Overcoming Sustainability Displacement: The Challenge of Making Sustainability Accessible in the Here and Now

  • Angus Morrison SaundersEmail author
  • Michael Hughes
Part of the CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance book series (CSEG)


Sustainability displacement is the idea that the achievement of sustainability is shifted to some other place and future time rather than being delivered in the here and now. The growing use of environmental offsets is a key example of this phenomenon that is explored in this chapter. Sustainability displacement through use of environmental offsets is problematic because limitations, unknowns and complications mean there is no guarantee of achieving the desired goal. Based on a literature review and illustrative case studies, we present both theoretical and practical examples highlighting the problems with operationalizing sustainability in the context of individual development activities. We introduce a sustainability framework that includes the dimensions of ‘here and now’ and ‘there and then’ to make explicit the trade-offs in time and space. We conclude with reflections on the issues with sustainability displacement and the advantage of conceptualising sustainability in a simple but integrated and holistic fashion that provides a useful foundation for university teaching and research in sustainability.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ScienceEdith Cowan UniversityPerthAustralia
  2. 2.Environmental and Conservation SciencesMurdoch UniversityPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Research Unit for Environmental Science and ManagementNorth West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa

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