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From - http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3821/is_200110/ai_n8981375/ INTRODUCTION Sustainable development now stands as the dominant discourse on the environmentdevelopment problematic.1 Because it promises to defuse longstanding tensions between environmental protection and economic growth, nearly everyone favors it, including individuals, firms, national and local governments, militaries, and the gamut of non-state actors. It has prompted so many business, government, academic, and nongovernmental publications and gatherings that it has been dubbed "the mantra that launched a thousand conferences,112 Accompanied by liberal democracy and free markets, sustainable development is now a pillar of contemporary universalism, embraced from the industrialized north, to the less-developed south, to the post-communist east. However, the sustainable development of today bears faint resemblance to its point of origin. The language of sustainability was once a discourse of resistance, fusing radical environmental consciousness with a critical rethinking of a failed development enterprise. It provoked challenging questions about scarcity and limits, affluence and poverty, global inequality, and the environmental viability of westernization. By today, sustainable development has been transformed, stripped of its critical content, and reconfigured for compatibility with the larger priorities of the post-Cold War era. This paper tells the story of a counter-hegemonic discourse turned on its head to help legitimize a grand universal project of neoliberal globalization. It proceeds in three parts. The first takes us back to the origins of the sustainable development discourse, in a critical rethinking of development informed by the radical environmentalism of the 1970s. The second chronicles the transformation of the discourse and its rise to hegemony. The third section raises questions about the viability of the new sustainable development, and offers a concluding glimpse at a variety of alternatives that might hold out hope for a more authentically sustainable path. THE OLD SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: A DISCOURSE OF RESISTANCE From today's viewpoint, the conceptual origins of sustainable development are scarcely recognizable: an early-1970s environmental discourse about "the age of scarcity" and "the limits to growth."3 Sustainability has earlier roots in the resource management concept of sustained yield.4 As lunar spacecraft projected the first images of earth as a bounded sphere suspended in blackness, that concept became enmeshed with rising concern for the "carrying capacity" of finite ecological systems. Sustainability entered the environmental lexicon as part of an emerging reconceptualization of the relationship between human activities and nature's limits. Because fast-growing populations and economic processes (both capitalist and centrally planned) have in recent centuries proceeded on a de facto assumption of a boundless capacity for growth, the implications were ominous. The new discourse of limits and scarcity, initially popularized by the Club of Rome and the Global 2000 reports, produced facile images of a "lifeboat earth" in great peril. Though often caricatured and dismissed as doomsaying, it fired the popular imagination, especially in the form of neoMalthusian prognostications of explosive population growth, where the biological concept of carrying capacity was so tangibly apocalyptic.5 It also pointed toward finite terrestrial "inputs" to a production-consumption pipeline, as well as earth's finite capacity to absorb the "outputs" of waste heat and pollution. Bolstered by the oil shocks of the 1970s, scarcity on the input end
the depletion of the ozone layer. this meant an uncomfortable recognition that northern affluence is the flip side of southern poverty. the open-ended economic growth trajectory of the north would not be sustainable in the long run. acid rain. the foremost spokesperson for the steadystate economy. then distributional justice would become the central global political issue. that is. basic education.received the greatest initial attention. [The] upshot of these differences is that for the poor. New thinking also prompted arcane academic analysis of the economic implications of thermodynamic processes. which was held up as theoretic evidence for the unsustainability of a political economy of infinite growth. a dead end that the Third World would have to avoid.8 Second. "We have seen that a few can live like this-but only if the rest do not. Sustainability would ultimately require a "low throughput" economy. then the south should have priority. sustainable conception of development would have to be envisioned.. on the biosphere's limited capacity to serve as a "waste sink" for the inevitable byproducts of all human production and consumption. 2) distributional equity was now a matter of special salience. yet another brand of cigarettes. then we cannot escape attending to the comparative size of the slices.11 . A political economy predicated on the assumption of infinite growth was. accumulating hazardous wastes. essentially. By the 1980s and 1990s. whereas for the rich country it means more electric toothbrushes. First.6 The renegade school of "steady-state" economists broke ranks with their peers. Growth in GNP in poor countries means more food. Consequently. but an axiomatic incompatibility between environmental sustainability and the maximization of economic growth. The planet could not handle. Northern "overdevelopment" and "overconsumption" demonstrated an unfair and lopsided distribution of global goods. Boundless growth was posited as a biophysical impossibility. more tension and insecurity. How did the limits discourse play in the Third World. If there are biophysical limits to the total growth of the economic pie. and rising health threats refocused our attention increasingly on the output end. clothing. and more force-feeding through advertising . and 4) creative exploration was thus necessary to envision a development alternative. but for the rich it is probably a bad thing. high-consumption northern lifestyle. and security. not even ultimately for the rich countries.. shelter. if there is only so much net growth left for the planet to absorb. which comprises most of the planet's land and people? What did scarcity mean for the enterprise of development? I focus our attention on four answers: 1) duplication of the northern trajectory was no longer viable for the south. For Herman Daly. Our principal concern here is with the impact of this revolution in environmental thinking on the relationship between the north and the south. in age of limits. habitat destruction. qualitative development (or improvement) would have to become the global norm. growth in GNP is still a good thing. ecologically. rather than quantitative growth (or expansion).7 They preached not just an inherent tension. The overwhelming emphasis had for decades been on the maximization of economic growth and the explicit hope of thereby duplicating the irresistible. challenging the core beliefs of the discipline.9 The northern path would not be viable for the south. Such pronouncements caused unease for southern officials. global warming. atmospheric pollution. if there are limits on the planet's capacity to provide resources for production and to absorb waste heat and pollutants. an alternative.. In the north. especially entropy."10 Global sustainability would ultimately require facing up to the formidable political challenge of a significant redistribution of wealth and resource use. Sustainable development would have to be the opposite of sustained growth. the universalization of a European or North American mass-consumption lifestyle. 3) broader disenchantment with the development enterprise was emerging at the same time. From the southern perspective.
