The Ecological Opportunity
- Science, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship series
Edited by Blandine Laperche, Nadine Levratto and Dimitri Uzunidis
Chapter 4: Technology and Sustainable Development: Myth or Reality?
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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