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Sustainability is not enough

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by Peter Marcuse

  • Source : Environment and Urbanization, Volume : 10 Number : 2 Page : 103 — 111

This paper critically reviews the concept of sustainability, especially as it has come to be applied outside of environmental goals. It suggests "sustainability" should not be considered as a goal for a housing or urban programme - many bad programmes are sustainable - but as a constraint whose absence may limit the usefulness of a good programme. It also discusses how the promotion of "sustainability" may simply encourage the sustaining of the unjust status quo and how the attempt to suggest that everyone has common interests in "sustainable urban development" masks very real conflicts of interest. "To think that their present circumstances and their present societal arrangements might be sustained - that is an unsustainable thought for the majority of the world’s people.