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TREN 1F90

Introduction to
Sustainability

These notes available via the


online course outline at:

http://www.brocku.ca/tren
/courses/tren3p18

TREN 1F90

Introduction to Sustainability

Definitions
environment
policy
scale
jurisdiction
Defining Sustainable Development
About Interdisciplinarity

Definitions, tools
and frameworks

environment

in-'vI-r&(n)-m&nt, -'vI(-&)r(n)-

[n] 1 : the circumstances, objects, or conditions by


which one is surrounded
2 a : the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic
factors (as climate, soil, and living things) that act
upon an organism or an ecological community and
ultimately determine its form and survival b : the
aggregate of social and cultural conditions that
influence the life of an individual or community.

- Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, 2004

environment

the totality of
surrounding conditions.
[n]

environmental
effects
are felt, and modified, in 3 main ways -

through the flows of:

->

MATERIALS
ENERGY
INFORMATION

fundamental spheres of influence


for sustainability

policy

a course or general plan of action to be

adopted by a government, party, person,


etc.

- Concise Oxford Dictionary

policy

a selected, planned line of conduct


in the light of which individual
decisions are made and coordination
achieved
- Websters Encyclopedic Dictionary

ENVI conceptual tools

scale
- an ordered series of

graduated quantities, values,


degrees, etc.

- relative magnitude

- Websters Encyclopedic Dictionary

scale
may be:

- physical / geographical
ranking based upon size, dimension,
geographical subunit, etc.

- ecological
individual, deme, community, population

- jurisdictional
local, municipal, regional, federal, global

scale
GLOBAL / MACRO
earth
continent
country
province
region
municipality
neighbourhood
household
individual
LOCAL / MICRO

spatial

United Nations
.
.
governments
.
.
ngos / community groups
.
individuals

jurisdictional /
decision making

jurisdiction
- the legal power to administer and

enforce the law


- the exercising of this power
- the region within which this power is
valid or in which a person has
authority
- authority

- Websters Encyclopedic Dictionary

Defining
Sustainable
Development

Sustainable development:
meeting

the needs of the


present without compromising
the ability of future generations
to meet their own needs.
World Commission on Environment and
Development (1987): Our Common Future

Elements of sustainability
Environment

Economy

Society

- World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987

the sustainable
development triangle

Elements of sustainability
Environment

Economy

Society

- World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987

Elements of sustainability
Environment
biodiversity
materials
energy
biophysical interactions

- World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987

Elements of sustainability
money and capital
employment
technological growth
investment
market forces

Economy
- World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987

Elements of sustainability
human diversity (cultural, linguistic, ethnic)
equity (dependence / independence)
quality of life
institutional structures and organization
political structures

Society
- World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987

The 3 Es Model
Ecology

Economy

Equity

The Healthy Community Model

SOCIETY

ECONOMY
HEALTH

ENVIRONMENT

Sustainability: PROBLEMS

Depletion of finite resources


fuels, soil, minerals, species
Over-use of renewable resources
forests, fish & wildlife, fertility, public funds
Pollution
air, water, soil
Inequity
economic, political, social, gender
Species loss
endangered species and spaces

- WCED, 1987

Sustainability: SOLUTIONS

Cyclical material use


emulate natural cycles; 3 Rs
Safe reliable energy
conservation, renewable energy,
substitution, interim measures
Life-based interests
health, creativity, communication,
coordination, appreciation, learning,
intellectual and spiritual development

Two key sustainable development concepts:

EQUITY

LIMITS TO GROWTH

-WCED 1987

Two key sustainable development concepts:

the concept of needs, particularly the essential


needs of the worlds poor

EQUITY

-WCED 1987

Two key sustainable development concepts:

EQUITY
the quality of being fair or impartial;
fairness; impartiality
something that is fair and just.

