Sustainability’s Inner Conflicts: from ‘Ecologism’ to ‘Ecological Modernization’

Author: Dr. Mohamed El-Kamel Bakari

Keywords: Sustainability, Ecologism, Ecological Modernization


Ever since its inception, the project of sustainable development has constituted a challenge to deeply entrenched political, economic, and social beliefs in modern societies. Now matured, the project seems to be highly incompatible with the predominant neoliberal capitalist economic system, constitutes a nuisance to the structure of global governance, and is a noticeably controversial issue in North-South politics. However, the project itself was born out of a conflict between two opposing needs–the need for continuous economic growth on the one hand, and the need to protect the environment and achieve intra-generational and intergenerational social equity, on the other. This article argues that reconciling the needs for economic growth with concerns for the environment has been a very intricate and thorny process, hence the controversy over sustainable development’s definition, aims, and feasibility. By categorizing, examining, and analyzing sustainable development’s inner conflicts, this articles aims at achieving a deeper understanding of today’s sustainability stalemate and potential ways to overcome it. A special focus is placed on the implications of the recent prominence of ecological modernization, especially in the developed countries, on the evolution and integrity sustainable development.