Discussion Form Question

SUSTAINABLE
DEVELOPMENT
AND
CONSUMPTION
ANT3CAE WEEK 11

GUEST LECTURER: DR. NATALIE ARAUJO

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
OF COUNTRY
We acknowledge the Elders, families and descendants of the
Wurundjeri people who have been and are the custodians of
the land on which the University stands. We acknowledge
that the land in which we meet was the place of age old
ceremonies of celebration, initiation and renewal and that the
local Aboriginal peoples have had and continue to have a
unique role in the life of these lands.

DEVELOPMENT
CONTEXT

THE DEVELOPMENT
PROJECT
• Development has

traditionally been framed
around economically
driven models of social
change

• Fundamental assumption
that free markets and
consumption drive not
only economic prosperity
but also political and
social stability

• Traditionally argues that
stages of development are
linear and universal

ROSTOW’S FIVE STAGES
OF DEVELOPMENT (1956)

ROSTOW: STAGE 1:
TRADITIONAL SOCIETY

Characterised by:
Pre-nation state
Subsistence economy –
output not traded or
recorded
Existence of barter
High levels of agriculture
and labour intensive
agriculture
Primitive technologies
Spiritual attitudes
Hierarchical family/clan-
based social structure

ROSTOW: STAGE 2:
PRE-CONDITIONS

Pre-conditions for take-off
include:
State formation
Development of
manufacturing and mining
industries
Increase in capital use in
agriculture
Necessity of external
funding and commerce
(profit)
Some growth in savings and
investment (banks appear)
Education expanded
Emergence of new elites

ROSTOW: STAGE 3:
TAKE-OFF

Characterised by:
Increasing industrialisation
Technological development
(railways, factories)
Further growth in savings
and investment (5-10% of
national income)
Some regional growth
Entrepreneur class expands
Number employed in
agriculture declines

ROSTOW: STAGE 4:
DRIVE TO MATURITY

In this stage:
Growth becomes self-
sustaining
Wealth generation enables
further investment in value
adding industry and
development (savings rates
are 10-20% of national
income)
Industry more diversified,
and able to provide
anything required by
society
Increase in levels of
technology utilised

ROSTOW: STAGE 5: HIGH
MASS CONSUMPTION

Characterised by:
High output levels
Mass production and
consumption of
consumer durables and
services
High proportion of
employment in
service/skilled sector
Real income increases –
able to consume beyond
‘need’
Spending on welfare
services

CONSUMPTION AS
DEVELOPMENT

How might
consumption be seen

as a measure of
development?

What are the challenges of approaches that frame
consumption as integral to development/modernity?

(UN)SUSTAINABLE
DEVELOPMENT

UNSUSTAINABLE
GROWTH

ENVIRONMENTAL
CONTEXT

• 60% of major
ecosystems degraded
or used unsustainably

• An estimated 80% of
fish-stocks are now
fished at or beyond
their sustainable limits

• More than 90% of
paper still comes from
tree, using about 1/5
of total wood harvest
worldwide

DEVELOPMENT
CONTEXT
• Around 1.7 billion

people world-wide are
entering the consumer
class: adopting diets,
lifestyles, and
transportation systems
previously limited to
rich nations

• Increase in consumer
class as overwhelming
consensus emerges
that human activity
(e.g. greenhouse gas
emissions) is leading to
climate change

Home Page

Is environmental degradation an unavoidable by product of
economic growth?

Is high emissions consumption an inevitable outcome of
moderntiy?

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT,
SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION
• A multi-faceted approach that recognises the

interrelatedness of human well-being and environmental
integrity

• Broad in scope: tackles climate change, biodiversity
depletion, pollution, food and water security, global
inequality, ecosystem loss, ocean acidification, sea-level
rise, poverty . . . . while also maintaining world economy.

• Often refers to notions of environmental limits which we
must adapt our practices and consumption to respect

SUSTAINABILITY
AND DEVELOPMENT

What is the impact of compromised environments on
development?

UN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
REPORT (2011):
‘ENVIRONMENTALIST’S
PARADOX’

• We have seen increases in living standards and their
convergence across countries

• BUT…. Trends run the risk of being reversed if
environmental deterioration and social inequalities
continue to intensify

• Report projects that least developed countries will diverge
downwards from global patterns of progress by 2050

ENVIRONMENTALIST’S
PARADOX
• Conventional development thinking and practice

undervalues natural resources

• Over past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems
more rapidly and extensively to meet their increased
needs for food, fresh water, etc., which unless reversed
will diminish what future generations obtain from
ecosystems.

• International protocols, driven by principles of sufficiency
rather than profit-oriented market mechanism, are
essential

‘OUR COMMON FUTURE’
(BRUNDTLAND 1987) – WORLD COMMISSION
ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT

• ‘Development that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their
own needs’ (Brundtland 1987)

• Sustainable development placed within economic and
political context of international development:
• development can erode environment;
• environmental degradation can erode development;
• poverty can cause global environmental problems

• Report not limited to simply ‘the environment’, as (for
humans) this doesn’t exist as a sphere separate to our social
and material concerns

POLICY OBJECTIVES
• Reviving growth (as poverty puts pressure on

environment)
• Changing the quality of growth
• Meeting essential needs for jobs, food, water and

sanitation
• Ensuring sustainable level of population
• Conserving and enhancing the resource base
• Reorienting technology and managing risk
• Merging environment and economics in decision-making

ROLE OF THE
ECONOMY
• Brundtland report (1987) articulates need to maintain and

revitalise world economy. Expresses the global need for:
• ‘more rapid economic growth in both industrial and

developing countries, freer market access for the products
of developing countries, lower interest rates, greater
technology transfer, and significantly larger capital flows,
both concessional and commercial (1987: 89)

MORE CONSUMPTION!

