Understanding the Social Dimension of Sustainability

Understanding the Social Dimension of Sustainability

Language: English

Pages: 316

ISBN: 0415536677

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The imperative of the twenty-first century is sustainability: to raise the living standards of the world's poor and to achieve and maintain high levels of social health among the affluent nations while simultaneously reducing and reversing the environmental damage wrought by human activity. Scholars and practitioners are making progress toward environmental and economic sustainability, but we have very little understanding of the social dimension of sustainability.

This volume is an ambitious, multi-disciplinary effort to identify the key elements of social sustainability through an examination of what motivates its pursuit and the conditions that promote or detract from its achievement. Included are theoretical and empirical pieces; examination of international and local efforts; discussions highlighting experiences in both the developing and industrialized nations; and a substantial focus on business practices. Contributors are grounded in sociology, economics, business administration, public administration, public health, geography, education and natural resource management.

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concerns—refl ected in its customary distinction from other social issues in this conception of sustainability—may be part of the challenge faced by advocates of greater sustainability. Further, the overemphasis on the economic leads to a too-exclusive focus on the production and consumption of marketed goods and services. The role of households, communities, and the public sector in providing supports that are difficult to value in economic terms are neglected, although critical to the

harmonious evolution of civil society, fostering an environment conducive to the 78 Gary L. Larsen compatible cohabitation of culturally and socially diverse groups while at the same time encouraging social integration, with improvements in the quality of life for all segments of the population. (pp. 15–16; italics in original). Interestingly, they cast social sustainability as the polar opposite of exclusion suggesting Urban policies conducive to social sustainability must, among other

reflect the continued consolidation within the international market. The United Nations Development Program (2005) provides recent data on the social side of the economic equation. “The world’s richest 500 individuals have a combined income greater than that of the poorest 416 million” (p. 4). Further, 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day. While 40% of the world’s population share only 5% of global income, a mere 10% retain a full 54% of that income. The report reveals a world of

fundamental connection between the health of the natural environment and people’s physical, social, and economic well-being has generated multiple grassroots protests against irresponsible natural resource extraction across Latin America that have thus far resulted in some success. Indigenous communities in Junin, a region of Intag in northern Ecuador, were able to keep copper mining company Bishi Metals, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation, out of their forests despite support for these

institutional regimes that control natural resources in rural Bolivia, but local communities have had substantial control over natural resources since 1952, when a major revolution ushered in an agrarian reform. Government reforms in the mid-1990s further decentralized forest control, but these measures mainly affected the lowland forests. In most areas, systems are informal and evolved locally, implying significant and idiosyncratic differences in common property forest management across

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