Development 54.2 out now! Challenges to sustainability. Join the conversation...(I)



The message from the 50 contributors to Development volume 54 no 2, special issue produced for the SID World Congress 2011, is that sustainability is not about future generations, it is about now and the citizens of today's generation. Many voices and many locations will lead the pathways to sustainability, which is why this issue of Development features 50 short opinion pieces from 30 countries. The issue aims to capture the variety of voices, positions, passions and interests that have shaped Development over the years and are urging all of us to move forward to act. The sense of urgency can be heard in each of the articles from authors of all ages whether based in the research community, international and national policymaking arena, local and global civil society movements or in the development profession.

FREE TO VIEW: Table of contents 

The official launch event of this special issue will be at the SID World Congress 2011 in Washington DC (July 29-31).


Conversation Round I: Critique of sustainability

Take a moment to join in the conversation! In the next four weeks  DevelopmentPLUS will highlight four authors' points of view about sustainability. The first set of authors offer provocative critiques of sustainable development arguing for a new paradigm that breaks through old ways of understanding development.

See conversations: round IIround III and round IV



Arturo Escobar: We need to stop burdening the Earth with the dualisms of the past centuries, and acknowledge the radical interrelatedness, openness, and plurality that inhabit it. [We need to] go beyond the business as usual understanding of sustainable development. This notion of sustainability would be one capable of inspiring the popular and scientific imaginations alike to take steps that are at once pragmatic and transformative in the path towards more ethical and ecological words.


Jayati Ghosh: People in the North need to be concerned with the prospects for egalitarian and sustainable development in the South, and to prioritize such development in their own demands upon Northern policymakers, not as a form of charity or benevolence, but because such prospects will directly and indirectly affect their own conditions of life. It is fundamentally a question of economic justice, which means that the same rights-based framework that informs citizens’ demands in developed countries must necessarily apply to all the global population, including the poorest people in the least developed countries. …increasing global interdependence and inter-linkages of various types mean that lack of such development will quickly and increasingly reflect in lack of equity as well as greater social tensions and growing human insecurity in the North.


Jan Pronk: Sustainability is crucial and worth fighting for. At the end of the first decade of the new century, this is even a greater task than 20 years ago, when the at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development the international community adopted Agenda 21, an agenda for global sustainability. The priority which at that time had been given to sustainability as a first objective in economic and development policymaking has been overshadowed by a newly felt need for stability and security. …Instabilities and insecurities can be approached in two different ways: By shifting the consequences onto the shoulders of other nations or peoples, or by jointly addressing the root causes. The first approach seems to be the choice that has been made during the first decade of this new century: Saving banks while cutting social expenditures, breaking up the Kyoto Protocol, grabbing land in order to substitute food grains for biomass, giving support to dictatorial regimes in the name of political stability and pre-emptive strikes in the name of national security.
Nicola Bullard: The greatest challenge we face is not so much about how we understand sustainability, but rather how we understand development. When we consider the state of the world and the routine failure of ‘development’ to feed, house, clothe, educate and care for the invisible majority, the word no longer has any moral or even practical content.  Similarly, confronted with collapsing ecosystems, toxic environments, soil depletion, climate chaos, disappearing species and finite fossil fuels, does sustainability even make sense when there is so little left to sustain? Instead, we should be talking about regenerating and restoring what has been destroyed.




  With this banner, Development is on the Guardian Global Development website this month!