Sustainable Development and the United Nations Dialogues
Living in Harmony with Nature
The Earth Summit (1992) heralded what was anticipated to be a new era in environmental regulation with the advent of sustainable development. The concept was based on integrating environmental protection with economic development, supported by specific objectives, such as protection of biodiversity and achievement of intergenerational equity. By the early part of the 21st-century it was apparent that sustainable development had become equated with continuous economic growth, human domination and commodification of nature. This article argues that shortcomings in sustainable development, apparent over the past 25 years, are partly due to the concept’s initial formulation and also attributable to the way the concept has been interpreted and implemented. This validates calls for reconfiguring society’s value systems by better integrating law and policy with Earth-centric principles. The discussion argues that this involves more than tinkering with the key tenets of sustainable development, instead of necessitating their reconceptualisation in accordance with philosophies of Earth jurisprudence.
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