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Does Brundtland’s sustainable development need a human dimension?

International Development Department

Fiona NunanFiona Nunan is a Lecturer in Environment and Development in IDD, specialising in environment and natural resource management and governance, including fisheries governance and management, poverty and the environment, and impact evaluation methods and approaches.  She convenes the module on Transforming Development for Sustainability and co-convenes Critical Approaches to Development and Making Policy on campus and via distance learning.

As anyone working or interested in environment and development will know, the most often cited definition of sustainable development is the one given in the 1987 report Our Common Future, produced by the World Commission on Environment and Development (more commonly known as the Brundtland Report, after the chair of the Commission, Gro Harlem Brundtland):

“development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED, 1987, p.43)

Gro Harlem Brundtland, Prime Minister of Norway, addressing the General Assembly on Environment and Development, October 1987.

Love it or hate it, it is the most common definition used…

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