This article by Ethan Goffman is part of a series of articles drawing inspiration and ideas from the 2016 SCORAI conference that has just been happening in Maine, USA. Enjoy the reading!

Transitions Beyond a Consumer Society, SCORAI Conference Blog #3

In her keynote address on the final day of the conference, Lucia Reisch gave a stirring defense of bureaucracy.  “Stirring” and “bureaucracy” are two words rarely used together, but we won’t get far along the long and winding road to sustainability without the help of bureaucrats.  Reisch herself has wound between the academic and bureaucratic worlds, having served on numerous committees for both the German and Swedish governments.  She has come close to the sources of power; the Committee for Sustainable Development, on which she serves, has an annual meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world (at least until 2017).

Reisch pointed out that she is privileged to serve in countries with a particularly strong environmental ethic.  Germany, notably, has a long history of influential environmental parties, namely the Greens, dating back to the 1980s.  It was then that the Green Party published the first book on the energy transition, which, 25 years later, Germany has finally embarked on.  This massive transition project has a very long tail, without which it would not have been possible.  For those frustrated that they are getting nowhere, the message is that academic and utopian projects can lie dormant for years, before circumstances and the long, hard work of preparation allow them to be realized.

Read more at Small Steps and Radical Change | SSPP Blog