Collaboration for Sustainability 1: IntroApril 22, 2010 Leave a comment
For the past few decades, the Interaction Institute for Social Change and Interaction Associates have worked to develop the collaborative capacity of individuals, organizations, and communities with the conviction that this holds the promise of greater effectiveness with respect to shared missions and goals. We have long upheld and witnessed the importance of bringing more minds and hands together for the purposes of creating insight, understanding, alignment, agreement, strategy, and shared ownership. Lately, I have been trying to specifically clarify the value all of this has to offer the unsustainable relationship we have with our planet.
In his most recent book, Eaarth (intentionally misspelled), environmental activist Bill McKibben makes it painfully clear that climate change is no longer a hypothetical or future event. Climate change is here, and it is here to stay. From decreased rainfall in some areas of the globe, to increased and violent precipitation in others, rising seas, altered ecosystems and migratory patterns, the Earth we once knew is taking on a different persona. No point denying this, it is our new reality. The only choice we have is to adapt to changing conditions and do what we can to prevent alterations that would render the planet totally inhospitable to our species.
The good news is that there is growing awareness of this threat and a greater consciousness that business as usual just will not work. Also on the bright side, there is evidence that the knowledge and technology exist to shift to more sustainable ways of producing food and energy, transporting goods and people, housing and clothing ourselves. But change, proactive change in any case, is seemingly slow to come. Many observers say that what we lack is the political will and collective motivation to make the necessary moves now. So how do we address the lack and gap?
I plan on spending a few posts considering how collaboration might be a key to the sustainability shift. I will work with the following definition of sustainability taken from the Brundtland Commission (1987):
“Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
As well as the following definition of collaboration, from Chrislip and Larson (1994):
“A mutually beneficial relationship between two or more parties to achieve common goals by sharing responsibility, authority, and accountability for achieving results. It is more than simply sharing knowledge and information (communication) and more than a relationship that helps each party achieve its own goals (cooperation and coordination). The purpose of collaboration is to create a shared vision and joint strategies to address concerns that go beyond the purview of any particular party.”
And I/we will explore and see what reveals itself. What does research and experience say about how more fully developed collaborative capacity might help us to maintain our place on this planet? Stay tuned and/or feel free to go ahead and share your thoughts.