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Sevastyan Antonov
Sevastyan Antonov

Dimensions Of Sustainability || !!BETTER!!

Sustainability is a societal goal that relates to the ability of people to safely co-exist on Earth over a long time. Specific definitions of sustainability are difficult to agree on and have varied with literature, context, and time.[2][1] Sustainability is commonly described as having three dimensions (or pillars): environmental, economic, and social.[1] Many publications state that the environmental dimension is the most important.[3][4] For this reason, in everyday use, "sustainability" is often focused on countering major environmental problems, such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, loss of ecosystem services, land degradation, and air and water pollution. The concept of sustainability can be used to guide decisions at the global, national, and individual levels (e.g. sustainable living).[5]

dimensions of sustainability ||

How the economic dimension of sustainability should be addressed is controversial.[1] Scholars have discussed this aspect under the concept of "weak and strong sustainability". For example, there will always be tension between the ideas of "welfare and prosperity for all" and environmental conservation.[10][1] Therefore, trade-offs are required. Approaches that decouple economic growth from environmental deterioration would be desirable but are difficult to implement.[11][12]

Sustainability is regarded as a "normative concept".[5][15][16][2] This means it is based on what people value or find desirable: "The quest for sustainability involves connecting what is known through scientific study to applications in pursuit of what people want for the future."[16]

The 1983 UN Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) had a big influence on how we use the term "sustainability" today. The commission's 1987 Brundtland Report provided a definition of sustainable development. The report, Our Common Future, defines it as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".[17][18] The report helped bring "sustainability" into the mainstream of policy discussions. It popularized the concept of "sustainable development".[1]

Some definitions focus on the environmental dimension. The Oxford Dictionary of English defines sustainability as: "the property of being environmentally sustainable; the degree to which a process or enterprise is able to be maintained or continued while avoiding the long-term depletion of natural resources".[20]

The term sustainability is derived from the Latin word sustinere. "To sustain" can mean to maintain, support, uphold, or endure.[21][22] So sustainability is the ability to continue over a long period of time.

The terms "sustainability" and "sustainable development" are closely related. In fact, they are often used to mean the same thing.[6] Both terms are linked with the "three dimensions of sustainability" concept.[1] One distinction is that sustainability is a general concept, while sustainable development can be a policy or "organizing principle". Scholars say sustainability is a broader concept because sustainable development focuses mainly on human well-being.[16]

Scholars usually distinguish three different areas of sustainability. These are the environmental, the social, and the economic. Several terms are in use for this concept. Authors may speak of three "pillars", "dimensions", "components", "aspects",[29] "perspectives", "factors", or "goals". All mean the same thing in this context.[1] The three dimensions paradigm has few theoretical foundations. It emerged without a single point of origin.[1][30] Scholars rarely question the distinction itself. The idea of sustainability with three dimensions is a dominant interpretation in the literature.[1]

In the Brundtland Report the environment and development are inseparable go together in the search for sustainability. It described sustainable development as a global concept linking environmental and social issues. It added sustainable development is important for both developing countries and industrialized countries:

Countries could develop systems for monitoring and evaluation of progress towards achieving sustainable development by adopting indicators that measure changes across economic, social and environmental dimensions.

Agenda 2030 from 2015 also viewed sustainability in this way. It sees the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with their 169 targets as balancing "the three dimensions of sustainable development, the economic, social and environmental".[33]

Scholars have discussed how to rank the three dimensions of sustainability. Many publications state that the environmental dimension is the most important.[3][4] (Planetary integrity or ecological integrity are other terms for the environmental dimension.)

Protecting ecological integrity is the core of sustainability according to many experts.[4] If this is the case then the environmental dimension of sustainability sets limits to economic and social development.[4]

The "nested ellipses diagram" is one way of showing the three dimensions of sustainability together with a hierarchy: It gives the environmental dimension a special status. In this diagram, the environment includes society, and society includes economic conditions. Thus it stresses a hierarchy.

