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Part I Context, Ch.2 Discourses

John S Dryzek

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law (2nd Edition)

Edited By: Lavanya Rajamani, Jacqueline Peel

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 25 March 2023

Sustainable development

This chapter begins by elaborating on the concept of discourse, then turns to how the main discourses of environmental concern can be mapped through reference to their reactions against an earlier industrialism. It examines the content, history, and impact of the discourses of environmental problem-solving, limits and survival, sustainability, and green radicalism, as well as old and new backlashes against environmentalism. The chapter then considers the importance of discourses in ordering international environmental affairs compared with other influences. Ultimately, the influence of discourses can be discerned only by writing histories of particular cases. But in the end there is one reason to expect discourses to be more consequential in the international system than in the internal affairs of states. Formal institutions are relatively weak in the international system, meaning coordination (and disruption) across actors has to be supplied by informal mechanisms such as discourses.

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