple global divides: be that-rich/poor, developed/developing, northern/southern hemisphere, state-led/market-led economies, democracies/non-democracies, and high sciencetechnology/low technology/science countries.

Countries are embarking on a laudable and difficult journey. Sustainability – consisting of social, economic and environmental sustainable development- is expected to be implemented as a policy package. Successful implementation inevitably means aiming for maximum efficiency and effectiveness of current social and physical infrastructure conditions as well as searching for new technologies to make these ambitious but absolutely needed goals a reality for the benefit of global survival and constructive future global development.

Poor and under-developed countries will need transfer of technology from highly developed industrialised developed countries and all countries will be in need of new technologies to
make the SDGs become a sustained reality on a global level. Sharing technology for the benefit of humanity can be achieved through science diplomacy.

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Buying time for coral reefs by reducing local threats

Coral reefs provide ecosystem services, such as coastal protection, fisheries and tourism that are vital to the livelihoods of millions of people. These services are dependent upon healthy living corals and the structure they create. Corals generate skeletons of calcium carbonate (limestone) as they grow which provide a natural breakwater and the complex three dimensional habitat that is essential to
support the high biodiversity of coral reefs. Other processes (e.g., cementation by coralline algae) also add to the growth of reef structure, while bioerosion helps further create complexity and is essential in determining the balance between reef growth and disintegration.

Climate change is expected to reduce the ability of corals to form reef structure. Rising ocean temperatures are projected to disrupt growth rates for many corals and increase the frequency of coral bleaching. Ocean acidification will also slow coral growth and weaken reefs, at the same time as increasing the rate of bioerosion. In the face of such impacts, local efforts to improve reef health
might seem hopeless. However, recent research has shown that local management of reefs is vital to maintain the continued net production of reef structure, and therefore the provision of the important ecosystem services that reefs provide.

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Contributions from Future of Reefs in a Changing Environment (FORCE) project towards ecological and social research on coral reef ecosystems

Most of the functions of reefs, such as the provision of productive fisheries, tourism appeal, and coastal protection from storms, are founded on having a complex reef structure that keeps accreting (growing). A structurally complex reef provides habitat (and hiding places) to support high levels of biodiversity (Gratwicke and Speight 2005). If a reef is to continue functioning then it must at least have net growth – i.e., that the deposition of a carbonate skeleton by corals and calcareous algae must exceed the rate at which the skeleton is removed by physical damage and the erosion caused by a host of taxa including burrowing algae, sponges, and worms. The balance of reef construction and erosion is known as a carbonate budget (Stearn et al. 1977). Perhaps that greatest threat to coral reef biodiversity is the long-term loss of reef habitat that could occur if carbonate budgets become persistently negative (erosive).

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Sustainable Biomass in the Context of Climate Change and Rising Demand

The Rio+20 sustainable development conference launched a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and put the ambitious agreement on the global political agenda to strive for a
development that works for the people and the planet (UN GA 2012).

This brief presents key scientific findings about the sustainability challenges of biomass production and use. On this basis, it argues that issues of natural resource governance deserve greater recognition in the SDG negotiations – as they are at the heart of the joint Rio+20 commitment “to ensure the promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for our planet and for present and future generations” (UN GA 2012, 1).

Land-based biomass, derived from plants, is used for food, feed, fuel, and industrial purposes. Its sustainable production and consumption is the prerequisite to continuously meeting basic human needs while safeguarding the environment. Therefore, the issue of sustainable biomass plays an important role in achieving key objectives of the Post-2015 development agenda, such as food security, energy security, biodiversity, and/or climate stability.

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The UNU-FLORES Nexus Observatory and the Post- 2015 Monitoring Agenda

Recent debates within the UN system, which are also reflected in the Prototype Sustainable Development Report, have called for policy-making that is supported by a strong evidence-base. Making research relevant, timely, accessible and instructive, thus, strengthening science-policy interfaces is one of the key challenges of the 21st century. As much as humans must adapt to a changing world and build resilience (in economic, political, social and environmental terms), transformation and innovation of methods and approaches that are suited to address current and future challenges need to form an integral part if sustainable outcomes are to be achieved. Scientists who have made important contributions towards articulating an analytical framework for sustainable management of environmental resources
have emphasized the role of property rights for resources, such as forests, rivers and livestock pasture (Ostrom, 1990). The literature on institutions has highlighted the challenge of fragmented decisionmaking processes and structures that lead to the creation of silos across disciplines, regions, government departments and ministries. This in turn hinders inclusive and comprehensive approaches
founded on improved understanding of trade-offs and synergies that is necessary for integrated management of environmental resources to occur.

