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Criticism of sustainable development and Sustainable development in the Southeast Asian context

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Criticism of sustainable development: The implementation in Southeast Asia 1. Introduction The concept of 'sustainable development' has become a popular topic of intense debate and extensive discourse since its inclusion in the World Commission on Environment and Development Bruntland Report in 1987. 'Our common future' is now believed to be the discourse of 'sustainable development'. Academics originally thought it was a breakthrough and had the potential to become ethos for further positive economic and environmental reforms. Unfortunately, following the promulgation of the sustainable development concept, its actual meaning became increasingly clouded, with different definitions being adopted across groups. Some people may think that the term sustainable development 'has become more of a catch-phrase than a revolution of thought, and employing its use has simply fuelled the interests of advocates of exponential economic growth, undermining environmental reforms.'(Hove,2004:48). Others contended that the common usage of'sustainable development' was too narrow in its preoccupation with stewardship and the interests of future generations while these were important factors in the concept, it should also include other goals, such as 'providing adequate income...reducing disparities...and providing equitable access to resources.'(Pierce,1992:312). Sustainable development is often discussed as a purely environmental objective, but this paper will explore its broader relevance and its emergence as a new development paradigm at many scales for example political, economic, social and cultural aspects. This paper is going to analyse both the positive and negative points of the discourses of sustainable development and draw out the practical problems that stand within the world today. The essay outlines the issues concerning sustainable development that it has addressed, and even more importantly, what it has failed to address and whether the discussions it can reflected genuinely new ideas about development. Why did the concept of sustainable development emerge? What exactly is this concept of sustainable development and its relevance for different parts of the world and difference scales of application? ...read more.


Therefore, economic equality is essential to achieve sustainable development. Sustainable development is also dependent upon balancing the interplay of policies and their effective implementation to achieve economic, environmental and social needs. Economic growth requires a secure and reliable energy supply, but it is sustainable only if it does not threaten the environment. Sometimes the policies are mutually reinforcing and sometimes they are in conflict and trades-off will often need to be made. Sustainable development is usually be considered as ideology as it originally appealed most to those preoccupied with the tendencies of capitalist development to deface the world in its haste to convert anything and everything into commodities which could be sold for a profit. Many advocates of sustainable development have seemed to reason within Western traditions that see humans as stewards of Nature, with responsibility for its care. As the environment is placed at the forefront of debate in western societies, increased attention has moved towards so-called 'global' environmental problems such as climate change and the protection of biodiversity. Some people even saw it as Western hypocrisy surrounding environmental issues and sustainable development and spoke of the sovereign right to exploit forest resources. The current universalistic sustainable development discourse does not yet encompass the distinctiveness of certain regional contexts or the specificities within those contexts and thus encounters problems during stages of implementation. Some radical activists even believed that 'there is no form of development, sustainable or otherwise, compatible with the health of Nature as a whole, including human beings within it.' On the other hand, anthropocentric critics believed that sustainable development has the danger of 'throwing the baby out with the bath water' which means that 'reject the essential with the inessential' or to destroy something good with something bad. 4. Sustainable development in the Southeast Asian context Southeast Asia is exemplary in displaying requirements for more 'sustainable' development methods and processes in the midst of the rapidity of political, environmental and economic change. ...read more.


It is important to recognise the relationships between criteria to better understand the forces and impacts of change. For example, while the espousal of a universalistic sustainable development definition is problematic, it is also unhelpful to separate the processes of environmental change from the impact of international economic forces. "The environment in the international economy is an internationalised environment and one which often exists to serve economic and political interests far removed from a specific physical 'location' (Redclift, 1987:79) 6. Reference Brown J.(1996)'What is sustainable development' Global Vistas International Studies Education Project of San Diego (ISTEP). Cochrane, Janet (1996), 'The sustainability of ecotourism in Indonesia: Fact and fiction.' In Parnwell, Michael J.G. and Bryant, Raymond L. (eds) 'Environmental Change in South-East Asia: People, Politics and Sustainable Development', London: Routledge. Elkins, P.(1992) A New World Order. London: Routledge. Eckerberg K. & Lafferty W.(1998) From the Earth Summit to Local Agenda 21: Working towards Sustainable Development. London: Earthscan Publications. Hirsch, Philip and Warren, Carol, (eds) (1998), 'The Politics of Environment in South-East Asia: Resources and Resistance.' London: Routledge. Hove,H.(2004), 'Critiquing sustainable development: a meaningful way of mediating the development. impasse?' Undercurrent[1], 48-54. Mitchell, B (1994), 'Institutional Obstacles to Sustainable Development in Bali, Indonesia.' Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 15, 2, 145-56. Nijkamp, P and Vreeker, R. (2000), 'Sustainability assessment of development scenarios: Methodology and application to Thailand', Ecological Economics, 33, 1, 7-27. Pierce, J.T.(1992), 'Progress and the Biosphere: The Dialectics of Sustainable Development', The Canadian Geographer, 36[4] 306-320. Pinkney-Baird, Jonathan (1993) Agenda 21: Sustainable Development and Volunteering. Volunteer Centre UK. Parnwell, Michael J.G. and Bryant, Raymond L. (eds) (1996), 'Environmental Change in South-East Asia: People, Politics and Sustainable Development', London: Routledge. Redclift, M. (1992), 'Sustainable Development: Exploring the Contradictions', London: Metheun. RUHLJ.B.(1999) 'THE CO-EVOLUTION OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE: COOPERATION, THEN COMPETITION, THEN CONFLICT' Duke Envtl. L. & Pol'y F. 161 http://www.law.duke.edu/journals/delpf/articles/delpf9p161.htm#FA0 World Commision on Environment and Development (1987) Our Common Future.(The Brundtland Report) Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks. ...read more.

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