New formulations-grassroots development. economic growth--even dramatic. For the vast majority of southerners. carried out experimentation with appropriate technologies. and grassroots development. there was a general preference for smallness in the scale of the enterprise. The development process itself had displaced them from traditional lands and ways of life. 17 Efforts to envisage and support sustainable alternatives appeared in many corners of the Third World. designed with local inputs and knowhow. socially-just development trajectory for the south.16 While these sustainable development proposals varied. 13 In this climate of disenchantment and frustration. much cheaper than the capital-. Interestingly. both north and south. sustainable designs. which were later criticized for their failure to confront corrupt and inequitable power structures. the USAID (Agency for International Development). and energy-intensive technologies of the modern sector. They shared a Gandhian emphasis on equity.14 The most dramatic posited a polar world in which the wealth of the core countries accrued necessarily at the expense of the periphery. many millions more found themselves stranded on the immiserating fringes of modernizing societies. and place-local control over the use of local resources. and the explosion of precarious settlements and informal economies became symbols of a development enterprise that had gone tragically wrong.Thirdly. began to inform a creative quest for a sustainable alternative. then and now. many United Nations agencies. The new official policy priorities of international and multilateral development agencies were. The most prominent took the form of topdown. The grim failures of growth-oriented strategies prompted a nominal policy reorientation on the part of most major development entities. and independently of rising environmental concern. to enable popular participation. offering little hope for southerners to ever break free of the chains of neo-colonial subordination and dependence. "integrated rural development" initiatives. Finally. leaders in a smaller number of countries. Likewise. They saw the lack of distributional equality as having widely undermined the growth-. on the surface. locality. the high-visibility cases fell far short of their stated goals.12 Yet by the mid-1970s. but without corresponding opportunities for absorption into the modern cash economy.18 Still. based in sustainable grassroots development. Critical perspectives on underdevelopment found more solid footing. emphasizing community. they placed a high value on political decentralization and political openness. bottom-up development. the modernization and growth strategies of the postwar era were placed on the defensive. All were at some level modeled on humanity's best example of sustainability: low-impact hunter-gatherer and base agricultural societies.based model. it was inescapably clear throughout the Third World that decades of economic growth had produced only small pockets that vaguely resembled the broad-based development of the north. For over two decades "development" had been treated as essentially synonymous with "economic growth". sustained. they shared certain general features. Dispossession. import-. To the contrary.15 Fourth. from Papua New Guinea to Burkina Faso. and so forth-opened up myriad paths in the quest to conceive an alternative. high levels of growth-had not produced significant material improvements in the quality of their lives. self-reliance.or market-led development policies were oriented toward the maximization of economic growth at any cost. marginalization. both for urban popular classes and in pro-peasant and rural development initiatives. betraying its most fundamental promises. the full range of state. this critique of the development enterprise. and others were by that time expressing an official preference for "basic needs" strategies. basic needs. ecologically-sustainable. people-centered development. the dogged pursuit of economic growth for its own sake was losing credibility in development circles anyway. Most exploration along these lines. pro-peasant development. remained the province of non-governmental . The World Bank. from Tanzania to Nicaragua. when coupled with the emerging environmental perspective.and village-based designs. but still offering dramatic improvements upon indigenous tools and techniques. eco-development. There was a natural affinity for "appropriate" or "intermediate" technologies. and to incorporate local knowledge and traditions of stewardship. hyper-urbanization. these radical critiques and creative efforts did resonate upward somewhat to the mainstream development institutions.
leaving just enough wiggle room so that progrowth economists. pesticide exports and the "circle of poison. Part of its impact lies in its timing. irrevocably altering the north-south relationship. become utterly transformed in meaning. and the failures of development. The work of the Brundtland Commission (the WCED. THE NEW SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: A DISCOURSE OF HEGEMONY Given the relatively obscure origin of the concept as traced above. and London's International Institute for Environment and Development. But technological and social organization can be both managed and improved to make way for a new era of economic growth. However. business leaders. certainly in official southern policy circles. It was broad enough to capture the energy of this environmental reawakening and to resonate with the increasingly international nature of popular thinking about environmental problems. Yet its vague. But this version of sustainable development had wriggled free of the constraints of its birth in a discourse of scarcity. fossil fuels and the greenhouse effect. when the Secretary-General of the United Nations selected Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland to head up a commission to study the problems of environment and development. skin cancer and the ozone hole.organizations (NGOs)." unregulated transnational corporations and toxic nightmares like Bhopal. The WCED's report put the idea of sustainable development in the global spotlight. Oxfam. San Francisco's Earth Island Institute. when the Third World debt crisis exploded on the scene. The concept of sustainable development does imply limits-not absolute limits but limitations imposed by the present state of technology and social organization on environmental resources and by the ability of the biosphere to absorb the effects of human activities. the linkages highly popularized: Chernobyl's far reaching impact. and in the changing character of environmental consciousness. The environmentalism of the 1970s had stressed local pollution and habitat issues and national regulatory policy. carried out in practice by idealists in a handful of creative pockets of grassroots experimentation in remote corners of the rural Third World. and rise to prominence as the near-universal ordering principle for environmental and development policy across most of the world? The first step was taken in December 1983. giving unprecedented prominence to the principle of sustainability. the remaking of sustainable development was almost under way. The Brundtland definition of sustainable development possessed a conceptual ambiguity that made it palatable to the widest possible audience. the question I pose here is the following: how in a very few years did a comparatively marginalized. International connections were now tangible. popular awareness of the global dimensions of environmental problems had expanded dramatically. Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable-to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. But by the late 1980s. or World Commission on Environment and Development) made a vital contribution to the evolution of environmental thinking. and governments could also comfortably embrace the concept. northern hamburgers and tropical deforestation."19 That struggle came to an abrupt end in 1982. genuinely radical idea. Southern leaders were instead centrally occupied with the drive to reconfigure the rules of international trade and finance toward a fairer and more equitable "New International Economic Order. By that time. Its central concern for equity with present and future generations retained sufficient idealism to garnish the support of ecological purists and advocates for distributive justice. contradictory stance on ecological limits and economic processes weakened that very threat. Especially prominent have been groups such as London's Intermediate Technology Development Group.20 The Brundtland report recast the debate on the environment-development nexus. NGO and grassroots initiatives remained comparatively marginal. . limits. industrial pollutants and acid rain.
