IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Sustainable Economic Development. A Paradigm Change

Listed author(s):
  • Angela Köppl


  • Claudia Pichl


At the turn of the last decade a paradigm change in environmental policies became apparent. At the end of the 1970s and at the beginning of the 1980s, during the first environmental revolution, environmental problems were seen as a potential conflict between economic growth and the quality of the environment; since the end of the 1980s, however, the new concept of "sustainable development" which has guided the discussion and policies regarding the environment, has implied the possibility of a complementary relationship between the environment and economic development. The beginning of the second "environmental revolution" at the end of the 1980s manifests itself in new questions: in what way should the environment be considered in economic processes in order to secure a sustainable development path? Questions of how to manage the economy or how to achieve economic growth without harming the environment have become relevant. The functions and services of the environment are not boundless. This fact was taken into account in defining guidelines for a sustainable development in the Brundtland report, for example, in the following way: "Sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Thus, the sustainable development path is geared towards regional as well as intertemporal equity, and the goals of sustainable development include in addition to economic goals in the narrow sense others such as ecological and social goals. The research that has attempted to draw up guidelines governing sustainable development has defined goals that are fraught with uncertainties. These uncertainties are related to technological development, the uncertainties in the knowledge regarding the manifold interdependencies in the ecological system, and the uncertainties and quantification problems arising in formulating welfare indicators. The transition to a development which is in accordance with the new guideline is more clearly discernible. Given the rising importance of the new concept of "services", it is imperative to reduce the pollution and exhaustion of environmental resources per unit of service of, for example, energy. A pragmatic approach is the reduction in throughput; the efficiency of the material flows should be increased without reducing the volume of welfare-producing services. Attaining the goal of sustainable development presupposes the creation of a reporting system which supplies information on the input and throughput of materials and the resulting burden on the environment. The rise in efficiency presupposes that technical progress is steered in a certain direction. The paradigm of "sustainable development" can also be viewed as a new paradigm of technological development. The use of clean technologies, in particular, should be promoted. The institutional background and environmental instruments providing the right incentives play an important role in realizing the savings potential and/or the use of clean technologies. Given the medium-term goal of changing the proportions of capital, labor, and resources as well as the direction of technical progress, economic instruments have gained in importance, complementing environmental regulations. These instruments, such as taxation of inputs harmful to the environment, lead in the medium term to the deployment of other technologies which use less of these production factors, but perhaps require more know-how or labor.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: Abstract
Download Restriction: Payment required

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by WIFO in its journal WIFO-Monatsberichte.

Volume (Year): 68 (1995)
Issue (Month): 11 (November)
Pages: 691-696

in new window

Handle: RePEc:wfo:monber:y:1995:i:11:p:691-696
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Arsenal Object 20, A-1030 Wien

Phone: (+43 1) 798 26 01-0
Fax: (+43 1) 798 93 86
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Postal: Austrian Institute of Economic Research Publikationsverkauf und Abonnentenbetreuung Arsenal, Objekt 20 A-1030 Vienna/Austria

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wfo:monber:y:1995:i:11:p:691-696. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ilse Schulz)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.