The article, Culturally Sustainable Development: theoretical concept or practical policy instrument written by David Throsby, outlines the concept of sustainability and sustainable development. It deliberates the progressive attempts to integrate culture into sustainable development. The article states that the concept of sustainability and sustainable development was enunciated by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, over 30 years ago. However, the first broadcast of the concept occurred ten years later though it has not yet been explored in details. The concept has neither been explored theoretically nor has it been exploited practically in regards to the formulation of cultural policy. The idea remains unexplored because of the disconnection that exists between the theory of sustainable development, the role of culture in sustainable development and the practical policy approach to secure development that is culturally sustainable.
According to the article, there were widespread concerns over the negative environmental consequences due to economic growth. Different authors published books on the same which eventually led to the formation of World Commission on Environment and Development. The commission argued that lack of development and poverty in the global south could be directly linked to exploitative resource use in the industrial world. To solve the problem, sustainability was viewed as a paradigm that enabled integration of the biosphere and the economy in a system that had a wide understanding of development process. The article argues that it was in this context that sustainable concept development was coined because it provided a development path that met the needs of the present time during that particular period. The idea of sustainable development was perfect as it would be used for a future generation, without slowing down development. Additionally, it would help preserve and conserve the environment.
The article states that the Earth Summit, held in Rio in 1992, generated many important achievements after the world leaders assessed the progress of implementing sustainable development principles at an international level. Even though there were many environmental issues concentrated at World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), the required growth path was placed within one charter that linked biological, social and economic components in a single complete model. Hence the ecologically sustainable development (ESD) was formed. A report by WCED threw an important challenge to the world to take action on environmental conservation, and many countries responded by adopting the ESD as a framework for implementing the recommendations of the commission.
After the success of WCED commission in mobilizing world opinion on the importance of environmental and developmental problems on a global level, an investigation process would be set up to do the same for culture. It would then led to the creation of World Commission on Culture and Development (WCCD). Similarly, a report was released in the hope that it would help gander support though it failed. The article continues to state that, people did not believe that culture was a serious developmental issue. The report did not attract presidential and ministerial attendance and only mentioned sustainability about an environmental matter. The report discussed the role of traditional culture in urbanization, but the link between sustainability and culture was not explored further.
The article argues that if ESD had worked on a basis for policy implementation in a variety of countries, then the CDS could be made operational in the same manner. If this is done, it would transform the idea from a theoretical concept and turn it into a practical one. The hypothetical foundation for CSD is derived from the theory of cultural capital. Cultural capital refers to assets either tangible or intangible that give rise to cultural value, and at the same time, they have economic value. Such assets can either be inherited from the past or long-lived hence their cultural value. Cultural capital has closely parallel to natural capital because the later includes renewable and nonrenewable resources and natural ecosystems. The two are very similar, and therefore if ESD policies are described as the sustainable management of natural capital, the CSD can be described as sustainable management of cultural capital.
The article also argues that the theoretical propositions can be translated into a practical term by disaggregating the concept of CSD into a set of principles that express the main idea of sustainable development in the cultural sphere. Such principles would include integration equity, intergenerational equity, the importance of diversity, precautionary principle and interconnectedness. The disaggregation of ESD has worked in many countries such as Australia therefore if the same is done for CDS the theoretical part of it would be made practical.
The article concludes if CDS is to be made practical, the integration of culture into sustainable development may take different forms. First, the principles in CDS will be required to be turned into policies. The vagueness and generality should be eliminated, and a precise interpretation of cultural development sustainability should be given. By providing a link between natural and cultural capital, the article provides a link between ESD and CDS. The article tries to prove that sustainable cultural development can also be a practical policy instrument. The article states that, since sustainable development growths are marginalized, a new mechanism should be put in place to guide and direct the possible application of CSD principles. In conclusion, the paper proves that there is indeed theoretical substance in CSD and it also has potential for practical applications.
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