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What are the design features of sustainable interventions to climate change ?

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Lingaraj Jayaprakash

Mar 19, 2014


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Dear All, Most of us are in different stages of proposal design. Some of us may be conceptualising projects, some of us might have a very clear understanding of what we want to propose. I feel it is important to consider some very basic questions on intervening in complex socio ecological systems. How do we ensure that the interventions we propose are sustainable in the long run? How do we ensure that the interventions are robust to a range of uncertainties and changes? Why do some interventions fail and why do some succeed ? Why do some interventions have negative unintended consequences ? How do we ensure our projects move beyond pilot scale? How do ensure that our projects sensitive to stakeholder needs and are acceptable to diverse stakeholder groups ?

Gregory Lee

Apr 15, 2014


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It seems a lot depends on the geography (location-where on Earth; scale -size of the intended application--local, regional, global; time--present or future--longevity; and the culture / traditions of the people of the target audience Sustainability is a very rubber bandy term...similar to trying to handle an open system where there are no boundaries. To be manageable, closed systems are much easier handle do to defined limits. A good example is looking at a carbon footprint of a product or procedure associated with a sustainable practice. You start with the bare bones obvious pieces of the puzzle. The indirect connections are the bedeviling details; how many times removed will you carry these connections? modular design helps give some flexibility and possibly longevity to designs. Relevance to the environmental conditions and culture of the users factors in to this as well. I would tend to favor function over form as functionality helps get the work done. The output will be the obvious evaluation criteria. the success / failure of an intervention and unintended negative consequences often arise due to an incomplete scoping of the problem. Inclusive efforts to bring in all "stakeholders" (especially the marginalized and minorities). Stepping back and questioning your assumptions help avoid viewing the problem through a cultural lens or filter. Upscaling any project requires a thorough review of all project assumptions and validating all results with critical harshness. It is especially important to recognize the necessity to depart from linear models. Periodic review and feedback from all participants (and non-participants) can give valuable insights to the reasons for your success or failure. It is good to remember that people tend to see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. With that in mind, be careful not to surround yourself with "yes" folks, and to always give time to listen to voices of dissent. If you work on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit you can establish rapport with others along with your credibility. Keep a high level of integrity and behave ethically at all times. Compromise your integrity and ethics and you can never regain them fully.
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