Summary of "Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development: Building on Brundtland"

 

Summary of

Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development: Building on Brundtland

By Robert Goodland, Herman Daly, Salah El Serafy, Bernd von Droste

Summary written by T.A. O'Lonergan, Conflict Research Consortium


Citation: Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development: Building on Brundtland, Robert Goodland, Herman Daly, Salah El Serafy, Bernd von Droste, (eds), (New York: UNESCO, 1991), 98 pp.

Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development: Building on Brundtland will be of interest to those who seek an understanding of sustainable growth in light of the Brundtland Commission. Robert Goodland asserts that the world has reached its limits

i. e. current throughput growth in the global economy cannot be sustained. This is followed by Herman Daly's recognition of an historical turning point in economic development. Specifically, he addresses the shift from a perspective which viewed the world as relatively empty, to one which views it as relatively full.

The third essay critiques the strategy of trying to reduce economic inequality by expanding the scale of human activity. The authors assert that a free- market approach will not solve the problems of inequity as it serves to reinforce the status quo, in part, because the new technologies favour the rich. The fourth essay examines how GNP and market prices, heralded as signals for sustainable economic success, in fact mask environmental destruction. The next essay addresses the relationships among sustainability, income measurement and growth. This is followed by an examination of the role of investment in sustainable development. The last essay save one asserts that the ecological economics of sustainability requires investing in natural capital. The final essay offers the steps which much be taken in order to move from growth to sustainable development. The authors assert that: reducing the developing world's debt burden, a shift from the pursuit of growth to that of sustainable progress, an the preference for quality over quantity are prerequisites for this move.

Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development: Building on Brundtland is an examination of the proposed move toward sustainable economic development which supplies the necessary shifts in philosophical foundations required for the move.