Global sustainability: the sequel
The Global Sustainability Panel (GSP), formed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in August 2010, was asked to think big – to come up with a 'new development paradigm' and mechanisms for putting it into practice. Its product was, among other things, meant to help frame the forthcoming third global conference on environment and development, Rio 20. The imposing precedent for this was Our Common Future, the 1987 report of Gro Harlem Brundtland’s World Commission on Environment and Development. The GSP report, Resilient People, Resilient Planet, inevitably borrows much its content from Brundtland but also exhibits interesting differences. This paper is a selective reflection on what the GSP report adds to, and subtracts from, Brundtland’s bedrock. The comparison is anchored in a discussion of two specific themes: international cooperation and resilience. The first is prominent in Brundtland and largely absent in the GSP report; the second, vice versa. I suggest that much of what is puzzling or unsatisfactory in the GSP report flows from a systematic blindness with respect to the need for policy cooperation between states, and with respect to the uses of the concept of resilience.
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