Strengthening Resilience through
Social-Ecological Justice
Andreas Rechkemmer
October 12th, 2014
Resilience Thinking
Normative Foundations
Global Environmental Change
and Development
Global Environmental
Large costs for
wealth and
the possibilities
to attain global
Growing Vulnerabilities
Degradation of
Ecoysstem Services
The Anthropocene is the period when
human activity has overtaken vast parts of the
natural cycles on the planet, and has done so
in ways that disrupt those cycles and
fundamentally threaten us in the years ahead.
The Anthropocene is felt in many areas, e.g.:
rising greenhouse gas emissions, anthropogenic climate change,
ozone depletion (Antarctic)
freshwater stress, ocean acidification and depletion
human dominance of the natural nitrogen cycle through heavy use
of fertilizers to feed a world population of 7 billion people
loss of multiple ecosystem services
habitat destruction, loss of livelihoods, dramatic loss of
biodiversity and food supply
over-fishing, over-hunting, over-gathering, over-exploitation of
natural resources leading to population collapse and species
new and emerging diseases (many of which are zoonoses) and
global pandemics
Figure SPM.1b
Observed change in surface temperature 1901-2012
All Figures © IPCC 2013
Figure SPM.1a
Observed globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature anomaly 1850-2012
All Figures © IPCC 2013
Figure SPM.4
Multiple observed indicators of a changing global carbon cycle
All Figures © IPCC 2013
Figure SPM.10
Temperature increase and cumulative carbon emissions
All Figures © IPCC 2013
Figure SPM.9
Global mean sea level rise
All Figures © IPCC 2013
Social-Ecological Paradigm
Resilience Ethics
vs. Utilitarianism (Status quo in International Policy)
vs. Theories of Social Contract (John Rawls et al.)
But based on an Idea of Justice that goes ‘beyond compassion and
humanity’ (Nussbaum 2004, 2006)
and builds on rights-based views, and capabilities.
“The basic moral intuition behind the approach concerns the dignity
of a form of life that possesses both deep needs and abilities; its
basic goal is to address the need for a rich plurality of life activities.”
(Nussbaum 2004)
As with human capabilities, the emphasis lies on autonomy, in the
sense that all species and natural systems should be enabled to
Sustainable Development will be achieved
more easily if we place the idea and principle
of Social-Ecological Justice at its very
foundation, conceptually as well as in every
In the sense of Kant, Social-Ecological Justice
should precisely not be motivated by utilitarian
or contractarian approaches, but rather be
perceived as an a priori, transcendental moral
principle informing law, ethics, policy and
action alike.
In the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785),
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) argues that morality is based
neither on the principle of utility, nor on a law of nature, but on
human reason. According to Kant, reason tells us what we
ought to do, and when we obey our own reason, only then are
we truly free.
Social-Ecological Justice for
Biodiversity & Ecosystems
Planetary Systems & Boundaries
Thank you!
[email protected]
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