The principles of sustainability and economics
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We have already pointed out that in 1987 the United Nations’ four- year-long investigation of environmental and development matters, the Brundtland Report, came to its conclusions and put the concept of sustainable development on the agenda of governments worldwide. Five principles underpin the concept. Two are ethical constructs, rather than being science-based. The first, and best known, is the principle of intergenerational equity. At its simplest this requires us to manage the globe’s ecosystems and economies in a manner whereby future generations will be worse off than present generations. And for those presently living in poverty, it requires much improvement on their situation. The second ethical principle is a logical complement. It is the intragenerational principle, which requires equitable treatment of all humans today (and in all future generations) – basically the reduction of poverty and the improvement of living standards in poor and developing countries to a level commensurate with the world’s middle class.
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