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Is the Sustainability Revolution Devouring Its Own Children? Understanding Sustainability as a Travelling Concept and the Role Played by Two German Discourses on Sustainability

Knauf Consulting, Dorotheenstraße 7, Bielefeld 33615, Germany
Forests 2014, 5(11), 2647-2657; https://doi.org/10.3390/f5112647
Received: 7 October 2014 / Revised: 24 October 2014 / Accepted: 31 October 2014 / Published: 12 November 2014
This paper examines whether the expanded meaning of the term sustainability and its broader use in society, policy and economics will actually bring about the benefits experts anticipate for the forest-based sector. It begins by defining sustainability as a travelling concept, then presents and analyzes two current lines of discourse in Germany on sustainability, both with high relevance for the forest-based sector: strong sustainability and sustainable building. The analysis shows that each discourse has developed and established a diametrically opposed meaning of sustainability. As a result, it could be argued that the two meanings pose a threat to the German forest-based sector by reducing the raw material base and ultimately minimizing market opportunities. This reasoning reveals a paradox: as the term sustainability, originally coined by the forestry sector, becomes mainstream, it could end up limiting the sector’s future growth. View Full-Text
Keywords: travelling concept; sustainable building; strong sustainability; meaning of sustainability travelling concept; sustainable building; strong sustainability; meaning of sustainability
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Knauf, M. Is the Sustainability Revolution Devouring Its Own Children? Understanding Sustainability as a Travelling Concept and the Role Played by Two German Discourses on Sustainability. Forests 2014, 5, 2647-2657.

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