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Professor Prathivadi Anand

Justice and Sustainability: Unpacking paradoxes from the person to the planet

Image of Professor PB Anand and Professor Shirley Congdon

We all care about the environment and sustainability. If we all agree, then why is progress so slow? In this lecture, Professor Anand outlined his personal journey of over thirty odd years trying to unpick various paradoxes related to sustainability at the level of person, the place and the planet.

Justice and sustainability are intricately connected. Picture this. If we all were to change to electric cars from tomorrow what would happen? Yes, our Bradford city region will have cleaner air. Would it also lead to many of the 160,000 vehicle technicians (England- ONS data, 2019) losing their jobs? Would it lead to more conflicts in places such as the DR Congo as the demand for Cobalt needed for the car batteries goes through the roof (see Loewenstein, 2019 in FP)? Will it lead to more child workers in DRC and more children missing school addition to the 7.2 million children who are already not in school (UNICEF, 2022)? In such circumstances, what is the just thing to do?

Here is another paradox. If our city were to embrace circular economy from tomorrow, what happens? Given that 42 per cent of ginger, saffron, turmeric, bay leaves and other spices to the UK come from China and India (TrendEconomy based on UN Comtrade), will Bradford’s famous curries have to stop using these spices? If cities in the Middle East also become circular cities, would SME’s of Bradford such as Applelec find it hard to export the LED lights?

Professor Anand outlined his research journey exploring a few of the paradoxes affecting actions by individuals, cities and nations and some possible ways to resolve some of these paradoxes. He touched upon challenges related to sustainable cities as well as actions on climate and SDGs.

Watch the event recording on our Youtube channel.