Towards a Natural Social Contract

Transformative Social-Ecological Innovation for a Sustainable, Healthy and Just Society

Non-Fiction - Environment
219 Pages
Reviewed on 09/23/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Towards a Natural Social Contract by Patrick Huntjens is an influential non-fiction book with the primary focus of "Transformative Social-Ecological Innovation for a Sustainable, Healthy and Just Society." Across three parts and six chapters, introduction and conclusion excluded, Huntjens offers up an independently conceptualized and compelling argument addressing the necessity of a new social contract in an era in which the social imperatives must be matched with ecological imperatives. Huntjens digs deeply, covering topics such as the necessary sustainability transition and the new social contract, the history of social contracts and the failings of models that were aligned purely on economic growth at the ecological expense, theories and concepts that embody principles and governance, and a detailed, ambitious agenda for the transition itself.

As a woman who grew up in a household where academia was our religion and anthropology was discussed like the daily news, Patrick Huntjens provided an intrigued reader with the opportunity to put down the work of traditional social contract theorists and engage with the here and now, which Towards a Natural Social Contract does exceptionally well. Because of my genuine interest in natural resource management and critical environmental impact, I found the chapters on agriculture sustainability and the importance of collective collaboration over independent governance intriguing, especially with the apparent success of the former through the farming co-op Rechtstreex in Rotterdam. As someone who has spent their entire adult life living centrally in cities, the effective transition to urban sustainability also piqued my interest. This is an exceptionally well-executed book with research-backed data and real-time application potential. I have no doubt that those who are willing to listen will also be the catalyst for change.

Tammy Ruggles

Towards a Natural Social Contract: Transformative Social-Ecological Innovation for a Sustainable, Healthy and Just Society, by Patrick Huntjens, is a compelling and educational deep dive into how we can strive toward healthier lives, a healthier society, and a healthier environment. With societies worldwide becoming even more divided on issues like the environment, health, and sustainability, along comes Huntjens, who lays out a plan for action that calls for a change in the way we think about growth and development. The answer lies in leaning away from economic growth and embracing an environmental approach. This means there needs to be a social contract - a Natural Social Contract - that focuses on lasting sustainability for humans and the planet. Consumerism, self-indulgence, and exploitation of resources dominate the world stage presently, and it will take a global effort to make the shift, from those who set policy to those who carry it out to those who will benefit from living in a better world.

This eye-opening book offers solutions that will take time, but these changes can come about through education, legislature, and research. Though the material offered by Huntjens can be complex at times, his message is abundantly clear and makes complete sense. The ideas are worth pursuing, but will they work, and how long will it take? This book would be perfect for those interested in social justice, environmental issues, and policymakers, but that's not all. The average reader can glean a lot from this book and will come to realize that we as a global society can't wait any longer for a positive change to happen on its own. It will take time and effort. It is both an idea book and a practical book. I especially like the chapters on prosperity and the limits of our resources. So many of us go blithely about our business without realizing that resources can have an expiration date. You'll find references, sources, and links in this text as well. For a comprehensive study on the environment and the future of sustainability, put Towards a Natural Social Contract: Transformative Social-Ecological Innovation for a Sustainable, Healthy and Just Society, by Patrick Huntjens, on your to-read list.

Vincent Dublado

Towards a Natural Social Contract: Transformative Social-Ecological Innovation for a Sustainable, Healthy, and Just Society by Patrick Huntjens is a scholarly work containing ideas that cannot be ignored. In a nutshell, the book takes a standpoint for a natural social contract with the environment and advances a framework in which justice and sustainability are at the core. It tackles a critical discourse on our relationship with nature and the need for ecocentric measures as rectification. It provides analytical methods from the ground up, and it begins by providing a problem definition that gradually moves to solutions for a sustainability transition. Furthermore, to better grasp the Natural Social Contract and boost its development, he presents literature on the conceptual framework for what is called Transformative Social-Ecological Innovation (TSEI).

Towards a Natural Social Contract is geared to academics, but it may well appeal to a broader audience, including students, policymakers, and other professionals, considering that the magnitude of global ecological change affects all of us. Professor Patrick Huntjens writes with a clear and well-researched view on his subject and makes it clear that his vision of a natural social contract focuses on sustainable ways to improve our engagement with nature in ways that posterity will similarly benefit. Not everyone, however, will be easily swayed into embracing the merits of this work; particularly, those who argue for anthropocentrism and explore the questions of agency and shared responsibility. Still, Huntjens possesses a resilient mindset that has provided us with this insightful book, one that we should read to become more aware and understand the place of sustainability in a warming world.