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Towards sustainable development: Global targets for a sustainable use of natural resources

It is widely recognized, that the availability of natural resources as well as the absorption capacities of our planet are limited. At the same time, the issue of equal access for people and economies all over the world to resources is gaining growing attention. Worldwide sustainable development will be closely linked to our ability to limit the use of natural resources within natural boundaries of our planet. In many countries the contribution of natural resources extraction is crucial to progress in macroeconomic policies, such as monetary and external debt balances, as well as in social policies aiming at food security or poverty alleviation. But resource extractive and especially mining activities also led to an increasing number of social and environmental conflicts all over the world. The safe and fair use of natural resources on the global level will have to be essential part of a positive vision of our future as humanity (O´Brien et al 2014), a notion which is also being reflected in the ongoing negotiation process of the future Sustainable Development Goals. In this brief we argue for the elaboration of scientifically derived suggestions for global resource targets as an important building element for sustainable and resilient societies, discuss the need for further differentiations and highlight the main environmental, social, economic and political aspects and implications.

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Towards diverse and sustainable governance ? Assessment of biocultural diversity (BCD) in European cities

Today more than half of the global population lives in urban regions and by 2030 the proportion is expected to have increased to 60 % (Elmqvist et al., 2013). To meet the needs of future generation, to support social cohesion within and among different socio-cultural groups, and to enable healthy living environments, cities are the main arena where sustainable solutions have to be developed. Especially urban green spaces (e.g. parks, forests, gardens, meadows, seashores) can support to meet these challenges. Urban green areas have been found to support citizen’s physical and mental wellbeing and social cohesion (Peters et al., 2010; Tzoulas and Green, 2011).

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Inclusive Green Affordable Housing for All

Affordable Housing (AH) is deemed affordable depending on family’s income and particular country’s housing status. AH can address all three dimensions of sustainability and it can influence 13 goals set in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) out of 17 goals directly and indirectly (United Nations, 2014). SDGs are designed as action-oriented goal in 2012 to realize 8 Millennium Development Goals set in the year back in 2000. It is envisaged that AH would result in financial and social inclusion of Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and Low Income Group (LIG). AH can offer them an opportunity to prosper economically and to enjoy basic urban services (Sen, 1998). It will address the Goal 11 of SDGs i.e. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

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Agroforestry can form an effective, efficient and fair pathway to achieve food security and agricultural sustainability in Africa

The global environmental and developmental agendas are now converging to address the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The past three decades
have seen innumerable attempts by governments and societies to intervene within social, economic and environmental dimensions to advance towards sustainable development. These include agreements such as the Agenda 21, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), RIO+20, and soon to be redefined as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs build upon and supplement the MDGs creating what is being termed the post-2015 agenda. The emerging development agenda will greatly depend upon achieving environmentally
sustainability that reinforces the capacity to achieve associated social and economic dimensions.

It is anticipated that many countries will not be able to achieve their economic and social development goals without modifying practices, policies and investments to fully encompass environmental sustainability. Current agricultural practices cause many negative consequences on existing environmental resources. The emerging SDGs seek to increase efficiency in the use of land, water and agricultural inputs to better contribute to environmental goals while bridging the gap between current yields and the projected requirements to feed the world’s growing population.

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Reframing Social Housing as an Infrastructure of Production and Consumption

In the classical triangular model of sustainability, the 3-Es (Economic development, Environmental protection, and social Equity), are given equal weight (Campbell 1996). However, in climate change research related to the built environment—the sector of the economy that contributes most to GHG emissions—social equity is rarely considered (Oden 2010). In the context of the built environment, equity is typically understood to mean the provision of housing for the poor by government, and is generally perceived as a social issue separate from the more technical problems of designing low-entropy buildings. In technical terms, equity is generally placed outside the system boundaries of sustainable building technology (Odum 1994 [1983]), creating a large gap between the science and social policy of climate change in the built environment.

Being thus marginalized by building science, housing the poor is viewed by society as an unfortunate, yet necessary, public entitlement required to keep the poor from becoming
further burdens (either through unemployment, ill-health or political unrest) to the more affluent citizens who pay taxes (Mueller 2013). Research demonstrates this to be a shortsighted and ideological way to understand the opportunities inherent in social equity generally, and social housing in particular (Benner et al 2013).

