From sustainability to resilience

The hidden costs of recent socio-environmental change in cities of the Global North

Authored by: David Saurí

The Routledge Handbook on Spaces of Urban Politics

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138890329
eBook ISBN: 9781315712468
Adobe ISBN:


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‘Sustainability’ has encapsulated the response of capitalism to current socio-environmental challenges at all scales, during the last four decades. With over 300 definitions, sustainability remains perhaps one of the more vexing but at the same time attractive theoretical constructs ever formalized to describe what, for many, is an oxymoron (Krueger and Gibbs 2007: Redclift 2005): the idea that (economic) growth can be perfectly compatible with environmental well-being. This principle finds an operational arm in the postulates of ecological modernization, the use of specific technical and managerial skills to overcome environmental conditions that could threaten future growth. To gain further legitimacy, the construct has been painted green and, as Naredo and Gómez-Baggethun (2015) argue, the initial idea of growth versus the environment has been changed to a notion of growth for the environment. Technology and the market have been the two pillars upon which this change of emphasis has been made possible.

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