The concept of sustainability lies at the core of the challenge of environment and development, and the way governments, business and environmental groups respond to it. Green Development provides a clear and coherent analysis of sustainable development in both theory and practice.

Green Development explores the origins and evolution of mainstream thinking about sustainable development and offers a critique of the ideas behind them. It draws a link between theory and practice by discussing the nature of the environmental degradation and the impacts of development. It argues that, ultimately, ‘green’ development has to be about political economy, about the distribution of power, and not about environmental quality. Its focus is strongly on the developing world.

The fourth edition retains the broad structure of previous editions, but has been updated to reflect advances in ideas and changes in international policy. Greater attention has been given to the political ecology of development, market-based and neoliberal environmentalism, and degrowth. This fully revised edition discusses:

  • the origins of thinking about sustainability and sustainable development, and its evolution to the present day;
  • the ideas that dominate mainstream sustainable development (including natural capital, the green economy, market environmentalism and ecological modernisation);
  • critiques of mainstream ideas and of neoliberal framings of sustainability, and alternative ideas about sustainability that challenge ‘business as usual’ thinking, such as arguments about limits to growth and calls for degrowth;
  • the dilemmas of sustainability in the context of forests, desertification, food and farming, biodiversity conservation and dam construction;
  • the challenge of policy choices about sustainability, particularly between reformist and radical responses to the contemporary global dilemmas.

Green Development offers clear insights into the challenges of environmental sustainability, and social and economic development. It is unique in offering a synthesis of theoretical ideas on sustainability and in its coverage of the extensive literature on environment and development around the world. The book has proved its value to generations of students as an authoritative, thought-provoking and readable guide to the field of sustainable development.

chapter Chapter One|21 pages

The dilemma of sustainability

ByW.M. Adams

chapter Chapter Two|27 pages

The roots of sustainable development

ByW.M. Adams

chapter Chapter Three|32 pages

Making mainstream sustainable development

ByW.M. Adams

chapter Chapter Four|27 pages

Sustainability and natural capital

ByW.M. Adams

chapter Chapter Five|20 pages

Neoliberalism and the green economy

ByW.M. Adams

chapter Chapter Six|28 pages

Corporations and sustainability

ByW.M. Adams

chapter Chapter Seven|20 pages

Sustainability and degrowth

ByW.M. Adams

chapter Chapter Eight|28 pages

The political forest

ByW.M. Adams

chapter Chapter Nine|20 pages


ByW.M. Adams

chapter Chapter Ten|21 pages

Famine, food and farming

ByW.M. Adams

chapter Chapter Eleven|32 pages

The political ecology of biodiversity

ByW.M. Adams

chapter Chapter Twelve|35 pages

Engineering development

chapter Chapter Thirteen|15 pages

Green development: reformism or radicalism?

ByW.M. Adams