Sustainability in the age of geopolitics

Em síntese 25-07-2022

In 2006, Jeffrey Sachs wrote that sustainability had replaced the Cold War as the dominant theme of global politics. He defined the 'geopolitics of sustainability' as a new approach to governance, which recognised the ecological underpinnings of war, terror and corruption, and sought to find solutions to these problems. Since then, sustainability has become a megatrend, intensively discussed in the media, the corporate world, and the expert community. Governments (particularly in the European Union) are steadily developing 'green transitions', planning decarbonisation and aiming for more digital and circular economies. Even so, military conflict may be regarded as a still greater trend than climate change, particularly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Global military spending continued to rise during the 2010s, and the number of armed conflicts increased. Russia's attack on Ukraine has had a dramatic impact and will have lasting consequences. The spectre of further escalation, and of war in other geopolitical hotspots, remains. Today, sustainability transitions are taking place in an age of military insecurity. When the concept of geopolitics of sustainability was developed in the 1980s, sustainable development was seen as an alternative to great power competition and Cold War politics. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, sustainability came to be seen as a corrective alternative to hyper-globalisation, rapid population growth and the depletion of planetary resources.