As part of the Global Donut Day initiative, under the auspices of Doughnut Czechia, we organized a mini-conference on the 3 Faces of a Just Transition. 70 people across sectors spent the whole day looking for practical ways to fulfill the vision of a good life within planetary boundaries for all.
We (intentionally) did not record the lectures. But we want to share at least the key ideas that were mentioned. Below you will find a transcript of the introductory contribution by Matěj Malecha, and then key insights from the lectures of individual speakers.
We filled the large conference hall at the Hybernská Campus first thing in the morning. The chairs almost ran out.
When you look at how sustainability is discussed in the Czech Republic, you will find that the recipes offered to us can be divided into two categories: macro recipes and micro recipes.
Macro recipes take the form of legislation at the national and international level. An example is the introduction of non-financial reporting in companies. So these are recipes that rely on advocating top-down change.
The vast majority of people have no chance to get involved in the creation of this legislation in any way. In practice, this means that they are confronted only with the result, which they often do not understand why and how it actually originated, thus it often evokes one of two feelings in them: anger or helplessness.
On the other hand, micro recipes represent advocating bottom-up change through lifestyle changes. But in practice, these recipes usually involve some form of restriction or fundamental transformation of life priorities: not eating meat, not flying, minimizing waste... so they often evoke feelings of anger, frustration, apathy and helplessness in people when they want to change their lifestyle but fail.
In short, the existing recipes mainly evoke negative emotions and do not offer a positive vision of change.
In addition to the micro and macro levels, there is also a meso level, i.e. the level of organizations. Recipes at this level are not talked about much yet. Yet it is a level where:
So it is a level with the greatest potential to set in motion truly radical systemic change.
As service designers, we operate in various organizations across sectors. And we have the opportunity to see how people in organizations think about the issue of sustainability. And we often see that they simultaneously hold two contradictory attitudes:
We need to break this apathy. Sustainability is not a leisure activity. We need to find ways to ensure a good life within planetary boundaries for all during working hours. But for that we need to fundamentally transform how organizations work.
It is of course appropriate to ask what exactly a "good life within planetary boundaries" means? The Doughnut model offers an answer, in our opinion. So we have a named goal of sustainable transformation. Now we need to ask: "What role do organizations play in ensuring a good life within planetary boundaries for all?"
Today's organizations can be divided into 3 basic sectors:
In ensuring a good life within planetary boundaries, each sector has its key competence: business produces, the state redistributes, and non*profits reproduce. The sectors need each other because the success of one creates conditions for the success of the other two. So we need them all to function well.
But what does “function well” mean? Maintaining balance. In practice this means that:
What exactly does responsible production, fair redistribution and dignified reproduction mean? We need to talk about this in the most diverse group of people possible. Because only then will the resulting vision of sustainable transformation reflect the needs of all. At the same time, everyone must have the opportunity to participate in fulfilling this vision because only then will it be a just transition.
The key to a good life within planetary boundaries for all is intersectoral discussion and cooperation. So let's talk to each other. And let's work together.
Zuzana Harmáčková pointed out that we tend to think about systemic change in terms of institutions, but in practice individuals representing those institutions play an enormous role. She further noted that sectors tend to close in on themselves and function more "next to each other." And she offered a tool to support intersectoral cooperation: formal and informal intersectoral platforms.
Marek Mencl talked about what companies that do not have profit as their sole raison d'être look like. And he outlined the reasons why it makes sense to discover and support these alternatives: maximizing profits at all costs leads to irresponsible production, overconsumption, social inequalities and distrust in the state. He also introduced the 5 dimensions in which, according to Kate Raworth, author of the Doughnut Economics concept, it is necessary to strive for change in the functioning of companies.
In her online speech, British economist Kate Raworth introduced the basic ideas associated with the concept of Doughnut Economics. She showed in what respects the prevailing economic thinking is inadequate, and what alternatives are available.
Klára Šplíchalová distanced herself from the term "non-profit organization" and used several statistics to show that these constitute a very productive and important part of the economy. For example, public benefit organizations employ nearly 120,000 people, accounting for 2% of employment in the Czech Republic.
Ondřej Kolínský first described the problems created by the prevailing understanding of the purpose of work to society and what it means to "have work". He then introduced the concept of guaranteed jobs and outlined how to bring it to life. He sees the way mainly through decentralized design and a state that primarily serves as guarantor.
Veronika Pavlovská provided an insight into the world of public services. She explained how to recognize a good service, but mainly appealed for greater and broader support for investment in public services. We all need help in difficult life situations occasionally and cannot choose a provider at that moment – we need what is available to work well.
In her presentation on the role of technology in the fair transition process, Eva Pavlíková emphasized that technologies are (just) a tool, but it is up to us humans what we use them for. It is therefore much more important to take into account what actors are working with technologies, what roles they play in the system and what relationships they have with other actors and roles. In the environment of public administration, this means, for example, consistently distinguishing between the state, political representation and public administration.
We followed up the lectures with 3 round tables, where participants had the opportunity to build on the presented ideas and discuss them in greater detail.
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