Christen, Marius, and Emily Schultz (2011). "In support of a more just and sustainable human development. Furthering a capability based conception of sustainability" Paper presented at the 8th annual conference of the HDCA, 6-8 September 2011, the Hague, the Netherlands.

The Capability Approach (CA) and Sustainable Development (SD) share the same overarching goal: to afford a good life to all human beings. We understand that to be able to answer the principle sustainability question, what to sustain?, normative and descriptive elements are needed. The CA is understood as purely normative whereas SD is both normative and descriptive, highlighting the theoretical challenge of basing an SD-conception on the CA (1). We identify three descriptive SDassumptions in need of entrance into the CA and show that only two of them have thus far been addressed (2). To show how the missing SD-assumption can gain entrance into the CA, we use the theoretical differentiation between theories of ideals and ideal/non-ideal theories. We interpret Martha Nussbaum’s version of the CA as a theory about the ideal of justice and Amartya Sen’s version as a non-ideal theory of justice (3). With this differentiation, we are able to find a point of connection for the missing SDassumption by determining the valuableness of functionings in the context of SD by implementing so called ‘Management Rules of Resources’ (4). We conclude that by framing the SD-assumption in CA terms and focusing on functionings and introducing a way to substantiate the term ‘valuable’ in SD terms, answering the what-question with a CA-based conception of SD becomes possible (5).