Monday, November 30, 2009

Transition Towns

What does Sustainable Development look like in the Global North?

Typically when the discourse turns to Sustainable Development we tend to think of the Global South. The Global North with its higher levels of consumption are somehow, already developed.

Transition towns however, turns that idea on its head. Originating from England, Transition towns is a model of development that involves reinventing the way in which the Global North lives, works and engages with each other. With a heavy focus on dealing with the challenges posed by peak oil and climate change, Transition Towns are focused on developing community resilience and self-reliance in food, energy and economy.

In short, transition towns are about low-carbon, local communities – they represent a transition from a carbon economy to a solar one.

When faced with the fact that the lifestyles of the Global North are unsustainable – the United States for example uses 33% of the world’s resources but holds only 6% of its population- transition towns are much needed in the discourse of sustainable development. Did you know for example, that despite the fact that the average American lives within 100 miles of an apple orchard the average apple typically travels 3000 miles from orchard to table?

Transition towns say we should put an end to this carbon consumption madness by keeping the apples close to where they were grown: sell the apples in the communities that grow them.

As someone with a keen interest in a Sustainable Development with zero interest in living abroad I find ideas such as transition towns a welcome addition to the sustainable development debate. How can countries in the Global South develop while those of us in the Global North are consuming their resources?

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