Sustainable development, sustainable livelihoods and land reform in South Africa : a conceptual and ethical inquiry

Attfield, Robin ; Hattingh, Johan P. ; Matshabaphala, Manamela (2004)

The original publication is available at

DOI: 10.1080/0143659042000174897 (article)

DOI: 10.1080/0143659042000174888 (journal)


In this article various necessary conceptual linkages as well as contingent discontinuities between the concepts of land reform, sustainable livelihoods and sustainable development are studied. Exploring the complex relationship between land reform and sustainable development through a critical analysis of the concept of sustainable livelihoods, we argue that a strong ethical case for land reform as a component of sustainable development can be constructed by appealing to principles such as justice, equity and the obligations that we have towards fellow humans, as well as the environment, but fail to discharge if land reform is neglected. The case against land reform and its importance for sustainable livelihoods and sustainable development is also considered. We argue that this case is either inconclusive, or at best shows limits to the value of land reform in certain contexts only. It also suggests pitfalls to be avoided when land reform is being introduced, and can thus be regarded as enhancing the case for land reform that avoids such pitfalls. We furthermore argue that the complex set of relations that emerges proves to justify increased emphasis on implementation of land reform as a contribution towards sustainable development.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL:
This item appears in the following collections: