Abstract for: Sustainable Development as the Regulator of Change in Coupled-Human-And-Natural Systems

Gallopín distinguishes (2003) the concept of sustainability from sustainable development (SD). He argues (2003, 19) SD explicitly involves “the idea of change, of directional and progressive change,” while maintenance of a status quo can be seen as a case of sustainability. As such, it seems SD is trying to capture both the absence and presence of change. Furthermore, some argue SD is an Oxymoron (Redclift, 2005), a self-contradictory term that attempts to reconcile two opposing concepts that do not sit together: sustainability and development. You can have one or the other at a time, but you can’t have both simultaneously. As such, sustainable development is like you want to have your cake and eat it too. You should know better, though, it’s not possible! These considerations motivated the author to ask whether we can find a rapprochement between change and its absence so that it is possible to pursue SD in a complex Coupled-Human-and-Natural-System (CHANS) sensibly.