Crisis of Global Sustainability: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Crisis of Global Sustainability

1st Edition

By Tapio Kanninen


188 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780415694179
pub: 2012-12-18
Hardback: 9780415690430
pub: 2012-12-14
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203071861
pub: 2013-01-04
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This concise and informative text provides a critical history of the concept of sustainability and the various institutional measures taken to promote, implement and enforce sustainable development, proposing new organizational solutions to deal with the crisis of sustainability.

Crisis of Global Sustainability provides for the first time a compact insider description of the evolution and impact of the Club of Rome, a global think tank that produced a groundbreaking 1972 study "The Limits to Growth" which highlighted the dangers of unrestrained economic growth and possible collapse of global economy during the first decades of the 21st century. With recent research confirming the validity of these concerns, Kanninen asks whether our overarching concept of thinking on world development today should continue to be "global sustainability", which implies that we still have enough time to make adjustments in our future policies and action. Or should the main paradigm of our thinking shift to "global survivability", a concept that stresses the absolute necessity of immediate and drastic change both in institutions and policies?

Many environmentalists, green politicians and think tanks are speaking today more loudly than ever about the necessity for a major policy, institutional and paradigm change and this work is essential reading for students and scholars alike.


"The book is scholarly in its depth of analysis, yet manages to be approachable for a general audience. Because of its emphasis on developing policy solutions, it is best suited to policy makers, scholars, and students.Kanninen uses pertinent examples and case studies to illustrate past failings in how individuals and institutions have responded to dire warnings about the Earth’s future. For example, he illustrates how the scientific community may criticize — and reject—innovative solutions or approaches to problems because they run counter to accepted beliefs or methodologies." - Miriam Aczel, Imperial College London, ACUNS

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. The birth and evolution of the Club of Rome: early identification of a global crisis 2. A new way of thinking: the MIT study The Limits to Growth 3. How have the concepts and doctrines of sustainability changed? 4. Intergovernmental action 1972-2012: from Stockholm to Rio plus 20 5. Planetary boundaries: doomsday prophecies or scientific projections? 6. A crisis of institutions: how to manage our interconnected future? 7. Overcoming the crisis of mind and action: creating new institutions and strategies for a global emergency 8. The future: thinking big about global institutions and world governance 9. Epilogue: what should be done?

About the Author

Tapio Kanninen is Senior Research Fellow at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York and a Co-Director of the Project on Sustainable Global Governance at RBIIS. A long-time UN staff member Dr. Kanninen was Chief of the Policy Planning Unit in the Department of Political Affairs (1998–2005), Head of the Secretariat of Kofi Annan’s five Summits with Regional Organizations and worked in a UNEP-funded project at the UN Statistical Office on establishing global framework for environmental statistics.

About the Series

Global Institutions

The "Global Institutions Series" is edited by Thomas G. Weiss (The CUNY Graduate Center, New York, USA) and Rorden Wilkinson (University of Sussex, UK).

The Series has two "streams" identified by their covers:

  • Blue covers offer comprehensive, accessible, and informative guides to the history, structure, and activities of key international organizations, and introductions to topics of key importance in contemporary global governance. Recognized experts use a similar structure to address the general purpose and rationale for specific organizations along with historical developments, membership, structure, decision-making procedures, key functions, and an annotated bibliography and guide to electronic sources.
  • Red covers consist of research monographs and edited collections that advance knowledge about one aspect of global governance; they reflect a wide variety of intellectual orientations, theoretical persuasions, and methodological approaches.

Together these streams provide a coherent and complementary portrait of the problems, prospects, and possibilities confronting global institutions today.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General