development economics

Is sustainable development unsustainable?

That’s the subject of an online debate being hosted this week at Economist.com. Unlike most online ‘debates’, which consist of one post and then mud-slinging in the comment box, this one has opening statements, rebuttals, and conclusions, all delivered over the course of a fortnight.

“Sustainable development is a beautiful-sounding idea that has become intellectually bankrupt and should be abandoned” says Stanford professor David Victor, while his Duke University opponent Peter Courtland states that “sustainability is not unsustainable.”

James Lovelock dismissed the idea of sustainable development as impossible – he suggested what we should be doing is “beating a sustainable retreat”. This being the Economist, you’ll find no such anti-growth rhetoric here, but it’s intriguing nonetheless.

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