we now had oversupplies and falling prices. Sustainable development would thus rely on technological fixes. Innovations in recycling and pollution abatement promised progress on the output end for cleaning up polluted airsheds and watersheds.23 The Brundtland report had provided the groundwork. overfish. and attentiveness to southward technology transfer. the new sustainable development had a written constitution: Agenda 21. Government restrictions on trade should be minimized to promote innovation and efficiency. defended in environmental debates by "cornucopian" thinkers like economist Julian Simon. So reconstructed. free trade by comparative advantage maximizes benefits to all trading partners. and resource pressures endemic in much of the Third World. Where Brundtland was vague. as it shook off old doubts about the virtues of growth and technology. or are displaced to destructive urban settlements. administrative and technological innovations would offer humanity's best hope for liberation from the constraints of a finite biosphere. summit participants paid special attention to those categories of environmental degradation caused directly by poverty itself-the population. The rural poor. all presented as mutually enhancing. free trade. Agenda 21 erased the line between "sustainable development" and "sustained economic growth. Third. That faith finds a deep resonance with the western legacy of control over nature. in June 1992. at the "Earth Summit. protectionist impulses must not be permitted to disguise themselves in a green cloak. public and private support for research and development of green technologies. these concepts were now practically synonymous. Agenda 21 boldly shed any vestige of the discourse of scarcity and limits. " or UNCED (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development). If poverty is the environmental problem. The 1990s were a decade of triumphalism for the north. new technologies and substitutions had relieved shortages. the age of scarcity seemed to have passed. deplete. By the 1990s. but as matters of technological capacity." Once poised as polar opposites. participants had to confront the potentially conflictive relationship between trade and the environment. According to the prevailing Ricardian orthodoxy. the drafters recognized that economic growth would have to be recast from villain to hero. degrade. this de-fanged version of sustainable development was carried in a smooth trajectory right on into Rio de Janeiro. In order to achieve the broad support of national governments. Trade thus creates the wealth that enables later environmental repair. requiring continued innovation. this agreement is a comprehensive "action plan" that identifies environmental threats and defines the roles of various actors to realize common goals. free trade should be the engine of renewed economic growth. and technological innovation. Consensus at Rio was built on the argument that environmental protection is a luxury that can best be afforded once relative affluence is attained. Technological innovation had gotten us out of the tight corners of the 1970s. and restored confidence in the . where it took a leading role under the brightest lights of the world stage. growth must be redeemed as the savior. Care must be taken to ensure that only legitimate environmental and social concerns are protected by state action. then lifting people out of poverty is the solution. the new sustainable development could fit neatly into place-an interlocking piece of the puzzle of a changing north-south relationship. and to maximize the free flow of goods and services. sustainability had come full circle. essential to the global environmental solution. driven by dire necessity.22 First. To dissolve the tension between open-ended growth and the limits of a finite biosphere. We are most concerned here with its perspective on the relationship between sustainability and the global economy. The best means to that end is the promotion of economic growth-the boundless expansion of the economic pie. Entrepreneurship and competitive markets should be supported domestically and internationally. I focus here on three of the most important components of this complex conceptual achievement: poverty alleviation. Liberated from the distasteful implications of scarcity and limits. seemingly vindicating the cornucopian promise. overcut. by redefining limits not as absolutes.Once launched. By the end of the Rio summit.21 Endorsed by the official participants. land.24 On the input side. Second. back to an essential belief that open-ended growth will lift all boats. To promote poverty alleviation and general wellbeing.
