Relational values and policy mixes for sustainability

A lecture by Visiting Scholar Dr. Kai Chan, IRES, UBC
Thursday, 7 February 2019 - 3:15 pm to 4:30 pm
Room number: 
Faculty of Social Sciences, Room 4004 (120 university Private)
Contact information
Contact person: 
Laura Wohrizek
Registration required: 
Cost to attend: 
Free of charge
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In the face of pressing global sustainability challenges, opportunities pass by while prevailing responses draw piecemeal from a basket of well-worn tools, with little consideration of larger, systemic effects. The concept of relational values is quickly gaining traction as a crucial, and previously overlooked, way of understanding what matters to people and why. By incorporating relational values into decision-making of all kinds, we can make environmental policies and programs implementable and effective. We can avoid many of the unintended negative effects, and harmonize smart policy mixes to enable a transformation in social norms towards sustainability.

This talk examines four categories of sustainability solutions: incentives, certification, regulations and place-based approaches. It examines their strengths, as well as their limitations, from the perspective of structural and societal changes needed for sustainability. It delves into the idea that redesigning policy tools and approaches could unleash and normalize existing relational values of responsibility, in all sectors and across the supply chain. Crucially, where governments are not yet onside with or empowered to take strong environmental action, such changes could be driven by grassroots action. Although difficult to realize, such relational policy mixes could help achieve broadly agreed-upon sustainability goals without introducing draconian measures, thus preventing and addressing present and future injustices.