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Youngho Chang, Jiesheng Tan and Letian Chen

Studies on sustainable development rely on diverse and seemingly conflicting concepts that yield contrasting results. The root of these conflicting concepts is the lack of agreement on the path toward achieving sustainable development (SD), namely, weak (or economic) versus strong (or ecological) sustainability. This article revisits the Solow-Hartwick model (Solow 1974, 1986; Hartwick 1977, 1978a, 1978b), which suggests that an economy can achieve intergenerational equity by mandating the Hartwick rule of investing the amount of rents from natural capital into renewable capital. It constructs a modified Solow-Hartwick model in which the assumptions of constant population and no technological progress are relaxed and from which it derives a more general form of the Hartwick rule. The modified Solow-Hartwick investment rule presents how weak sustainability can be attained and explains how the residual Hotelling rents (or proceeds from natural resources) could be utilized in order to achieve strong sustainability. In this article, we apply the modified Solow-Hartwick investment rule to a selection of developing and developed Asian economies to assess their sustainability. We then compare our results with two existing measures of sustainability, the genuine savings (GS) model and the Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI), both of which frequently present contradicting evaluations on the status of sustainability.

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Magnus Boström, Åsa Casula Vifell, Mikael Klintman, Linda Soneryd, Kristina Tamm Hallström and Renita Thedvall

The synergies and trade-offs between the various dimensions of sustainable development are attracting a rising scholarly attention. Departing from the scholarly debate, this article focuses on internal relationships within social sustainability. Our key claim is that it is difficult to strengthen substantive social sustainability goals unless there are key elements of social sustainability contained in the very procedures intended to work toward sustainability. Our analysis, informed by an organizing perspective, is based on a set of case studies on multi-stakeholder transnational sustainability projects (sustainability standards). This article explores six challenges related to the achievement of such procedures that can facilitate substantive social sustainability. Three of these concern the formulation of standards and policies, and three the implementation of standards and policies. To achieve substantive social sustainability procedures must be set in motion with abilities to take hold of people's concerns, frames, resources, as well as existing relevant institutions and infrastructures.

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Sustainable Development as a Goal

Social, Environmental and Economic Dimensions

Vera Mignaqui

Scholars are researching how to assess a country's sustainable development performance. However, not many proposals differentiate the performance via the three dimensions of sustainable development: social, economic and environmental. This article proposes to assess a country's sustainable development performance in general as well as in each of the dimensions. It pursues three objectives: (1) identifying sustainably developed countries; (2) assessing the best performers in terms of sustainable development; and (3) understanding the relations between the dimensions. Results show a globally bad sustainable development performance, with no sustainably developed countries. They also show that the economic dimension is not the best performing dimension at a global level and that very high levels of gross national income (GNI) per capita usually imply a bad environmental performance.

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Alan Walker

This article examines the extent to which the concept of social quality could contribute to a transformation in the debates about the welfare sustainability in Asia and Europe. The article starts by outlining the concept of social quality: its constitutional, conditional and normative components and the origins of its development as a European conceptual framework. Then a bridge is created between Europe and Asia by looking briefly at the similarities and differences between social quality and human security, a concept that is more familiar in the latter region than the former one. is is followed by a critique of the global discourses on 'sustainability' and, in particular, their dominance by economism. The final part of the article utilizes the concept of social quality to propose a more open and balanced approach to sustainability that brings in social and ecological considerations alongside economic ones. Some tentative suggestions are made concerning the operationalisation of a social quality approach to welfare system sustainability

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Jane Dickson

This article discusses how agency is emergent from the asymmetrical power interactions of multiple social actors and organizations. Agency, contingent and relational, is creative even when interpreted by people as unsuccessful. I employ ethnographic research from within a local authority sustainability team who were threatened with redundancy because of funding cuts imposed during the implementation of British Prime Minister David Cameron's Big Society project. In order to manage their situation, possible futures had to be re-imagined and appropriately contained through processes of self-assessment and self-management. The ability to enable self-directing action was often evident but was frequently interpreted by people as unsuccessful. This stemmed from misrecognition, scarcity and the lack of capacity to bring about full and substantial changes. Both the sustainability team and their work emerge from this process reduced and reformed through the competing tensions of systems of political governance and technologies of the self.

