Academic journal article Advances in Management

Sustainable Development Impossible without Shift in Economic Paradigm

Academic journal article Advances in Management

Sustainable Development Impossible without Shift in Economic Paradigm

Article excerpt


The concept of 'sustainable development' started to appear in the 1970's and became a frequent hot topic for discussions about world politics, economy and the environment. However, the accomplishment of the aim of sustainable development is yet to happen. There are different reasons for this unfulfillment such as the lack of political will, the effect of financial crises etc. But we believe the problem is at a deeper level i.e. at the paradigm level.

Conventional economic progress fails to meet the needs of many millions of people today and compromises the ability of future generations to meet theirs. The new economics reflects the rising worldwide demand for new ways of economic life and that will conserve the Earth and its resources and empower people to meet their own needs and the needs of others.

There is thus a close similarity between sustainable development and the new economics. Both recognise the need for change in today's direction of development and today's ways of economic life and thought. In general, the new economics brings a more radical perspective to sustainable development and implies more far-reaching changes, than the mainstream perspective. For example, it emphasises the need as part of the shift to sustainable development, to move:

* Away from a state-centred or business-centred economic system, towards a more people-centred system and

* Away from money-measured growth as the principal economic target and measure of success towards sustainability in terms of real-life social and environmental and economic variables.

While current drifts means that we have no choice but to act, there is much to gain by doing so. Change and innovation, through the testing and advancement of new models, have been key determinant in human advancement. Nicolas Sarkozy, the former President of France, noted that the global financial and European debt crisis "doesn't only make us free to imagine other models, another future and another world. It obliges us to do so." and the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has brought wellbeing into the UK's core measures of progress, declaring: "improving our society's sense of wellbeing is...the central political challenge of our times."

Review of Literature

To be able to analyse the possibility for contributions of new economics to the paradigm shift for sustainable development, some concepts should be clear first. The three basic concepts of this study are sustainable development, paradigm shift and new economics.

The main reason behind the emergence of the concept sustainable development was the growing awareness of the depletion of natural resources and worsening environmental conditions on the one hand and increasing world population on the other hand i.e. demand-supply discrepancy. Despite the common use of the concept, there is a lack of an explicit definition. One of the first attempts towards the definition of this concept was done by World Conservation Strategy10: "For development to be sustainable, it must take account of social and ecological factors, as well as economic ones; of the living and non-living resource base and of the long-term as well as the short-term advantages and disadvantages of alternative action."

However, today the most commonly used definition is the one established by the World Commission on Environment and Development: "Economic and social development that meets the needs of the current generation without undermining the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." This definition can sound vague since it does not indicate what is meant by ?meeting the needs of the current generation' and ?without undermining the future generations' ability of meeting their own needs'. At this point, Dalal-Clayton and Bass' explain what they actually mean.

According to them, meeting the needs of the present generation covers the economic needs, social, cultural and health needs plus the political needs. …

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