Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1016/j.futures.2010.01.007
Title (Primary) World civilisations at crossroads: towards an expansionist or a sustainable future - lessons from history
Author Spangenberg, J.H.
Source Titel Futures
Year 2010
Department BZF
Volume 42
Issue 6
Page From 565
Page To 573
Language englisch
Abstract Like may periods of the past, the future will be characterised by resource scarcities, with limited pollution sink capacities constituting a new constraint. The strategic choices discussed in the West today resemble quite closely the strategies developed in Europe during past centuries to deal with resource scarcities: to overcome them by means of market mechanisms leading to efficiency improvements and substitution, by global trade enhancing resource availability, or by forcefully seizing foreign resources. In order to learn lessons for the future, these strategies are discussed regarding their past performance and their present applicability. They face severe limits regarding their problem solving capabilities, either because they are structurally unsuitable as a response to global economic and environmental scarcity problems, or their success is too questionable to rely on it. Consequently, another strategy is needed to adapt human economies and societies to the limits of Planet Earth. Sustainable development is such a strategy, developed in Europe in the 18th century to deal with absolute scarcities; its roots help to understand its current relevance. In a globally interconnected world it cannot be operationalised top-down, but is dependent on cooperation to become effective. Sustainability strategies cannot be designed as one-size-fits-all solutions, but are civilisation specific. This in turn requires an international institutional framework based on the subsidiarity principle (the imperative to take decisions at the lowest effective level), requiring the acceptance of political and cultural diversity of the current and future world society. It encourages different civilisation specific development objectives and trajectories, however with all actors contributing in their own ways to the achievement of agreed common goals like combating climate change, preserving biodiversity or eradicating poverty, following the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Spangenberg, J.H. (2010):
World civilisations at crossroads: towards an expansionist or a sustainable future - lessons from history
Futures 42 (6), 565 - 573 10.1016/j.futures.2010.01.007