This chapter claims that sustainable development is an ethical statement, on a par with human rights. Based on Our Common Future, the authors derive three equally important moral imperatives: satisfying human needs, ensuring social justice, and respecting environmental limits. They develop a normative model for sustainable development by linking the imperatives to six themes, selecting indicators and assigning thresholds that must be met. The authors argue that the themes can come neither from short-term political consensus nor from parochial stakeholder preferences. Rather, they must come from the moral imperatives of sustainable development and from theories fundamental to understanding those imperatives. The chapter uses data for 117 countries and applies a cluster analysis to illustrate how different groups of countries face different challenges. Meeting one threshold may make it harder to meet another, and the analysis focuses on identifying countries that have managed to reconcile these trade-offs in a good way.
Kristin Linnerud, Erling Holden, Geoffrey Gilpin and Morten Simonsen
Edited by James Meadowcroft, David Banister, Erling Holden, Oluf Langhelle, Kristin Linnerud and Geoffrey Gilpin
James Meadowcroft, David Banister, Erling Holden, Oluf Langhelle, Kristin Linnerud and Geoffrey Gilpin
This volume makes a distinctive contribution to the current debates over sustainable development by structuring the arguments around three critical themes raised by the societal debate over Our Common Future and the practical experience with sustainable development over the past three decades. These themes cover (a) negotiating environmental limits, (b) equity, needs and development, and (c) transitions and transformation. A cross-cutting theme that is evident in most chapters is the need to match the development priorities with those of the environment, and this is facilitated through frequent reference to climate change. This is in many ways the paradigmatic sustainable development problem, and Our Common Future was the first major international report to place climate change at the core of its concerns. Thus, at the close of the second decade of the twenty-first century, the book offers a series of critical reflections on these enduring themes. Although this discussion is grounded in history, the overriding concern is with the present and with the future as the authors of this volume seek to explore the question: What next for sustainable development?
David Banister, Erling Holden, Oluf Langhelle, Kristin Linnerud, James Meadowcroft and Geoffrey Gilpin
This book has brought together a wide range of contributions from different perspectives that all relate to the debates that have ensued since the publication of Our Common Future. The strength of this edited book is its diversity, as this reflects the multitude of debates and the interdisciplinary nature of sustainable development. The book itself has been structured in five main sections: covering the context; negotiating environmental limits; ensuring equity, needs and development; enabling transitions and transformation; and facing the future. This conclusion presents some cross-cutting themes that reflect on the individual chapters, and sketches out an agenda for the next 30 years. The aim of the book has been to look back and reflect on Our Common Future and its impact over the last three decades, and to comment on its relevance for today and tomorrow.