Authors: Adrian Newton (Applied Sciences)
Alternative name suggestion: None
Brief theme summary: The development of a green economy, or an economy that is environmentally sustainable, has become a political and socio-economic imperative. Key drivers include the need to reduce carbon emissions to reduce the risk of climate change, overexploitation of resources and widespread environmental degradation, which is eroding the natural capital on which human wellbeing depends. The transition to a green economy represents a substantial challenge to society, particularly in the current era of rapid environmental and socio-economic change.
Scope of theme: what is included? This is a strongly inter-disciplinary theme, which could potentially connect with many other areas of academic endeavour within the University. Key elements include reduction of carbon emissions; renewable energy; recycling and waste management; sustainable use of natural resources (eg water, fisheries, ecosystem services); ecotourism; urban planning and green infrastructure; transport; environmental justice etc.
Scope of theme: what is excluded? Any element that does not consider the environmental impacts of its actions, and that does not attempt to reduce this impact.
Which big societal questions are addressed by this theme?
- How may the transition to a green economy, or sustainable lifestyles, be made?
- What are the environmental limits to growth?
- How can natural resources be exploited sustainably?
- What are the ecological footprints of different economic activities?
- What are the factors influencing the resilience of social-ecological systems?
- How can human society adapt to environmental change?
- How can global poverty be alleviated without compromising the earth’s life support systems?
- How can the risks of climate change to human society be averted?
How do these link to the priorities of the major funding bodies? Many of these issues are now featuring in calls from each of the UK research councils (eg through the LWEC programme), and from the EC.
How does this theme interlink with the other BU themes currently under consideration?
There is a strong potential link with Environmental change and biodiversity, but also potential to develop links with Health and wellbeing, Recreation and leisure, Culture and society or Society & Social Change, Creative and digital economies, Entrepreneurship and economic growth, Technology and design. I would also highlight the importance of understanding human behaviour, which relates to psychology.