How to Solve the Super Wicked Problem of Global Climate Change

Professor Benjamin Cashore's plenary presentation to the International Conference on Public Policy, (Montreal, June 2019) argues that we are applying the wrong policy tools to address the super wicked problems of climate change and massive species extinctions.


Instead of treating them as Type 1 (Commons), Type 2 (Optimization) and Type 3 (Compromise) problems, as most policy analysts working for governments, businesses, and the United Nations have done for the last 30 years, they ought to be conceived of as Type 4 Prioritization challenges.


Type 4 problems require very different policy tools, such as "path dependency analysis", that turns attention to uncovering "easy to pull" but "hard to reverse" policy levers. Cashore argues that finding policy triggers capable of building transformative pathways that reflect our profound collective humility and long term interests in averting ecological catastrophes, is the fundamental challenge facing humanity. The tragedy is that Type 1, 2 and 3 conceptions develop policy tools that view enhancing human material interests as the solution, rather than the cause, of the super wicked problem of global climate change.


Please watch the complete speech below.