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 2: Our Common Future in earth systems perspective

Simon Dalby


Our Common Future marks a key historical point when climate change became part of both the development agenda and wider global policy deliberations. It marks a stage on the larger trajectory from the 1972 Stockholm conference on The Human Environment and the contemporaneous Limits to Growth debate through to the 1990s discussions at Rio de Janeiro and subsequently the formulation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biodiversity. Unlike subsequent Earth Systems analyses the 1980s discussion of sustainable development focused on the dangers of nuclear war and smaller scale conflict, and its relationships to environmental change. Now while climate is Sustainable Development Goal 13, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change has begun to construct an international regime to tackle it, attention also needs to be paid to Goal 16, institutional innovation to prevent conflict that disrupts development and perpetuates rivalries that prevent the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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