For years now, promoters of development and growth have attempted to paint themselves "green," claiming that development is sustainable. In a new book, Creating a Sustainable World: Past Experiences/Future Struggles, co-editor Trent Schroyer, Professor of Sociology-Philosophy at Ramapo College, argues that such efforts are a form of "greenwash," that gloss over the real environmental consequences of growth and mask the divergence between development and sustainability.
Schroyer and his co-editor Thomas Golodik have pulled together some of the most influential theorists and practitioners of sustainability from around the world — Vandana Shiva, Wolfgang Sachs, Robert Engler, Peter Montague, Joan Dye Gussow and Michael Shuman, among others. These seminal essays offer critiques of the publicly accepted notion of sustainability that has evolved, devoid of democratic input and driven by market forces.
Schroyer, in his own chapters and in his introductions to each section of Creating a Sustainable World, exposes the market-driven agenda underlying the dominant "sustainable development" paradigm and shows us what would be required to advance society without having the Earth irreparably harmed. The authors offer contrasting concepts of sustainability derived from civil society and grassroots communities These are models untouched by the global free trade system and come to us through the voices of people directly affected by "sustainable development" projects.
In showing how voices of civil society have been pushed outside of the official decision-making, the collection demonstrates why world sustainability rests upon the capacity for establishing democratic procedures, and ultimately favoring some human and community rights over trade rights.
Douglas Lummis, former Rajni Kothari Chair in Democracy at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, believes of Creating a Sustainable World that "finally we have a book that gets it right: what needs to be sustained is that which development is destroying: our world."
For anyone seeking to make a positive mark on the world, this will be both an inspiring read and an invaluable handbook.