Politics of sustainability : some principles and proposals
Title: Politics of sustainability : some principles and proposals
Author: SCHMITTER, Philippe C.
Citation: Achim LANG and Hannah MURPHY (eds), Business and sustainability : between government pressure and self-regulation; Cham ; Heidelberg ; New York ; Dordrecht ; London : Springer International Publishing : Springer, 2014, pp. 35-58
ISBN: 9783319072395; 9783319072388
A quarter of a century has now passed since Gro Harlem Brundtland produced her landmark report on sustainable development, yet little progress has been made towards achieving the kinds of policy reform that might result in sustainable development being realised - especially in the humanistic rather than technocratic manner that she advocated. The Brundtland Report suggested the only political strategy imaginable given the nature of the international system at the time: the pursuit of sustainability was essentially a matter to be decided by sovereign national governments (World Commission on Environment and Development, Our common future. UN, New York, 1987). Since its problems transcended all national borders, their resolution required intergovernmental agreements that were global in scope and the United Nations offered the only framework for conducting such negotiations. Once member governments had signed the relevant treaties, they would ratify and faithfully execute them - with supplementary assistance from new and/or pre-existing UN specialized agencies. None of these assumptions was completely wrong, but we now know, after two decades of highly visible global conferences, multiple international declarations of good intention, and several intergovernmental treaties, that they collectively turned out to be insufficient. The world is not more sustainable than it was - quite the contrary - and it is hard to discern whether all of these efforts have made any appreciable positive difference. Brundtland was innovative in its analysis of problems, but conventional in its political strategy for solving them.
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