Livia Boscardin

“Our Common Future?”–Animals and Sustainable Development

“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 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.

Supervisor: Andrea Maihofer

Co-Supervisor: G. L. Francione (Newark)


Livia Boscardin is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Basel, Switzerland. Her work critically examines the nexus Animals and Sustainable Development by asking how nonhuman animals are considered in the concept and practice of sustainable development, and how the paradigm of green capitalism/green growth is creating new forms of oppression in the nonhuman and human world. She has presented her research at conferences in Europe, Turtle Island and Australia and published on the issue. Livia’s interests include critical animal studies, sustainable development/ degrowth/ radical ecology, anarchist and Critical Theory, ecofeminism, and intersectionality, and militant research. She was the coordinative assistant of the doctoral program “Law and Animals: Ethics at Crossroads” of the University of Basel and she spent the Spring term of 2015 as a visiting scholar at the Animal Studies Initiative, NYU. In 2014, she has been awarded a Doc.CH scholarship of excellence by the SNSF.

Memberships: Graduiertenkolleg Gender Studies