What Next for Sustainable Development?
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What Next for Sustainable Development?

Our Common Future at Thirty

Edited by James Meadowcroft, David Banister, Erling Holden, Oluf Langhelle, Kristin Linnerud and Geoffrey Gilpin

This book examines the international experience with sustainable development since the concept was brought to world-wide attention in Our Common Future, the 1987 report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds engage with three critical themes: negotiating environmental limits; equity, environment and development; and transitions and transformations. In light of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals recently adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, they ask what lies ahead for sustainable development.
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Chapter 7: Sustainability and redistribution

Iris Borowy


The question of redistribution of global income and wealth forms an inescapable component of sustainable development: as long as some areas in the world are marked by dire poverty, they have a need for economic growth and if, at the same time, the carrying capacity of planet Earth cannot sustain further global growth, redistribution inevitably becomes part of the agenda. Redistribution is not a popular topic, especially not among those set to lose in the process. However, the problem will not go away by itself, so considering effective, just and broadly acceptable means of redistribution seems necessary for environmental, moral as well as political reasons. This chapter reviews knowledge regarding global income and wealth inequality in the early twenty-first century and discusses several instruments of raising and using funds that may be used for redistribution in order to mitigate global inequality, including an increase in development assistance, a reduction of fees on remittances and an increase in tax revenues through (a) effective tax collection, (b) a direct global tax, (c) indirect taxation. Resulting funds could be used to finance universal child benefits and measures to mitigate environmental degradation, notably climate change.

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