Sustainable Community Development and the Green Economy

Ensuring a Strong Sustainability Approach

Authored by: Mark Roseland , Duane Fontaine

The Routledge Handbook of Community Development

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138940765
eBook ISBN: 9781315674100
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter looks at sustainable community development (SCD) through the lens of the green economy. First, we examine the weak and strong interpretations of sustainable development. We outline the dominant neoliberal approach to sustainability, which favors the weak sustainability framework. With the “rational choice theory” of human behavior as its foundation, weak sustainability focuses on the individual and the market for its solutions. Weak sustainability further assumes that man-made capital is substitutable for natural capital. We contrast this neoliberal approach with strong sustainability, which places an emphasis on local, democratic and collective approaches to community development. Second, we address the four main components of the green economy (energy, consumption, production and jobs), and define each component in terms of strong sustainability. We then introduce the Community Capital framework as a means of focusing those elements of the green economy that are pertinent to SCD. Lastly, we introduce the Community Capital Tool (CCT). The CCT is a community sustainability assessment tool incorporating six distinct and non-substitutable capital accounts: natural, economic, physical, human, social and cultural capital. The CCT’s unique indicator measurement and reporting methodology offers a powerful tool for communities to plan, measure, model and report on their sustainability goals.

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