Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Core values for sustainable development

  • Arthur H. Westing (a1)

Summary

The cultural norms or core values for sustainable development are an amalgamation of core social values and core environmental values. Widely-shared core social values became strikingly articulated following the Second World War via such instruments as the 1948 Genocide Convention and the 1948 Human Rights Declaration. By contrast, widely-shared core environmental values did not surface until some two decades after the Second World War, being first clearly expressed in the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, to be followed by the 1982 World Charter for Nature and, more recently, by the 1992 Rio Declaration. I find that whereas the emerging core social values have until quite recently been essentially innocent of environmental concerns, the emerging core environmental values have been from the start generally couched in social terms.

Key ethical issues regarding the cultural norms underlying sustainable development include the questions of how to strike a proper balance between anthropocentric and ecocen-tric justifications; and a proper apportionment of the global biosphere between humankind and the other life on earth. Several lines of evidence suggest to me that the environmental and social strands of widely-shared core values for sustainable development are beginning to merge, and that there has begun to occur a slow but progressive development in mainstream thinking toward a recognition of an unbreakable link between social development and environmental conservation.

A number of major stumbling blocks to the achievement of sustainable development exist of course, amongst them the imbalance between human numbers plus needs and available natural resources, the prevalence of totalitarian and corrupt regimes, and the ineffective system of peaceful world governance. Despite obstacles to sustainable development, a trend towards a commitment to it seems evident in such components of society as governments, intergovernmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, academia, religious bodies, and grass-roots movements.

