Michel Griffon, Florent Griffon

Managing the Planet Publication date : June 10, 2010

When the term "sustainable development" entered everyday speech it lost its clarity and precision. The result is that it now tends to obscure rather than illuminate the real issues it raises - particularly because most discussions about sustainable development are centred on environmental questions and not on economic, social or cultural issues.

Yet the problems it raises are vast: sustainable development means figuring out how to limit environmental risks and ensuring the renewal of natural resources - all this during a population explosion characterised by bulimic consumption for some and extreme penury for others, and when global coordination and coherent goals are nonexistent.

By delving into the foundations of these issues, the authors offer a synthesis of existing knowledge so as to enable effective actions.

What is development? And what could truly sustainable development mean? How can we control current developments in order to stop the on-going deterioration of the planet and improve future conditions?

This analysis takes into account every aspect of contemporary development problems - and not just their ecological factors. Two specialists with complementary domains of expertise propose solutions for the future.

Michel Griffon is the president of the Institute for Economic and Social Development (Paris-I-Sorbonne) and of the French Funds for World Environment. He heads the Ecosystems and Sustainable Development programme for France's National Research Agency and is the author of Nourrir la planète.

Florent Griffon is an analyst with Dexia Asset Management, in Brussels.