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25 Years of Sustainability. A Critical Assessment

Alexandru-Ionuţ Petrişor
  • "Ion Mincu" University of Architecture and Urbanism & National Institute for Research and Development in Constructions, Urbanism and Sustainable Spatial Development URBAN-INCERC
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/ Liliana Petrişor
Published Online: 2014-08-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/pesd-2014-0016


25 years have passed since the 'Brundtland Report‘ defined sustainability as a possibility to equally meet current and future needs. 15 years later, the author of the definition stated that despite of the fact that the definition does not need to be changed, its understanding bettered off during the interval. 25 years later, the present paper takes an in-depth look at the concept and its practical implications. One of the issues being addressed refers to the pillars of sustainability; their number increased by 25% to include the cultural pillar in addition to the economic, social, and cultural one. Spatial thinking added a new dimension, translating into concepts like 'sustainable communities‘ or 'self standing village‘ at the local level, and 'polycentricity‘ and 'cohesion‘ at the regional one. Furthermore, practical implications include environmental impact assessment (evolving towards strategic impact assessment), internalization of externalities, ecological restoration, and a new view on conservation, different from the one addressed by the 'Zero Growth Strategy‘. In addition, the paper discusses several criticism addressed to the concept and its implementation, attempting to reveal their underlying causes. Overall, the critical analysis shows that the attempts to achieve sustainability did not change the concept as much as its understanding.

Keywords : development; economy; ecology; society; territory


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About the article

Published Online: 2014-08-15

Published in Print: 2014-05-01

Citation Information: Present Environment and Sustainable Development, Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 175–190, ISSN (Online) 2284-7820, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/pesd-2014-0016.

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