Pioneers of true Sustainable Development
While this discussion deals with the intellectual underpinnings of the foundations of true sustainable development, it cannot be emphasized enough that the field itself has become so much more than an academic exercise. Sustainable development at present advises national and international policy, corporate business models, design and architecture, urban planning, waste management, environmental protection, and is at the heart of international diplomacy especially with regards to the economic disparities between wealthy and poor nations. A host of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) exist for the very purpose of promoting sustainable development in poor nations. All of this constitutes the practical manifestation of sustainable development’s academic roots, and the impact it has had on the world in terms of the alleviation and prevention of human suffering, exploitation, and conflict.
In the rationale for this proposal we attempted to determine the earliest and most influential thinkers, the pioneers of sustainable development by referring to a Citation Analysis for the field that was published in October, 2011 by Nuno Quental and Júlia Lourenço entitled References, authors, journals and scientific disciplines underlying the sustainable development literature and available at that link.
The Limits to Growth report, via its lead author Donnela Meadows (deceased), is the fourth most cited work on sustainable development in all the scholarly literature. It is also one of the two earliest works in the field, preceded only by G. Hardin’s Tragedy of The Commons (1967). The other co-authors of The Limits to Growth are Dennis Meadows, who currently resides in New Hampshire in the USA, and Jorgen Randers, who resides in Oslo, Norway.
Of citations for all individual authors, David Pearce (deceased) tops the list, but his book Blueprint for a Green Economy (1989) came much later than other works. And so while seminal, Pearce built upon foundations laid by others.
The second most cited author is Herman Daly, whose 1973 work Toward a Steady State Economy is both one of the earliest. And in particular, Daly’s work has led directly to the formation of an entire school of economic thought known as Ecological Economics, of which he is the unquestioned founder.
Ecological Economics has now become an international network comprised of thousands of government administrators, planners, consultants, economists, sociologists, ecologists, and academics all practicing and teaching the fundaments of true sustainable development. Many of the other of the most frequently cited authors readily acknowledge the seniority of Daly.
Robert Costanza, the third most cited author after Daly, also collaborated with Daly on several foundational books and articles. However, citation of co-authored books and articles are often attributed to the first of the authors, and ‘Costanza’ alphabetizes in front of ‘Daly’, a large number of Costanza’s citations should accrue to Daly as well.
Among all journals cited in scholarly work on sustainable development, the journal Ecological Economics tops the list, with the prestigious journal Science second with about 5% fewer citations. This is another indication of Herman Daly’s unquestioned position at the roots of sustainable development as the unquestioned founder of the entire field of Ecological Economics.
Pope Francis as powerful promoter of true Sustainable Development
While Pope Francis cannot be considered a ‘pioneer’, he certainly can be considered the most influential proponent of true sustainable development in the world today. We can say little further here about the Pope’s qualification in this regard that we have not already said on the page on Pope Francis, except to recommend that one need only review the Pope’s public addresses, especially before the UN General Assembly in September, 2015 to substantiate this assertion.