Social Sustainability and Global Ethics: An Overview
A great majority of the world’s population are adherents to a religion, and the major religions contain codes of moral behaviour comparable to secular conceptions of social sustainability. I argue that religious views must be taken into consideration – indeed, made highly visible – if social sustainability is to function as something other than a descriptive and theoretical discourse in secular western academic elites.
Much work has already been undertaken in codifying the common moral and ethical elements of the world’s religions and developing descriptions of an ideal society. These documents – the Parliament of World Religion’s “Towards a Global Ethic” as well as the more secular “Universal Bill of Rights” bear great similarity to descriptions of a sustainable society developed in research and policy organisations with a focus on the socio-economic aspects of sustainability.
I argue that the evaluation of religiously-inspired declarations of global ethics is an important step in the development of social sustainability discourse, and towards the inclusion of religious views within social sustainability which is currently a secular discourse.
Keywords: Social Sustainability, Religion, Global Ethics
Dr. Stephen McKenzie
Research Associate, Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies, University of South Australia