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Sustainable Development: A Bird’s Eye View

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  • Tom Waas

    ()
    (Plant Biology and Nature Management, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
    Institute of Environment & Sustainable Development, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium)

  • Jean Hugé

    ()
    (Plant Biology and Nature Management, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
    Institute of Environment & Sustainable Development, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium)

  • Aviel Verbruggen

    ()
    (University of Antwerp, Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium)

  • Tarah Wright

    ()
    (Environmental Science, Dalhousie University, 1355 Oxford Street, Halifax B3H 4J1, NS, Canada)

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    Abstract

    At the turn of the millennium, the world’s political leadership adopted sustainable development as a leading model for societal development. However, the terms “sustainable development”, “sustainability” and “sustainable” are sometimes over- and misused despite wide consensus about the concept’s meaning among sustainability scholars and practitioners. While the concept allows various sustainability views to co-exist, random conceptualizations which do not respect the fundamental sustainability principles undermine the concept’s objective to steer action. This lack of understanding of sustainability arguably inhibits its practical realization and a proper understanding of sustainability is urgently needed. In this paper we aim to contribute to a better understanding of sustainability by adopting a bird’s eye perspective. We review the rich contemporary literature, with a specific focus on the terminology, genesis, fundamental principles, mainstream views of sustainability, and several governing aspects. Further, using the evolving body of sustainability literature, the paper provides arguments to combat common misconceptions of sustainability.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 10 (September)
    Pages: 1637-1661

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:10:p:1637-1661:d:14155

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    Related research

    Keywords: sustainable development; sustainability; meaning; principles; history; governance;

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    References

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    1. Jackson, Tim, 1990. "Blueprint for a green economy : by D. Pearce et al Earthscan Publications, London, UK, 1989, 192 pp, [pound sign]6.95," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 118-121.
    2. Robinson, John, 2004. "Squaring the circle? Some thoughts on the idea of sustainable development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 369-384, April.
    3. L. Hens & B. Nath, 2003. "The Johannesburg Conference," Environment, Development and Sustainability, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 7-39, March.
    4. Jason Palmer & Ian Cooper & Rita van der Vorst, 1997. "Mapping out fuzzy buzzwords - who sits where on sustainability and sustainable development," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 5(2), pages 87-93.
    5. Nuno Quental & Júlia M. Lourenço & Fernando Nunes da Silva, 2011. "Sustainable development policy: goals, targets and political cycles," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 15-29, January/F.
    6. Joachim H. Spangenberg, 2004. "Reconciling sustainability and growth: criteria, indicators, policies," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(2), pages 74-86.
    7. Sneddon, Chris & Howarth, Richard B. & Norgaard, Richard B., 2006. "Sustainable development in a post-Brundtland world," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 253-268, May.
    8. Bob Giddings & Bill Hopwood & Geoff O'Brien, 2002. "Environment, economy and society: fitting them together into sustainable development," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 187-196.
    9. Nuno Quental & Júlia Lourenço & Fernando da Silva, 2011. "Sustainability: characteristics and scientific roots," Environment, Development and Sustainability, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 257-276, April.
    10. Annemarie van Zeijl-Rozema & Ron Cörvers & René Kemp & Pim Martens, 2008. "Governance for sustainable development: a framework," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(6), pages 410-421.
    11. Bill Hopwood & Mary Mellor & Geoff O'Brien, 2005. "Sustainable development: mapping different approaches," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(1), pages 38-52.
    12. Pezzey, J., 1992. "Sustainable Development Concepts; An Economic Analysis," Papers 2, World Bank - The World Bank Environment Paper.
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