Futures Forum: Development for Sustainability: what is 'sustainability'?
Futures Forum: VGS AGM: sustainable development: the bigger picture
This is how attendees at a recent meeting in Sidmouth defined 'development for sustainability':
Futures Forum: Development for Sustainability: feedback from Futures Forum meeting
And yet many would see 'sustainable development' as an oxymoron:
"According to the origin of the concept of sustainable development, a development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, the right term for the developed countries should be a sustainable de-growth".
Sustainable development - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Futures Forum: Steady-state economy... Post-growth economy
Guardian columnist George Monbiot and conservative philosopher Robert Skidelsky addressed this:
How “Sustainability” Became “Sustained Growth”
The Rio Declaration rips up the basic principles of environmental action.
By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website, 22nd June 2012
In 1992 world leaders signed up to something called “sustainability”. Few of them were clear about what it meant; I suspect that many of them had no idea. Perhaps as a result, it did not take long for this concept to mutate into something subtly different: “sustainable development”. Then it made a short jump to another term: “sustainable growth”. And now, in the 2012 Earth Summit text that world leaders are about to adopt, it has subtly mutated once more: into “sustained growth”.
This term crops up 16 times in the document, where it is used interchangeably with sustainability and sustainable development. But if sustainability means anything, it is surely the opposite of sustained growth. Sustained growth on a finite planet is the essence of unsustainability.
As Robert Skidelsky, who comes at this issue from a different angle, observes in the Guardian today:
“Aristotle knew of insatiability only as a personal vice; he had no inkling of the collective, politically orchestrated insatiability that we call economic growth. The civilization of “always more” would have struck him as moral and political madness. And, beyond a certain point, it is also economic madness. This is not just or mainly because we will soon enough run up against the natural limits to growth. It is because we cannot go on for much longer economising on labour faster than we can find new uses for it.”
Rio+20 draft text is 283 paragraphs of fluff | George Monbiot | Environment | theguardian.com
Is economic growth incompatible with sustainable development? | Guardian Sustainable Business | theguardian.com
Consider this definition of SUSTAINABLE GROWTH:
Sustainable economic growth means a rate of growth which can be maintained without creating other significant economic problems, especially for future generations. There is clearly a trade-off between rapid economic growth today, and growth in the future. Rapid growth today may exhaust resources and create environmental problems for future generations, including the depletion of oil and fish stocks, and global warming.
But there do seem to be contradictions: from the Financial Times:
Growth that it is possible to SUSTAIN(=make continue) without causing economic problems;
economic growth that is possible to sustain without causing environmental problems
Sustainable Growth Definition from Financial Times Lexicon
And what of SUSTAINED ECONOMIC GROWTH:
We understand the notion of the 'three strands' for sustainable development
Futures Forum: " We really need to go back to basics and understand what the NPPF understands by ‘sustainable’."
but here is a fresh understanding of this model: notice the use of the term 'continuous growth':
Lynas Corporation - Zero Harm and Sustainable Development
And this seems to be what mainstream politicians want to deliver:
How can emerging markets get sustained economic growth? | Fox Business Video
George Osborne to hail GDP figures as return to sustained economic growth | Business | The Guardian
There is the question of how these ideas impact on how businesses look to their own futures.
We have the notion of a SUSTAINABLE GROWTH RATE for companies, which has very little to do with the Financial Times' definition of "economic growth that is possible to sustain without causing environmental problems":
In simple terms and with reference to a business, sustainable growth is the realistically attainable growth that a company could maintain without running into problems. A business that grows too quickly may find it difficult to fund the growth. A business that grows too slowly or not at all may stagnate. Finding the optimum growth rate is the goal. A sustainable growth rate (SGR) is the maximum growth rate that a company can sustain without having to increase financial leverage. In essence, finding a company's sustainable growth rate answers the question: how much can this company grow before it must borrow money?
Sustainable Growth - Encyclopedia - Business Terms | Inc.com
However, more companies are taking CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY seriously, which seems to take on other issues:
Corporate Sustainability is a business approach that creates long-term consumer and employee value by not only creating a "green" strategy aimed towards the natural environment, but taking into consideration every dimension of how a business operates in the social, cultural, and economic environment... sustainability can increase revenue, reduce energy expenses, reduce waste expenses, reduce materials and water expenses, increase employee productivity, reduce hiring and attrition expenses, and reduce strategic and operational risks.
Corporate sustainability - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Corporate Sustainable Development | Computacenter UK LTD
Sustainability - Ramirent
GREEN PROFITABILITY has become a buzzword:
Sustainable business, or green business, is an enterprise to be that has minimal negative impact on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy—a business that strives to meet the triple bottom line.
Sustainable business - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Home Page | Profitable Green Solutions
PGS Consulting 2013 - YouTube
Green or profitable - must companies choose? - Carbon Trust
How "Going Green" Has Changed From Tree Hugging to Profitability - Forbes
How we define Green - Sustainability - Skanska
The developer at the former Fortfield Hotel in Sidmouth
Futures Forum: Fortfield Hotel ... to ... Sanditon apartments
subscribes to a similar set of principles:
We aim to build all of our homes to the minimum standard of Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 and it represents a 44% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the 2006 regulations (25% compared to the the 2010 version) and a 50% reduction in water usage in a typical home. A number of our new homes are being built to Zero Carbon Code Level 6.
We have been building low carbon homes for many years and we fully understand the physics of sustainable development. We have considerable experience of incorporating renewable technologies into our builds.Sustainability Principles - ZeroC
And other 'sustainable developers' are finding growing markets and supportive authorities:
Sustainable Developer Guide - City and County of Swansea
Sustainable Developers Guide : Broxtowe Borough Council
Special Focus - En route to becoming premier sustainable developer
But can you have your cake and eat it?
Again: can 'development' be 'sustainable'?
Is much of this simply 'greenwash'?
Greenwashing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
What Is Greenwashing? - Scientific American
Corporate Watch : November 2, 2009 : The 10:10 campaign: Corporate greenwash?
Take the issue of EMBODIED ENERGY:
Is 'development' - in the sense of pulling down old buildings and building new - 'sustainable'?
measure of sustainability embodied energy
Futures Forum: Knowle: old bricks vs new build: embodied carbon
Futures Forum: Knowle: old bricks vs new build: embodied carbon: pt 3
Or would straw bales be better?
Futures Forum: Self-build
Futures Forum: A cob cottage for £150...
Is the 'development' of new technologies - in the sense of a technological fix to all our problems - 'sustainable'?
LOW-TECH MAGAZINE: The monster footprint of digital technology
Or would frugal innovation be better?
Futures Forum: Jugaad: The Rise of Frugal Innovation
Is the 'development' of new products - making new stuff ad infinitum - 'sustainable'?
How much embodied energy and carbon dioxide in a car?
Or would make-do-and-mend be better?
Futures Forum: Freecycle in Honiton
Futures Forum: How I lived by spending nothing for two years
From the Bristol-based company Yoke:
yoke | Is Economic Growth Sustainable?