Transformative Sustainable Development: Participation, reflection and change, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Transformative Sustainable Development

Participation, reflection and change, 1st Edition

By Kei Otsuki


144 pages

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Paperback: 9781138212473
pub: 2016-08-04
Hardback: 9780415640794
pub: 2014-12-17
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pub: 2014-12-05
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Recent debates about sustainable development have shifted their focus from fixing environmental problems in a technocratic and economic way to more fundamental changes in social-political processes and relations. In this context, participation is a genuinely transformative approach to sustainable development, yet the process by which participation leads to transformation is not sufficiently understood.

This book considers how the act of participating in sustainable development projects can bring about social transformation that is considered to be fair and just by the participants and non-participants in a broader societal context. Drawing on ideas from social theory and applied anthropology, the book proposes a reflexivity-based framework to analyse participation as a type of social action underpinned by primary experience. Development projects have a transformative effect when participants are given the opportunity to reflect on their experience, share the reflection with others, and open new space for collective deliberation and change. The book applies this framework to assess community-based participatory projects in the Amazon, African slums and rural settlements, and disaster stricken areas in Japan. It also outlines potential institutions of governance to institutionalize the change by referring to current food governance, drawing out lessons with international relevance.

This book will be of interest to students of sustainable development, environmental policy and development studies, as well as practitioners and policy-makers in these fields.


"This is a substantial contribution to the theoretical and political debates on sustainability. Based on the author’s involvement in development projects in settings as different as Brazil, Ghana, Kenya and Japan, the book convincingly shows that the construction of sustainable societies requires both fundamental transformations and pragmatic mechanisms. Key to this is human agency and participation as open ended action. I strongly recommend this reflexive and stimulating work of Kei Otsuki."

Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

"Many of the failures of development can be traced to the technocratic and managerial approach that has come to dominate much of the field. Here Kei Otsuki fluently demonstrates that true development is an art and that true social transformation takes place only when participation is built into the process. This book is an essential reminder of this often forgotten fact."

John Clammer, United Nations University, Japan

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Towards Agentive Participation 2. Community-Based Natural Resource Management in the Brazilian Amazon 3. Community-Led Sanitation in Nairobi Slums 4. Community Resilience in a Semi-Arid Rural Settlement in Ghana 5. Community and Citizenship Building in Post-Triple Disaster Japan 6. Agentive Participation to Transform Food Governance 7. Conclusions

About the Author

Kei Otsuki is a sociologist and a researcher currently affiliated with the United Nations University, Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, Japan.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Sustainable Development

This series uniquely brings together original and cutting-edge research on Sustainable Development. The books in this series tackle difficult and important issues in Sustainable Development including values and ethics; sustainability in higher education; climate compatible development; resilience; capitalism and de-growth; sustainable urban development; gender and participation; and well-being.

Drawing on a wide range of disciplines, the series promotes interdisciplinary research for an international readership. The series was recommended in the Guardian’s suggested reads for Development and Environment.

The series welcomes submissions from established authors in the field as well as from young authors. To submit proposals, please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Environmental Economics
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy