Development Theories and the Rights of Nature: Natural Spaces and Human Development


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Traditional understanding of development as economic performance such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is too narrow that it is liable to the charge of abstraction from human interests. Recent approaches of development emphasize the centrality of human beings. Human development index is a representative example: centering on life expectancy, education, and gross national income per capita, the index urges governments to re-direct the goals of development on the quality of life of individuals, such that development could empower individuals to fully develop essential capabilities that are necessary for living a good life. Nonetheless, even this seemingly inclusive capability approach fails to render sufficient conceptual room for thinking about the role of nature in human development. This chapter attempts to address such conceptual insufficiencies. The chapter argues that a more inclusive conception of development which highlights the significance of the right of nature to be included in considerations of development, thereby opening up conceptual space for the nature to represent itself as an independent agent in theories of development, is urgently needed. This chapter takes the urban natural park as an example to argue that nature is constitutive of human well-being, patterns of social interactions, as well as social ethos. Through examining Eastern and Western perspectives on the relationships between nature and human development, this chapter aims at shedding light on how nature could be theorized as constitutive of human development and could potentially contribute to a more egalitarian distribution of well-being, and how the language of nature’s rights can help to conceptualize such contributions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRights and Urban Controversies in Hong Kong
EditorsBetty YUNG, Francis K. T. MOK, Baldwin WONG
PublisherSpringer Singapore
ISBN (Electronic)9789819912728
ISBN (Print)9789819912711, 9789879912742
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2023

Publication series

NameGovernance and Citizenship in Asia
ISSN (Print)2365-6255
ISSN (Electronic)2365-6263


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