Collective responsibility in the risk society: health as a catalyst for socio-technological innovation, ecological citizenship and sustainability

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Mooney, Robert
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University College Cork
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In 1987 the Brundtland Report defined sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. This widely employed definition has successfully promoted a sustainable approach to social and environmental policies and human rights across countries which have signed up to it. While climate change discourses have prompted discussions about of the future trajectory of human society, this thesis argues that the concept of sustainability has failed to be anchored conceptually to the everyday practices of global citizens. These discourses have encouraged social and technological innovations which focus on meeting these risks. There remain, however, significant inequalities among the world’s citizens in their capacity to access resources and their capacity mitigate climate risks. this thesis explores the risk factors which climate change poses, the sustainability discourses which have emerged from these debates, and their role in promoting an equitable, open, transparent and accessible form of cosmopolitan ecological citizenship. This is examined through desk research exploring policy and legislation, a review of case studies including social and technological innovators working in the field of sustainability, and primary qualitative research. I propose a model of ecological citizenship based on the premise that climate change poses risks to the physical, social and psychological health and wellbeing of the individual and communities, and that these risks are universal. This I label the Biopsychosocial Model of Ecological Citizenship, or BiMEC for short. I argue that these risks represent breaches of fundamental rights to health. Further, upholding the right to health is a collective responsibility for all human beings and these collective responses to these risks emerge in the form of social and technological innovations which address them. Finally, I argue that they are realisable through equal access to these fundamental rights.
Environment , Sustainability , Innovation , Citizenship , Health , Biopsychosocial , Collective responsibility , Risk society
Mooney, R. 2015. Collective responsibility in the risk society: health as a catalyst for socio-technological innovation, ecological citizenship and sustainability. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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