Books : reviews

Bert J. M. de Vries.
Sustainability Science.
CUP. 2013

Sustainable development is becoming the guiding principle for the 2lst century. It is about quality of life: how to develop it and how to sustain it within planetary boundaries. ‘Sustainability science’ has emerged recently as a new academic discipline and is a growing area of both research and teaching. Sustainability science seeks to: • advance basic understanding of the dynamics of human-environment systems and forge bridges between the natural and social sciences and between science and policy; • appreciate the variety of perspectives on sustainable development and the variety of contexts for its design, implementation, and evaluation in particular situations.

The book provides a historical introduction into patterns of past (un)sustainable development and into the emergence of the notion of sustainable development. It systematically surveys the key concepts, models and findings of the various scientific disciplines with respect to the major sustainability issues: energy, nature, agro-food systems, renewable and non-renewable resource systems and economic growth. System analysis and modelling are introduced and used as integrating tools. Stories and worldviews are used throughout the text to connect the quantitative and the qualitative and to offer the reader an understanding of relevant trends and events in context. The reader is explicitly invited to engage at a personal level into the interpretation of what sustainable development means and what implications this has for ideas and actions.