Lively discussions on the Anthropocene (Book launch, 19 February 2016)

March 3, 2016 in News, Publications by Lisa Sanderink

On Friday the 19th of February a group of scholars gathered at IVM to attend the book launch of “Environmental Politics and Governance in the Anthropocene”, edited by Philipp Pattberg (IVM/VU) and Fariborz Zelli (Lund University). The book consists of twelve contributions trying to make sense of the Anthropocene, explore its implications for institutional design, and core questions on accountability and legitimacy. During the introduction, Philipp Pattberg and Fariborz Zelli underlined that the purpose of this event was not only to present the book to the audience, but also to create a forum for further discussing the relevance of the Anthropocene concept for environmental governance research. Aysem Mert (IVM/VU) discussed the controversy surrounding the Anthropocene and the hesitancy whether the conceptualization is needed, concluding that this book provides a scope for the reconsideration of legitimacy and accountability in environmental politics and governance. Thereafter, Sandra van der Hel (UU) explained the diversity of ideas on the Anthropocene, also beyond science in the art scene, and proposed to perceive the Anthropocene as an inspiration and opportunity for science, while not forgetting what the concept is obscuring. Oscar Widerberg (IVM/VU) took the opportunity to reflect on his own contribution to the book, explaining institutional complexity in the Anthropocene and proposing some options on how to address this complexity. Lastly, Frank Biermann (UU) reflected on the previous talks and posed a set of questions to the attendees. What are the political consequences of the conceptualization and what are the politics of the use of the term? Furthermore, what is the difference between this concept and the concept of sustainable development? More fundamentally, is the Anthropocene an epoch to celebrate or an exceptionally dangerous period for mankind? After a critical wrap up by Fariborz Zelli, an open discussion took place concluding that there are lots of questions worthy of future research.

More information on the book: