Sufficiency and Sustainable management of resources
The Sufficiency Concept
Three decades of climate mitigation political efforts, based on efficiency improvements and the decarbonisation of energy supply, have failed in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The continuation of these policies will lead, according to the 2023 IPCC report, to more than 3°C of global warming (compared to the pre-industrial era) by the end of the century. Thus, making the planet unlivable. Yet, the IPCC identified a potential to reduce global emissions by 70% in 2050 compared to 2020 global emissions if sufficiency policies are included in climate policy packages.
Sufficiency, as defined by Dr. Yamina Saheb and included in the IPCC report, is “a set of policy measures and daily practices that avoid the demand for energy, materials, water, land, and other natural resources while delivering well-being for all within the planetary boundaries”. Although sufficiency is not a new concept, sufficiency policies to decarbonize the global economy while delivering well-being for all are rarely considered. France is the only country to consider sufficiency as one of the pillars to decarbonize its economy.
Keeping the planet livable requires untapping the sufficiency potential by bringing together scientists, practitioners, policymakers, business leaders and NGOs from different policy and economic areas to identify sufficiency policies, solutions, and business models, and co-create the knowledge needed to fill in the identified gaps and accelerate the uptake of sufficiency in decision-making.
The Australian Sufficiency and Sustainable Management of Resources community
Part of the World Sufficiency Lab, the Australian Sufficiency and Sustainable Management of Resources Community (or Australian Sufficiency Community) seeks to build upon the interest generated by the 1st Sufficiency Summit, co-hosted by University of South Australia and Sciences Po Paris with the support of the Australia-French Association for Research and Innovation.
While fostering sufficiency in other fields such as Clothing and Food, the Australia Sufficiency community will, as a first step, focus on Sufficiency in Urban and Human Settlements, including the built environment, transport, and other infrastructure, and be coordinated by Adjunct Professor David Ness from the Sustainable Infrastructure and Resource Management (SIRM) research group, UniSA.
The Australian Sufficiency Community will also identify relevant research, industry, and governmental stakeholders to establish a regional ‘Scientific Community on Sufficiency’ that will be promoted by AFRAN. This will seek to elevate the sufficiency concept (relatively unknown within the region) within the Australian and French Ministerial Cooperation Agenda that includes resilience, climate change and biodiversity conservation. National policy and business opportunities, research needs, and funding and collaboration opportunities will be identified, not only in Australia but also the wider Indo-Pacific region where Australia and France share mutual interests.
The World Sufficiency Lab
The World Sufficiency Lab (WSL) is a non-profit and independent Paris-based ‘think-to-do tank’ with dedicated regional/national hubs. WSL is building partnerships with existing networks and organisations interested in leading or in becoming party to the sufficiency regional/national hubs and communities (i.e. Energy Cities in the EU, Pacte Civique in France, University of South Australia in Australia, ICE-Network in South Korea, the Revival in West Africa, the Centre for Food Security at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.
WSL is uniquely positioned with a strong track record of successful steps towards mainstream sufficiency. Dr. Yamina Saheb, the founder and executive director of WSL initiated and/or contributed to the following initiatives to mainstream the sufficiency concept:
April 2022: Under the leadership of Dr. Yamina Saheb, the IPCC mitigation report introduced and defined the Sufficiency concept.
May 2023: The first edition of the Sufficiency Summit was co-organised by Dr. Yamina Saheb and Adjunct Prof. David Ness and co-hosted by Sciences Po (Paris) and the University of South Australia. The Summit gathered more than 600 participants from all over the world.
June 2023: Under the leadership of the French Energy Transition Minister, Ms Agnes Pannier-Runacher, 32 energy ministers endorsed sufficiency in the Versailles Statement for the first-time, as one of the pillars to decarbonise the world economy.
July 2023: The European Commission (EC) Foresight Report, entitled “Towards a fair and sustainable Europe 2050: Social and economic choices in sustainability transition”, included four scenarios for the future of Europe, out of which the Glocal Eco World considers the economic shift towards sufficiency as a first step towards strategic autonomy.
More information can be found at this link.
Meet the Community leaders
A/Prof David Ness
Adjunct Professor David Ness, University of South Australia, has a background in architecture, infrastructure planning, and management of built assets and products. He conducts research on meeting service needs with less energy, materials, carbon, and cost. With Dr Yamina Saheb and supported by AFRAN, David co-organised the 1st International Sufficiency Summit. Previously, David was awarded the Arup 2017 Global Research Challenge to adapt the circular economy to the built environment, advised the UN on sustainable, integrated, and inclusive infrastructure, and was employed in SA Government as a strategic asset manager. Among many publications, he has written on ‘shrinking’ absolute resource consumption of wealthier societies, while improving shelter and infrastructure for the disadvantaged.
Dr Yamina Saheb
Dr. Yamina Saheb is a lecturer and researcher at Sciences Po (Paris), a lead author of the 2022 IPCC report on climate change mitigation and a Senior fellow at OpenExp. Prior to this position, Yamina was a Senior Fellow Researcher at the University of Münster and previously a Senior Researcher at the University of Lausanne. In 2018, Yamina was the head of energy efficiency unit at the Energy Charter Secretariat. Before that, she was a Policy and Scientific Officer at the Renewables and Energy Efficiency Unit at the Institute of Energy and Transport of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission (EC). She also worked as senior buildings energy efficiency policy analyst at the IEA. Yamina holds a Ph.D. in Energy Engineering, master’s degrees on Landscape Architecture and Development Economics and an Engineering degree in Building technologies.
Sufficiency in Urban and Human Settlements
South Australia (SA) and the City of Adelaide provide a useful context to examine the possible introduction and impacts of sufficiency policies. For example, ‘adaptive reuse’ – involving the conversion of vacant buildings to apartments and social housing – has been put forward as a strategy to cope with predicted population increase in the City. The Lord Mayor agrees the timing is right for this approach, rather than demolition and new build, which could boost housing supply at a faster rate and reduce embodied carbon. In cooperation with other government and industry stakeholders, the Australian Sufficiency Community will aim to provide evidence to support such as policy direction.
Such research is expected to examine urban planning, housing and climate change policies through a sufficiency lens. This may consider a recent discussion paper on the Greater Adelaide Regional Plan, predicated on substantial ‘growth’ in population, housing and infrastructure. With urban planning now seen on the front line of the climate crisis, the Australian Government has set aside funding for a national approach to sustainable urban development, while the national budget is now based on a set of ‘well-being’ indicators, not just increased economic development.
Rather than being seen as restrictive and negative, France (e.g. Negawatt) has shown sufficiency does not necessarily imply an economic decline. Rather, alternative approaches can be boosted and innovation ‘unleashed’, so that businesses may grow services that answer needs differently. The SA Deputy Premier expected “sufficiency policies would increasingly gain traction via a cooperative effort on developing a sufficiency ethic with the City of Adelaide”, while “building that into ways we conduct all our industry”.