Panel 16 (Satur, Fuhrmann)

Sustainable Sustainability? Discourses of Sustainability in Southeast Asia

Panel organizers

Dr. Luzile Mae Satur (University of Cologne)
Dr Eva Fuhrmann (University of Cologne)



Panel abstract

Sustainability as a concept is widely promoted in global environmentalist discourses and is frequently employed in Southeast Asia. From the macro perspective, sustainability has been sustained from being a buzzword to a strength and core feature particularly in Southeast Asia. The track record of sustainable development in the region, however, is being challenged. The region suffers not only from effects of climate change and global environmental changes, as in other parts of the world, environmental pollution is often accepted as a side effect of economic gain. From the micro perspective, the concept of sustainability confronts the conditions of the communities especially in the peripheries (i.e. peri-urban, urban poor). The marginalised populations are affected as well as influenced by environmental change. Further, they suffer the most of it as they face the effects of climate change and global inequalities. However, the effect of large-scale projects and policies promoting sustainability often remains limited. At the same time, apart from being in need for recognition and assistance, the vulnerable members of the communities strive to be active and to adapt their livelihood to the changing environmental conditions. Global and local repertoires of knowledge related to nature and sustainability intersect.

By utilising the globalised discourses on sustainability, the panel proposes three crucial questions:

  1. How do members of the local communities perceive environmental change?
  2. How do peripherical communities react to the changing conditions in their natural environment?
  3. What ideas of sustainability exist within these communities?

Paper submission

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