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What Next for Sustainable Development?

Our Common Future at Thirty Edited by James Meadowcroft, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, David Banister, University of Oxford, UK, Erling Holden, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Oluf Langhelle, University of Stavanger, Kristin Linnerud and Geoffrey Gilpin, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway
This book examines the international experience with sustainable development since the concept was brought to world-wide attention in Our Common Future, the 1987 report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds engage with three critical themes: negotiating environmental limits; equity, environment and development; and transitions and transformations. In light of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals recently adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, they ask what lies ahead for sustainable development.
Extent: c 352 pp
Hardback Price: $155.00 Web: $139.50
Publication Date: July 2019
ISBN: 978 1 78897 519 3
Availability: Not yet published (pre-order)
Paperback Price: $39.95 Web: $31.96
Publication Date: July 2019
ISBN: 978 1 78897 521 6
Availability: Not yet published (pre-order)

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  • eISBN: 978 1 78897 520 9

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Sustainable development brings together a series of normative themes related to negotiating environmental limits, to addressing equity, needs and development, and to the process of transformation and transition. To mark the thirtieth anniversary of Our Common Future (1987), that first placed sustainable development on the global agenda, the editors have brought together a group of international scholars from a range of social science backgrounds. They have discussed these same themes – looking backwards in terms of what has been achieved, assessing the current situation with respect to sustainable development, and looking forwards to identify the key elements of the future agenda. This book presents a series of critical reflections on these enduring themes. The overriding concern is with the present and with the future as the editors seek to explore the question: What next for sustainable development?
‘This book is a masterful round up of 30 years of sustainable development thinking by some of the topic’s most renowned and deep thinkers. The authors expose the progress made in the last 30 years, but also many gaps, flaws and more dangerous trends accompanying our times. Sustainable development now involves more forward and critical ideas, such as de-growth, critiques of fossil capitalism, insistence on equity and redistribution, moving towards ethics of care and eco-social policies focused on satisfying human needs within planetary boundaries. This book thus is a timely summary and renewed introduction to a complex and engaging body of thought, a path forward for the possibility of global human progress in troubled times.’
– Julia Steinberger, University of Leeds, UK

‘The editors have brought together a distinguished international team of social scientists from different disciplines to assess the legacy of the landmark Brundtland report, Our Common Future (1987), along with the present and future prospects for sustainable development in the Anthropocene. The world is at a critical ecological juncture. This book is a must read for anyone seeking to understand how to accelerate the transition to a more equitable development path that can safe-guard both local ecosystems and Earth Systems.’
– Robyn Eckersley, University of Melbourne, Australia

‘Is sustainable development “everything” or “something”? This edited volume makes a very important contribution to the discourse on critically analyzing the content, process and outcomes of sustainable development politics and policies; a discourse very different from the United Nations sponsored program for promoting sustainable development, which has been seriously “stymied” and “diluted” at the international and national levels of implementation.’
– Carlo Aall, Western Norway Research Institute, and Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway

‘So much has been written about sustainable development that it is hard to imagine anything new. Yet here it is. The authors offer fresh insights and new perspectives on all the key issues – from limits and equity to politics and growth – in assessing sustainable development on its thirtieth anniversary.’
– Daniel J. Fiorino, American University, US

‘An overview of the progress made towards sustainable development since the publication of Our Common Future is timely, and a focus on the considerable challenges still to be met that have arisen over the last thirty years is vital. This book achieves both goals and provides a valuable resource for students and researchers.’
– Delyse Springett, co-editor of Routledge International Handbook of Sustainable Development (2015)
Contributors include: D. Banister, I. Borowy, S. Dalby, P. Ekins, S. Fuss, G. Gilpin, I. Gough, A. Gupta, E. Holden, S. Klinsky, O. Langhelle, K. Linnerud, E. Lövbrand, J. Meadowcroft, K. O’Brien, F. Rauschmayer, D. Rosenbloom, M. Simonsen, A. Stirling, H.U. Sverdrup, A. Usubiaga



1. Introduction
James Meadowcroft, David Banister, Erling Holden, Oluf Langhelle, Kristin Linnerud and Geoffrey Gilpin

Part I Setting the Context
2. Our Common Future in Earth Systems perspective
Simon Dalby

3. A normative model of sustainable development: how do countries comply?
Kristin Linnerud, Erling Holden, Geoffrey Gilpin and Morten Simonsen

Part II Negotiating environmental limits
4. The global sustainability challenges in the future: the energy use, materials supply, pollution, climate change and inequality nexus
Harald Ulrik Sverdrup

5. Implications of deep decarbonisation pathways for sustainable development
Sabine Fuss

6. Brundtland+30: the continuing need for an indicator of environmental sustainability
Paul Ekins and Arkaitz Usubiaga

Part III Equity, needs and development
7. Sustainability and redistribution
Iris Borowy

8. Necessities and luxuries: how to combine redistribution with sustainable consumption
Ian Gough

9. Taming equity in multilateral climate politics: A shift from responsibilities to capacities
Sonja Klinsky and Aarti Gupta

Part IV Transitions and transformation
10. The Transition to Sustainability as Interbeing . . . or: from oncology to ontology
Felix Rauschmayer

11. Taking climate change and transformations to sustainability seriously
Karen O’Brien

12. Sustainability and the politics of transformations: from control to care in moving beyond Modernity
Andy Stirling

13. Politics and technology: deploying the state to accelerate socio-technical transitions for sustainability
Oluf Langhelle, James Meadowcroft, and Daniel Rosenbloom

Part V Facing the future
14. Beyond limits: making policy in a climate changed world
Eva Lövbrand

15. A Future for Sustainable Development?
David Banister

16. What Next for Sustainable Development?
David Banister, Erling Holden, Oluf Langhelle, Kristin Linnerud, James Meadowcroft and Geoffrey Gilpin