(Fair sustainable development

based on the capability approach)


‘Sustainable development is a development
that meets the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations
to meet their own needs.’ (WCED 1987)

Aims and Objectives

Sustainability policy has to consider the interdependencies of human life and nature; it has to meet the high moral standards of intra- and intergenerational justice set by the Brundtland Commission in 1987; and, finally, it has to motivate people to behave accordingly. This is quite a challenging task that often is responded to in a too simplistic way. Current sustainability science and civic engagement often focus on the environmental dimensions and herewith on intergenerational justice.

The Capability Approach is a leading paradigm in development economics that has informed development policy during the last 20 years. With its focus on human development it has highlighted the interaction between social and economic development. The issue of intragenerational justice constitutes an ongoing motive within the Capability Approach, but intergenerational justice and environmental concerns have often been left out of its scope.

The project GeNECA aims at conceptualizing sustainable development on the basis of the Capability Approach so as to combine the issues of inter- and intragenerational justice drawing on an integrated understanding of social, economic and environmental development. Resuming the spirit of the Brundtland commission, GeNECA puts the needs and capabilities of people all over the world, now and in future into its focus.

On the basis of conceptual reflections, a set of indicators for sustainable human development (SHD) is to be proposed and tested within the project. The concept will further be used in case studies on various areas of governance to prove its usefulness in decision processes. A feedback mechanism will be installed to amend the conception to the demands of applicability.

GeNECA is a 3 years research project funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research as part of the funding programme "Economics for Sustainability".



Closing workshop of GeNECA

The closing workshop of GeNECA took place in Hamburg 13-14 May 2013. Here a brief report:

New GeNECA publications

Griewald, Y., and F. Rauschmayer (2014) 'Exploring an environmental conflict from a capability perspective', Ecological Economics, 100 (0), 30-39,

We are proud of the recently published special issue of the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities on The Capability Approach and Sustainability, edited by Felix Rauschmayer and Ortrud Leßmann. Contributing articels can be found in the library.

Results from the GeNECA workshop on collective issues

At the UFZ in Leipzig, Germany, GeNECA invited to a workshop from 27. to 28.9.2012 on the topic of "Collective Agency & Institutions, Sustainability, and the Capability Approach". Here you find thereport on the GeNECA workshop Sep 2012 (111 KB)

Based on several presentations at the workshop, Ortrud edited the latest Maitreyee (newsletter of the HDCA) which you can find here:Maitreyee June 2013 (595 KB)

New GeNECA discussion papers

14 discussion papers are waiting for your attention in the library. The latest two are:

GeNECA newsletter

Do you want to stay informed about GeNECA and its results? Write us, and we will be glad to include your address in our mailing list. All newsletters are in the library.

Contact person

Dr. Felix Rauschmayer
Department for Environmental Politics