Between the Lines podcast – Sustainable futures: An agenda for action

Published on 1 July 2022

In this episode of the IDS podcast Between the Lines, IDS Director Melissa Leach interviews leading development policy analyst and IDS Emeritus Fellow Raphael Kaplinsky, author of the book Sustainable Futures: An Agenda for Action.

The book explores the determinants and character of the ongoing environmental, economic, social and political crises and seeks to identify a roadmap for building a more sustainable world.

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In the podcast, Melissa Leach asks the author amongst other questions:

  • Why did you write this book and why is it relevant now?
  • What are the benefits of mass production and ICT’s to the global south?
  • Even though your book is geared towards to more western countries, is there a different story you tell in your book to African or South Asian countries in terms of sustainable futures?

About the book

Long before the pandemic, economies across the world were in trouble, with growth slowing across the board. This downturn coincided with growing inequality and social exclusion. Rising political dissatisfaction with ruling elites fuelled the rise of populism. Add to this the alarming environmental emergency and few can deny we live in a time of multiple sustainability crises. While this conclusion can lead to despair, in this broad-ranging book the author Raphael Kaplinsky, argues that the future is not necessarily bleak.

Interrogating the causes and nature of the systemic crises we are living through, he shows how the challenges which we now face mirror previous historical epochs, in which dominant ‘techno-economic’ paradigms flourish, mature and run into crisis. In each case, decisive action is required to move to a more economically and socially sustainable world.

In our time, we are witnessing the exhaustion of the mass production paradigm. How we herald and manage the transition to the next paradigm – that of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT’s) – will determine our capacity to build a more prosperous, equitable and environmentally sustainable world. This book sets out an integrated agenda for action by multiple stakeholders to achieve this end.

You can buy the book from the publisher, Wiley Blackwell.

About the author

Raphael Kaplinsky is an Honorary Professor at the Science Policy Research Unit, an Emeritus Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, and an Emeritus Professor at the Open University. His website is raphiekaplinsky.com.

About the interviewer

Melissa Leach is the Director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). She co-founded and co-directed the ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre from 2006 to 2014, with its pioneering pathways approach to innovation, sustainability and development issues. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and was awarded a CBE in 2017 for services to social science.

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