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Keywords:

  • sustainability;
  • sustainable development;
  • environmental policy;
  • political economy

ABSTRACT

Attempts to categorize the different interpretations of sustainability have evolved mainly in the form of mapping the terrain or providing typologies. However, mapping approaches tend to be simplistic and therefore incapable of capturing the complexity of the debate. Typologies of sustainability typically lack epistemological consistency, or logical arguments to order the categorization process. This paper proposes a new typology that might capture the diversity of the arguments over sustainability in a form that remains sufficiently clear to make sense of the debate. A typology is offered that is ordered by the ideologies of actors in the debate over sustainability, which might be usefully applied to unpack the ideological alignment of policy actors. This typology offers an overview of the debate, separates out the ideologies of actors and offers a means to compare and reflect on the relative merits of each approach and the solutions that are offered. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.