9 July 2018 to 12 July 2018
MCC-Definition von Globalen Gemeinschaftsgütern (CC, Wikimedia)

The sustainable development goals have set sustainability high on the international political agenda, especially with regard to the sustainable use of global commons such as climate, biodiversity, or the ocean. Trade-offs between different goals of sustainability, and inherent uncertainty about the future, raise the fundamental question of ‘What exactly is implied by, and required for, sustainability with regard to the global commons?’

The workshop explores the hypothesis that the philosophical concept of responsibility can fill a gap in our thinking of how to define, and operationalize, sustainability under uncertainty. The concept of responsibility relates an abstract and general norm
(sustainability) to the specific facts of a concrete action context (managing the global commons), to guide action. It applies to actors at all levels of organization, including individuals, corporations, and governments. The concept is especially relevant in
situations characterized by limited knowledge about the consequences of actions and asymmetry of agents (e.g. in terms of resource endowment or capacity to act), which typically prevail in decision contexts where sustainability is at issue.

Bringing together the perspectives of economics, philosophy and political science, the workshop will discuss in particular:

  • principles and limits of responsibility,
  • trade-offs between different normative objectives and values,
  • societal decision-making under uncertainty in view of long-term ecological-economic system dynamics,
  • implementation of responsibility for sustainability in the management of the global commons.

The workshop brings together a focused group of approximately 15 participants in a stimulating environment for an intensive and fruitful discussion. The workshop aims at (1) taking stock of the scholarly discussion of responsibility in view of sustainable management of global commons; (2) exploring the potential of conceptualizing sustainability under uncertainty as responsibility; (3) developing new approaches and concepts for future research on the sustainable management of the global commons.


Date & Venue: July 09–12, 2018 | Genueser Schiff, near Kiel, Germany