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Conceptual Innovation in Environmental Policy$
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James Meadowcroft and Daniel J. Fiorino

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262036580

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262036580.001.0001

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Sustainable Development: Linking Environment and Development

Sustainable Development: Linking Environment and Development

(p.181) 8 Sustainable Development: Linking Environment and Development
Conceptual Innovation in Environmental Policy

Oluf Langhelle

The MIT Press

This chapter starts with the origin of the concept sustainable development and establishes what the innovation of sustainable development represented – the merging of environment and development. It then explores what has happened with this concept in its 30 years of existence in terms of two key questions: What has been the impact of sustainable development? Has sustainable development made any difference at all? These questions are discussed in light of two different but equally important issues that have permeated the whole complex of global environment and development linkages since the late 1960s: the question of (environmental) limits and the question of economic growth. The chapter argues that sustainable development is both simple and notoriously complex. It is simple in the sense that it builds on intuitive ideas which merge environmental and developmental concerns. It is complex in the sense that it demands the cooperation of all countries in a globalized, competitive, capitalist system. Further, the merging of environment and development is argued to be inescapable–there is simply no way out of the sustainable development equation. Sustainable development will therefore continue to be the main framework for the integration of the challenges of environment and development.

Keywords:   sustainable development, sustainability, environment, development, limits, economic growth, Brundtland Commission

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