Chapter 7 - The Sociology of Sustainable Development

Different interest groups highlight different aspects

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Unformatted text preview: pment: (1) economic growth, (2) environmental protection, and (3) social equity. Different interest groups highlight different aspects of the three part sustainable development definition. The economic concerns of industrialists, such as Mr. Popoff, are incorporated into the definition, as are the environmental concerns of environmentalists and the social concerns of nongovernmental organizations and some governments wishing to alleviate poverty and injustice. 222 CHAPTER SEVEN While the WCED popularized the concept, the term SD has been around for at least ten years prior to the report. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, for instance, used the term in its 1980 publication, World Conservation Strategy. The Strategy, however, emphasizes ecological sustainability, not the integration of ecological, economic, and social sustainability.4 The ideas embodied in the term sustainable development were, likewise, not new in 1987. Sustainable development draws upon “limits to growth,” “appropriate and intermediate technology,” “soft energy paths,” and “ecodevelopment” discourses from the 1970s and 1980s.5 The limits to growth debate centers around the much-publicized The Limits to Growth study produced by the Club of Rome.6 In a nutshell, the book presents evidence that severe biophysical constraints would impinge upon the growth and development of societies. The Limits predicts ecological collapse if current growth trends continued in population, industry, and resource use. The study generated tremendous debate, attention, and critique. The leading criticisms of the study are threefold: (1) it assumes that there were fixed amounts of exploitable resources, (2) it does not account for technological innovation and substitution, and (3) no resource limits have been reached or documented.7 In addition to these problems, the limits to growth idea became politically unpopular in the less-developed countries (LCDs, or, the South) “on the grounds that it was unjust and unrealistic to expect countries of the South to abandon thei...
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