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Avoiding Environmental Convergence: A Possible Role for Sustainability Experiments in Latecomer Countries?

Author

Listed:
  • Frans Berkhout

    () (Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

  • Anna J. Wieczorek

    () (Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

  • Rob Raven

    () (School of Innovation Sciences Eindhoven University of Technology Eindhoven, The Netherlands)

Abstract

Global sustainability is increasingly influenced by economic growth and social change in non-OECD countries, especially in Asia. Growth models suggest that industrializing economies will become first relatively more resource- and pollution-intensive, before becoming more resource-efficient and less polluting, following the pattern of higher-income economies. This ‘environmental convergence’ is assumed to parallel economic convergence during processes of catching-up by latecomer countries. To accelerate environmental convergence, or to achieve pathways of ‘green growth’, greater emphasis needs to be placed on sustainable innovation and capability-building in latecomer countries. Drawing on insights from system innovation research on long-run change in socio-technical systems, we discuss the potential role of ‘sustainability experiments’ to generate innovations that will constitute new ‘greener’ growth models. We observe a great number of sustainabilityoriented innovation initiatives in latecomer countries. We set out a conceptual framework for assessing the role of experiments, and for evaluating how they link with and become anchored in alternative more sustainable regimes. We argue that sustainability experiments represent a potentially significant new source of innovation and capability-formation, linked to global knowledge and technology flows, which could influence emergent socio-technical regimes and thereby contribute to alternative development pathways.

Suggested Citation

  • Frans Berkhout & Anna J. Wieczorek & Rob Raven, 2011. "Avoiding Environmental Convergence: A Possible Role for Sustainability Experiments in Latecomer Countries?," Institutions and Economies (formerly known as International Journal of Institutions and Economies), Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, vol. 3(2), pages 367-385, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:umk:journl:v:3:y:2011:i:2:p:367-385
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mark Strazicich & John List, 2003. "Are CO 2 Emission Levels Converging Among Industrial Countries?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 24(3), pages 263-271, March.
    2. Unruh, Gregory C., 2000. "Understanding carbon lock-in," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 817-830, October.
    3. Soete, Luc & Verspagen, Bart & ter Weel, Bas, 2010. "Systems of Innovation," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    4. Rock, Michael T. & Angel, David P., 2005. "Industrial Transformation in the Developing World," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199270040.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Hansen , Teis & Coenen , Lars, 2013. "The Geography of Sustainability Transitions: A Literature Review," Papers in Innovation Studies 2013/39, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
    2. Wong, Chan-Yuan & Keng, Zi-Xiang & Mohamad, Zeeda Fatimah & Azizan, Suzana Ariff, 2016. "Patterns of technological accumulation: The comparative advantage and relative impact of Asian emerging economies in low carbon energy technological systems," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 977-987.
    3. Wong, Chan-Yuan & Fatimah Mohamad, Zeeda & Keng, Zi-Xiang & Ariff Azizan, Suzana, 2014. "Examining the patterns of innovation in low carbon energy science and technology: Publications and patents of Asian emerging economies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 789-802.
    4. Hansen, Ulrich Elmer & Nygaard, Ivan, 2014. "Sustainable energy transitions in emerging economies: The formation of a palm oil biomass waste-to-energy niche in Malaysia 1990–2011," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 666-676.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    convergence; multi-level perspective; sustainability experiment; system innovation;

    JEL classification:

    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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