From the Protection of Nature to Sustainable Development: The Genesis of an Ethical and Political Oxymoron (Engl. trans. De la protection de la nature au développement durable : genèse d’un oxymore éthique et politique)
AbstractSustainable development is rooted in the history of two divergent movements – for the preservation of nature, and for the conservation of natural resources – and of their relationship with the natural sciences. Ecology has played a central role in this history. As a societal paradigm that is at once ecological, political, and economic, sustainable development is supposed to embody ideal policy for all societies, and to overcome the opposition between these two diverging views of man‑nature relationships. An analysis of international texts devoted to sustainable development emphasizes certain fundamental, interdependent principles: true democracy, social sustainability, and respect for the resilience of ecological systems. Despite formal concessions to preservationists with the recognition of the intrinsic value of biodiversity, the sustainable development concept is clearly anthropocentric, and is in direct line of descent from conservationism. As its fundamental principles are not implemented in an integrated way, its ritual evocation fail to hide strong ethical and political contradictions, rendering it merely an impotent utopia.