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Adaptation and resilience in the face of climate change: protecting the conditions of emergence through good governance

Super wicked problems such as global climate change (Levin et al. 2012) and the extensive subsequent changes to the environment, biodiversity and human economies cannot be tackled with the usual disciplinary approaches that have long been the basis for policy making. Problems in social and environmental planning tend to become wicked because their causes are complex and subject to different interpretations according cultural values and beliefs. Consequently there are no objectively definable solutions to wicked problems and disagreement on what might be done to address a problem may be profound. In the case of climate change, the problem is super wicked because of the urgent need for solutions, lack of a central decisionmaking authority, and those responsible for solving the problem are also creating it.

The concept of resilience in complex adaptive social-ecological systems (SES) provides a relatively novel way of thinking about change at all scale levels from the local to the global. It enables people to develop strategies that either enhances the resilience of an existing system, so that it can absorb and recover from disturbance like fire, floods and disease outbreaks, or deliberately transforms the system into a new state that is better able to meet long term human needs. A SES resilience perspective recognizes that change in all biological systems (including all forms of human organization) begin with the very small and grows upwards.

This brief describes resilience concepts and argues that they provide a foundation for the development of adaptation policies based on a relatively simple model of the drivers and feedbacks that define the change process at work in a system. It also makes some suggestions on how national policies might support the growth of resilience and adaptive capacity for coping with climate change.

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Strengthening democratic legitimacy in intergovernmental policy-making on sustainable development: the contribution of web-based civil society consultations

One of the main dilemmas facing global sustainable development governance today is the growing democratic deficit of the intergovernmental policy-making system (Scholte, 2002). The lack of responsiveness of intergovernmental norms and policies to collective concerns, as well as the lack of accountability of intergovernmental organisations and member states, are generating a crisis of legitimacy (Castells, 2001; Keohane, 2003; Haas, 2004). Resolving this crisis is a difficult task that requires among other things the creation of institutional mechanisms that allow citizens to participate in a meaningful way
in the creation and implementation of global norms (Castells, 2005). In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro institutionalised participatory governance with the creation of nine overarching categories called the major groups, through which “all concerned citizens” could participate in the United Nations’ (UN) activities on achieving sustainable development, as stipulated in principle 10 of the Rio Declaration. Twenty years later, this representative-based system of participation raises serious issues about its capacity to offer all concerned citizens direct access to processes of global norm production.

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Weak Sustainability versus Strong Sustainability

The fundamental debate regarding sustainable development is whether we choose to adopt a strong or a weak conception of sustainability. Weak sustainability postulates the full substitutability of natural capital whereas the strong conception demonstrates that this substitutability should be severely seriously limited due to the existence of critical elements that natural capital provides for human existence and well-being. The following science digest provides an overview of scientific findings to support informed debate among decision-makers regarding the need to adopt a strong sustainability position for the discussion and implementation of the post-2015 sustainable development policies.

Sustainable employment in a non-growth oriented economy

In recent years, debates have strongly resurfaced whether it is at all possible to approach sustainability within an economic, social and political system that places the idea of growth in the centre of attention. Many envision – including the present authors – that solutions to such complex issues can now only be handled by finding suitable transition paths to alternative paradigms and institutional
settings moving beyond the concept of economic growth. The idea of a steady-state or de-growth economy does not project the idea of a stationary state (Daly, 1977; Kallis et al, 2012). In such an economy, the combination and ratio of the four value-producing capitals (natural, social, human, and man-made) would also be continuously changing, only welfare would rely more on the qualitative gratification and less on the quantitative expansion of material and energy-intensive transformations. However, the most challenging question is how this transition from our current economic paradigm to a non-growth oriented economy can take place and what policy measures may support this transition.

This brief is based on the experience and results of a backcasting research project conducted in Hungary in 2012-2013. Backcasting is a preferred method in transition management – particularly with regard to sustainability issues – as it facilitates the deliberation of complex socio-economic issues and enables participants to think freely outside the realms of present cognitive frames
and still find adequate, future-oriented policy answers (Robinson et al, 2011). As opposed to the extrapolation of the present trends used in forecasting, backcasting starts with the establishment of a normative vision of the future and tracks its way back from this vision to currently feasible policies providing a bridge between the desired future and the present state. In the case of this particular
Hungarian backcasting exercise sustainable employment scenarios were developed and policy recommendations were determined for reaching such a desired future (Köves et al, 2013a; Köves et al, 2013b).

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