Copyright

Corresponding author

* Dr Arthur H. Westing Tel: +1 802 387 2152 Fax: +1 802 387 4001

References

Hide All
Bloom, D.E. (1995) International public opinion on the environment. Science 269: 354–8.
Buege, D.J. (1996) The ecologically noble savage revisited. Environmental Ethics, Denton, Texas 18: 7188.
Callicott, J.B. (1982) Traditional American Indian and Western European attitudes toward nature: an overview. Environmental Ethics, Denton, Texas 4: 293318.
Catton, W.R. Jr (1980) Overshoot: the Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press: 298 pp.
Cernea, M.M. (1994) Sociology, Anthropology, and Development: an Annotated Bibliography of World Bank Publications 1975–1993. Environmentally Sustainable Development Studies & Monographs Series, Paper 3. Washington: International Bank for Reconstruction & Development (World Bank): 301 pp.
Clint´on, W.J. (1994) Advancing a vision of sustainable development. US Department of State Dispatch, Washington 5(29): 477–9.
Clugston, R.M. (19931994) Indigenous knowledge and sustainable development. Earth Ethics, Washington 5(4): 1214.
Crocker, D.A. (1991) Toward development ethics. World Development, Oxford 19: 457–83.
Cronon, W. (1983) Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. New York: Hill & Wang: 242 pp.
Daly, H.E., Cobb, J.B. Jr & Cobb, C.W. (1994) For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future, 2nd edn.Boston: Beacon Press: 479 pp.
Davis, S.H., ed. (1993) Indigenous views of land and the environment. World Bank Discussion Paper 188. Washington: International Bank for Reconstruction & Development (World Bank): 91 pp.
Davis, S.H. & Ebbe, K., eds. (1995) Traditional knowledge and sustainable development. Environmentally Sustainable Development Proceedings, Series 4. Washington: International Bank for Reconstruction & Development (World Bank): 58 pp.
Diamond, J.M. (1986) Environmentalist myth. Nature 324: 1920.
Ehrenfeld, D. (1978) Arrogance of Humanism. New York: Oxford University Press: 286 pp.
Ehrenfeld, D. (1993) Beginning Again: People and Nature in the New Millennium. New York: Oxford University Press: 216 pp.
Elliot, R., ed. (1995) Environmental Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press: 255 pp.
Engel, J.R. (1995) Environment and religon. In: Encyclopedia of Bioethics, rev. edn., ed. Reich, W.T., pp. 707–14. New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan.
Engel, J.R. & Engel, J.G., eds. (1990) Ethics of Environment and Development: Global Challenge, International Response. London: Belhaven Press: 264 pp.
Eritrea (1995 a) National Environmental Management Plan for Eritrea. Asmara: Government of Eritrea: xii + 236 pp.
Eritrea (1995 b) Eritrean national code of conduct for environmental security. In: National Environmental Management Plan for Eritrea, pp. xii, 229. Asmara: Government of Eritrea (Reprinted in: Environmental Conservation 22: 78).
Free, A.C., ed. (1988) Animals, Nature and Albert Schweitzer, rev. edn. Washington: Flying Fox Press: 81 pp.
Goldblat, J. (1994) Arms Control: a Guide to Negotiations and Agreements. London: Sage Publications: 772 pp.
Goulet, D. (1995) Development Ethics: a Guide to Theory and Practice. New York: Apex Press. 252 pp.
Guthrie, D.A. (1971) Primitive man's relationship to nature. BioScience 21: 721–3.
Hamilton, L.S., ed. (1993) Ethics, Religion and Biodiversity: Relations Between Conservation and Cultural Values. Cambridge, UK: White Horse Press: 218 pp.
Hardin, G. (1985) Filters against Folly: How to Survive Despite Economists, Ecologists, and the Merely Eloquent. New York: Viking Penguin: 240 pp.
Hardin, G. (1993) Living within Limits: Ecology, Economics and Population Taboos. New York: Oxford University Press: 339 pp.
Hargrove, E.C. (1989) Foundations of Environmental Ethics. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall: 229 pp.
ICC (1991) Business charter for sustainable development: principles for environmental management. Paris: International Chamber of Commerce, Publication No. 210/356 A: 8 pp.
ICIDI (1980) North-South: a Programme for Survival: Report of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press: 304 pp.
ICRC & LRCS (1995) International Red Cross Handbook, 13th edn.Geneva: International Committee of the Red Cross & League of Red Cross Societies: 960 pp.
IUCN (1980) World conservation strategy: living resource conservation for sustainable development. Gland, Switzerland: World Conservation Union (IUCN): 71 pp.
IUCN (1995) International Covenant on Environment and Development. Bonn: World Conservation Union (IUCN), Commission on Environmental Law: 199 pp.
IUCN, UNEP & WWF (1991) Caring for the Earth: a Strategy for Sustainable Living. Gland, Switzerland: World Conservation Union (IUCN), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), & World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF): 228 pp.
Jacobs, P. & Munro, D.A., eds. (1987) Conservation with Equity: Strategies for Sustainable Development. Gland, Switzerland: World Conservation Union (IUCN): 466 pp.
Kennedy, P. (1993) Preparing for the Twenty-first Century. New York: Random House: 429 pp.
Küng, H. & Kuschel, K.-J., eds. (1993) A Global Ethic: the Declaration of the Parliament of the World's Religions. New York: Continuum: 124 pp.
McLuhan, T.C., ed. (1971) Touch the Earth: a Self-portrait of Indian Existence. New York: Simon & Schuster: 185 pp.
Merchant, C. (1980) Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution. San Francisco: Harper & Row: 348 pp.
Merchant, C. (1992) Radical Ecology: the Search for a Livable World. New York: Routledge: 276 pp.
