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ESP221 Week 5 - Contested Nature of Sustainability

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Allen Hill

on 21 March 2014

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Transcript of ESP221 Week 5 - Contested Nature of Sustainability

ESP221 - Week 5 Lecture
What is sustainability?
Christian and Schmidt (2012)
A Formal Framework for Conceptions of Sustainability
ELEMENT 1
The Sustainability Problem
What is to be Sustained?

What are the criteria that sustainable development have to satisfy?
ELEMENT 2
The Normative Principle of Justice
ELEMENT 3
The Descriptive Principle of Integration
Recognises the systemic and holistic foundation of sustainability through stressing the integration of socio-cultural, economic, and environmental/ecological aspects
ELEMENT 4
The Criteria for Sustainability
Sustain (verb) - to keep (something) going over time

Sustainability (noun) - able to be sustained

[oxford dictionary]
COMPETING
DEFINITION is problematic
CONTESTED
CONTRADICTORY
> 300 different definitions used for sustainability and sustainable development
The Contested Nature of Sustainability and Sustainable Development
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
World Commission on Environment and Development (1987)
'Brundtland Report'

Sustainable Development is development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (p. 8).
“sustainability and sustainable development have become highly contested concepts which have come to mean whatever we want them to mean” Rathzel and Uzzell (2009, p. 263)
“neither weak sustainability nor its translation into weak environmental education will solve the immense [ecological] challenges we are facing”

(Rathzel and Uzzell, 2009, p. 264).
(Chapman, 2003).
GROWTH + DEVELOPMENT = ROOT CAUSE OF ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AND SOCIAL / ECONOMIC INEQUALITY
Sustainable Development has an anthropocentric (Human Centered) tone which fails to recognise the intrinsic value of nature independent of human valuation inscribed by present and future generations
(Neumayer, 2003).
Strong Sustainability?
strong sustainability in essence “regards natural capital as fundamentally non-substitutable through other forms of capital”.
Neumayer (2003, p. 24)
UNESCO
Sustainability “implies economic viability, ecological integrity and social cohesion but also necessitating an operating ecological or participatory worldview which recognises these qualities or system conditions as mutually interdependent . . . sustainability is both a process and a broad direction”.
Sterling (2010, p.512)
Towards a Conceptual Framework for Sustainability
ELEMENT 5
Transformation into Practice
How are the criteria and principals of sustainability are evident in practice?
Jacobs (1999)
Sustainable Development as Contested Concept
How can we have development (particularly improving quality of life for the poor) which does not erode the environmental resources on which such development is based
The Normative Principle emphasises the rights of distributive and political justice and quality of life for and within current generations and for future generations
Sustainability can be seen as a source of normative ethics = standards or rules (norms) to which some conformity is (or should be) expected
“nature-society-system”
Quality of life within ecological and societal thresholds
Transformation should address individual and institutional perspectives as well as providing practical tools or instruments for implementation of sustainability ideas and theories.
/
Christian and Schmidt (2012)
A Formal Framework for Conceptions of Sustainability
Jacobs (1999)
Sustainable Development as Contested Concept
Common or taken-for-granted meanings or definitions have been problematised leading to contestation.
This, in turn leads to both technocratic and political concerns mainly related to second level meaning of sustainable development
"[The] search for a unitary and precise meaning of sustainable development is misguided"
(p. 25)
Jacobs (1999) core ideas of Sustainability
Environment-economy integration
Futurity
Environmental protection
Equity
Quality of life
Participation
Full transcript