A Ben Okri message for our new studentsMark Swilling, 16 February 2015
"Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery. Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your triumph will always be exemplary. And if no one knows it, then there are places that do. People like you enrich the dreams of the worlds, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love.” - Ben Okri
Carlota Perez remains optimistic, but denies the 6th waveMark Swilling, 11 February 2015
Everyone who has passed through the Sustainable Development module since 2011 has been required to engage with the work of Venezuelan economist Carlota Perez on long-waves of techno-industrial expansion and decline. Perez's work influenced the understanding of transition that Eve Annecke and I wrote about in Just Transitions. I recently re-tweeted a tweet sent out by my friend Maarten Hajer that provided a link to a ppt presentation recently delivered by Perez in The Netherlands. Two things struck me: she remains optimistic that the post-crisis phase of the ICT-based techno-industrial surge will result in another golden age, with investments aimed at greening the economy acting as game changers. It is also interesting that she still disagrees with the notion that the installation phase of the 6th techno-industrial surge has already begun and that it is driven by green-tech investors who realise that repairing the future is the driver of the next long-wave development cycle - see https://twitter.com/maartenhajer/status/561110778770894849
Profile of the Class of 2015Mark Swilling, 11 February 2015
On 28th January 2015 45 people registered for the Masters Programme in Sustainable Development, starting off with the three day Orientation followed by the two-week introductory module on Sustainable Development. Of the 45 that registered, 53% are classified black, and 47% white. Significantly, 66% are women and 34% are men - a shift away from the usual pattern of roughly equal numbers of men and women. Continuing a trend that started about five years ago that has resulted in a rising number of people employed in the private sector and deciline in the numbers from the non-profit and public sectors, 62% of those who registered are employed in the private sector. The remainder come from the public sector (20%), education (9%) and 7% are full-time students. The diversity of disciplinary backgrounds is notable, from engineers, to a fashion designer, a chef, school teachers, managers in cement and oil companies, to environmentalists, social scientists and economists, this is a programme that attracts a truly multi-disciplinary group. This contributes significantly to the richness of classroom discussion and learning.
Students Assess NepalMark Swilling, 22 January 2015Convetional western growth models will not work
In 2014 a group of PGD students travelled to Nepal to attend a course delivered as part of the SI Explorers programme. They travelled through cities and rural areas in order to assess what kinds of development strategies have been implemented. They concluded that western development paradigms promoted via globalization processes are unlikely to work in Nepal. They compiled a YouTube video to express these findings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOMXMtpvp2U&feature=youtu.be
Greening African EconomiesMark Swilling, 22 January 2015The September 2014 Heinrich Boll Foundation publication Perspectives was devoted to the theme of greening African economies in the context of climate change. The first contribution by Mark Swilling was based on his talk at the African Union Summit of Ministers of Finance and Economics in Abuja in February 2014. The contributions reflect diverse ideological perspectives on the challenge of making African economies more sustainable. For a copy see https://za.boell.org/sites/default/files/perspectives_sept_2014.pdf
What real research should be....Mark Swilling, 14 January 2015
".............do not monopolise your knowledge nor impose arrogantly your techniques, but respect and combine your skills with the knowledge of the researched and grassroots communities, taking them as full partners and co-researchers. Do not trust elitist versions of history and science which respond to dominant interests, but be receptive to counter-narratives and try to recapture them. Do not depend solely on your culture to interpret facts, but recover local values, traits, believe and arts for action by and with the research organisations. Do not impose your own ponderous scientific style for communicating results, but diffuse and share what you have learned together with the people, in a manner that is wholly understandable and even literary and pleasant, for science should not be necessarily a mystery nor a monopoly of experts and intellectuals." Fals Borda
Macro-Economic Training at StellenboschMark Swilling, 8 January 2015
During the period 10 November - 19 December, a Training Course in Macroeconomic Sector Analyses and Systems Dynamics was convened by the Quantum Global Research Lab working in partnership the School of Public Leadership and the Sustainability Institute, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
This course is an initiative by the Quantum Global Research Lab AG (QGRL), established in Zug, Switzerland to lead innovation and excellence in delivering bottom-up models for inclusive development and sustainable investment decision-making in African countries. This course is hosted by the QGRL in partnership with the School of Public Leadership and Sustainability Institute, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, under the auspices of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Quantum Global Research Lab and Stellenbosch University. Subsequently, the course participants will receive further training on country-specific analyses, and other relevant subjects as well.
