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There is little debates about environmental and resources
policy specically and development policy more generally
The demand that countries pursue policies aimed at achieving
sustainable developmentor sustainabilityhas become a clarion
call for many over the past two decades.
A number of key events to this principle in the policy
the publication of the Brundtland Report (WCED, 1987),
the Earth Summit in 1992 and, more recently,
the World Summit in 2002
there is no unied theory of sustainable development.
the viewed sustainable development as serving many dierent (and possibly
competing) goals: economic development, a better environment and a particular
concern for human well-being both now and in the future. (Brundtland Report}
In fact, the debate has become far broader since then. We have to reect this
diversity rather than impose a narrow and rigid (but ultimately misleading)
interpretation of the issues.
we are condent there is a comprehensive and coherent story about
sustainable development.
For denition:
development that meets the needs of the present
generation without compromising the ability of
future generations to meet their own
needs(WCED, 1987, p. 43).
the fruits of development are shared across
generations. how to sustain that well-being over time
Tension occurs when there is,competition between the
well-being of, or opportunities faced by,current and
future people
a pragmatic philosophy for managing the resource base
can be made to work in practice (rather than rely on an
abstract ethical theory).
it requires that natural wealth should (in some way) be
preserved intact through specic conservation rules
understand the means available to society to generate
future well-being or opportunities, namely its
resources or resource base.
This resource base, consists of
produced capital,
human resources
natural resources

at least two reasons for the use of this approach.

First,it has an intuitive appeal, insofar as entreaties to manage
Second,while this capital or wealthbased approach has proven
useful in working out core theoretical notions of sustainability,
it also leads to some specic and insightful analytical
a core element of sustainability is the appropriate
management of a broadly construed portfolio of
capital and wealth, including natural and
environmental resources
As long as the real value of this portfolio is held
constant it matters little that its constituent parts
change over the development path.
by contrast, requires that the environment is
accorded explicit and special protection.
Strong sustainability should hence represent the
greater policy challenge, because current human
actions would be signicantly more constrained (as
certain development paths would be eectively o-
There are a number of variants on this position.
Most generally, it requires that natural wealth
should (in some way) be preserved intact through
specic conservation rules.
The practical implication of this distinction is thus a
matter of some importance. But, the realworld
corresponds neither to one polar extreme nor the
For example the theory underlying weak
sustainability was developed in the context of an
economy dependent on a non-renewable resource
such as oil.
Hartwick rule
sustainable development could be achieved by
covering o the liquidation of a nite resource with
investment in other forms of wealth. The question
being asked here is: are countries saving enough for
the future?
Later it is shown how for developing countries that
are highly dependent on exhaustible resources as a
share of economic activity can yield valuable
predictions about development prospects
In reality there is complementarities between the two
approaches than are commonly given credit.
At least three lines of reasoning with regards to this point.
1. In any given year about 1030 countries are not saving
enough to cover their depletion of natural resources. So even
by a so-called weak sustainability criterion a very real
problem for the development prospects of these countries
2. so long as it is not being argued that all natural assets
must be conserved (and typically it is not)
,more moderate interpretations of strong sustainability tend
to argue there are certain critical resources that are both
crucial for human development and have no substitutes.
Eventhough not all of nature is critical. However,we would
still save for the future and this will entail assessing changes
in total wealth including what is happening to the restof
nature that is deemed to be usable.
3, central to stronger notions of sustainability is the sense
that development paths will take countries dangerously
close to (or beyond) important environmental thresholds.,
but not on the existence of thresholds but on the nature or
character of that thresh.