It is intended to present a preliminary analysis of the contributions of cultural anthropology to sustainable territorial development (STD) under two aspects: cultural diversity creates development opportunities insofar as they generate economic, social and environmental advantages and, the valorization of the symbolic and intangible resources present in a territory that values dynamics capable of promoting progress. Initially, this short essay discusses notions of territory and sustainability.
Keywords: Cultural diversity; Territorial development; Cultural heritage; Symbolic resources; Environment; Sustainable development
At the International Conference on Conservation and Development (IUCN) held in Canada in 1986, the concept of Sustainable and Equitable Development was presented as a new model with the following principles: conservation of the integrated environment the development of basic human needs, the achievement of equity and social justice, the pursuit of social self-determination and cultural diversity, and the maintenance of ecological integrity. Reinforcing the dynamism of sustainability, it is emphasized that society and the environment are constantly changing, as are technologies, culture, values and aspirations. Everything is constantly transformed and therefore a society must truly allow and sustain such modifications . It is pertinent to consider the notion of sustainability. One issue that has a decisive influence on the conception and dissemination of what is becoming sustainability is the world view of those involved, considering that the sustainability approach is explored in several fields of knowledge .
Thus, another source of influence to form the concept of sustainability are institutional visions and conceptions.In this perspective, groups can be identified that influenced the construction and dissemination of the concept of sustainability, such as: World Commission on Environment and Development - Report Our Common Future; International Institute of Environment and Development . In addressing the concepts
of “Eco-development” and “Sustainable Development” as synonyms, it is assumed that all development-oriented planning needs to simultaneously take into account five dimensions of sustainability :
a. social (combating poverty and building a civilization with greater equity in the distribution of income, in order to reduce the gap between the living standards of the rich and the poor).
b. economic (economic efficiency must be evaluated in macro-social terms, not only through the criterion of corporate profitability, aiming at promoting structural changes that act as stimulators of human development without compromising the environment).
c. ecological (related to the preservation of natural resources as a basis for biodiversity) proposes a more efficient production system with ecologically correct and economically viable solutions through the use of clean technologies and renewable alternative energy sources, as well as the definition of norms for an adequate environmental protection).
d. spatial or geographic (geared towards a balanced urban-rural configuration, better territorial distribution of urban settlements and economic activities) and
e. cultural (referring to respect for cultural specificities,
identities and traditions of local communities, valuing the
continuity of traditions and plurality of peoples).
Years later, the author  expands the approach to sustainable
development by introducing three different dimensions that can
be analyzed in a related way:
a. Environmental (encompasses respect for the capacity
of self-purification of natural ecosystems).
b. National policy (involves democracy, a reasonable
level of social cohesion, human rights and development of
the State’s capacity to implement the National project in
partnership with all entrepreneurs).
c. International policy (based on the promotion of peace
and international cooperation, international financial
control, application of the Precautionary Principle in the
management of the environment and natural resources
protection of biological and cultural diversity and scientific
and technological cooperation).
It is possible to add two other dimensions: the political
dimension that refers to the creation of conditions that allow
effective participation in the planning and social control of public
policies by civil society; and the technological dimension which
concerns the promotion of local scientific and technological
development . Covering the psychological, social and
cultural dimensions, the practice of environmental education is
emphasized, based on the need to understand culture and achieve
individual well-being, as constituent elements of sustainable
development [8,9]. Despite all the efforts undertaken in
understanding and characterizing the most diverse dimensions
of sustainability, what has prevailed in studies on sustainable
development is the tripod involving environmental, social and
economic dimensions. Of these three fundamental components,
the well-known triple bottom line arises, in which society seeks
the balance between what is “socially desirable, economically
viable and ecologically sustainable” . Most importantly,
in addressing the three dimensions of business sustainability,
it is the dynamic balance between the economic, social and
environmental dimensions. It should be noted that the concept
of sustainable development includes multidimensionality that
includes more than the economic, social and environmental
dimensions often mentioned in the studies on the subject. Based
on this orientation, the importance of incorporating the cultural
dimension is clearly perceptible.
Reflecting on the challenges of development, the need
to highlight the dynamics that enhance the effectiveness of
non-market relations between men is emphasized, in order
to value the wealth they have, while proposing to strengthen
the perspective . In this way, “territorial development
means any process of mobilization of actors that leads to the
elaboration of a strategy of adaptation to external limits, on the
basis of a collective identification with a culture and a territory”
. The perspective of sustainable territorial development
“is not limited to the search for optimization of the factors of
production for economic growth . In this case, the different
resources (material and symbolic, monetary and non-monetary)
of a territory are not only sources of comparative advantages,
but are “seen as an expression of a natural and cultural heritage
shared by the populations” and therefore need be managed and
used with ecological prudence. “The concept of patrimonial
resource allows to deepen the reflection on the ecological,
social and political sustainability of the territorial dynamics of
The STD approach thus opens up new analytical and
methodological perspectives in terms of public management and
planning, bringing to light new institutional arrangements that
can be used: the analysis and consideration of specificities and
heritage resources (both natural and cultural) in development
processes. It should be added that such cultural perspective is
associated with path dependence, that is, a particular conception
of historical development linked to a social causality dependent
on the trajectory traversed.A redirection in the focus of research
on the determinants of development over time is no longer based
on ‘fundamentalism of capital’, but ultimately on the role of
institutions. However, the new paradigm of development, termed
by the author of “institutional turnaround”, is accompanied
by a certain tendency to standardize policies and reproduce
institutional arrangements recommended by the international
establishment. The main expression of the ‘upset’ is the
phenomenon that classifies as ‘institutional monoculture’: “it is
based both on the general premise that institutional efficiency
does not depend on adaptation to the local socio-cultural
environment, but on the more specific premise that idealized
versions of Anglo-American institutions are ideal development
tools regardless of the level of development or position in the
global economy”. The argument is reinforced by Chang in
denouncing the pressure exerted by developed countries and
international bodies to adopt an agenda of ‘good policies’ and
‘good institutions’ for governance by developing countries .
In this sense, recognition of the cultural diversity of a territory
is a key element for rethinking progress from a perspective
that goes beyond economic growth, but rather privileges the
different resources (material and symbolic) as sources of
territorial dynamics. Especially the immaterial cultural heritage,
for example, revealed by the records of numerous manifestations
of knowledge, celebrations, forms of expression, places and
buildings, created and recreated by social groups, reveal the
interaction with nature and history, with a view to preservation
of the identity and continuity of human evolution and diversity.
For these reasons, this research intends to discuss these aspects
of immaterial cultural as strategies of development .