It deals with inbuilt societal problems that cannot simply be dealt with due to the fact that they are so internalized. They therefore require a restructuring of societal systems -- that is, a transition and this can be done -- according to Rotman and Loorbach (2008) - by looking into the social structure of the problem
Transition management has already come a long way. As Rotman and Loorbach D (2008) observe:
The progress made in practice as well as the theoretical developments shows that modern times require experimental, innovative, multidisciplinary and participative forms of governance like transition management. In line with the underlying philosophy we cannot be certain about this, but transition management seems to be in tune with present societal demands, research and policy.
At the same time: "We are, however, also a long way from realizing a sustainable society, which means that there are ample challenges for the future" (ibid).
They continue that:
The crucial challenge for transition management will therefore be for the coming years to engage regime actors in the process and develop societal pressure so that the newly emerging niches and the innovative regime actors can co-create new societal regimes. & #8230; the management principles are reflexive rather than deterministic, reflecting a belief that transitions toward sustainability can be directed to a limited degree (pp.25-26).
What this means is that transition management is accomplished by reflection on and investigation into the roots of the societal problem.
6) Political ecology: there is no such thing as 'an ecological crisis'!
Sustainable development, according to Dresner (ibid) incorporates two principles:
1. That the needs of all, particularly the poor, should be met and that,
2. The idea of limitations that is inbuilt in the environment should be controlled so that future generations are not harmed.
This is precisely what activists of population growth work to deal with. Whilst it is true that today, new solutions seem to emerge with technological change constantly leading to some solutions (e.g. solar panels over water channels in India), nonetheless, they claim that we cannot do enough in ensuring that future generations are safe. Some of the work lies in the hands of each and every one of us. And this is where those who call for population control maintain that ensuring balance in population is one of the tasks.
On the other hand, critics who espouse the political ecological perspective maintain that the real issue is that ecological problems impact, and are impacted by, regions/people in a highly uneven way, whereby less powerful regions/people invariably suffer the most
As connected to the problem of population control, critics contend that there is no such problem. That if the wealthy were only to distribute their food in a more even way instead of grabbing all for themselves, the poor would have enough to eat.
Each of these different meta-theoretical perspectives provide different ways of perceiving the problem and since there is no harmonious consent on the problem of population growth, environmentalists have come to categorize the issue as a 'wicked problem' where its roots is located so deeply in societal and ethnic / religious / cultural ways of thinking that it becomes immune to point-single deterministic solutions.
To elaborate, the BBC talks about providing an 'education' to educate people about the problem and that people who are most educated, such as those in the village of India, tend to marry later and tend to have at average two children. These people also tend to be more literate and wealthier. The problem, however, is that whether the BBC documentary does or does not realize it, 'education' refers to a contemporary Western-education which emphasizes child control and acknowledges the Malthusian problem. Many of the other citizens are 'educated' -- in their own religious / traditional way of thinking. And their 'education' nullifies the Malthusian problem by either insisting that the wealthy should share their plentitude with the less advantaged, or that the Malthusian problem is based on false, therefore, groundless premises. These people too, are educated in their own cultural / traditional / religious ways of thinking. They are, therefore, placed in the perimeters of their own paradigms and see reality from the lens of that (Harding, 1998). It is not that they are 'uneducated' per the BBC premise, but that they are educated in other systems of belief that contradict the Malthusian principle and encourage products of these belief systems to engage in fertility. Many of these people, in fact, (such are fundamentalist Christians or Orthodox Jews or Religious Moslems) may be highly educated in the Western education and have attended Ivy League universities. Yet, their system of education -- their paradigm -- displaces secular thinking.
It is in this way that the problem of birth control cannot be so simply dealt with by education or by distributing contraception's. Resistance to Malthusian principles is more deeply rooted and ways of curbing population control may be insoluble.
The principles of sustainability need to be applied at all levels form the international to the individual. This is summed up in the saying, "Think global, act local" However, there are contradictory views regarding whether sustainability should be driven top-down or the reverse (Harding et al., 2009) and conflicting views too on the philosophies on which the concept should be based. Whilst many argue the mainstream capitalist approach, there are some, such as Castro (2004) who argues that a critical approach would better reflect the problem.
Others, to the extreme, maintain that there is no such problem, or that technology will deal with the problem, or that there is a constant inbuilt abundance in the world, or that resources should be better distributed and so forth. Still others argue that a tax should be placed on ecological resources. This may turn out to be a dangerous approach.
The fact that there are different paradigms on perceiving the issue result in recognition that the problem may not be entirely resolved as wished (Vos et al., 2009). The issue of population growth becomes what is otherwise called a 'wicked problem' (Australian Govt (2007)) where the roots are more complex, where intervention is controversial and problematic since it conflicts with religious, historical, and ethnic policies, and where the cause is societally-rooted. The deterministic method therefore fails here, and the transition management approach may be the most potent since it advocates insight into the roots of the problem and realizing that people may see the issue in more than one way.
Australian Govt (2007)Tackling Wicked Problems. pdf.