In this article we argue that sustainable development is not a socio-ecologically friendly principle. The principle, which is deeply embedded in environmental law, policymaking and governance, drives environmentally destructive neoliberal economic growth that exploits and degrades the vulnerable living order. Despite seemingly well-meaning intentions behind the emergence of sustainable development, it almost invariably facilitates exploitative economic development activities that exacerbate systemic inequalities and injustices without noticeably protecting all life forms in the Anthropocene. We conclude the article by examining an attempt to construct alternatives to sustainable development through the indigenous onto-epistemology of buen vivir. While no panacea, buen vivir is a worldview that offers the potential to critically rethink how environmental law could re-orientate away from its ‘centered’, gendered and anthropocentric, neoliberal sustainable development ontology, to a radically different ontology that embraces ecologically sustainable ways of seeing, being, knowing and caring.
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Kotzé, L., & Adelman, S. (2022). Environmental Law and the Unsustainability of Sustainable Development: A Tale of Disenchantment and of Hope. Law and critique. doi:10.1007/s10978-022-09323-4.
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