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​Does solving the climate and biodiversity crises require a new moral framework?

Published on: 13-Oct-2020

Event Type: Seminar
Event Date: 13 October  2020 - 1:00pm
Venue: Online (via Zoom)
Speaker: Prof Ben Cashore

About the speaker:

Ben Cashore specialises in global and multi-level environmental governance, comparative public policy and administration, and transnational business regulation/corporate social responsibility. His substantive research interests include climate policy, biodiversity conservation/land use change, and sustainable environmental management of forests and related agricultural sectors. His geographic focus includes Southeast Asia, North America, Latin America and Europe.

Ben’s theoretical interests include the legitimacy and authority requirements of non-state market driven (NSMD) global governance, the influence of economic globalisation on domestic environmental policies, and the potential of anticipatory policy design for identifying path dependent policy mixes capable of ameliorating “super wicked” environmental problems. He integrates his theoretical and empirical research around two key themes:

1) developing and managing problem oriented multi-stakeholder policy learning processes
2) strategies for nurturing multiple step policy pathways

Ben joined NUS LKYSPP (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy) after spending 18 years at Yale University as a professor of environmental governance and political science, where he also directed the Governance, Environment and Markets (GEM) initiative and, from 2014-2019, directed the Yale International Fox Fellows exchange program which awards promising graduate students in 18 partner universities. Ben was born and raised in British Columbia, Canada. His PhD is from the University of Toronto and he undertook postdoctoral research at Harvard University and the University of British Columbia. He worked for three years in Ottawa, Canada as a policy advisor to the leader of the Canadian New Democratic Party.


About the event:

Why is it that, despite 30 years of well-intended global and domestic policies, critical global environmental challenges are becoming more acute? I argue that that one explanation for the gap between policy solutions and intended outcomes is that the moral frameworks through which policies are adjudicated and developed are “ill fit for purpose” for ameliorating the problems they seek to resolve. Instead of treating climate change and massive species extinctions as Type 1 (commons), Type 2 (optimization) and Type 3 (compromise) challenges, as most academics and policy analysts working for governments, businesses, and the United Nations have done for the last 30 years, they need to be prioritized as Type 4 “super wicked” problems. I posit that I doing so requires making “path dependency analysis” as widespread and mainstream as “cost-benefit” analysis. There are, I show, hopeful lessons from COVID-19 management in which a number of governments developed Type 4 policy responses in two related ways: by treating lives as valuable qua human lives; and developing policies and regulations based on the (evolving) epidemiology of the disease itself.

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