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Yamini Narayanan

The fundamental sustainability tension may be said to lie in reconciling want and greed. This places the human self or the human soul as a moral battleground where desire and duty constantly attempt to triumph over each other. However, desire must be understood and integrated as part of a fully self-conscious human self in order to enable a consistent and unwavering performance of duty. In this article, I propose the Hindu notion of the purusharthas, or the fourfold path to self-actualization, as one illustrative example of a green telos. The purusharthas prescribe a path comprising of material and sensuous experience, in obedience to dharma or duty, such that moksha or a state of complete self-awareness may be achieved. I suggest that the stage of dharma is thus where the most profitable connections between Hinduism and sustainable development might be made.

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Assessing Museums Online

The Digital Heritage Sustainability (DHS) Framework

Ana Luisa Sánchez Laws

Digital materials, the primary resources for the production of contemporary culture, have brought many challenges to the heritage sector in relation to their curation, conservation, and dissemination. Digital heritage sustainability involves practices that help ensure the maintenance, enrichment, and enjoyment of digital heritage resources over periods of time that span across generations. The digital heritage sustainability (DHS) framework presented in this article provides an analytic basis for understanding the challenges associated with the use of digital materials in museums and for assessing how digital heritage resources can be sustained over time. As an example of use, the framework is applied to the Museum of London's digital resources.

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Michael J. Lorr

Urban sociology and urban studies increasingly employ the idea of sustainability to explain, analyze, and critique city redevelopment. While the ambiguous and oxymoronic nature of sustainability goals has been extensively covered in the past, the current resurgence and popularity of the term “sustainability,“ especially under the aegis of “urban sustainability“ or “green“ cities, requires us to rethink the usefulness of sustainability as a concept for understanding and evaluating urban redevelopment. Confronting this challenge, this article reviews three of the most common theoretical approaches to sustainability, problematizes those approaches in the context of North American cities, and then provides a working definition of urban sustainability. Finally, the article recommends four plausible research hypotheses to guide future research on urban sustainability.

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Molly Scott Cato

Whilst the importance of mainstreaming sustainability in higher education curricula is now widely acknowledged, the challenge for educators at university level is to develop and maintain authority and confidence in an area dominated by limited knowledge and uncertainty. This article suggests that the most empowering and authentic response is to adopt an approach of shared learning, but with the pedagogue demonstrating expertise and inspiration. I suggest that this is an approach to learning and teaching more familiar in areas of craft learning, characterised by apprenticeship and learning-by-doing. The article relies heavily on the work of Richard Sennett in providing a sociological account of craft learning, which is then applied to the field of sustainability. I explore how his three modes of instruction – 'sympathetic illustration', 'narrative' and 'metaphor' – are being used in the field of sustainability education, and draw parallels from the craft of basket weaving in particular, to show how these approaches might be developed. I conclude by suggesting that sustainability education is best undertaken within a community and in place, rather than abstractly and in the classroom.

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Laurent J.G. van der Maesen

This article reviews the development of social quality indicators and the challenges ahead. First, through a review of recent Asian and Australian work carried out on social quality indicators, and the World Bank related work on “social development indicators,” the article argues that social quality indicators research should move beyond the empirical level of particular policy areas. Therefore, it should be guided by a clear methodological perspective regarding the role of indicators as part of a social quality theory (SQT) and their relation to the social quality approach (SQA). Second, the article opens a debate about the rationale behind distinguishing between three different functions of social quality indicators. Indicators should address the change in the conditional factors in daily life, as manifested in its economic, socio-political, socio-cultural and environmental dimensions, in order to examine the consequences of general trends and contradictions in (1) societal circumstances, (2) the development (or lack of development) toward sustainability, and (3) the related issue of sustainable urban development. Before 2010 social quality scholars mainly concentrated on the first issue. Recently, however, they are approaching all three issues. It is essential to delve deeper into SQT and the SQA for understanding these three issues separately and integrally. This has implications for the nature of social quality indicators and their comparison to those of other mainstream approaches; the article introduces this agenda of work.