Experts on East Asian political economy struggled to contain the damage from this grievous misrepresentation. It placed the left on the defensive globally. It averts the question of northern overconsumption. and can now encompass all development processes-north. the European Union. So too have supranational bodies. Sustainable development could now stand alongside neoclassical capitalism and liberal democracy-the picture of hegemonic universalism. the less-developed and post-communist worlds could again strive to duplicate the ascent to the First World. enforced by northern creditors and institutions. the World Bank.28 Expanding markets and open economies provide for a new era of growth. redeeming ascent to the First World as a viable goal. and enhanced market competition. It is embraced by Third World and post-communist governments. minimal government intervention. the OECD. south. and the North American Free Trade Area. It promises the compatibility of environmental preservation with the maximization of growth. "shock therapy" tariff reduction. It dissolves the old conflict between growth and limits. How could it be otherwise? It is universally applicable. they engendered a myth of free-market success based on free trade. eager to shake off the image of rapaciousness and be refashioned as defenders of nature. and export-led growth. delegitimizing the state's role in economic management. from the smallest local grassroots organizations in the shantytowns and villages of the Third World. including the United Nations. It .universal applicability of the western path. myths. This historical moment resulted from a confluence of events. up to the gleaming offices of the wealthy international organizations of the north. Faced with the pressing need for fresh capital to keep their economies afloat. The homogenization of the world has been saved. including the environmental movement. the Asian "tigers" seemed to prove that the chains of dependency and subordination could be ruptured. through the middle terrain of supportive intermediary organizations. and desperate to save the dream of ascent to the First World.29 Because it emphasizes technology. As the debt crisis exploded. deregulation. the collapse of Soviet communism seemed to vindicate the superiority of neoclassical capitalism. global. it cannot confront limits in nature. With lean-state.25 Simultaneously. open economies. Moreover.30 Finally. It eliminates confrontation over who is entitled to the lion's share of remaining growth. private. free-market economies and democratic polities. But the new sustainable development eliminated the conflict between neoliberal axioms and nature's limited resource and absorption capacities. Because the new sustainability no longer threatens other priorities.31 It is little wonder that sustainable development today holds such broad appeal. to be realized by strict neoliberal restructuring. sustainable development has shed its Third World skin. and non-profit. Mythical lean tigers charged forward while bloated. capital mobility. Growing economies create resources and incentives to solve environmental problems.27 Privatization. and faith. local. business leaders have also responded. and the International Monetary Fund. It stepped easily into place as component of a universalizing project-a bundle of policies. most readily complied with the mandates of structural adjustment handed down by the creditor nations.26 But their words of caution arrived too late to the corridors of global finance. More importantly. east. public. private initiative. First World governments are just as pleased as their southern counterparts to grant it a high institutional and policy profile. It supports technological development and scientific progress. frustrated by the failures of developmentalism. the World Bank. Because neoliberalism is predicated on openended expansion and growth over equity. sustainable development is most concretely a reality in the transnational universe of NGOs. west. Duplication of the mythical Asian miracle became the universal prescription for the debtors of the Third World. Economic liberalization bolsters political liberalization-a family of democratic partners in pursuit of peace and prosperity for all. saddled with the environmental legacies of rapid industrialization. national. The new sustainable development thus arrived on the international scene at a propitious moment. and harsh fiscal austerity became the universal prescriptions for healing the debtors and salvaging westernization. statist "elephant" economies elsewhere in the developing world languished. debtor nations found themselves with little latitude for policy choice. First. invoked to redeem a global duplication of the northern path to the high consumption lifestyle.
" To offer investors the most attractive terms. politicians. labor. taxes. to the poisoned neighborhoods surrounding export-processing zones. in the form currently promoted by structural adjustment policies of austerity and deregulation. unregulated production in the Third World. and strategic planners alike-would appear to cloak an agenda that is just as destructive. "the `buzzword' of environmentalists. Both distributive and inter-generational equity are threatened by a second concern: the fundamental ecological-economic problem of negative externalities. salination). and by the expansion of free trade regimes such as NAFTA and the WTO (World Trade Organization). and capital mobility work together to enable a great global act of selfdeception. the natural incentive is toward downward harmonization of environmental. Because most environmental policy is regulatory and because governments (local and national. the payoff of a globalized system of production is that it masks the connection between benefits and costs. and our shared future. energy-. global neoliberalism has been predicated on the continued loosening of state restrictions on capital. aquifer depletion. And it plays a mutually supportive role with the other western universals-free markets and democratic politics. pesticide poisoning. In structural adjustment and in the negotiation of trade agreements. TOWARD AUTHENTIC SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT But what if the most basic premises of the new sustainable development are mistaken? The new wisdom holds that it is not only compatible with neoliberal restructuring. I seek to highlight here some of the most pressing areas of concern." For producers. erosion. in virtually all contexts in which it has appeared. Inequity. those who enjoy the former are delinked from the distant souls who pay the latter. environmental equity with future generations is its centerpiece. and public health standards. By rewarding production methods .33 While a decisive environmental critique of global neoliberalism lies beyond the scope of this essay. or environmental and health compliance. infrastructure. but in practice it is wedded to policies which clearly undermine it."32 Many observers have raised these concerns. south. Sustainable development may assert distributive equity in word. The fruits of middle-class buying power are being subsidized by the externalized ecological damage of hazardous. north. neoliberal globalization will continue to impel producers to move the most humanly exploitive and ecologically destructive portions of the production process to desperate Third World and post-communist locales. critics fear a deregulatory "race to the bottom. externalization. business leaders. This is the opposite of sustainability. Moving production offshore does more than reduce the burden of wages. and within countries. east. the selling prices of goods do not incorporate the full social and ecological costs of their production. In the absence of a serious global "ecological tax reform" or global standards for "true-cost pricing. fundamentally deepens socioeconomic inequality. In uncorrected market exchanges. Increased capital mobility is a third major point of concern. fearing potentially tragic consequences for humans. Dramatically rising socioeconomic polarization has been an indisputable feature of neoliberal reform. both globally. What if neoliberalism is in fact inimical to sustainability? Sustainable development. and by the misery of workers in the "global assembly line. just as undermining of peoples' rights and livelihoods as the development agenda of old. but the two are mutually enhancing. The first is equity. the big winners in the globalizing economies of the neoliberal age are those most skilled at taking nature's inputs and absorptive capacities for free. and water-intensive corporate agriculture (deforestation. Indeed.offers equity for both present and future generations. but in the predicted absence of an enforceable. global corporate code of conduct. and west) are pitted against one another in competition to attract and hold footloose capital investment. Anti-WTO protests in Seattle and elsewhere may have raised the profile of these issues. The sustainable development discourse recognizes both distributional and inter-generational equity in principle. nature." the benefits of globalized production will accrue disproportionately to those players most effective at externalizing negative costs. But neoliberalism in practice. to the world's disappearing fisheries. The rising abundance and falling cost of consumer goods in the north (and in the FirstWorld enclaves of the south) directly reflect rising inequality. From the devastation of chemical-.
