princen on sufficiency - T homas P for Su Princ iples rin...

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33 Principles for Sustainability: From Co peration and EfŽ ciency to SufŽ ciency Thomas Princen Principles for Sustainability: From Cooperation and EfŽciency to SufŽciency · Thomas Princen* Global timber harvesters are squeezing more and more Žber out of a hectare of forest and yet deforestation proceeds unabated. The automobile and petro- chemical industries are creating more wealth for a unit of pollution, yet emis- sions continue to grow. And the world’s water managers seem to agree on most things, including the need for treaties and more water, yet freshwater availability is diminishing. Contrary to conventional wisdom, there is actually quite a lot of cooperation and efŽciency in today’s political and ecological economy. Where there are problems—e.g., deforestation, greenhouse gas build-up, water scarc- ity—practitioners and scholars alike call for more cooperation and more efŽciency. It might just be that the principles themselves—cooperation and efŽciency—are part of the problem, a problem well suited, it would seem, for scholarly analysis. Yet for all the scholarly attention to norms and principles in environmen- tal and economic institutions, there is precious little normative work. There is little that scrutinizes prevailing principles let alone proposes new ones, espe- cially principles aimed at reversing the trends in environmental decline and at promoting sustainable practice. To be sure, there is much that analyzes diplomatic and organizational suc- cesses and failures. Cooperation is a prevalent focus: negotiating, reaching agreement, implementing, monitoring, resolving disputes, building conŽdence. But environmental outcomes are taken as given, that is, given by the actors by what is politically possible, or expedient, at the time. More often than not, the outcomes, the goals of the institutions, are to “improve” the environment, to use the resource more efŽciently, to alleviate impacts, to “green up” consump- tion, not necessarily to live within regenerative capacities. In this article, I assume that the seriousness of many environmental threats are of a wholly different order from that presumed in many environ- Global Environmental Politics 3:1, February 2003 © 2003 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology * The author wishes to thank Peter Dauvergne, Paul Grover, David Katz, Willet Kempton, Michael Maniates, Matthew Paterson, Ian Robinson, Andrew Rudin, Marc Williams, and three anony- mous reviewers for useful comments on earlier drafts.
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mental and economic institutions. Critical environmental threats entail irrevers- ibilities and non-substitutabilities; they threaten vital life-support systems. Overconsumption—resource use beyond regenerative capacities that threatens entire species, including humans—is a real possibility. 1
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princen on sufficiency - T homas P for Su Princ iples rin...

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