#15th Anniversary of the Institute - Tanella Boni - Building a sustainable world

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As part of the celebrations for the Institute's 15th anniversary, a call for papers has been issued to all former Fellows and members of the Scientific Advisory Board. One simple rule, submit a short text on one of the following themes:

  • Variation on ‘Inhabiting the world differently’.
  • Imagination: what will the Institut d'études avancées de Nantes be like in 15 years' time?

Here are their answers!


Building a sustainable world

 Tanella Boni

Today, I'm wondering what kind of violent world[1] we've fallen into.[2] I'd like to live in a sustainable world, one that's actually habitable.

I'd like to be able to live in a world that is sustainable and truly habitable.  It's not a question of comparing it to the world of our parents or our ancestors.   Indefinable at first sight, a world, unless it is mythical, cannot be fixed in stone for all eternity: it evolves, it moves, it changes in time and space. Only a cross-disciplinary approach can provide a critical analysis of the ‘different way of living’ we are looking for.

A world is a whole history, a context to be thought of as geography, politics, geopolitics, economics, ecology and culture. A habitable world is a set of interconnected ecosystems. It's a place where lives echo and protect each other, without forgetting the presence of the non-living.

Today, threats to free, breathable life are everywhere.  States are closing their borders. Populism is gaining ground.  What we call ‘nature’ - which is also being transformed by human activity - cannot be forgotten; it imposes its own laws when its order is disrupted.   From floods to desertification, we cannot escape the onslaught of climate change, wherever we live on the planet. Climate refugees are on the increase. All this is well known. So what can we do?

Protect water and forests, where they exist. Put an end to the endless reign of plastic, but how? In every locality, show a willingness to build houses differently. Use renewable energy. Take care of the soil and cultivate it differently: without pesticides or herbicides. Practise sensible agriculture and learn how to eat for a healthy body and mind. But hunger does exist, it's not a figment of the imagination. Do we have a choice between eating and nourishing ourselves with an awareness of what we eat?

A habitable world is one in which every human being has the right to eat sparingly, under a roof where they can sleep and breathe freely. This sought-after world does not lie on the moon or on planet B, but right here in a space where simple conversation is possible between humans. This is not just another dream. This is what I call a sustainable world.



[1] The polysemy of the word ‘world’ is remarkable. See, for example, the Dictionnaire de l'Académie française https://www.dictionnaire-academie.fr/article/A9M2597

[2] In a recent text, I alluded to Alice in Wonderland. But here, the ‘wonders’ are unbearable. See Boni, T. (2023). "The Sustainable and the Unsustainable: What is a Habitable Planet? In: Di Capua, G., Oosterbeek, L. (eds) Bridges to Global Ethics. SpringerBriefs in Geoethics. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-22223-8_3

Tanella BONI