to Asia and the Pacific. It is also important to remember that the greatest achievements have been realized only on the input end of the productive process. The defense of biological diversity has been woven together with the defense of cultural diversity and the rescue of traditional ecological knowledge. But the premise of global neoliberalism is boundless growth. is not distributional justice even more pressing than it was in the age of scarcity? Given the rising and disproportionate ecological impact of the resource-consuming. the world's affluent consumers are shielded. neoliberalism has not provided satisfactory answers to the hardest questions raised decades earlier. and technological innovation. Its domain was the rural village and the urban ghetto of the dispossessed. greenhouse gases. a "really existing" sustainable development survives and thrives exactly where it always has-at the grassroots. climate change. the expansion of trade.36 Brundtland-Rio wordsmithing notwithstanding. air. of commerce. the depletion of the ozone layer. who will be left to pay the ecological costs? Can we really construct a global political economy in the shape of a pyramid. a lot rests on technological salvation. In the short run. Today's sustainable development is premised on precisely the same economic injustices and biophysical impossibilities as the dominant discourse it once rose to oppose. Technological innovations on the output end have not yet cheated the laws of thermodynamics. and democratic alternatives to the ruinous verticalization and homogenization of the world. The real struggle for sustainable development-the one actually practiced. of international trade. local. Because neoliberalism has yielded such unsatisfying responses on poverty and trade. The creative quest for a more sustainable.that externalize negative costs in distant places. powerful donor agencies. Still. practitioners and thinkers. of GDP. allowing us to squeeze greater mileage out of diminishing resources. Since the gaps between rich and poor continue to widen dramatically. and then hold out as the goal for everyone to occupy its apex?35 The new sustainable development discourse sidesteps these questions. on the ground. and supranational conferences. manufacturing. The new discourse has not satisfied the original spokespersons of the age of scarcity. northerners and southerners. to Latin America. on a bounded planet. of pollution? Of growth on all indicators. and participatory future did not stop just because the nomenclature changed meaning. without end? We saw how the architects of the new sustainable development massaged the infinite-growth issue. by millions of people. Indigenous and peasant ecological movements are active by the tens of thousands. equitable. has been purchased by a southward migration of negative ecological impacts in agriculture. Today's limits are not the simple.era. fixed caricature of an earlier era's simplistic doomsaying. in a visionary search for diverse. of populations. everywhere on the planet-has continued without pause. ecological. But the challenges of its originators were answered more by omission than by evidence or by conceptual triumph. the infinite expansion of economies. we have not dissipated the fundamental economicecological questions they first raised thirty years ago. forestry. It brought together activists and scholars. highly-polluting northern lifestyle. in the same fields and neighborhoods. corporate boardrooms. from Africa. mining. of waste heat. and in the same hands and minds in which its original promise was born. the accumulation of toxic and radioactive wastes. Few viable suggestions have appeared for the most vexing issues on the north-south agenda: water. Far from the gleam of international diplomats. some of this progress is illusionary-a function of delinked costs and benefits. delinked from the ecological and human consequences of their consumption. a rallying cry to envision a more just future for the victims of a failed developmentalism. and so on. species extinctions. rigid. can the planet physically support 4 or 5 billion more people walking as heavily on the earth as do a relative handful of North Americans today?34 If the northern path is to be universalized. such innovations have indisputably cheated the dire predictions of the limits-togrowth. Is it genuinely ecologically viable to assume. fisheries. oceans. Finally. placing its faith in poverty alleviation. . It was originally born in popular struggle. for example. Significant northern environmental purity. just. And boundless growth is still not likely to prove sustainable.
Efforts to incorporate both new and inherited cultural experience. it readily meshes with the popular struggles of Third World farmers. one often suppressed or violently denied by the masculine.37 Ecological feminism shares a similar sensitivity to the wisdom of the world's disenfranchised. ecological tax reform. writers. ecologism. and consequently. and values of smallness. and human experience. postmodern localism. aquaculture. most of today's "really existing" sustainable development initiatives barely register . They stand on conceptual and practical bridges linking the local with the global. That quest for autonomy often translates into isolation. In creative and passionate prose and in real-world practice. it has yielded new cross-national strategies and coalitions. a renegade group of economists still struggles against disciplinary convention to construct a field of ecological economics. and place have been manifest in agroecology. They are proud defenders of human diversity. Another group of mostly southern thinkers. seed banks. and participation. articulating the enduring values of genuine sustainability. and other proposals for radical decentralization share values of place. justice. offering a powerful symbol of grassroots mobilization to blue-collar workers.39 North America's environmental justice movement has unveiled profound racial and class inequities in exposure to environmental hazards. and activists has launched an intellectual "post-development" movement. farmworkers. denouncing it as illusion. feminist ecology bridges the gap between theory and practice. indigenous people. celebrating and re-valuing the complex and varied fabric of life. They strive to better comprehend and reconcile the relationship between natural and economic systems. factory workers. With its emphasis on equality. whose international association and publications strive toward practical applicability. and presumptive universalism of the westernizing project. they challenge the sacred assumptions of their field. They provide continuity with the efforts of earlier generations. and similar grassroots sustainability initiatives.41 In the academic world. They share a guarded stance toward co-optive. western drive towards conquest and triumph over nature. The quest for sustainable design frequently takes place not at the level of state policy. bioregionalism. policies. stewardship. mainstream environment and development enterprises and organizations. sustaining their households with the most basic human connection to nature. practice. but these diverse movements and struggles share certain key features. The goal is often to create sustainability through actual practice. ecologically sound social orders. deep ecology. they stand firmly against the homogenizing juggernaut of neoliberal globalization. and practices. social justice. Numerous threads of radical ecology have likewise been liberated from both northern and southern points of academic origin to inform alternative. in the areas of green accounting. knowledge about resources. Native Americans.38 Carried by NGOs and grassroots groups into the field. As a banner of resistance. and others whose lives have been tapped to subsidize distant affluence. violence. knowledge. national accounts.43 Unapologetic critics of development. failure. but in local pockets of creativity.40 Now globally. Many Third World women work closely to the land. solidarity with future generations. scale. appropriate technology. Not to brush over significant differences among them. They harbor an intimate and sensitive relationship to local ecological systems. and other policy areas that might one day yield essential methods for making market exchanges more accurately reflect their true ecological costs. We could extend or debate this list. north and south. the lens of environmental justice is helping to expose a world economy that strives to contain the negative costs of production in the communities of the politically and economic excluded. debtors. they brazenly reject the development enterprise of the past five decades. shantytown dwellers. and epic tragedy. and communities of color. building directly on decades of critical re-evaluation of developmentalism. and ecological balance. Appalled by the arrogance.42 Like their steady-state forebears of a generation earlier. not through an explicitly political project. popular participation. social ecology. they explicitly seek to write its epitaph. agroforestry. nonviolence.
