1. Contested meanings of development

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  • Meanings of sustainable development Williams & Millington 2004
    • opposing, contrasting, competing: 80 definitions in use
    • Bruntland Report of 1987 defined sustainable development as: 'development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.' This definition is arguably the most commonly used.
    • The 'environmental paradox' --> this gives us a starting point for understanding what is meant by sustainable development. There is a mismatch between what the earth can provide, and what is demanded of it for human survival, and the two do not balance out. There are two ways to approach this dilemma.
      • 2. Decreasing the demand.
        • Strong Sustainability - our demands on the earth need to be revised. - We consume less. - Rather than adapting the world to us, we adapt to allow the planet to survive.
          • The Earth is a finite resource.
            • Nature needs protecting so that future generations can still find pleasure in it, but also in respect to nature's own rights.
              • 'Nature has the right to remain unmolested.'
          • Weaker sustainability theorists are focusing on 'sustaining development' instead of sustaining the environment.
          • The pursuit of materialism is taking human society in the wrong direction: we need to redefine wealth as well-being --> friendships, arts, political deliberation.
            • Aristotle: economic activity, directed towards money making, is pathological:an illness of the mind.
            • We need to change our demands on earth in order to reach a positive state of well-being. Stop striving for material wealth and thus destroying the environment.
              • For stronger sustainability theorists, 'a small scale, decentralised way of life, based upon greater self-reliance' is the way forward in a move to 'create a social and economic system less destructive towards nature.'
              • Ensure everyone's basic needs are met.
      • 3. Moderate sustainability.
        • Do both. If both weak sustainability and strong sustainability are acted upon, resources and demands will become conjoined.
  • Weak sustainability.- human demand can stay the same, but stock needs to expand. - developing new resources - creating substitutes for on-renewable resources - searching for solutions to resource depletion and pollution.
    • This is an optimistic view as is places a lot of faith in technology and humans ability to develop a solution through it.
      • Esther Boserup
      • Technology need not only be useful in solving  the problem, but also in preventing it from becoming such an issue in the first place. Could focus on redistribution of resources, costs and benefits.
  • Economic growth and resource exploitation can continue because we will find a way to make it sustainable.

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