Introducing SEVeN: Accelerating sustainability experimentation and adaptation

As I’ve discussed briefly on my projects page, SEVeN is the brainchild of a number of long conversations my colleague Pradip Swarnakar and I held earlier this year during my six weeks in India as a Fulbright Specialist at the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management–Gwalior.

Today I am giving the first public talk about this very nascent project as part of UC Berkeley’s Landscape Architecture + Environmental Planning colloquium on “The Global South, Common Sustainability Challenges (Causes & Solutions).” (Wurster Hall, Room 315a, 1-2pm). It is still nothing more than a concept and it needs a great deal of vetting and fleshing out. The slides for the talk are below. Feel free to provide feedback either as a comment or in a personal email. This is a “grand” idea in the sense that there are many components and it will take a lot of careful planning to implement. So the more critical feedback we get early on the better.

Here’s a description of the basic concept, below which are the slides for today’s presentation:

Humans have always adapted to environmental changes through experimentation and innovation. Today, in a social context of vast inequality and unevenness of development, we must learn how to adapt through experimentation and innovation, and disseminate successful adaptations, at a rate and scale unprecedented in human history. We are proposing a Sustainability Experimentation Venture Network (SEVeN) that would facilitate rapid experimentation and adaptation in the interest of sustainable development. Whereas most sustainable development efforts are aimed at institutions, policies, and markets, SEVeN is intended to tap into the emerging bottom-up knowledge being produced by individuals and communities around the world that are daily experimenting with new ways to meet basic needs and create livelihoods. SEVeN aims to aggregate this unorganized and unstructured knowledge and then make it searchable and accessible. Dissemination to communities outside of the formal sustainable development structures can then accelerate bottom-up adaptation strategies.

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