The drive for sustainability :an exploration of the private sector’s role in assisting sustainable development in the Smaller Island States of the Pacific.
Thesis DisciplineEuropean Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Humanity has constantly searched for and created theories which explain and guide the pursuit of a better life, a more equal global system and a method through which to live a fulfilling existence. These ambitions have culminated in the theory of sustainable development – the guiding principles of which are the deep and equal incorporation into actions and lifestyles of three pillars; society, economy and environment. These guiding principles have provided a holistic guide to developmental actions as well as having proven central to framing global agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals. However, while it may be a prominent theory, it is also contested. This is not only within the academic realm by theorists such as the post-developmentalists, but also in reality through the omnipresent climatic issues which threaten the world today. Furthermore, humanity has a right to development, to not only live a fulfilling life but to also benefit from the process which enables this as well – and global societies and institutions have an obligation to enable this right, especially in light of pressing concerns such as climate change. It is within this context of sustainable development, framed by the need to uphold the right to development and to overcome global issues such as climate change, that the thesis has its roots. With this in mind, it has explored the way in which traditional actors within sustainable development processes have engaged in development in order to understand how these actors could be more effective in their engagement so as to work towards enabling the realisation of the right to development and the mitigation of issues such as climate change. However, given the strong critique of the traditional development methods by, for example, the post-development theorists, this thesis has explored the role of an actor which has recently become more prominent within sustainable development - the private sector - in order to make a more incisive contribution to this field. In short, it has sought to understand the potential role of the private sector in increasing the effectiveness of sustainable development processes. In order to test this, the thesis has focussed on a region which is heavily threatened by climatic concerns - the Pacific. Within the Pacific, there is a grouping of states - the Smaller Island States (SIS) - that feel they need a stronger voice in order to overcome climate change and achieve their sustainable development goals. It is this grouping that the thesis has focussed on in order to understand whether sustainable development can be successful within a complex and time pressured developmental context. However, there has been little research into this regional grouping and thus there is limited knowledge as to the role that the private sector could play in enabling further development of a sustainable nature in SIS. Given this, the thesis has analysed this situation through firstly creating an analytical framework, which not only draws on existing sustainable development literature, but also goes further to incorporate new concepts that the thesis has created, such as reciprocal duality. This framework is then used to analyse the effectiveness of the traditional, or status quo, processes of sustainable development. It then reports on a case study focussing on one aspect of the private sector - tourism - to test the potential of the private sector within the SIS. Tourism was chosen because within the SIS, tourism is one of the key actors within the private sector. The thesis concludes that whilst the private sector can play a positive role in making sustainable development more effective, it will be difficult to achieve or less effective, if actors are engaged for geo-political or self-centred reasons rather than altruistic and development- centred reasons.