Special Edition: Environment in Sustainable Development
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When we were invited by the editors of Sustainability to put together a special edition on “Environment in Sustainable Development” our first reaction was to question whether this was really needed. After all, the environment has long been regarded as a central plank
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When we were invited by the editors of Sustainability to put together a special edition on “Environment in Sustainable Development” our first reaction was to question whether this was really needed. After all, the environment has long been regarded as a central plank in sustainability and there are countless articles and books published on an annual basis that explore the impact of our economic and social activities on our environment. Just what is it that a special edition can achieve? What new angles could we hope to provide? Our initial thinking was to link the special edition to a particular, almost unique, location in time rather than space. We are in the process of recovering, albeit stuttering, from the deepest economic crash experienced by the European and North American economies. The crash has brought some national economies to their knees and, if economic commentators are to be believed, almost destroyed the Euro. Recovery from that crash has been slow and it is arguable whether at the time of writing this has developed much momentum. There is still the skewed perception that prosperity equals economic growth and that economic growth can take place without real (sustainable) development or by simply implementing austerity measures and surely without people’s participation. An analogy from National Parks worldwide is when conservation agencies try to enforce protection without local people’s support. All such attempts have either failed or resurrected only once people’s involvement was secured and guaranteed. The unidirectional austerity measures imposed mainly in the countries of southern Europe have destroyed social cohesion leaving deeply wounded societies, while at the same time have also put up for grabs important assets (including natural capital) in each of these countries and therefore in jeopardy even their long term recovery.