Post-Eurocentric sustainability governance

Lessons from the Latin American Buen Vivir experiment

Authored by: Julien Vanhulst , Adrián E. Beling

Routledge Handbook of Global Sustainability Governance

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138048287
eBook ISBN: 9781315170237
Adobe ISBN:


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The sorry track-record of narrow sustainability governance approaches shaped after the imaginary of ecological modernisation begs a diversification of political discourse, allowing for “ontological openings” in the conceptualisation of global sustainability governance. The Latin-American Buen Vivir (“good living”) approach encompasses certain practices and institutional transformations that offer an alternative socio-cognitive structure and normative orientations towards social-ecological sustainability, challenging not only the worldview of “development” but also the socio-cultural matrix of Eurocentric modernity. Indeed Buen Vivir constitutes a heterogeneous proposal for a new cultural model, a plural vision of the good society that aims at transcending the dualistic (universalistic, materialistic, individualistic) frameworks that have characterised the modern political and cultural imagination, as embodied in modern institutions and values such as industrialism, modern science, capitalism, anthropocentrism, secularism, individualism, liberal freedom, etc. Such institutions and values are challenged by (re)introducing notions of the intrinsic value of non-human nature and its symbiotic connection with humans and their societies (Pachamama or “mother Earth”), by stressing the collective as a condition of possibility for the individual, and the non-material dimensions of human wellbeing, among others. In so far, it offers a widened horizon for the conceptualisation and praxis of a post-Eurocentric approach to sustainability governance.

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