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A learning developmental state for a Sustainable South Africa

Author: J I (Anneke) Muller
Organisation: University of Stellenbosch
Publish Date: 2009
Country: South Africa
Sector: Development
Theme: Sustainability
Type: Other publication
Language: English

Sustainable Development can mean diverse and even contradictory things to different people. This lack of a fixed meaning and inherent tensions need not be perceived as problems, but rather as energising features that can stimulate the development of deeper meaning regarding the concept. Some of the most important interpretations of the notion of sustainability are the need for radical change in the way we do things, which requires continual innovation, creativity and learning. The main themes around which learning has to take place, is the search for new ways of human progress and well-being, shared by all on the planet, without destroying the natural environment and other species, as the basis of human survival. The urgency and complexity of the planet’s present intertwined problems necessitate speeding up the process of adaptation and innovation and a focus on inter-, multi and trans-disciplinary learning, with inputs by theoretical and practical experts, decision-makers and communities, in participatory processes. The role of learning organisations, learning regions and learning cities in this learning process then become very important and in South Africa there is a need for the emergent and immature development state to be part of this culture of learning for sustainability. This paper investigates the specific South African challenges that need to be addressed by the development state in the search for sustainability, and the lessons that can be learnt from the latest thinking about knowledge- policy-action links; sustainability and post normal science, and concepts of transition management, adaptive management and governance; learning organisations, learning regions or cities.
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