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Taking natural limits seriously: Implications for development studies and the environment


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Abstract

jats:titleABSTRACT</jats:title>jats:pThis article explores how thinking about ecological limits, thresholds and boundaries has evolved in the last few decades, and explores the analytical and political possibilities that emerge if development studies scholars engage with these ideas. It makes the case for an engaged political economy approach, which focuses on understanding how finite resources at a variety of scales are shared between the competing claims of different groups in society. The article suggests that, while the science of planetary limits is important, the most significant societal challenges are not about how close we are to the limits, but involve finding mechanisms to reconcile the difficult trade‐offs that inevitably arise when we consider alternative human pathways in the present and the future. Choices are ubiquitous, even when there may be no immediate ecological tipping point, and a political economy perspective focuses on the ways in which humanity prioritizes different, often irreconcilable, objectives and interests in relation to the environment. The productive consequence of this thinking for development studies is the need for a renewed focus on the key issues that define prosperity and well‐being, as well as the political and moral economy within which human society governs itself, and its relationships with nature.</jats:p>

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Keywords

4404 Development Studies, 4408 Political Science, 44 Human Society

Journal Title

Development and Change

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0012-155X
1467-7660

Volume Title

46

Publisher

Wiley