The paper presents an argument for a broader and more complex definition of environment than that currently offered in sustainable development discourse and practice. Sustainable development is rooted in dominant western rational and instrumental scientific representations of human-environment relationships. As such, it has been criticised as misrepresentative and meaningless for many of those for whom it is intended. Recent contributions by social scientists have emphasized the need to move beyond the narrow construction of the human-environment dichotomy found in western scientific rhetoric. These emerging ‘new ecologies’ advocate a re-imagining of human-environment relationships as holistic, connective, and relational, and as a product of direct perception and active engagement in the world. The Boumā National Heritage Park, Fiji, a community-based ecotourism initiative is presented as a case study to identify discrepancies between indigenous perceptions of the environment and those of formally educated western development practitioners, as well as the potential for ongoing convergence.
Farrelly, T. (2010). Reimagining ‘environment’ in sustainable development. (Institute of Development Studies Working Paper Series 1/2010). Palmerston North, N.Z.: Massey University. Institute of Development Studies.