Definitions of a Good Anthropocene

These definitions of ‘Good Anthropocenes’ were submitted to us as is.  If you would like to add your own definition, please contact us.

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Use and management of natural resources occurs at the level, and traditional knowledge on which can build on is often held by local communities. Thus an additional attribute would be a approach: local communities understand their landscapes and consider strategy to improve their landscapes. Considering the interconnectedness among various social and ecological elements that supports sustainability of landscapes, would be also another attribute.

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Collaborative mentality towards generating sustainable solutions to generic issues that make the world a better place to inhabit by enhancing basic human needs without negative impacts on the rest of the Earth system – a kind of ‘team Earth’ or ‘have it all’ inclusive mentality. If this could be achieved, attributes of a good anthropocene would be emergent properties rather than goals to achieve from the outset.

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A Good Anthropocene is one where humans have learned to handle their immense collective power over the planet and all living and non-living things on Earth responsibly. That implies developing very different norms and ideas for our interactions with each other and the non-human world – basically inventing new models for societies, economies and cultures. That process begins with good ideas for alternative models – innovative ways of thinking, esp. thinking about time and values.

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Good Anthropocenes engage social-ecological systems toward simultaneously improving human welfare while reducing environmental pollution and degradation and expanding and improving wildlife habitats. In good Anthropocenes, future generations look back on past generations with appreciation for their environmental management and their investment in the future.

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Equality is central, also to human wellbeing and a less predatory use of planetary resources. Yet current tendencies is for greater inequality. In a good Anthropocene, decision making is strongly informed and truly participatory and democratic. Information structures need to be changed to limit the influence of elite interests. One way to achieve that may, once again, be through citizen panels.

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Respect other knowledge systems than scientific and technical one, space for expressing emotions (not only rationality), room for other communication tools than voice or writing — use of arts as a tool for driving emotions

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As an institutional scholar, I believe that rules matter a lot. Our capacities to create a “good Anthropocene” are not only dependent on getting the science right, and designing smart enough infrastructure, and technologies. It is also dependent on our abilities to create institutions – local, national, international – that are adaptive, able to address thresholds and surprise, and perceived as legitimate.

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A good Anthropocene harnesses human creativity and passion to see the opportunities in the midst of great challenges. It inspires collaboration towards common fundamental goals (a fair, ethical, sustainable world for everyone) through innovative means- sometimes using fancy technology, and sometimes through simple re-imagination. People are the heart of a good Anthropocene, and to make it work, they must be informed but more importantly, engaged and inspired to act.

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Cross-sector collaboration in pursuit of addressing complex social-ecological problems is key

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A good anthropocene, according to me implies letting hundred flowers bloom, why SSNC in combination with other, possibly more radical organizations play different important contributions. For instance, we need also networks that can act more rapidly the very democratic organizations. So I guess values such as diversity (of cultures, methods, means of communication etc.), speaking openly about values, using art in creative ways (partly to stimulate feelings and intuitive reactions (what is right?)), serious philosophical discussions and considerations of life (what do we leave for our children, the meaning of life etc.).

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A planet in which more people live comfortable lives.

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A necessity in times of global change is awareness of uncertainty and surprise. This includes the will to experiment, innovate and learn within and between different knowledge systems and cultures. One of the root causes of our inability to make progress is that we live in a society where academia, media, law and politics cast complex problems as polar opposites. To help build a shared vision of where our society wants to go and initiate a broad agreement about how to get there, we need an improved dialogue culture across cultures and interests. Good contact between practitioners’ reality, science and policy is required in order to enable successful policy decisions and recommendations and their further implementation at national and local levels.

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As highlighted by the “Oxfam donut”, the challenges of the Anthropocene require integrated solutions to address connected problems. It is a case of scaling innovation, a social-ecological innovation, beyond communities and nation states and creating solutions that have an impact at scales that matter in the Anthropocene. It highlights the need to address social-ecological-technological systems’ interactions and to fundamentally change human-environmental interactions and feedbacks. It shows the need to understand distributed agency and how different ideas are combined and recombined, bricolage, in the scaling process. This includes how agents of change navigate opportunity contexts and use the adjacent possible in order to achieve large-scale, systemic change.

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  • resilient (being able to cope with and reorganize following surprise and disruption)
  • diverse: containing many different ways of valuing, doing and responding to things
  • fun: people should be able to enjoy themselves and imagine enjoying themselves
  • learning: the anthropocene will be surprising and will require continual learningsocial support and trust: learning and diversity require extra amounts of social support and trust, to help people learn and recover after failures and to communicate and learn from differences in practices, standards and values

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The preconditions required for a good Anthropocene defined as improved well-being for all and a sustainable planet are:

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Equality, Democracy, Education. The driver that will do most to achieve this is: connectivity

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A Good Anthropocene would have a:

  • systems orientation
  • multi scalar character
  • strong socio cultural connotations – but also technology and institutional innovations embedded
  • high level of popular support and knowledge in the debate on the issues
  • combinations of bottom-up and top-down approaches

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In a Good Anthropocene, dangerous, limited economic thinking and policies, as well as geopolitical zero-sum strategizing, have been overcome through new forms of education and communication, building on powerful examples that demonstrate alternative futures in the here and now in a way that is experientially powerful and empowering, triggering action and out-scaling. Neuroscience has provided insights that have triggered (often controversial) initiatives to help cultivate more emotional maturity, world-view openness and less status-driven behavior, with the more benign programs, focused on self-initiated, elasticity-based learning feedbacks through brain monitoring, being the most successful, in particular through enabling a culture of more reflexive leadership across many sectors.