What are social contracts?

Karen O'Brien, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo, answers this question.

- The environment has traditionally been left out of social contracts. In fact, social contracts have been used to legitimize use and abuse of the environment, O'Briend explains.

About Karen O´Brien
Karen O'Brien holds a Ph.D in Geography frin Pennsylvania State University. Her dissertation was entitled Deforestation and Climate Change in the Selva Lacandona of Chiapas, Mexico.

She is a geographer working on issues related to global environmental change, globalization, vulnerability, and human security. Her research has focused on deforestation and climate change in southern Mexico, climate variability and the use of seasonal forecasts in southern Africa, climate change impacts and vulnerability in Norway, and vulnerability to climate change and trade liberalization in India. She is particularly interested in how multiple processes of change interact to create uneven outcomes (i.e., winners and losers), and what types of responses can best reduce vulnerability.

She is currently Chair of the Global Environmental Change and Human Security (GECHS) project of IHDP, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo. She is a Lead Author on the adaptation chapter for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, and am helping to develop the Southern Africa Vulnerability Initiative (SAVI).

Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

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