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Reasserting the local in the global : local livelihoods and sustainable development in the proposed East Rennell World Heritage site, Solomon Islands : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies, Massey University
This thesis assesses the relationships between the sustainable development approach to integrating environmental and developmental concerns, and that approach suggested by the concept of sustainable livelihoods. In the context of the East Rennell World Heritage Project in Solomon Islands, the nature of sustainable development as it is operationalised at the local level, and the reality of people's livelihoods within the boundaries of that project, are assessed to determine where sustainable development meets livelihoods to both support and enhance them, and the implications which a sustainable livelihoods approach has for sustainable development. Over the last fifteen years the concept of sustainable development has been promoted at the global level as a means by which environmental integrity may be maintained, and at the same time allow for the continued development of human economic and social systems to improve the welfare of poor people. Arising out of the twin concerns that development was not meeting its primary goal of alleviating poverty, and at the same time was placing environmental systems in jeopardy, the concept of sustainable development is now a central theme within global development discourse. Alternatively, the concept of sustainable livelihoods has been presented as a 'new analysis' of the reality of the lives of local people and the problems they encounter as they attempt to construct viable livelihoods for themselves, and represents an alternative strategy for integrating environmental and developmental concerns at the local level. The rationale for using such an approach to environment and development is that only by ensuring that all people have access to an adequate and secure livelihood will further goals of sustainability be able to be obtained. This thesis presents the results of research undertaken in Solomon Islands over a three month period in 1995. The research is presented as two village case studies incorporporating the results of Participatory Rural Appraisal surveys undertaken at Tevaitahe and Niupani villages in the proposed East Rennell World Heritage Site. The general conclusion reached is that although sustainable development attempts to assist local people in conserving their resources and develop income generating business based on ecotourism, the nature of this sustainable development to a certain extent precludes the achievement of sustainable livelihoods.The suggestion is given, therefore, that the sustainable livelihoods infer an alternative approach to development.