The invention of sustainability

Paul Warde

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61 Citations (Scopus)


This essay attempts something a little peculiar: a study of the genesis of a concept within discourses which did not, in fact, use the word. This is at least true of “sustainability” in English. The emergence of the German equivalent, Nachhaltigkeit, which might also be expressed by the idea of “lasting-ness”, is, however, usually dated to the use of the word nachhalthende by Hanns Carl von Carlowitz in his Sylvicultura oeconomica of 1713, the first great forestry manual of the eighteenth century. In fact, the term can be found in the 1650s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-170
Number of pages18
JournalModern Intellectual History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

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