Mainstream sustainable development key themes

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Information about Mainstream sustainable development key themes

Published on February 15, 2014

Author: lindseycottle



A description of the common themes and ideas within mainstream sustainable development.

Mainstream Sustainable Development W.M. Adams. (2009). Mainstream Sustainable Development. Green Development: Environment and sustainability in a developing world. 3rd ed. London and New York: Routledge. p116-140.

Core Quotation • “The market environmentalism that underpins Mainstream Sustainable Development holds that the world can literally grow out of global environment and development problems, and consumption can be the engine through which sustainable environments and livelihoods are to be achieved.”

3 Streams of Thought • Market Environmentalism • Ecological Modernization • Environmental Populism

Market Environmentalism • Addresses problems by extending economic institutions into environmental dimensions • Assumes continued growth within a capitalist framework • Rejects limits to growth

Corporations and Sustainability • Corporate „greening‟ • Can be substantive or symbolic • Why do they bother? • Business strategy, competition, brand values, shareholder demands, environmental damage may compromise profit • Bypasses bureaucratic regulation

Ecological Modernization • Utilitarian, rational and technocentric approach • Reform through regulation of markets, governance, and technology • Assumes continued growth • Environmental degradation is a challenge not a consequence

Environmental Populism • The power of civil society • To bring change through participation, using adapted technology. • Places importance on power of civil society, deliberative democracy and political modernization.

Linking with Literature and Practice • Our Common Future and Agenda 21 did not challenge the existing capitalist industrialising model. • MSD does not suggest that the fundamental business, methods or products need to be radically reimagined. • An importance of corporate sustainability has emerged within Rio and Agenda 21 • The major debates stem from working within the mainstream economic system, which will be further discussed in chapter 6 on economic engagement and a further development to ecological economics.

Other Critiques • Neo Malthusian arguments remain within environment thinking, whilst new participative techniques have arisen along with the continued central theme of adherence to the dominant capital industrialist system.

Questions to Consider • How effective is the market as the most important mechanism for mediating between people and regulating their interaction with the environment?

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