1993). Distorted Development (Boulder CO: Westview. as are births and deaths. 3. Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development (Boston: Beacon Press. How Much is Enough? (New York. Generally as measured by annual increases in GNP or GDP (Gross National or Domestic Product). The betrayals of development have been chronicled by many scholars. Ken Boulding. Mark Dowie. 1990). The Development Dictionary (London. 6. The maximum allowable harvest of a renewable resource that can be sustained indefinitely. 5.). 1992).H. 11-12. Divided Planet: The Ecology of Rich and Poor (New York: Little. Ibid. Staying Alive (London: Zed Books. 1996). Ethics (Cambridge: MIT Press. first conceived by J. 1995). Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: MIT Press. The Ecologist. Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity (San Francisco: W. Abandon Affluence!. The second. Tom Athanasiou. 2. 11. production and consumption rates are equalized. 1997). Ecology. Wolfgang Sachs (ed. Georgescu-Roegen. However. "The Entropy Law and the Economic Problem. Brown. Toward a Steady-State Economy. or entropy law. asserts that this process can proceed in only one direction.H. The first law of thermodynamics states that energy and matter can be neither created nor destroyed." 7. e." in Daly. In a steady state economy.). including Vandana Shiva. Ted Trainer. 1996). Gilbert Rist. Martin's. to focus on the smallness of any given initiative is to miss the larger picture. from a usable to a nonusable state. . Toward a Steady-State Economy.a flicker on the radar screen of international attention. 1985). NOTES 1. p.. 1999). See also Herman Daly. 248. Ted Trainer.g. Encountering Development (Princeton: Princeton University Press). 1993). 12. Valuing the Earth: Economy.. Herman Daly and Kenneth Townsend (eds. 9. sophisticated. Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen. But the homogenizing globalization it now portends is being met from below with a countervailing force of "myriad small resistances"-local. The Politics of the Earth (New York: Oxford University Press. Daly." in Daly. The Limits to Growth (New York: New American Library. Woven together. Toward a Steady-State Economy. David Barkin. Whose Common Future?. these movements present a rich tapestry of counter-hegemonic struggle. Freeman).). Norton. p. "The Uncertain Quest for Sustainability: Public Discourse and the Politics of Environmentalism. The History of Development (London: Zed Books). (Philadelphia: New Society. 1972). Herman Daly (ed. The discourse of sustainable development may have been usurped from its real-world practitioners. Abandon Affluence! (London: Zed Books. fisheries. Arturo Escobar. "The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth.." in Frank Fischer and Michael Black (eds. For the economic implications. forests. diverse. 1995). 1968). "The Entropy Law and the Economic Problem. 8. kelp beds. 235. William Ophuls. Paul Ehrlich. game animals. see Daly. Greening environmental policy: the politics of a sustainable future (New York: St. Whose Common Future? Reclaiming the Commons. Production and consumption thus invariably return equal amounts of "high-entropy" waste heat and pollution to the environment. 10. Zed Books. Donella Meadows et al. pp. vibrant.S. John Dryzek.) Toward a Steady-State Economy (San Francisco: W. only changed in form. 13. and visionary. Douglas Torgerson. and Company. Mill. The Ecologist. Toward a Steady-State Economy. The Population Bomb (New York: Ballantine. 1992). Toward a Steady-State Economy. They are the most dynamic. promising face of contemporary popular environmentalism. Freeman). See Daly. 4. Alan burning.
