Synthesis Report for the ERTDI-funded project: 2004-SD-FS-23
Summary: STRIVE Report 17 - Frances Fahy
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Difficulties associated with giving practical effect to the abstract concept of ‘sustainable development’ have stimulated a good deal of research on the challenging task of assessing progress towards that goal. Despite its increasingly high profile in international, national and local policies, the concept is in danger of moving from a stage of ambiguity to cliché without ever having passed through a stage of meaningfulness or comprehensibility (Kelly et al., 2004). Sustainable development is linked intrinsically with the integration of ecological, economic and social considerations at all geographic scales; people’s sense of place and their relationship with nature and the environment are critical in this regard (Cheney et al., 2004).
Core requirements and general tenets of sustainability must be accompanied by context-specific elaborations (Kemp et al., 2005). There is scope for, and indeed a requirement for, locally derived sustainable development options (Fahy and Ó Cinnéide, 2008a). The need for more effective tools to develop and assess sustainable development was a priority theme under the EU’s Sixth Framework for European Environmental Policy to 2010 (European Commission 2002). The development of practical tools for a local process of sustainable development represents a major challenge and is the main focus of this report.