2020 Special Focus - Sustainability Challenges in the Global South: Priorities, Risks, and Opportunities

Much of the sustainability literature focuses on the Global North and on issues salient to policy makers in developed countries, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and ozone depletion. By contrast, comparatively little is written on environmental issues in the Global South, which is rich in sustainability experiences and lessons learned in natural resource conservation, and where many of the challenges are being faced on a daily basis with limited financial and human capital resources. In Latin America, Africa, and much of Asia, communities struggle on a daily basis with environmental hazards as varied as land degradation, drought, salinization, and lack of access to fresh drinking water. ‘Land grabs’ drive deforestation and biodiversity loss, while across the Global South, conflicts between communities, firms, and the state for resource rights and access present risks to livelihoods and life, which in turn are highly uneven according to localities, socio-economic groups, ethnicity, and gender.

A variety of creative thinking and imaginative responses to such challenges can be found across the Global South. Communities are organizing to defend their neighborhoods, forests, and land from incursions by property developers, poachers, and business corporations. A plurality of different visions of environmental justice and social justice have flourished based on gender rights, indigenous peoples’ rights, and rights of nature. Within Latin America, the Andean notions of buen vivir (good living) has found expression in the constitutions of Ecuador and Bolivia.

The question of how the sustainability lessons garnered in the Global South can contribute to the transformative social changes necessary to promote sustainability on a global scale, and define short-, medium-, and longer-term priorities, will be considered at the Sixteenth International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic & Social Sustainability in Santiago, Chile. We warmly welcome proposals for papers, workshops, interactive sessions, posters, and exhibits on this theme and on all dimensions of sustainability. The conference will appeal to scholars, social activists, business people, and policy makers.

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