Naess, A. (1989) Ecology, Community and Lifestyle, transl. from the Norwegian, & rev. by Rothenberg, D.. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press: 223 pp.
Olson, S.L. & James, H.F. (1982) Fossil birds from the Hawaiian islands: evidence for wholesale extinction by man before western contact. Science 217: 633–5.
O'Riordan, T. (1995) Frameworks for choice: core beliefs and the environment. Environment, Washington 37(8): 49, 25–9.
Passmore, J. (1980) Man's Responsibility for Nature: Ecological Problems and Western Traditions, 2nd edn.London: Duckworth: 227 pp.
Rockefeller, S.C. & Elder, J.C., eds. (1992) Spirit and Nature: Why the Environment is a Religious Issue: an Interfaith Dialogue. Boston: Beacon Press: 226 pp.
Rolston, H. III (1988) Environmental Ethics: Duties to and Values in the Natural World. Philadelphia: Temple University Press: 391 pp.
Rolston, H. III (1994) Conserving Natural Value. New York: Columbia University Press: 259 pp.
Runnels, C.N. (1995) Environmental degradation in ancient Greece. Scientific American 272(3): 96–9.
SC (1990) Challenge to the South: the Report of the South Commission. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 325 pp.
Schindler, D. & Toman, J., eds. (1988) Laws of Armed Conflicts: a Collection of Conventions, Resolutions, and other Documents, 3rd edn.Dordrecht: Nijhoff Publishers: 1033 pp.
Schmidt, P.R. (1994) Historical ecology and landscape transformation in eastern equatorial Africa. In: Historical Ecology: Cultural Knowledge and Changing Landscapes, ed. Crumley, C.L., pp. 99125. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.
Schrijver, N.J. (1995) Sovereignty over natural resources: balancing rights and duties in an interdependent world. Ph.D. thesis, University of Groningen, The Netherlands: 481 pp.
Serageldin, I. & Steer, A., eds. (1994) Making development sustainable: from concepts to action. Environmentally Sustainable Development Occasional Paper, Series 2. Washington: International Bank for Reconstruction & Development (World Bank): 40 pp.
Shiva, V. (1988) Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. London: Zed Books: 234 pp.
Stone, C.D. (1987) Earth and other Ethics: the Case for Moral Pluralism. New York: Harper & Row: 280 pp.
Stone, C.D. (1993) The Gnat is Older than Man: Global Environment and Human Agenda. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press: 341 pp.
Theobold, R. (1990) Corruption, Development and Underdevelopment. London: Macmillan: 191 pp.
Toynbee, A. (1972) Religious background of the present environmental crisis: a viewpoint. International Journal of Environmental Studies 3: 141–6; 4: 157–8.
Trzyna, T.C (1995) Linking values and policy for sustainable development: an international strategy to build the sustainability ethic into decision-making. Commission on Environmental Strategy & Planning, Working Paper 6. Gland, Switzerland: World Conservation Union (IUCN): 20 pp.
UN (1993) Agenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable Development; Rio Declaration on Environment and Development; Statement of Forest Principles. Document No. DPI/1344 (Apr 93). New York: United Nations: 294 pp.
UNCHR (1993) Human Rights: a Compilation of International Instruments. I. Universal Instruments. 6th edn. Document No. ST/HR/1/Rev. 4 (Vol. I) + Corr. 1 & 2. Geneva: United Nations Centre for Human Rights (UNCHR): 946 + 9 pp.
WCED (1987) Our Common Future: World Commission on Environment and Development, rev. edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 400 pp.
Weiss, E.B. (1988) In Fairness to Future Generations: International Law, Common Patrimony, and Intergenerational Equity. Tokyo: United Nations University: 385 pp.
Weiss, E.B., Magravv, D.B. & Szasz, P.C. (1992) International Environmental Law: Basic Instruments and References. Ardsley-on-Hudson, New York: Transnational Publishers: 749 pp.
Westing, A.H. (1980) Warfare in a Fragile World: Military Impact on the Human Environment. London: Taylor & Francis: 249 pp.
Westing, A.H., ed. (1988) Cultural Norms, War and the Environment. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 177 pp.
Westing, A.H. (1990) Towards eliminating war as an instrument of foreign policy. Bulletin of Peace Proposals (now Security Dialogue), Oslo 21: 2935.
Westing, A.H. (1994) Population, desertification, and migration. Environmental Conservation 21: 110–14, 109.
White, L. Jr (1967) Historical roots of our ecologic crisis. Science 155: 1203–7.
Wirth, T.E. (1994) Sustainable development and national security. US Department of State Dispatch, Washington 5(30): 489–93.
World Bank (1992) World Development Report 1992: Development and the Environment. New York: Oxford University Press (for the International Bank for Reconstruction & Development [World Bank]): 308 pp.
World Bank (1995) Mainstreaming the environment: the World Bank group and the environment since the Rio earth summit: fiscal 1995; summary. Washington, DC: International Bank for Reconstruction & Development (World Bank): 59 pp.
WRI, IUCN & UNEP (1992) Global Biodiversity Strategy: Guidelines for Action to Save, Study, and Use Earth's Biotic Wealth Sustainably and Equitably. Washington: World Resources Institute (WRI), World Conservation Union (IUCN) & United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): 244 pp.
WWF ed. (1986) The Assisi declarations: messages on man & nature from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam & Judaism. Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF): 32 pp.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Environmental Conservation
  • ISSN: 0376-8929
  • EISSN: 1469-4387
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-conservation
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed