Sustainable Development: Between Moral Injunctions and Natural Constraints
Sustainable development must satisfy the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Although it looks at the economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainability, this article focuses specifically on an analysis of the concept in conjunction with the use and protection of natural resources. It shows how taking account of environmental goods, including the finite nature of certain natural resources, can change the way economists deal with the issues of growth, development and equity between generations. In this context, after a brief historical perspective on the concept of development, the paper shows how the potential for substitutability between natural and manufactured capital, for example in production technologies, lead to two paradigms, that of weak sustainability and that of strong sustainability. These two approaches are presented in an effort to explain how their merits can be mutually reinforcing.
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