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Operationalising Strong Sustainability: Definitions, Methodologies and Outcomes

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While acknowledging the absence of a single definition or theory of sustainability, this paper argues that a discussion of sustainability which refers only to definitions is pointless without an understanding of how the definitions are operationalised. In this context, the paper considers the operationalisation of strong sustainability.

The definitions and operationalisation of strong sustainability most closely associated with (i) neoclassical environmental economics and (ii) ecological economics are discussed and compared. This analysis raises questions about the extent to which ecological economics has been able to influence real-world decisions and policy. The paper ends by considering whether the economic and political power structure taken as given by ecological economics is compatible with its policy perspective.
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Keywords: critical natural capital; ecological economics; strong sustainability

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-08-01

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2016) of 1.279.
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