1979). Dragons in Distress (San Francisco: Food First. Hong Kong) was characterized by deep and systematic state intervention. The Ecologist. state investment in human capital. 1987). Robin Broad and John Cavanagh. 1974). World Policy Journal 10." in John Lewis and Valeriana Kallab (eds. 1977). 1981). p. See Colin Bradford. David Gereffi and Donald Wyman (eds. 22. "Sustainable Growth: An Impossibility Theorem. "Beyond ExportLed Growth. see David Korten. Foundations of Gandhian Economics (Delhi: Center for the Study of Developing Societies. For more thorough critiques of the resulting agreements. nl (Spring 1993). Politicians. Our Common Future (Oxford: Oxford University Press. complex event. Immanuel Wallerstein.). Samir Amin. development in the Asian NICs (newly-industrializing countries. 23. Andrea Gunner Frank. Valuing the Earth. 20." World Development 12. Richard Brown. Bernhard Glaeser. 1987). Latin America: Underdevelopment or Revolution? (New York: Monthly Review Press). Julian Simon. 1993). Pathways from the Periphery (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 1990). 1990). Agenda 21:The Earth Summit Strategy to Save our Planet (Boulder CO: Earthpress. Latin America: The Struggle with Dependency and Beyond (New York: Halstead. 1993). Development Strategies Reconsidered (New Brunswick: Transaction. 18. 1990): Stephen Haggard. Whose Common Future?. 1973). Wolfgang Sachs. Herman Daly. E. "Resources. Robert Wade. Walden Bello and Stephanie Rosenfeld. "Appropriate Technology and the Grassroots: Toward a Development Strategy from the Bottom Up. 16. n27 (June 1980). comparative equity in land and education.F Shumacher. Celebration of Awareness (New York: Pantheon. 19. 26. 15. Governing the Market (Princeton: Princeton University Press. Frederic Deyo (ed. The catastrophic environmental legacy of communism tarnished proposals for state-based correction of ecological market failures and demolished the argument that capitalism was the main environmental culprit. . Strategies (Oxford: Pergamon). and Peasants in Mexico (Berkeley: University of California. People-Centered Development (West Hartford CT: Kumarian Press. Projects. 1984). Robin Broad and John Cavanagh. Divided Planet. 17. 24. presenting a broad and conflictual array of government and popular concerns. Ivan Illich. Structural Conflict: The Third World against Global Liberalism (Berkeley: University of California. "Sustainable Development. This discussion oversimplifies the dynamics at Rio and overstates the consensus. and strategic policy management. 15." The Developing Economies. South Korea. 1986)." In Daly and Townsend." World Policy Journal 9. The Political Economy of Development and Underdevelopment (New York: Random House. 8. Steven Krasner. The Political Economy of the New Asian Industrialism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press.). nl (Spring 1988)." World Policy Journal 10. Environment: An Oversupply of False Bad News:' Science 208. "East Asian 'Models': Myths and Lessons. For an interesting discussion of Simon's victorious scarcity bet with neoMalthusian Paul Ehrlich. 1969). 21. see Athanasiou. "Steady-State Economies and the Command Economy" in Daly and Townsend. "No More NICs. n 9 (1984). Small is Beautiful (New York: Harper and Row. 1969). Ecodevelopment: Concepts. overseeing a cautious shift from import substitution to export promotion. Escobar. Daniel Sitarz. David Korten and Rudi Klauss (eds. Population. Valuing the Earth. The Capitalist World Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. see Kenneth Townsend. n3 (September 1977).). "Beyond the Myths of Rio: A New American Agenda for the Environment.14. Irma Adelman. Encountering Development. Less popular attention was paid to ethnonational and political factors undergirding the failure of the Soviet experiment. The Ultimate Resource (Princeton: Princeton University Press. Manufacturing Miracles (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1973). Charles Wilber (ed.). Unequal Development (Hassocks: Harvester. Divided Planet. WCED (World Commission on Environment and Development).). With partial exceptions. Singapore. Global Ecology: A New Arena of Political Conflict (London: Zed Books. 1979). Merilee Grindle. Ronald Chilcote and Mark Edelstein. or to the excessively "growthmanic" character of communist development. Bureaucrats. The summit was an immense. see also Athanasiou. Taiwan. 1990). nl (Winter 1991-92). 1985). Amritananda Das. Ibid. 25.
Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity Revisited (San Francisco: W. demonstrating a wide variety of perspectives.). 1993). see Ronnie Lipschutz. Commission of the European Communities. n. David Barton Bray. Moving in the Wrong Direction (Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. and Jorgen Randers. Financing Change: The Financial Community. 1993). 1997). Athanasiou. and Structural Adjustment (San Francisco: Food First. Whose Common Future?. Toxic Struggles (Philadelphia: New Society. Beyond Growth. Toward Sustainability: A European Community Programme of Policy and Action in Relation to the Environment and Sustainable Development (Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Environmental Activism and World Civic Politics (Albany: SUNY Press. Grassroots Environmental Action: People's Participation in Sustainable Development (New York: Routledge. vi.). 29. "Reconstructing World Politics: The Emergence of Global Civil Society. Freeman. Daly expands on the biophysical implications of expanding trade in Beyond Growth. "Peasant Organizations and the Permanent Reconstruction of Nature. 1995. 1996). Daly. Dryzek. 37. 1995). Other important critiques include Barkin. Athanasiou. Encountering Development. 1992). The Ecologist. Richard Hofrichter (ed. Majid Rahnema (ed. Whose Common Future?. 1996). On the imperfections of the globally integrated economy see Herman Daly and John Cobb.). Steven Schmidheiny. Distorted Development. p. Global Poverty. Beyond the Limits (Post Mill VT: Chelsea Green. Progress Report From the Commission (Brussels.). Jonathan Fox and David Brown (eds. The Violence of the Green Revolution (Penang. Miguel Altieri. 1996). Green Planet Blues (Boulder CO: Westview. 1992). 1991). 2 (Summer 1995).01. Michael Alberty. 1992). Angus Wright. Dark Victory. 1993). Many observers have argued that the rapid proliferation of such organizations demonstrates an emerging international civil society. Walden Bello. Beyond Growth. 1998). Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith (eds. Paul Shrivastava. 1993). The Case Against the Global Economy (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books. over 1400 NGOs were represented. 