Modern interpretations of sustainable development

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    64 Citations (Scopus)


    Early interpretations of sustainable development based on weak sustainability address neither the limits to the earth's resilience nor our failure to curb consumption. Given the challenges facing the earth today, especially climate change, a much more meaningful instrument is required and a new ethic based on the ecological carrying capacity of the Earth. The article examines the impact of those early interpretations before exploring the importance of ecological sustainability as the moral and (potentially fundamental) legal principle underpinning the concept of sustainable development. It examines the influence of the climate change agenda before examining the mechanisms available to make this ethic operational. Sustainable development has the capacity to set meaningful objectives, duties and rules, and provide boundaries for decision making, as reflected in recent legislation. Enhancing ecological sustainability through improving supply and impact is relatively easy for governments, businesses, and individuals; reducing consumption is much harder, and will require strong leadership.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)32-54
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of Law and Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


    • Sustainable development


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