About the CONVERGE Project

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Full project title: Rethinking globalisation in the light of Contraction and CONVERGEnce.

Acronym: CONVERGE

The CONVERGE project is an interdisciplinary research project funded by the European Union with 9 partners across 5 countries, including partners from industrialised nations such as Sweden, the UK and Iceland, transition economies such as Hungary and rapidly industrialising nations such as India. Our research is inspired by the concept of contraction and convergence (C&C); a suggested way to stabilise atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gasses while promoting social equity with regards to climate change and green house gas emissions. We recognize that resources are not equally distributed; some people, communities or nations are using more, and some less, than their 'fair share', and the annual draw-down of many resources exceeds the capacity of the planet to supply them; what some commentators have called 'borrowing from our children and our future'. We saw a need to explore this idea of equity in the light of biological planetary limits - an extended version of C&C - with regards to the various sustainability challenges and positive sustainability initiatives the world is witnessing.

We began work on this area in September 2009. We are starting by looking at what is already out there; communities that have taken steps on the path towards sustainability, products, services, policies. What mechanisms and tools do they use to bring them closer to their 'fair share'? What mindsets are involved? Is it possible to measure and monitor the progress of these initiatives through using - or developing - indicators? We decided to call this movement towards 'fair share within limits' 'convergence'. We'll be developing some tools that communities can use to support the ideas of convergence; a collection of best-cases, a book, a film.

All kinds of issues are coming up - how do you decide what is 'fair', who owns common resources such as the atmosphere, and who can take responsibility for mitigating and even restoring damages to societies affected by environmental degradation, how is population growth involved, and is there an argument for a re-distributive or pre-distributive approach to resources from a scientific, sustainability or environmental perspective? Our goal is to try to build up and present a body of natural and social science around this complex sustainability issue and present a 'Converge narrative' to carry the ideas of post-normal and sustainability science forward.

We look forward to introducing the concept of 'convergence' to the world and to building up a body of science around it.

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 Picture by Anneka Tran