Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Challenges in determining the effectiveness of sustainability assessment

Bond, A. and Morrison-Saunders, A. (2013) Challenges in determining the effectiveness of sustainability assessment. In: Bond, A., Morrison-Saunders, A. and Howitt, R., (eds.) Sustainability Assessment Pluralism, Practice and Progress. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, Oxon, UK, pp. 37-50.

PDF - Authors' Version
Download (96kB)


Considering the environment (including the place of human beings in it), and how best it might be managed, is really thinking about environmental governance. As an approach to environmental governance sustainable development is just one of many ‘discourses’ which exist and we have previously made the point that it reflects a view that socio-economic development and environmental conservation are, to an extent, compatible goals and that socio-economic development is necessary (Bond and Morrison-Saunders, 2009). Not everyone shares this view and it is important to bear in mind that whilst this book assumes sustainable development is a good thing, proponents of ‘deep ecology’ (as just one example) would argue that sustainable development inappropriately favours an anthropocentric view of the world in which humans have a right to dominate nature (Grey, 1993; Jacob, 1994; Williams and Millington, 2004).

Sustainability assessment is based on an implicit premise that sustainable development is the appropriate discourse on environmental governance. The fact that there are other discourses on environmental governance has implications for whether sustainability assessment can ever be considered 'effective' as it is promoting a governance view which is not universally held. That said, Sustainable Development “has become the dominant rhetorical device of environmental governance” (Adger et al., 2003, p.1095) and, therefore, could be argued to be the dominant discourse in environmental decision-making in most jurisdictions at present. In this context, sustainability assessment needs to be contributing to the achievement of sustainable development, and it is based on this assumption that this chapter and the overall book is written.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Copyright: © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group
Publisher's Website:
Notes: Chapter 3
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year