Dissertation Abstracts

“Our Common Future?”–Animals and Sustainable Development

Author: Boscardin, Livia , livia.boscardin@unibas.ch
Department: Gender studies
University: University of Basel, Switzerland
Supervisor: Andrea Maihofer
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Human-Animal Studies , Political Ecology , Sustainable Development , Animal exploitation
Areas of Research: Environment and Society , Agriculture and Food , Human Rights and Global Justice


“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Brundtland Report “Our Common Future”). This is limited to future human generations, of course. What about animals? How are they considered in the concept and practice of sustainable development?
This dissertation sets out to answer this question and thereby situates itself in the emerging and pioneering field of sociological human-animal studies. Here, the topics of animals and sustainable development should be brought together for the first time. More specifically, the inquiry is made into which role animals, especially farmed animals, play in sustainability policies. In the age of the Anthropocene, the examination of the environmental impact of the animal industry (the “ecological hoofprint”) has become a pressing issue; next to killing 66 billion nonhuman land animals and more than a trillion aquatic animals every year, the industry emits more greenhouse gases than the global transport sector.
International declarations on sustainability and studies on the ecological hoofprint are examined in a discourse analysis. Trends to mitigate the devastating effects of the animal-industrial complex include genetically engineering farmed animals’ digestion; “in vitro meat;” or “sustainable, happy meat.” In general, technological solutions following ecological modernization theory are predominant.