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Reconciling the Irreconcilable: Progress toward Sustainable Development

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Chapter Summary

This chapter measures that progression against Hudson's definition of progress as the "building of institutions which promise to serve the needs of future generations". The analysis measures international moves toward sustainable development against three different conceptions of progress: rhetorical, conceptual, and material. If there is a hierarchy of progress toward sustainable development, the first level surely involves rhetorical embrace of the concept. As described above, there has already been significant progress on this front. Intergenerational equity stems in part from a vision of the state as a partnership between past, present and future generations. Overall, despite oft-repeated concerns for intergenerational equity, this is an area where progress has been halting. Conceptually, the lack of intra-generational equity poses a fundamental challenge to claims for inter-generational equity. Success will require progress on many levels: rhetorical, conceptual and material.

Keywords: conceptual; Intergenerational equity; rhetorical progress; sustainable development



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