Live. Well. Green.

Episode 84: Wicked problems and how to approach them

May 10, 2023 Kristina Hunter Episode 84
Live. Well. Green.
Episode 84: Wicked problems and how to approach them
Show Notes

Wicked problems: isn’t that a great term?

Wicked problems are complex and difficult to define, they cannot be separated from their context and there is no one definitive approach to solving them. Climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity, plastic pollution, environmental racism, and the effects of colonialism are all examples of “Wicked” problems. 

You have likely been reading about or pondering how to address a Wicked problem recently in your own life. Something like, 

  • Why your local government isn’t taking more action on Climate change? OR 
  • How to reduce food waste in grocery stores? OR 
  • How to turn your workplace into one that values the environment.

Wicked problems by definition are complex. Often it is hard to find agreement on the problem and its scope, never mind on the solutions.

They usually cannot be separated from their context - think about how to approach to Climate change related sea level rise in NYC vs in the Maldives.

What’s more, they cannot be solved by one actor or approach - think about ocean plastic pollution where we have multiple levels of government that can ban certain products, we have shipping industry practices that can be mandated or voluntarily changed, we have urban waste that can be dealt with through social campaigns to change behaviour, we have the beverage industry that could be mandated or voluntarily change its packaging and practices, and on and on!

In addition, there is no definitive approach to Wicked problems, For example, addressing poverty in Cape Town, South Africa vs poverty in L.A. would need to have very different approaches.

However, there are some things that we can do to better understand these Wicked problems, such as using systems thinking to better define the problem. Then we can look for what Chip and Dan Health call, Bright spots. These are examples where, despite the odds, someone has been able to punch through and make a difference, despite the Wicked nature of the problem.

Have a listen and be inspired to find your “Bright Spot” solutions.

If you are interested in exploring these issues further, head on over to my website,

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If you are a professional woman and are deeply concerned about climate change and the state of the world that we are leaving to future generations and want some guidance on the best steps to take. I would LOVE to connect with you, just book a call here.