Geography in sustainability research – Challenges and possible contributions
Twenty years have passed since the Brundtland report launched the goal of “sustainable development” (SD). During these decades SD has become widely accepted and it is today established as a fundamental goal in most policy contexts at the international level as well in many countries, regions and cities. A growing research community focussing on various aspects of sustainable development has developed. Based upon a brief overview of developments in society, policy and research, including geographers’ contributions, this paper discusses the role of geography (or various geographies) in connection with sustainability research and its current challenges. There is a need for both improved overview of various developments and improved understanding of local processes and management with opportunities, potentials, conflicts and obstacles. Fór this it is necessary to integrate different research and knowledge domains, confront and combine different levels of analysis and improve analysis of governance. However, with the broadening of the understanding and use of “sustainable development”, the greatest challenge for sustainability research is perhaps to improve the integration of social and economic aspects in a research field which sofar has been mostly concerned with environmental and resource aspects. Many trends and initiatives in connection with environmental and sustainable development politics such as Kyotoinitiatives, energy and environmental investment and innovation programmes, greening of industries and cities, deserve closer and critical study from both social, economic and environmental view-points. With inspiration from the disciplinary tradition of combining perspectives and different scales and of “border-crossing”, e.g. via inspiration from economic and social geography, research in environmental or sustainability geography has a potential to contribute to all these challenges.
- Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
NGM (Nordic geographers Meeting), 2007