A Systems Based Framework to Examine The Multi-contextural Application of the Sustainability Concept
Author: Manderson, Andrew
Source: Environment, Development and Sustainability, Volume 8, Number 1, February 2006 , pp. 85-97(13)
Abstract:A conceptual framework is generated through systems principles to explain sustainability’s wide diversity of interpretation and contextual application. Sustainability is reduced to a literal interpretation as the ability to sustain, and then expressed in simple systems as the ability of one system to sustain another system over time. This reinforces the importance of time in the sustainability debate, and suggests the concept can be legitimately applied to timeframes that have absolute limits. The framework is expanded to complex systems as the changing ability of one or many systems to sustain the changing requirements of one or many systems, over time. This accommodates multiple relations and system dynamics, and hints at the extraordinary complexity encompassed by the sustainability concept. Practical implications relate to the evolving meaning of sustainability, the need for continual change to remain sustainable, and that the sustainability concept can be validly applied to virtually any context or situation that exhibits a dimension of continuity. Derived criteria useful for clarifying contextual applications of sustainability include stating the how, what, why, who and for how long of sustainability, along with indicating the most appropriate hierarchical tier at which the concept is being applied.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Email: Andrew.Manderson@agresearch.co.nz
Publication date: 2006-02-01