Sustainable Development: Renaissance or Sunset Boulevard?

Chapter

Abstract

In the last three decades, the principle of sustainable development has played a pivotal role in the development and application of international and national policies which are at the crossroads between economic development, social development and environmental protection. In particular, the year 2015 might be recalled in the future as the turning point in the evolution of the concept of sustainable development because of three independent yet concatenate events, which have occurred in a short period of time and which might exercise a relevant influence on the principle’s future shaping. These events consist of: (a) the publication of Pope Francis’s Encyclical Letter Laudato Sì—On care for our common home, (b) the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the Sustainable Development Goals and the related 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and (c) the conclusion of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. This chapter analyses the role that sustainable development plays in the three mentioned documents and presents a reference framework for addressing a fundamental question regarding its possible evolutionary path. Such a question may be expressed as follows: has the time finally come for the renaissance of the concept of sustainable development and the embracing of its meaningful application, after many years of uncertainty about its effective role? Or alternatively is the concept, despite its present popularity, destined in the medium-long term to echo the sentiments of ‘Sunset Boulevard’?

Keywords

Encyclical Letter Laudato Sì Paris Agreement on climate change Sustainable development UN Sustainable Development Goals 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Business and Law, Regulation for Sustainability Research Group (R4S)University of SienaSienaItaly

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