Sustainability: Views from the margins. DevelopmentPLUS Conversation (II)

Please take a moment to join in the conversation! This month, DevelopmentPLUS Development 54.2 authors points of view about sustainability. The first round of conversation presented provocative critiques of sustainable development by Arturo Escobar, Jayati Ghosh, Jan Pronk and Nicola Bullard. How is development perceived in the countries on the margins of the big power centres where many of the decisions about development policy are made? A common critique is that development has to be context specific. Can major global programmes such as the Millennium Development Goals be applied to places recovering from conflict, in direct threat from climate change as small island states? How can development theory and policy respect the environmental and social and political interests of people living in states that are smaller than just one city in large nations like India, China, Brazil, USA and France? What does sustainability mean in those places faraway from decision-making?

The second set of authors in the DevelopmentPLUS tasters of volume 54 no 2 on Challenges to Sustainability reflect on what they see as the un-sustainability of development from the vantage point of their homes in the Pacific, The Caribbean and Serbia. 

See conversations: round I, round III and round IV

The Pacific, questioning the unsustainability in our lifestyles


Teresa Teaiwa: Unsustainable workloads, unsustainable costs of living, unsustainable family pressures, all produce a horrible double bind. The ‘double bind’ is … the recurring theme of late capitalism.‘We will exploit every available resource that exists to improve life on this planet’ vs ‘Exploiting every available resource that exists is calamitous to life on this planet’. Living with a double bind, is unsustainable living. It is clear. But so many of us have been living with the double bind for far too long. It has outlasted the best of us. It has survived the rigours of our analysis and critique, our revolt and our protest … It is sustainable. It sustains itself. We are its collateral damage.
The  Caribbean, Taking into account human and ecological rights


Peggy Antrobus: The small island states of the Caribbean may be a prime example of unsustainable development, as well  as a place where we can track clearly the factors that interrupted what was an approach to development that,while not yet paying attention to the environmental impacts of economic growth had at least understood that creating an infrastructure in which poor people could improve their lives and livelihoods was a pre-requisite for a development model, which could be sustained by the creativity, imagination and hard work of ordinary people. … for the Caribbean, the kind of development that is sustainable would have to take account of the human rights of people as well as the need to protect the natural resource base on which socio-economic well-being depends. Economic growth and sustainability are only compatible when governments recognize that economic growth should not be an end in itself, but that it should be combined with equity and with the protection of the natural resource base.
Unlearning the dance: Serbia 

10Jasmina Kijevcanin: Serbia adopted its strategy of sustainable development in 2008 … There has been one step forward at level of policy, two steps back at level of people’s action. I would say it is like dancing traditional Serbian dance ‘Kolo’. Music is changed but people continue to use the same steps. Serbia cannot reach sustainable economic development if its citizens do not know how to read and write; Serbia cannot have competitive market if a non-Serbian speaking person is under risk of being attacked in its capital. It is the people who need to drive the horse of sustainable development.


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


Photo: Horia Varlan/flickr