31. The Death of Ram6n Gonzdlez (Austin: University of Texas Press. William Ophuls and A. Vandana Shiva. 28. The Corporate Planet (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books. For the Common Good (Boston: Beacon. Green Markets (San Francisco: ICS Press. Joshua Karliner. Sustainable Development: OECD Policy Approaches for the 21st Century (Washington: OECD. Greening Business (Cincinnati: Thomas Executive Press. Bello. 1994). David Carruthers. Divided Planet. Agroecology (Boulder CO: Westview. Durning. The Development Dictionary. 1992). The Ecologist. Daly and Townsend. 1997). 1990). Achieving Broad-Based Sustainable Development (West Hartford CT: Kumarian Press." Journal of Environment and Development 4. 1997). Valuing the Earth. Toxic Struggles. 1996). 1993). The Ecologist. and Development in Latin America (Boulder. 1994). Environmental Accounting for the Sustainable Corporation (Westport CT: Quorom Books. 1996). Daniel Rubenstein. Malaysia: Third World Network. James Weaver." Millennium 21.: Akwekon XI. The Road from Rio: Sustainable Development and the Nongovernmental Movement in the Third World (Westport CT: Praeger. Steven Schmidheiny and Federico Zorraqu'n. Austerity. p. Dharam Ghai and Jessica Vivian. 10.27. Divided Planet. "A Society Based on Conquest Cannot be Sustained: Native Peoples and the Environmental Crisis:' in Hofrichter. See the responses of Donella Meadows." in Sachs. Escobar. David Korten. Bruce Campbell. Ken Conca. Winona LaDuke. The Struggle for Accountability (Cambridge: MIT Press. The Case Against the Global Economy. Global Ecology. Daly. See OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). For efforts to measure the relative ecological impact of northern and southern lifestyles. When Corporations Rule the World (West Hartford CT: Kumarian Press. 1989). "Indigenous Ecology and the Politics of Linkage in Mexican Social Movements:' Third World Quarterly 17. Eco-efficiency and Sustainable Development (Cambridge: MIT Press. Stephen Boyan. 36. Jeremy Brecher and Tim Costello. Sachs. 1994). Careful and sophisticated environmental critiques of neoliberalism abound. Susan George.H. Theodore Panayotou. "Beyond the Myths of Rio". 1989). Changing Course: A Global Business Perspective on Development and the Environment (Cambridge: MIT Press. William Canak (ed. How Much is Enough?. and Geoffrey Dabelko.). Paul Wapner. see burning. "Equality. Politics of the Earth. Mortgaging the Earth (Boston: Beacon. 32. Julie Fisher. "The Ecology of Indian Campesinos: A Development Alternative. The PostDevelopment Reader (London: Zed Books. 30. Douglas Lummis. Mander and Goldsmith. How Much is Enough?. n5 (1996). 35. The Debt Boomerang (London: Pluto Press. 1994). Michael Rock. Dark 14ctory: The United States. 1987). Westview. n3 (1992). 6). Victor Toledo. Robin Broad and John Cavanagh. 33. Whose Common Future?. While roughly 100 heads of state attended the Earth Summit. Dennis Meadows. For critical analysis of the World Bank's sustainability initiatives see Bruce Rich.1996 COM (95): 624final. Global Village or Global Pillage? (Boston: South End Press. and Kenneth Kusterer. n2 (Summer 1994). C. Lost Promises: Debt. . 34. 1992).
Social Movements (New York: Routledge.).. On postmodern localism see Gustavo Esteva and Madhu Suri Prakash. Shiva. Radical Ecology (London: Routledge. Rational Ecology (New York: Basil Blackwell. 1982). Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books 1994). Bron Taylor: Ecological Resistance Movements (Albany: SUNY Press. Olman Segura. San Diego. Grassroots Postmodernism. By David Carruthers* *David Carruthers is a member of the Department of Political Science. The Ecology of Freedom (San Fran cisco: Chesire Books. Sharpe. Daniel Faber (ed. Building Sustainable Societies (Armonk NY: M. Valentine U. Solutions (Washington: Island Press. Greening Environmental Policy. 1996). "Solidarity with the Third World: Building an International Environmental Justice Movement.38. On deep ecology see Bill Devall and George Sessions. Shiva. Toxic Struggles. Earthcare: Women and the Environment (New York.). 1995). The Development Dictionary. Robert Costanza. and Juan Martinez-Alier (eds. CA 92182. Vandana Shiva. Social Ecology. 1996). San Diego State University.). Routledge. Rahnema. 1987). Thomas Prugh et al. after Bookchin (New York: Guildford. Escobar. and Sustainable Development (London: Zed Books. Daly. the Environment. Esteva and Prakash. "Economics and Environmental Justice: Rethinking North-South Relations:' in Hofrichter. see John Dryzek. Laura Westra and Peter Went (eds. 1985).). Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices from the Grassroots (Boston: South End Press. 43. and Remaking Society (Boston: South End. 1996). Getting Down to Earth: Practical Applications of Ecological Economics (Washington: Island Press. On ecologism see Hector Leis and EduardoViola. 1990). 1995). Health. Beyond Growth. Liberation Ecologies: Environment. Staying Alive. 1998). On bioregionalism see Kirkpatrick Sale. .). Encountering Development. Robert Bullard (ed. Development. Close to Home. Staying Alive. Women. Global Ecology.). Hofrichter. The PostDevelopment Reader." in Fischer and Black. Natural Capital and Human Economic Survival (Solomons MD: ISEE Press. 1993).). 1994). 1998). 1990). 41. Environmental Justice: Issues. The Struggle for Ecological Democracy: Environmental Justice Movements in the United States (New York: Guildford. 1992). Carolyn Merchant." in Hofrichter. The History of Development. On social ecology see Murray Bookchin. Toxic Struggles." in Dennis Pirages (ed. Facing Environmental Racism: Confronting Issues of Global Justice (Lanham MD: Rowman and Littlefield. 42. For other proposals for radical decentralization. 1996). Sachs. Carolyn Merchant. Bunyan Bryant. 1994). Policies. Close to Home: Women Reconnect Ecology. Andrew Light (ed. Sachs. 40. Rosi Braidotti et al.). 1985). Warwick Fox. Esteva and Prakash. Robert Bullard (ed. Martin Khor. Grassroots Postmodernism. Toward a Transpersonal Ecology (Boston: Shambala. Grassroots Postmodernism: Remaking the Soil of Cultures (London: Zed Books. Rist. Deep Ecology (Salt Lake City: Peregrine Books. 1995). 1995). Toxic Struggles. Women and Sustainable Development in Africa (Westport CT: Praeger.. "Towards a Sustainable Future: The Role of Ecologism in the North-South Relationship. 39. "Involving Women in Sustainable Development. 1998). Chris Kiefer and Medea Benjamin. 1996). Richard Peet and Michael Watts (eds. Shiva.E.). Rekha Mehra. James (ed. Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Wsion (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books. and Development Worldwide (Philadelphia: New Society.