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Deconstructing sustainable development: towards a participatory methodology for natural resource management


  • Patrick Thipe Ntsime


The concept of sustainable development has conceivably been superseded by notions of natural resources management, which over the years have acquired a high conservationist status. This does not come as a surprise because, historically, sustainable development has become the quintessential paradigm for addressing the unsustainable use of natural resources such as land, water, soil, sea and minerals. Politicians and other important people in society converge every ten years to deliberate over the disastrous effects of unsustainable development. Often, such meetings are concerned about the symptoms and not the causes of problems such as poverty, unfair trade relations, deepening global economic disparities, disease, pollution and the damage to the environment. The outcomes of these meetings are noted in the form of pledges and signed agreements, as happened not long ago in Johannesburg at the World Summit for Sustainable Development. The shortcomings of these texts are that they do not consider the context within which sustainable or unsustainable development takes place, let alone the causes thereof. Politicians get caught up in the application of the most commonly used notions and principles of sustainable development. If this concept is to become meaningful to the world at large, then the point of departure is to deconstruct the underpinned discourse. As this article does not claim to know it all or to have all the solutions, the focus of the discussion will be limited to South Africa's local context.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Thipe Ntsime, 2004. "Deconstructing sustainable development: towards a participatory methodology for natural resource management," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(4), pages 707-718.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:21:y:2004:i:4:p:707-718
    DOI: 10.1080/0376835042000288860

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