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What is Whole-System Sustainability? Part 2: Economic and Social Sustainability

| 6/5/2019 10:12:00 AM


Photo by Carla Borella

In the first installment of this two-part series, we saw that under the best of circumstances, a singular approach to sustainable development — one that considers only environmental sustainability while missing social or economic sustainability — can produce very little long-term benefit to local residents, human or otherwise.

Under the worst cases, the illusion of sustainability will allow for other areas of the development to accrue in such an unfavorable manner so as to negate any benefits while at the same time, creating additional issues that will have to be addressed at a later date. For any Development to be truly Sustainable in nature, it must be Systemically Sustainable.

Where Part 1 introduced the principles of Whole-System Sustainability and defined its environmental components, this post will dive into two other sustainability considerations that must be considered for any solution to be systemically sustainable: Economic Sustainability and Social Sustainability.

What is Economic Sustainability?

Economic Sustainability focuses not only on economics, but also on matters of finance. The difference  between the twain are subtle and nuanced perhaps, but they remain distinctly different areas of study. The sustainability of any major development is heavily dependent on both the local and domestic economics in addition to the ability for financial growth and development. Economic Sustainability is requisite if the people are to have the opportunity to be self-sufficient, and ideally, productive and contributing members of society. Finances on the other hand, are imperative for the measuring of worth and value, ensuring the potential for growth, and allowing for the foundation or community development to be continually operated without conducting business as if they were forever trapped in some endless (and costly) fundraising telethon.

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