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Sustainable technologies do not exist!

Rene Kemp

EKONOMIAZ. Revista vasca de Economía, 2010, vol. 75, issue 04, 22-39

Abstract: Innovation and sustainable development are broad, general concepts with positive connotations which are widely used in the social sciences, but usually in an ambiguous, imprecise way. This paper examines various definitions and meanings of sustainability as a preliminary step in analysing sustainable technologies. The term “sustainable technologies” is actually incorrect since sustainable development is not a question of technology or organisation regarding the sustainability of firms but rather a systemic matter. It is wrong to consider certain technologies as sustainable because it is physically impossible for a technology to have no impact at all on the environment: all production and consumption actions have environmental impacts. “Innovation for sustainable development” is a complex idea, due to the opposing requirements (for support and control) that it entails. Innovation policy must take a systemic outlook regarding innovation that combines benefits for users and for society as a whole.

Keywords: sustainable development; system innovation; sustainable technologies (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q28 Q55 Q56 Q58 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010
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