challenges and pathways for sustainability
What are the challenges and pathways for sustainability
Sustainability can be defined as “a process that helps create a vibrant economy and a high quality of life, while respecting the need to sustain natural resources and protect the environment. It expresses the principle that future generations should live in a world that the present generation has enjoyed but not diminished.” (Clough et al 2006). The following dimensions of sustainability must be addressed in order to achieve this vision:
• current and future humans are reasonably healthy;
• communities and nations are secure, peaceful and thriving;
• there is economic opportunity for all;
• and the integrity of the life-supporting biosphere is restored and sustained.
With the notion of ‘pathway’ conveying the way in which a given system changes over time, depending on the issue in question, attention might, for instance, be on a household, a locality, a region, a national health or innovation system, a broader social-ecological system, or a global regulatory system – as
well as on the ways that pathways of change in each of these interact. For example, a global pact promotes dialogue and collaboration in the exchange of information, knowledge and skills in support of a range of initiatives to accelerate sustainability
The present economic system often rewards the most unsustainable practices and by doing so prolongs the pathology of the status quo, monopolizes resources, maintains the power structure and decreases the opportunity for a new system to be designed and built that serves people and the environment in a sustainable and humane way.
Sustainability can be difficult to value from a monetary stand-point, making it challenging for CFO’s and other executives to understand the importance of environmental stewardship. Data-driven metrics can help smooth this process, making it possible for finance and sustainability teams to work together to create new, cost-effective plans. Providing those metrics, however, can be difficult.
Clough, G. Wayne; Chameau, Jean-Lou; Carmichael, Carol (2006) Sustainability and the University. Presidency, v9 n1 p30-32, 35, 37-38