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Enacting sustainability

Chapter in book
Authors A. J. Nightingale
Tom Böhler
L. Karlsson
B. Campbell
Published in Environment and Sustainability in a Globalizing World. Andrea J. Nightingale (red.)
Pages 56-81
ISBN 9781317501831
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication New York
Publication year 2019
Published at School of Global Studies, Human Ecology
Pages 56-81
Language en
Subject categories Globalization Studies


This chapter looks at the ways that narratives of sustainability have been put into practice. It deals with the idea of measuring sustainability, and examines how approaches based in the biophysical sciences may differ from those in the social sciences. Measuring sustainability and sustainable development poses a number of problems, not least of which are availability of data. Many indicators put ecology at the core of sustainability, assuming that ecological sustainability is a prerequisite for social and economic sustainability. An ecological footprint represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to supply the resources and energy a given human population consumes and needs to dispose of its waste. Ecological science has been primarily underpinned by the idea of stability at least since Frederic Clements’ seminal text on climax vegetation in 1936. The idea of planetary boundaries has captured the imagination of sustainability communities and has helped to increase awareness of sustainability issues. © 2019 Taylor & Francis.

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