2014 Research Colloquiem Starts TomrrowMark Swilling, 9 November 2014
At the end of every academic year students who have completed their Mphil research are given an oppportunity to present a conference paper based on their theses to a Research Colloquiem of their peers and staff. This here there is a wide range of topics including natural building technologies, job creation in the renewable energy sector, the potential of fresh water aquaculture, the implications of the green economy approach for the informal sector, environmental impact assessment in Tanzania, food waste at Stellenbosch University, community-based wildlife management in Uganda, traditional farming in Tigray, Ethiopia, household food security in Nigeria, community-based aquaponics, urban food security in Zambia, incremental upgrading in Stellenbosch, material flow analysis of Songdo ecocity in South Korea, and the potential of environmental education.
15th Anniversary Celebration of the SI and Lynedoch EcoVillageMark Swilling, 7 August 2014
Over one hundred people from the Sustainability Institute and the Lynedoch EcoVillage came together to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the founding of the SI and the Lynedoch EcoVillage. Eve did a presentation that captured the last 15 years. The twelve founding members were also present. In this collage, from top left in a circulate directio they are as follows: Makke Johnson, Veronica Galant, Bryce Anderson, Manda Mabiba, Ross Van Niekerk, June Stone, Kerneels Claasen, Naledi Mabeba, John Van Breda, Eric Swartz, Mark Swilling and Eve Annecke.
Si students organise the World Student Environment NetworkMark Swilling, 2 August 2014
The 2014 World Student Environmental Network (WSEN) Global Summit was held at Stellenbosch University (SU) from 30 June to 4 July, with attendance from 60 delegates representing over 25 countries. The WSEN is a platform for students from all over the world to come together to discuss the advancement of environmental sustainability in higher education. 2014 marked the first time that the summit was held in a developing country, an important milestone for the WSEN.Read more ...
Staff and students participate in International Conference of System Dynamics Society, Delft, The NetherlandsMark Swilling, 2 August 2014
Three of MPhil Students - Paul Currie, Jack Radmore and Megan Davies - who graduated from the Introduction to System Dynamics Modelling module in 2013 presented their work at the 32nd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society in Delft, Netherlands, 20th to 24th July 2014. Only Paul attended the conference. In addition, two former Executive Students, Karin Kritzinger and Jai Clifford-Holmes, who both attended the Systems Dynamics course in 2013, also attended the conference.
Dr Josephine Musango of the School Public Leadership and Prof Alan Brent of the Department of Industrial Engineering, also attended the conference.Read more ...
Launching WELL - Winelands Early Living and LearningMark Swilling, 27 July 2014
The SI has been working with Andre Shearer, founder of wine export business Cape Classics, to establish a new ECD programme for the farm worker children of the Winelands region. The result is the launching of WELL - Winelands Early Living and Learning. This will provide various kinds of support for ECD programmes in the Winelands.
Computers for Lynedoch's Earth ClubMark Swilling, 27 July 2014
Thanks to a donation from a private philanthropist, the children who participate in Lynedoch's Earth Club after care programme now have high speed internet-enabled laptops. This is their first lesson, starting by learning how to use the mouse. It may take great effort before they can communicate via social networks and access all the benefits of the internet, but with this level of concentration it certainly will not take very long.
Is long-wave theory useful for anticipating sustainable futures?Mark Swilling, 1 July 2014
The Centre for Studies in Complexity and STIAS hosted a colloquium on Anticipation: Complexity and the Future on 18 March 2014. Mark Swilling presented a talk that reflected on the emerging literature that applies long-wave theory to an understanding of the future. While some of this literature is extremely useful (for example the book entitled Factor Five by Ernst von Weiszacher and colleagues), most of it overly simplifies what is going on with dangerous consequences for how we then anticipate the future. This talk proposes a synthesis between the literatures on global metabolic transition perspective, Kondratieff cycles and techno-industrial waves of development. Click HERE to view the talk on YouTube.
Global Challenges, Urban FuturesMark Swilling, 30 June 2014
The talking notes below was the basis of the contribution Mark Swilling make to the seminar on Global Challenges, Urban Futures that took place at the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam on Thursday 19 June 2014Read more ...
