Can Sustainable Development Sustain Us?

August 2002 (VOL. 20, NO. 2)

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This paper presents a review of Disasters by Design, the recent, influential second U.S. national assessment of research on natural and technological hazards that takes stock of the disciplinary knowledge and policy issues in the field of disasters. It identifies four analytical matters left unresolved in its central theme on the importance of sustainable development for disaster mitigation, having to do with the dual emphasis on the local and on the global, cultural change, the implicit assumptions that planners and social engineers know best, and the consensual model of politics. It also identifies some practical problems that the adoption of a sustainable development framework advocated by the report may pose for the specialty.