Table of Contents

Crisis, Innovation and Sustainable Development

Crisis, Innovation and Sustainable Development

The Ecological Opportunity

Science, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship series

Edited by Blandine Laperche, Nadine Levratto and Dimitri Uzunidis

This unique and informative book highlights the relationship between crisis, innovation, and sustainable development, and discusses the necessary conditions required to seize the ecological opportunity. The authors study the strength of change for building a new society, and the theoretical origins and political aspects of environmental concerns. They also sketch the outlines of a global governance system seeking to promote sustainable development.

Chapter 4: Technology and Sustainable Development: Myth or Reality?

Arnaud Diemer

Subjects: economics and finance, economics of innovation, evolutionary economics, innovation and technology, economics of innovation


Arnaud Diemer INTRODUCTION Our Common Future (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987), better known as the Brundtland Report, foundationally defined sustainable development as ‘development that meets present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. The ecologist–environmentalist community was quick to raise the alarm over this definition (Jansson, 1988; Daly, 1990). Firstly, because it did not specify what type of development should be sought (Dilworth, 1994), and secondly, because this development concept was closely linked to a certain level of growth. The commission members, led by Secretary General Jim MacNeill, even encouraged states: [to seek] ‘what we called the growth imperative. The world’s economy must grow and grow fast if it is to meet the needs and aspirations of present and future generations. The Commission estimated that a five to ten-fold increase in economic activity would be needed over the next half century just to raise consumption in developing countries to more equitable levels. Energy use alone would have to increase by a factor of eight, just to bring developing countries, with their present populations, up to the level now prevailing in the industrial world. I could cite similar factors for food, water, shelter, and the other essentials of life’ (MacNeill, 1989, p. 18). Finally, the notion of human needs was introduced in the context of generational equity, without really being specified (Kartchevsky and Maillefert, 2009, p. 27). In fact, economists have monopolized the field of sustainable development and placed the concept under...

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