From Acccra to RotterdamMark Swilling, 29 June 2014
Eve and I recently returned from a trip to Accra and Rotterdam. The purpose of our visit to Accra was to meet with our University partners in the Africa Climate Change Adaptation Initiative (ACCAI) funded by the Open Society Foundation. Hosted by the University of Ghana, this two-day meeting reviewed progress made at the various campuses setting up new masters programmes in climate change adaptation over the past few years. Building on this foundation it was resolved to focus future collaborations on food systems research and change. This is consistent with the focus of the African Union funded network that involves the same partners, plus others. The core ACCAI partners include University of Ghana, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Mekelle University in Ethiopia, University of the Witwatersrand and University of Dar es Salaam, plus Stellenbosch University. Besides familiarizing ourselves with Accra as a city, we also visited Agbobloshi - a plastics recycling centre run by informal operators that Green Cross Switzerland recently nominated as one of ten most polluted places on the planet.Read more ...
IRP Launches Decoupling 2Mark Swilling, 15 June 2014
During the recent EU-sponsored Green Week in Brussels, the International Resource Panel launched Decoupling 2: Technologies, Opportunities and Policy Options. Mark Swilling was a contributing author. This report demonstrates that since 2000 metal prices have risen by 176%, rubber by 350%, energy by 260% and food by 22.4% (with some projecting an increase of 120%-180% by 2030). Unsurprisingly, these trends have started to make possible alternatives that make it possible to do more with less (resource efficiency), more with renewables (substitution), and more with less damage (restoration). Decoupling 2 documents these emerging alternatives and argues the case for replicating radical resource productivity improvement on a global scale. Many examples are provided, including the potential to reduce energy and water demand in developed economies by 50%-80% using existing energy and water efficiency technologies; how developing countries investing in new energy infrastructure could reduce energy demand by half over the next 12 years if energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies were adopted now rather than later; and that decoupling technologies could result in resource savings equal to US$2.9 to US$3.7 trillion each year until 2030 if the policy, regulatory and technological innovations were put in place.
Click HERE to download a copy of the report.
The Labyrinth is back and it is beautifulLouise Bezuidenhout, 6 June 2014
This morning students from the Ecological Design and Sustainable Agriculture modules helped plant 15 Virgilia (Keurboom) trees around the new labyrinth. These trees will in time form a beautiful holding space for the labyrinth. A huge thank you goes out to Bryce, Qhinga and all the students who have helped us reconstruct the labyrinth, it looks absolutely stunning and is ready to be walked, and cleaned :), to your heart's content!
Listening to Alicia Barcena in SantiagoMark Swilling, 28 May 2014Latin America faces same challenge as Africa
Listening to Alicia Barcena, head of the Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC) today in Santiago was a revelation. I have not heard anywhere in Africa such a clear articulation of the profoundly anti-developmental consequences of the expanded role of the mining sector in developing country economies as a result of the commodity boom in recent years. They have calcuated that a $1 m investment in mining only creates 1 job. They are advocating various measures to improve 'resource governance', including resource rent taxation, etc. If I came all the way to listen to this, it was worth the trip. We really need to integrate these Latin American perspectives into the African discourse. Click HERE for the speech, although she did not stick totally to the script, elaborating in particular her strong belief that Latin American countries have become exporters of their natural resources in return for resource rents that have only benefitted a rich elite while the goods for everyday living are largely imported. Resource rents are not funding developmental processes, such as investments in human capital.
Trisoplast shipment arrives at the InstituteLouise Bezuidenhout, 16 May 2014
Eighty-three 1-ton bags filled with Trisplast premix all the way from Holland were offloaded at the Sustainability Institute on Wednesday. The forklift and three big trucks caused much excitement for the Lynedoch Primary school children who stumbled upon the offloading process on their way home. The Trisoplast premix will be used to line the new horizontal wetland, located next to the current vertical wetland.Read more ...
Lynedoch Youth ProgrammeMark Swilling, 5 May 2014
Check out the e-zine publication about the Lynedoch Youth programme posted on ISSUU - click HERE for the link. Truly remarkable set of interlinked activities that are changing the lives of young people every day.
Emerging African AgendaMark Swilling, 30 March 2014
I am on my way back from the joint AU/UN ECA Conference of Ministers of Finance and Economy. It was a remarkable experience watching Ministers engage in debates between peers. They were robust, well-informed and highly energized. Thanks to the influence of the World Economic Forum format of 'no speeches' and short inputs facilitated by a skilled moderator, the usual wasteful meaningless pomp and ceremony was hardly present (except when President Goodluck Jonathan's brass band started up as he came in and before his speech).Read more ...
Greening African Economies, AbujaMark Swilling, 29 March 2014
- Research & Consulting