Sustainability in context: An Australian perspective

  • Stephen R. Dovers


This article examines the concept of sustainability (sustainable development, sustainable societies) with a view to providing a means of considering the idea in such a way as to be more useful to concerns of policy. A brief background is given, covering the historical development of the concept, the constituent ecological and social concerns that lie behind it, and some aspects of the sustainability debate in Australia. Some attributes of a sustainable future, as evident from the literature, are listed.

The value base of the concept is recognized, and the correct place for sustainability concerns is identified within a simple policy-making model. The complexity of such a model in the real world is explored using a list of thecontexts of sustainability, illustrated with examples from Australian natural resource management.

Finally, the more dynamic and flexible nature of patterns of production and consumption in more sustainable societies is recognized and explained, as are two guiding directives to be applied in the search for models which display characteristics of sustainability.

Key words

Sustainability Sustainable development Policy Australia 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen R. Dovers
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Resource and Environmental StudiesAustralian National UniversityCanberra CityAustralia

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