What is Sustainable Development?

Poor countries are enjoined to seek not just development but sustainable development. But what exactly does this mean? After all, Western industrialization was not sustainable; the trends established in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution could not (and did not) continue indefinitely. Given that it was unsustainable, was the Industrial Revolution therefore a bad thing? Exploitation of nonrenewable resources is, by definition, not sustainable. Ought it therefore to cease? Wealthy countries do not appear to be much concerned with sustainability in their own economic affairs. Why then should poor countries be asked to behave differently?

Festival: 2006

More on this Session

Watch and Listen: World

Most of us probably harbor preconceived notions about refugees. Maybe it’s a misunderstanding about what drove them... See more
The Trump Administration has said that “all options are on the table” in North Korea. What actually are the options,... See more
The Afternoon of Conversation is the Aspen Ideas Festival's signature event and hosts an audience of 2,000 in the... See more
Authoritarian populists are gaining power from Ankara to Athens, from Warsaw to Washington. Meanwhile, popular support... See more
This talk rethinks refugees as a potential economic benefit to the societies that host them, rather than simply passive... See more
It’s been called one of the worst self-inflicted political wounds of modern times. British Prime Minister Theresa May,... See more

Pages