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 10: The transition to sustainability as interbeing . . . or: from oncology to ontology

Felix Rauschmayer


Assessed from the standpoint of its omnipresence in Western societies or global politics, sustainable development has been a success. When looked at differently, however, it has rather been a failure. It is far from evident that justice towards future generations and the condition of nature have been improved. The moral challenge posed by Our Common Future 30 years ago is grand indeed, and combining intra- and inter-generational justice with a new relationship to nature—the threefold core of sustainability ethics—is quite a task. Changing mindsets might be the core of sustainability transformations. This chapter argues that the most intimate part of the mindset that must be changed to achieve a more fruitful understanding of sustainable development is our view of ourselves and the world. Until now, most of us see ourselves as separate beings, as individuals that relate to an external world. And this perspective is typically reinforced by the social sciences. But understanding humans (and other things) as interbeings, instead of separate entities, creates a different basis to appreciate the core of sustainability.

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