Mapping sustainable development in a capability perspective
The importance of the notion of sustainable development has been advocated, among others, by Amartya Sen. In Sen’s view it is necessary to depart from the general strategy of defining sustainable development only in terms of fulfilment of needs and to use the broader perspective of enhancing human freedoms on a sustainable basis. The ultimate goal of this paper is to outline a possible operative map of sustainable development as intended in the capability approach. Our proposed operative outline concentrates on the role of instrumental freedoms and institutions, and it is based on the traditional themes – economic, environmental and social – of sustainability. For each considered theme we select a set of variables and frame them in the driving forces, response and state variables framework. State variables represent constitutive freedoms, the achieved functionings chosen from the capability set. Their variations are produced by driving forces variables. The latter are, in turn, influenced by response variables as triggered by institutional efficiency and effectiveness, upheld by instrumental freedoms. We eventually map each set of variables in order to point out how instrumental freedoms and institutions influence sustainable human development.
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