-dictionary.com

Contrast with:

EQUALITY
the state or quality of being equal;
correspondence in quantity, degree,
value, rank, or ability.
uniform character, as of motion or
surface.
-dictionary.com

Two key sustainable development concepts:

the idea of limitations (ecological, technological,


and social) which affect the environments
ability to meet present and future needs

LIMITS TO GROWTH

-WCED 1987

Two key sustainable development concepts:

LIMITS TO GROWTH
-

quantitative and qualitative limits


- living within the regenerative and
assimilative capacities of the planet

-WCED 1987

Sustainable development...
implies

limits

Not predefined absolute limits, but


limitations imposed by:
the ability of the biosphere to absorb the
effects of human activities
adaptability of human social and political
organization
technology

Sustainable development
and economic growth
Economic growth must be made:
less material intensive (dematerialization of
the economy)
less energy intensive
more equitable in its impacts

Economic growth may be reduced or


curtailed to meet limitations imposed by
environment, technology, or society

Institutional gaps impeding


sustainable development
2 major gaps:
fragmented decision making
narrow mandates, jurisdictional rigidity,
lack of communication and coordination

lack of accountabiity
failure to make the bodies whose policy
actions degrade the environment
responsible for their actions

materials and
energy

Obsolescent frontier civilization:


ENERGY
NON-RENEWABLE
CONSUMER
and RENEWABLE CONVENTIONAL
SOCIETY
URBAN SYSTEM
MATERIALS

HEAT
HIGH
THROUGHPUT
WASTE &
TOXINS

One-way flow of materials and energy

Sustainable civilization:
Energy Efficiency
ENERGY

LOW
THROUGHPUT

RENEWABLE
MATERIALS

Low-quality
Heat Energy

CONSERVER
SOCIETY
Waste Minimization
Toxics control

Low-volume
Nontoxic
Waste
Materials

Cyclical flows of materials


Appropriate energy usage

information
and decision
making

Sustainable development...
considers

future and present needs


when making decisions about:
resource and energy use
technological development
direction of investments
social, political & institutional
change...etc. etc. etc.

ECONOMY
ENVT
SOCIETY

TRADITIONAL
DECISION MAKING

ECONOMY
ENVT

NON-PARTICIPATORY
SOCIETY

FRAGMENTED
TRADITIONAL
DECISION MAKING

ECONOMY
ENVT

SOCIETY
SOCIETY

TRADITIONAL
DECISION MAKING

ECO- ECONOMY
SYSTEM
HEALTH
ENVIRONMENT

ECOSYSTEM-BASED
DECISION MAKING

SOCIETY

PARTICIPATORY

ECO- ECONOMY
SYSTEM
HEALTH
ENVIRONMENT

INTEGRATED
ECOSYSTEM-BASED
DECISION MAKING

Fragmented decision-making
private
other
interests
community
groups

public

ISSUE

municipal
regional

federal /
national

provincial /
state
- after Barrett and Kidd, 1991

Integrated decision-making
private
other
interests
community
groups

public

ISSUE

municipal

federal/
federal
national

provincial/
state
regional
- after Barrett and Kidd, 1991

decision making

reactive

decision making

reactive
(end of pipe)

decision making

anticipatory
reactive

decision making

anticipatory
(planning for
change)
reactive

decision making
radical
anticipatory
reactive

decision making
radical
(fundamental;
root causes)
anticipatory
reactive

decision making
radical
anticipatory
reactive

Industry
radical

anticipatory

reactive

change in demand
- less consumption
- alternative consumption

environment
and
economy
and
society

change in process
- clean technology
- elimination of toxics

environment
and
economy

sewage treatment plant


- end of pipe solution

environment
or
economy

Historical
example:

Northern
Telecom

based in Canada
42 plants in various countries
manufacturer of electronic components
(telecommunications)
1988: 1000+ tonnes of CFCs per year
1992: 0 tonnes of CFCs used per year

Original Process
1) raw components and grease
2) manufacturing and assembly process
3) clean off grease with CFCs
4) finished product

Revised process
1) raw components, no grease
2) manufacturing and assembly process
3) no need to clean off grease with CFCs
4) finished product

