The quest for sustainable agriculture

10 January 2011

Since the Brundtland Commission on Environment and Development published its report in 1983 the idea of sustainable development has become popular. Although many definitions of sustainable development have been proposed, the concept is not easily implemented in a world which believes that high rates of economic growth are essential and in which economic systems are run on the basis of money flows in a setting of private property. Environmental degradation is seen as external to the system. The article discusses the concepts of technicism and economism as the dominant features of Western culture, meaning that all problems can be solved by technical and economic means. This is followed by an analysis of technicistic and economistic concepts of sustainability. In order to develop a concept of sustainability that is not marred by technicism and economism, key features of reformational philosophy, as represented by D.H.Th. Vollenhoven are summarized, especially concepts of time. This leads to an idea of sustainability that seeks to maintain the integrity of the kingdoms of things, plants and animals through a human culture inspired by wisdom and careful stewardship.