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insights and perspectives from local and national levels, as well as incorporating diverse knowledge systems like those of indigenous people. Many of the seeds for better futures exist today in the margins of current systems, which often means that they operate locally, even if they are sometimes organized through trans-local networks (Bennett et al. 2016). This trend goes for seeds that may contribute to more desirable futures, such as practices, technologies and forms of governance that might have a global impact. It also holds for new threats and risks that might modify the challenges of the Anthropocene as they emerge, such as conflicts, natural resource crises, diseases and problematic technologies (Steffen et al. 2015). Furthermore, the lack of bottom-up contributions to global sustainability futures also has consequences for how these scenarios and visions are used. If global futures lack connections to on-the-ground realities, they may be deemed too theoretical and too generic to inform decision-making. If such futures are used, the top-down framing of future challenges at local levels can limit what gets considered and affect the legitimacy of who contributes to this framing of the future (Vervoort et al. 2014).


The top-down scenarios based on integrated assessment models, and the participant-based bottom-up initiatives both have strengths and weaknesses as tools to chart a course towards sustainability. If used well, both approaches have the potential to complement and mutually reinforce one another, as shown in Figure 23.19.


The seeds workshops and Climate CoLab proposals represent a small sample, but they show that some solutions are highly synergistic in terms of the SDGs addressed, extremely diverse in scope, and multidimensional in ways that make categorization by any single dimension challenging. The initiatives targeted all SDGs, but were most focused mainly on SDGs 2, 3, 11, 12 and 13. The domains addressed by the initiatives were diverse, and – beyond the expected focus on climate change by Climate CoLab proposals– both the seeds and the Climate CoLab proposals focused in a cross-sectoral manner on the food, energy, water, and waste sectors and their interconnections. Seeds and Climate CoLab proposals envisioned changing systems largely through new technologies, but they also envisioned change occurring through lifestyle shifts, enabled by improving environmental awareness through education,


skills development and knowledge generation. Climate CoLab proposals differed slightly and looked at changes in production practices and proposed new organizations and businesses as well as proposing the development of awareness, knowledge and skills. Finally, in examining the Climate CoLab proposals, an overwhelming focus was put on solutions for the global South, particularly for countries in Africa and Asia.


At the same time as quantitative, top-down approaches can be used to inform and strengthen the physical basis for bottom- up initiatives, those bottom-up ideas can in turn challenge overly rigid or outdated assumptions in top-down models. Using bottom-up approaches, it can be possible to identify game-changing concepts that fundamentally restructure the way we view future scenarios. One tangible example is the development of small-scale, decentralized renewable energy systems. The rapid pace of technological development and the associated decrease in the cost of, among others, solar photovoltaics and battery storage, coupled with ICT, makes microgrids a new possibility for areas not yet served by conventional electricity from fossil fuels. This has already become a reality in Kenya since the establishment of M-KOPA, a mobile-enabled payment system for Solar Home Systems in 2013. These technologies – and the public demand to embrace them – mean that the types of energy transition characterizing the past (coal to oil, oil to gas, gas to large-scale renewables) may not necessarily characterize the leapfrog development of energy supplies in the future.


There are many similarities between the macro-level pathways in Chapter 22 and the bottom-up interventions in this chapter. Interventions discussed in both have significant co-benefits for several SDGs. There is a prominent focus on urban sustainability and on food waste and diet change in both analyses (see Boxes 23.5 and 23.6). A crucial complementarity that becomes clear is that the macro-level pathways in the global models allow for an integrative analysis of many contextual drivers and interventions, while the bottom- up pathways provide information about the theories of change underlying the ways of scaling of high-potential practices to achieve the SDGs. The complementary insights provided by the bottom-up and the macro-level pathway analyses demonstrate that further integration of these approaches has much potential. For instance, global modelling results could be used


Figure 23.19: Conceptual framework for mutually beneficial feedbacks between top-down and bottom-up approaches to generating sustainable scenarios


Transformational change potential challenge assumptions in models and identify conceptual gaps


Dimensions of top-down scenarios • Physical variables • System linkages / connections • Constraints • Macroscopic goals/targets • Historical trends and data • etc.


Dimensions of bottom-up initiatives • Actor-level behaviours and ambition • Co-benefits and multiplier effects • Innovations and technological game-changers


• New economic paradigms • etc.


Bottom-up Initiatives and Participatory Approaaches 575


Quantitative/physical parameters inform and critique effectiveness of bottom-up initiatives


23


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