chapter  4
29 Pages

Negotiating sustainable development: From a global deal to partnerships

The Johannesburg Summit officially opened on 26 August 2002 in the Sandton Convention Centre, and ran until 4 September. It was the culmination of a preparatory process that had begun well over two years previously and involved a multitude of participants, debating issues, and competing agendas. The negotiations were complex and multifaceted, and yet many of the key lines of division can be interpreted in terms of two alternative approaches to governing sustainable development: campaigns for a multilateral ‘Global Deal’ on the one hand, and flexible, bilateral, voluntary partnerships on the other. These were more than just different negotiating strategies or competing styles of implementation. Rather, they constituted alternative rationalities of government which articulated specific visions of the scope and ends of sustainable development, the purpose and means of implementation, and the types of actor and political agent required. Whereas Luke (1995; 1999b) has characterized sustainable development as a disciplinary and totalizing form of government, I argue in this chapter that the eventual predominance of the partnerships approach in Johannesburg re-orientated sustainable development towards forms of advanced liberal government.