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Sustainable Living beyond COVID-19: Capabilities, Collaboration, and Collective Action

  • Published on February 1, 2022

This paper introduces five unique cases of ground-level initiatives working for collaborative learning and co-creation of sustainable ways of living in Armenia, Colombia, Brazil, South Africa, and the Philippines. The pandemic and the government’s restrictive measures have posed challenges to the project leaders and participants in fostering their collaborative work. However, project teams took proactive steps to enable all actors to re-contextualise their challenges for sustainable and secure living and adapt their actions to better meet their basic necessities through the creative hybridisation of knowledge, skills, spaces and people. Learning from these cases, the paper argues that the Capabilities approach should be taken into account when we explore sustainable and reliable ways of living. It guides us to think beyond the outcomes to consider the distribution of real opportunities and meaningful choices for living.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had various impacts on our living conditions and lifestyles. The restrictions, lockdowns, and changes in behaviour patterns that emerge also present an opportunity to reassess both the sustainability of status quo living and the new conditions arising from the chain reaction of COVID-induced changes. In particular, the pandemic has brought to attention structural inequalities present in society, resulting in the uneven distribution of resources and opportunities. Therefore, it is more important than ever to reconsider how we can enable people and societies to learn from one another and jointly shape inclusive and forms of sustainable living. Lifestyles are an essential part of sustainable consumption and production specifically in the target 12.8 of the SDG number 12: By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature”. For this reason, all efforts should be made so that every country encourages the adoption of sustainable lifestyles in every community, taking into account local cultural and socioeconomic contexts.

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