QUESTIONING
CONSUMPTION

SCALES OF
INFLUENCE
• Some environmental issues and

encounters locally bounded and
many social practices and
structures are informed by
historical and environmental
processes

• Consumer behavior may similarly
locally informed, BUT..

• Consumption patterns and
ecological impacts of consumption
have global implications

• Global supply/commodity chains
• Global impact of CO2 and other

emissions
• Flow-on impacts to ecosystems
• Moral economies of care

Director: Louis Fox

THE STORY OF STUFF (2007)

RESPONSE TO
UNSUSTAINABLE
CONSUMPTION

What might be meaningful responses to unsustainable
consumption patterns?

How might these be achieved?

China’s Response to Energy Consumption: Three Gorges Dam

CASE STUDY: INNOVATION

CHINA’S
DEVELOPMENT
• China is the world’s most

populous nation and 2nd
largest economy

• Since late 1970s has
sustained 10% per annum
growth in GDP

• 800 million individuals
“graduated” out of poverty

• Met all MDGs by 2015
• Classified by the World Bank

as a developing country with
“Middle Income Country”
(MIC) status

CONSUMPTION
SNAPSHOT

• Chinese
development has
expressed itself
through rapid
growth of a
consumer class

• Demand for
consumables and
lifestyle changes
have had a radical
impact on global
share of resource
and energy
allocation

THREE GORGES DAM
• Construction began in

1994, completed in 2008,
and reached peak
productivity in 2012

• Was projected to meet
10%+ of China’s energy
requirements at static rate
of demand

• Project displaced over 1.4
million people

• Arguably addressed
flooding that impacted
300 million people

Discover: Three Gorges Dam

CRITICAL QUESTIONS
• Human Rights

• The rights of flood victims and displaced persons
• The rights of individuals to partake in “modernisation”

• Environmental Impact
• China is home to 20% of vascular plant life and 50% of China’s flora

and fauna found no where else in the world
• 6,000 species in a nature reserve surrounding the dam and

vulnerable to dam induced changges
• Fish diversity reduced and baiji dolphin extinction
• Impact on other sovereign nations

• Future Growth
• Increased energy demands mean functional impact is reduced

• Cultural Heritage
• Loss of important archeological sites
• World heritage

Approaches and Case Study

ETHICAL CONSUMPTION

ETHICAL
CONSUMPTION
• A loose collection of practices and approaches focused

“best practices” in consumption
• Currently transitioning from “alternative” to mainstream in

many HICs but also gaining traction in MICs
• Argues that one of the ways to address the climate-

development-consumption nexus is through ethically
focused consumption practices

• Example: Starbucks Corporate Social Responsibility

ETHICAL
CONSUMPTION
• Broad working definition:

• Conscious consumption of products which were ethically
produced and/or which are not harmful to the environment
and society.

• Focus on conditions of production
• Local and seasonal products
• Small scale production or low(er)-impact
• Dignity of human and non-human person

APPROACHES TO
ETHICAL CONSUMPTION
• How might we understand ethical consumption through

the lens of the three paradigms analysed by Wilk:
• Individual choice: healthy means of objectification and

individuation (p. 6)
• Social theories: maintain and challenge social group

boundaries, cultural meaning out of diverse experience
(pp. 6-7)

• Cultural theories: expressive means of communication
aimed at creating a culturally ordered environment (p. 7)

• Multigenic analysis???

CASE STUDY:
CONTEXT AND METHODS
• Originally part of a four year study of the mainstreaming of

ethical consumption practices in Australia
• (Ongoing) study examined ethical consumption through a

supply chain from producerà retailerà consumer

• Mixed methods approach: participant observation,
interviews, survey data, and document, discourse, and
policy analysis

THE ECONOMY AND THE
MORAL ECONOMY
• Expression of values may be materially impacted by economic,

psychological, knowledge, and material limitations:
• “While I endeavour to eat by my values, I often have to compromise

because of hefty premiums.”

• “My consumption and waste are impacted by resources available for
example not having a compost bin [readily available] means I don’t
compost. Level of stress/tiredness too– when I am more stressed I tend
not to care as much about food waste”

• “Although the origin and production methods of our food is very important
to me, it is sometimes difficult to attain this information”

• Worldly care and embodied encounters may shift:
• “I lived in India and volunteered in slum communities for 7 months last

year. On returning home I have tried to live frugally and avoid
consumerism/over consumption in order to save money to send to friends
and organisations there. I find it difficult to spend excess on specialist
[ethical] products, knowing what my money can do for others.”

PERPETUATING
DEMAND

Q: Why have you stopped your ethical purchases?

“The premium prices and the marketing that goes on about
healthy food choices makes me cringe a little. I feel like I’m being
sold an ideology about wellness that serves to feed the market

and push up prices.”

Turning our back on growth-focused consumption

POST-DEVELOPMENT?

KEY THEORIST:
ARTURO ESCOBAR
• Argues that development

emerged from US
hegemony and response
to anti-colonial struggles

• Results in pauperisation,
disintegration of social
institutions of developing
world

• Colonisation of reality through
development discourse

• Escobar questions the
very concept of
development

ESCOBAR ON
DEVELOPMENT
STRATEGIES

POST-DEVELOPMENT
PROPOSITIONS
Radical pluralism: actions shouldn’t be global, but local
(think and act locally)

• you can only improve what you actually know
• local groups and initiatives

Simple living
• down-sizing
• reduce demand on ecology
• return to less material pursuits such as moral/spiritual growth

Reappraising non-capitalist society
• life in ‘non-developed’ world actually not non- developed

CONCLUSION

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