Marion Dumas and I have posted a new working paper on “The Institutional Foundations of Sustainability: What Can We (Not) Learn from Political Economy?” on SSRN:

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2441677

This article offers a critical, systematic review of the literature on political institutions from the perspective of sustainable human development (SHD). We consider a socio-economic system sustainable if it is capable of renewing itself over extended periods of time. Many political institutions that are deemed effective at solving a host of societal problems do not promote long-run sustainability. Institutions that maintain order, reduce conflict, and allow collective decisions to be made lay the foundation for economic development. However, such development is often unsustainable in the long run without levels of cooperation and foresight that today’s political institutions usually do not achieve. SHD requires policies that do not corrode natural capital over centuries and millennia, governance across multiple scales of decision-making, and strategies to deal with exceptionally high levels of complexity. Even the most advanced and successful political institutions do not meet these challenges.

As you can see, the scope is broad and ambition great. We believe it is important that (i) scholars of political institutions to put much more emphasis on sustainability and (ii) the study of sustainability pay more attention to institutional political economy.

Friends, colleagues, and luminaries, we would be grateful for your comments on the text!

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