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Accelerating social change for the 1.5°C challenge

What extra push is needed to make a new practice take off? What stops people from adopting transformative new behaviours? What examples of rapid social change do we have, and what can we learn from them to reach the goal of curbing warming at under 1.5°C?

The Paris Agreement sets out an ambitious target for all of humanity: to halt warming at under 2°C, and to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. As debate continues over the likelihood of achieving these aspirational goals, the Transformations to Sustainability (T2S) community is collecting examples of initiatives and interventions that have helped scale up or scale out the take-up of practices, tools or behaviours that could make a significant contribution to staying under 1.5°C.

At a special ‘practice session’ of the Transformations 2017 conference in Dundee, United Kingdom, on 1 September 2017, participants will be asked to share, discuss and collectively prioritize examples of interventions or strategies that have helped propagate or accelerate the take-up of practices and behaviours that could contribute towards meeting the 1.5°C goal. The aim of the session is to inspire the creation of a catalogue of the most promising ‘practices to accelerate social change’.

The practice session will take place from 09:15 to 10:45 local time on Friday 1 September, as part of the Transformations 2017 conference which takes place in Dundee, UK, from 30 August to 1 September 2017. Registration for the conference is open until 30 August.

Conference participants are warmly invited to sign-up to participate in the session and to share examples of transformative initiatives. If you cannot be there, but have some examples you’d like to share, we’d like to hear from you at [email protected].

To get things started, we’ve collected some examples of rapid social change in practice, and further reading on making it happen.

There is no one path or single transformation towards greater sustainability – we need to look at a range of possible options to scale up or accelerate change.

Processes of change often start with a re-framing or re-examination of the issues in question, which can build wider acceptance of the need for change, deepen understanding of the role of personal transformation, and highlight barriers that need to be overcome.

Scaling up social change demands connections across scales and sectors to collectively bring about transformations.

Accompanied by shifts in mindsets and learning processes that can support ‘scaling deep’.

There are many examples of rapid social change in response to extreme circumstances, such as conflicts or natural disasters.

Experimental spaces and demonstration projects also provide a range of examples of rapid transition – as do the kind of living laboratories that occur when the unexpected or unusual occurs.

Indeed, the Anthropocene unavoidably confronts us with the reality of how much people can change in a short space of time – and provokes reflection on how to harness that potential for positive change.

Following the session in Dundee, we aim to create a catalogue of the most actionable and inspiring initiatives to accelerate social change – contact us if you have an initiative to share.


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