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4. IGCS Winter School 2020 – Sustainability in the Peri-cene: Human settlements, food, ecology and governance

How can we understand the pressures and potentials of transformative peri-urban futures?

It is nearly 33 years since the UN World Commission on Environment and Development (known in short as the Brundtland Commission) famously defined sustainable development as a process of change in which the “exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development; and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations.” During the past 3 decades, global land use changes seem to discredit that expectation by moving in the reverse direction.

Seen from space, the Earth’s land surface is increasingly a mottled landscape made up largely of the built environment, comprising roads, buildings and industrial farming systems, with only a few islands of non-engineered natural systems. Cities, which used to be self-contained units surrounded by the vast countryside, now appear to be simply more dense settlements than those that can be seen elsewhere. It therefore seems imperative to blur the distinctions across cities, small towns and rural areas and to examine the new forms of ‘periurbanisation’ of the so-called hinterland, whose sustainability challenges are vast and growing.

This Winter School is an attempt to pick up the pieces around sustainability and land to try to formulate a more integrated view. It will cover the following themes:

  1. Sustainable development and land
  2. Urbanisation and the land-water-food-ecosystems nexus
  3. Sustainable governance beyond cities

The winter school will take place February 15 – 29 2020 at IIT Madras, Chennai. Master and PhD students are eligible to apply, all disciplines welcome. Please find more details regarding the program and application procedure on our IGCS schools 2020 website.