Another model shows the three dimensions in a similar way: In this "SDG wedding cake" model, the economy is a smaller subset of the societal system. And the societal system in turn is a smaller subset of the biosphere system.[35]

In 2000, the UN launched eight Millennium Development Goals. The aim was for the global community to achieve them by 2015. Goal 7 was to "ensure environmental sustainability". But this goal did not mention the concepts of social or economic sustainability.[1]

The economic dimension of sustainability is controversial.[1] This is because the term "development" within "sustainable development" can be interpreted in different ways. Some may take it to mean only "economic development" and growth. This can promote an economic system that is bad for the environment [43][44][45] Others focus more on the trade-offs between environmental conservation and achieving welfare goals for basic needs (food, water, health, and shelter).[10]

The social dimension of sustainability is not well defined.[50][51][52] One definition states that a society is sustainable in social terms if people do not face structural obstacles in key areas. These key areas are health, influence, competence, impartiality and meaning-making.[53]

Some scholars place social issues at the very center of sustainability discussions.[54] They suggest that all the domains of sustainability are social. These include ecological, economic, political, and cultural sustainability. These domains all depend on the relationship between the social and the natural. The ecological domain is defined as human embeddedness in the environment. From this perspective, social sustainability encompasses all human activities.[55] It goes beyond the intersection of economics, the environment, and the social.[56]

Some scholars have argued for a fourth sustainability dimension. They say the traditional three dimensions do not reflect the complexity of contemporary society.[60] For example, Agenda 21 for culture and the United Cities and Local Governments argue that sustainable development should include a solid cultural policy. They also advocate for a cultural dimension in all public policies. Another example was the Circles of Sustainability approach, which included cultural sustainability.[61]

People often debate the relationship between the environmental and economic dimensions of sustainability.[62] In academia, this is discussed under the term "weak and strong sustainability". In that model, the "weak sustainability" concept states that "capital made by humans" could replace most of the natural capital.[63][62] Natural capital is a way of describing environmental resources. People may refer to it as nature. An example for this is the use of environmental technologies to reduce pollution.[64]

Weak sustainability has come under criticism. It maybe be popular with governments and business but does not ensure the preservation of the earth's ecological integrity.[66] This is why the environmental dimension of sustainability is so important.[4]

Trade-offs between different dimensions of sustainability are a common topic for debate. Balancing the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability is difficult. This is because there is often disagreement about the relative importance of each. To resolve this, there is a need to integrate, balance, and reconcile the dimensions.[1] For example, humans can choose to make ecological integrity a priority or to compromise it.[4]

The IPAT formula, which was developed in the 1970s, states that the environmental impact of humans is proportional to human population, affluence and technology.[77] Therefore, ways to increase environmental sustainability would include human population control, reducing consumption and affluence[78] (e.g. reducing energy consumption), and developing innovative or green technologies (e.g. renewable energy). In other words, the broad aim would be to have fewer consumers and less environmental footprint per consumer or person.

In recent years, the concept of doughnut economics has been developed by economist Kate Raworth to integrate social and environmental sustainability into economic thinking. The social dimension is here portrayed as a minimum standard to which a society should aspire, whereas an outer limit is imposed by the carrying capacity of the planet.[84]

A 2020 meta-analysis of 180 scientific studies found that there is "no evidence of the kind of decoupling needed for ecological sustainability" and that "in the absence of robust evidence, the goal of decoupling rests partly on faith".[11] The possibilities for decoupling and thus the feasibility of green growth have been questioned,[12] and it has been argued that decoupling on its own will not sufficiently reduce environmental pressures, but needs to include the issue of economic growth.[12] Adequate decoupling is currently not taking place due to rising energy expenditure, rebound effects, problem shifting, the underestimated impact of services, the limited potential of recycling, insufficient and inappropriate technological change, and cost-shifting.[12]


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