Needs as a Central Element of Sustainable Development

Authored by: Felix Rauschmayer , Ines Omann

Routledge Handbook of Ecological Economics

Print publication date:  April  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138931510
eBook ISBN: 9781315679747
Adobe ISBN: 9781317395102


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Needs play a central role for sustainable development (SD), both in its most famous definition in the Brundtland report and, more generally, as a concept of wellbeing across the globe and into the future (Gough, 2015). The Brundtland report of the World Commission on Environment and Development defines SD as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED, 1987). The report also states that giving overriding priority to the needs of powerless people implies the acceptance of limitations when meeting present needs. However, the report's concept of needs is rather vague when referring to ‘essential needs’ (e.g., jobs, food, shelter) of the world's poor and future generations.

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