Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

New Departures in Tackling Urban Climate Change: Transdisciplinarity for Social Transformation (a critical appraisal of the WBGU’s 2011 Report)

Christoph Woiwode

Abstract: In 2011 the German Advisory Council for Global Change (WBGU) published a remarkable policy document entitled ‘World in Transition: A Social Contract for Sustainability’ in which the authors proclaim the need for a great social transformation at the global scale in order to address climate change. This article builds on and critically discusses the central messages of the report that emphasizes the necessity to pro-actively shape the change of our values and worldviews that underpin our lifestyles and consumption patterns. By arguing for a transdisciplinary approach to implement this challenging vision the report identifies urbanization as a significant dimension in these processes thus shifting away from the dominant focus on socio-technical solutions. This puts the field of urban planning and development and related disciplines at the centre of the climate change adaptation and mitigation debate raising profound questions as to how these professionals, academics and practitioners could respond to the ideas brought forward in the report. The author considers this an opportunity for hitherto largely neglected integral approaches to gain more importance in mainstream urban planning practice and theory. The concluding part sketches out an initial research programme based on the previous discussion in order to illustrate at a more concrete level the implications of an integrative, transdisciplinary framework for planning.

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