Environment AND Economy


$1 million to develop new process
$4 million savings in first year (no
CFCs)
$50 million savings to year 2000
international environmental prize ->
great publicity
contract with Mexico for industrial
innovation (very lucrative)

radical

anticipatory

reactive

Industry
radical

anticipatory

reactive

Industry
radical

anticipatory

reactive

change in
demand for
product

change in
industrial
process

sewage
treatment
plant for
wastes

Industry
radical

anticipatory

reactive

Biodiversity

change in
demand for
product

apply
landscape
ecology
principles
to human
activity

change in
industrial
process

establish
national
parks (12%)
to protect
habitats

sewage
treatment
plant for
wastes

zoo / seed
bank for
endangered
species

Transportation

Industry
radical

anticipatory

reactive

Biodiversity

Transportation

change in
demand for
product

apply
landscape
ecology
principles
to human
activity

complete
redesign of
our cities

change in
industrial
process

establish
national
parks (12%)
to protect
habitats

alternative
fuels for cars

sewage
treatment
plant for
wastes

zoo / seed
bank for
endangered
species

catalytic
converters

values, ideologies
and strategies
values

ideology

strategies

interactions amongst

values / ideologies / strategies


values

individual, cultural, social, spiritual, moral

interactions amongst

values / ideologies / strategies


values

individual, cultural, social, spiritual, moral


Definable sets of values constitute

ideologies
Short form summary of basic values that
eliminates the need to engage in deep
philosophical investigations every time action is
required

interactions amongst

values / ideologies / strategies


values

individual, cultural, social, spiritual, moral


Definable sets of values constitute

ideologies
(e.g. Industrial Capitalism, Marxism, Christianity,
Liberalism, Socialism, Conservatism, Judaism)

interactions amongst

values / ideologies / strategies


values

individual, cultural, social, spiritual, moral


Definable sets of values constitute

ideologies
(e.g. Industrial Capitalism, Marxism, Christianity,
Liberalism, Socialism, Conservatism, Judaism)
which give rise to

strategies
practical applications of ideologically consistent
ideas, actions, policies and programs

interactions amongst

values / ideologies / strategies

values

ideology

strategies

environmental values
holistic perspective
everything is connected to everything else
parts can only be understood in the context
of the whole
nature as a living organism or system

values

ideology

strategies

(after Macdonald, D. 1991. The Politics of Pollution.


McClelland and Stewart, Toronto: p.33)

environmental values
humans living within nature
-> inherent value of other organisms and
inanimate objects
limits to growth

values

ideology

strategies

(after Macdonald, D. 1991. The Politics of Pollution.


McClelland and Stewart, Toronto: p.33)

environmental values
appropriate technology
matching the scope and scale of technology
to the task at hand
principles of durability and efficiency

values

ideology

strategies

recognition that new technology brings both


benefits and problems

environmental values
appropriate scale
appropriate sizes for institutions, social
organizations, communities
accessible and accountable decision-making

values

ideology

in public and private sectors

strategies

interactions amongst

values / ideologies / strategies

values

ideology

strategies

examples of

environmental ideologies
technological optimism
sustainable development (Brundtland Commission)
social ecology (Murray Bookchin)
deep ecology (Arne Naess)
ecofeminism (Franoise DEaubonne)

values
ideology
various
green political
parties strategies
many variants: e.g., alliances with socialism,
feminism, peace movement, etc.

interactions amongst

values / ideologies / strategies

values

ideology

strategies

environmental strategies
and strategists
reform environmentalism (traditional
bureacracies and political action)
direct action and intervention (e.g. Earth First!)
single-issue lobbying / intervention groups
(e.g., Save the Rouge Valley System)

permanent organizations (e.g., Greenpeace)


alliances and coalitions

(e.g., Canadian Coalition on Acid Rain)

round tables, forums (e.g., National Round Table on


the Environment and the Economy)

interactions amongst

values / ideologies / strategies

values

ideology

strategies

interactions amongst

values / ideologies / strategies

values

ideology

strategies

feedback loop allows for reflection,


re-evaluation, adaptive management

interactions amongst

values / ideologies / strategies

values

ideology

strategies

if no feedback loop: inflexible, unresponsive

interactions amongst

values / ideologies / strategies

values

ideology
dogma

strategies

interactions amongst

values / ideologies / strategies

values

ideology

strategies

Sustainability:
How do we move from
rhetoric to reality?

