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Development: sustainability and physical geography

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‘Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable – to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (WCED, 1987: 8, or more commonly known as the Brundtland Report). This quote is the standard starting point for understanding sustainable development. Within this context, the physical environment tends to be viewed as a fragile entity that requires careful management. Concepts such as ‘carrying capacity’, ‘ecological footprint’ and ‘natural capital’ reflect this view of the physical environment as in need of stewardship. Physical geographers have contributed towards sustainable development by establishing baselines from which change can be assessed, by identifying the thresholds and equilibria of the physical environment and by providing an insight into the complexity that locality and scale have on the sustainability of the physical environment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKey concepts in geography
EditorsN. Clifford, S. Holloway, S. Rice, G. Valentine
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherSAGE Publications Inc.
Pages378-391
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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