Will the concept of 'sustainable development' provide any solutions for the 21C

Davidson, Kathryn (2005) Will the concept of 'sustainable development' provide any solutions for the 21C. In Social Change in the 21st Century Conference, 28 October 2005, QUT Carseldine, Brisbane.


The concept of sustainable development and/or sustainability has and continues to be widely recognised and cited. This concept appears designed to remove the conflict out of the debate over environmental quality versus economic growth, which was evident in the 1960s and 1970s, during the surge in the environmental movement. Sustainable development, with its origins in mainstream economic ideology, suggested that the essence of the conflict could in fact be complementary, achieving growth in an environmentally and social benign way. Critics raise concerns with the change in the debate, with its direction of 'we can have it all'. As a consequence of mainstream ideological dominance, and the emergence of concepts like ‘sustainable development’, the underpinning contradiction between economic growth, further capital accumulation and environmental pressure has been under-discussed. Moreover, the concept of sustainable development has appeared to be politically attractive to diverse entities. Organisations, governments and enterprises are developing initiatives to promote the concept. However, it is uncertain if these initiatives have resulted in actual progress towards sustainability. Proposed solutions appear to be limited to a further application of neoclassical economic theory. This would be seen as 'business as usual' for many countries. This paper argues that a concept which ignores the tensions between the social, economic and environmental forces, and a system based on capital accumulation might not provide solutions which ensure a sustainable future.

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ID Code: 3541
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: sustainable development, sustainability, societal change
ISBN: 1741071089
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION (160500) > Social Policy (160512)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 Kathryn Davidson
Deposited On: 17 Feb 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:30

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