Sustainable development in India, Brazil, and South Africa

Date: Jan, 2014
ODID Working Paper No. 199
Author(s): Elizabeth Chatterjee (University of Oxford), Carl Death (University of Manchester), and Laura Pereira (University of Cape Town)

Considering sustainable development as a discourse which, although global, is manifested with considerable variety and diversity across the world, this paper explores various dimensions of the politics of sustainability in India, Brazil, and South Africa (IBSA). We explore the contested meanings and implications of sustainable development as framed by these three emergent powers, both on the international level and within different levels of the Indian, Brazilian, and South African polities themselves. The first empirical section compares the countries’ uses and effects of the discourse on the international stage in terms of international branding. The three countries have all played prominent, but slightly different, roles in the international contests over the discourse between the global South and North. Secondly, we examine the operation, adaptation, and evolving power dynamics of state institutions at different scales as they respond to the changing discourse. Thirdly, we look outside the state to compare the role of three key non-public constituencies—corporations, the middle classes, and marginalized resistance movements—in each country, and their own reshaping and subversions of the sustainable development mainstream. We conclude by echoing the call for the ‘need to fashion new—or refashion old—analytical and political tools, tools for making the future natures that we wish to inhabit’ (Braun and Castree, 1998: 35).

ODID Author(s)