Sustainable Development: Problematising Normative Constructions of Gender within Global Environmental Governmentality

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Systems of governance are legitimised as an almost indispensable response to global co-ordination over matters of environmental degradation. Considering sustainable development as the key label for 'common-sense' political approaches to environmental degradation and a key informant for international environmental policy-making activity, this article seeks to problematise such a widespread discourse as (re) productive of (hetero)sexist power relations. As such, this article, informed by Foucault's conceptions of governmentality and biopower, contends that the global thrust towards sustainable development projects works to construct identities and discipline power relations with regard to gender and sexuality. Specifically, I argue that the disciplinary narratives and apparatuses of international sustainable development initiatives work to construct gendered identities and naturalise heterosexual relations. To demonstrate this, this article focuses on the discourses surrounding one of the most important international documents directed at informing national environmental policy, Agenda 21.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-149
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • heteronormativity
  • sustainable development
  • gender
  • environmental governance
  • Foucault
  • governmentality


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