Sustainability: Rethinking our commitments. DevelopmentPLUS Conversation IV

Please take a moment to join the conversation! The first round presented provocative critiques of sustainable development by Arturo Escobar, Jayati Ghosh, Jan Pronk and Nicola Bullard. The second round presented views about un-sustainability from the Pacific, The Caribbean and Serbia by Teresa Teaiwa, Peggy Antrobus and Jasmina Kijevcanin. The third round looked at some alternative thinking and practices by Gillians Young, Kathryn Cox-Shrader and Lau Kin Chi.


In this final set of conversations on sustainability, we take some of the leading pieces of the journal volume 54 devoted to sustainability. The journal Development has a long tradition of searching out new and alternative ideas towards a more sustainable development. The theme will continue to be of upmost importance to all of us next year as we work through how the development community can respond the multiple crises we are facing on many fronts.

Land Grabs


Shalmali Guttal: For people dispossessed and displaced by investment-driven-development, survival is a daily struggle. Language by governments about encouraging 'high quality and environmentally and socially responsible investment', ring hollow in the absence of appropriate regulatory frameworks that protect the land, resource, food and livelihood rights of their rural populations, especially those who are most vulnerable.
Challenges to Sustainability

18Michal Osterweil: ‘Sustainability is the capacity to endure’. Not coincidentally ecological definitions of sustainability specify the importance of diversity for such endurance. This definition is a simple yet provocative way to capture a term that is used so prolifically that it loses its true meaning. Often when the term is employed by green businesses, NGOs, political parties and various others, there is no recognition of the radical shift is required if we are serious about the commitment to sustainability.  This definition pinpoints a key challenge for those of us who are actively working for social change and transformation, i.e. not only to build better worlds, but better worlds that last.’

Sustainable Cities

19Alec Balesescu: ‘The future of humanity does not lie in the unlimited development of how and what we are now (even
if we would do it in a ‘sustainable manner’), but in our capacity to transform how we live in order to adapt to the environmental transformations that
our actions cause. As we gradually transform the natural environment, we must also transform both our habitats and our mode of interrelating to each other, at individual and cultural levels, in order to preserve what we have, prevent the possible negative influence of human development,
and create a harmonious future in which environment is not perceived as separated from, but integrated in, and defining part of humanity'. 



Nora Lester Morad: Development is only good when it respects rights and responds to self-determined aspirations. Otherwise, it can approximate a kind of neo-colonial coercion (...) Development assistance may help in some ways, but as a powerful industry with its own interests. No movement forward is possible without coming to terms with what happened, why, and history’s continuing legacies.

Stay tuned for the next volume of Development in 2012!


DEVELOPMENT: is the flagship journal of the Society for International Development (SID) published by Palgrave Macmillan