Inderscience Publishers

Sustainable development: paradigm or paranoia?

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Sustainable development is the globally embraced paradigm for integrating environment and development policies. Agreement ends with attempts at quantifying the elusive notion of sustainability. A contentious debate among "environmentalists" and "environmental economists" has brought about a confusing proliferation of indicators and policy advice on sustainable development. Generating a common language by means of integrated physical and monetary environmental accounting could moderate the debate. Economic and ecological sustainability is thus distinguished and operationalised in terms of capital maintenance and dematerialisation of economic activity. Empirical results presented are not conclusive, however. Moreover, the reconciliation of environmental and economic policies requires more than comparable statistics strategies and instruments of environmental cost internalisation need to be evaluated and combined with those of raising resource productivity. A social compact between government and civil society should provide the necessary support for achieving consensus and partnership. The sustained implementation of sustainable development depends on it.

Keywords: capital maintenance, dematerialisation, environmental accounting, normative framework, resource productivity, social compact

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