principles

principles
policy

principles
policy
practice

To be useful, principles of
sustainability must:
be easily understood
be applicable in many contexts
be transferrable across scales
translate well from fundamental values into
applied policy and practical action
identify possibilities for radical
transformative change AND
positive incremental change

Some

Principles of Sustainability
in the literature:

Our Common Future (WCED 1987)


Principles defining sustainable development (OSEM 1989)
Defining a sustainable society (Robinson et al . 1990,1996)
Agenda 21 (1992)
Six principles of sustainable development (ORTEE 1992)
Guideposts for a sustainable future (Nickerson 1993)
Framework for Sustainable Development (CIDA 1994)
The Natural Step (Robert et al . 1994)
Sustainability Principles (ORTEE 1994), etc.

Recent compilation of
Principles of Sustainability
http://iisd1.iisd.ca/sd/principle.asp
-IISD (Winnipeg)

One example:

Guideposts for Sustainability


(after Nickerson, 1993)

Activities are sustainable when they:


1. Use materials in continuous cycles.
2. Use continuously reliable sources of
energy.
3. Encourage desirable human traits (equity;
creativity; communication;
coordination;
appreciation; intellectual
and spiritual
development).

Guideposts for Sustainability


Activities are not sustainable when they:
4. Require continual inputs of non-renewable
resources.
5. Use renewable resources faster than their
rate
of renewal.
6.
Cause cumulative degradation of the
environment.
7.
Require resources in quantities that could
never be available for people everywhere.
8.
Lead to the extinction of other life forms.

About
Interdisciplinarity

What do you answer if someone asks you,

What is your major?


What are your career goals?
What is your ethnic origin?

career
goals

academic
major

Normative
categories

ethnocultural
identity

Normative
categories

Normative
disciplines
categories

disciplinary
Multidisciplinary
Interdisciplinary
Transdisciplinary
- what are the differences?
Reference: Stefanovic, Ingrid. 1996. Interdisciplinarity
and Wholeness: Lessons from Eco-Research.
Environments 23(3): 74-94.

Disciplinary:
of

or pertaining to a discrete branch


of learning

knowledge

boundaries

within generally accepted

Disciplinary:

often associated with discipline-specific


vocabularies, methods, and assumptions

Examples of disciplines:
sociology, philosophy, biology,
political science, chemistry, economics,
geography, mathematics...

Multidisciplinary:

standard disciplinary approaches are applied to a common research question, problem or


issue

insights achieved through an approach which is essentially additive rather than integrative

Multidisciplinary:

a spontaneous coalescence of these disparate approaches is anticipated

arguably the approach which produces the most substantive research results

ISSUE

discipline
e
n
i
l
p
i
c
s
di

discipline
ISSUE
discipline

dis
cip
lin
e

e
n
i
l
p
i
c
s
di

discipline
di
sc
ip
lin
e

Interdisciplinary:

the issue, problem, or concern defines the disciplinary expertise which is brought to
bear

arguably the most effective policy-oriented problem-solving approach

Interdisciplinary:

a level of integration which involves more than an additive analysis of the disciplinary
perspectives

insights are achieved through an approach which is explicitly integrative ->


is made at synthesis across disciplinary boundaries

an a priori attempt

ISSUE

ISSUE

discipline
discipline

discipline

discipline

ISSUE

discipline

discipline

discipline
discipline

sector
sector

sector

sector

ISSUE

sector

sector

sector
sector

Transdisciplinary:

recognizes the interconnectedness of all aspects of reality and knowledge

Goal: distinctions amongst disciplines are eliminated completely

Transdisciplinary:

an attempt to transcend the dynamics of a dialectical synthesis to grasp the total dynamics of reality as a
whole

Examples of transdisciplinary endeavour:


general systems theory
phenomenology

discipline
discipline

discipline

discipline

ISSUE

discipline

discipline

discipline
discipline