Rethinking Sustainability to Meet the Climate Change Challenge
16 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2012 Last revised: 18 Aug 2014
Date Written: December 14, 2012
This article presents a preliminary effort to capture the dialogue at the Environmental Law Collaborative’s inaugural Workshop. Attendees engaged in the re-conceptualization of sustainability in the age of climate change, premised on evidence that climate change is forcing changes in the norms of political, social, economic, and technological standards. As climate change continues to dominate many fields of research, sustainability is at a critical moment that challenges its conceptual coherence. Sustainability has never been free from disputes over its meaning and has long struggled with the difficulties of simultaneously implementing the “triple-bottom line” components of environmental, economic, and social well-being. Climate change, however, suggests that the context for sustainable decision-making is shifting.
The event produced an intensive and collaborative conversation on how to assess sustainability in the age of climate change. The essays appearing here examine the process of adapting the principles and application of sustainability to the demands of climate change, including (but not limited to) framing the term “sustainability” in climate change discussions; coordinating sustainable practices across disciplines such as law, economics, ethics, and the hard sciences; and conceptualizing the role of sustainability in formulating adaptation and resiliency strategies. These essays also contemplate the role of law and legal systems in crafting effective climate change adaptation strategies and consider feasible strategies in the context of specific examples.
Keywords: sustainability, climate change, adaptation, resiliency
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