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Challenges of responding to sustainability with implications for affordable housing

By Michael Arman, Jian Zuo, Lou Wilson, George Zillante and Stephen Pullen


Sustainability is one of the most contested ideologies of our time because everyone acknowledges that it must occur but no one can agree on what needs to change in response. This is unsurprising, because objecting to the goal of sustainability is like objecting to other inherently good goals like peace or freedom. Responses to sustainability exist on a long continuum, with some interpreting sustainability to mean conservation-at-all-costs and reduced economic growth, while others suggest that the market will ensure sustainable outcomes eventually result. Further, sustainability can be easily manipulated to justify predetermined outcomes. There are, indeed, a multitude of conceptual and pragmatic challenges to operating on sustainability, particularly when the scale shifts from a global goal to local action. Using the application of sustainability to affordable housing in Australia as a case study, this article argues that rather than limiting sustainable outcomes, the existence of the sustainability debate which focuses on the many challenges is a positive indicator that sustainability may be attainable.Sustainability Affordable housing Needs and wants Sustainable consumption Intergenerational equality Global inequality

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