Sustainable Development Theory: A Critical Perspective and an Integrative Model

Shamsalsadat Zahedi


The first significant effort to present “sustainable development” in a global level, has been Brundtland Commission in 1987. Since that time, this subject has been the most cited definition in articles, books, and international gatherings. According to the UN Report called “Our common future”, sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. After presenting this theory, while some scholars have agreed with it,   some others rejected the whole idea. The author, while accepting some of the critiques, believes that sustainable development theory is valuable and has important messages for the survival of human being and the whole planet. So, instead of disapproving the theory, tries to overcome the limitations of its conceptualization. The paper suggests that sustainable development in order to be successful, needs a shift in its conceptual framework in an integrated and harmonious manner.  In the proposed model, there are three interconnected pillars:  subject, space, and time. Subject includes six aspects: political, economic, social and cultural, technological, ecological, and spiritual development. Space refers to local, national, regional, and global arenas. Time describes the situation in the past, present and the scenarios for the future. The article ends with few suggestions which help in facilitating the ground for putting the integrated and harmonious approach into action.

Keywords: Sustainable Development, Subject Pillar, Space Pillar, Time Pillar, Sustainability Philosophy, Monitoring Council

DOI: 10.7176/JESD/10-21-05

Publication date: November 30th 2019

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