He believes that without some kind of ‘marriage’ between modern knowledge and pre-modern wisdom ‘the future of humanity is, at best, precarious’ (Wilber 1998, 4–10). It has been based on more fundamental ontological categories as those that serve as underpinning principles of the social sciences in general (such as space, time, persons, and the relationships among them). Sustainability could be better understood in terms of ‘Place’, ‘Permanence’, and ‘Persons’. To truly achieve sustainable development, practitioners and policy-makers must consider the trade-offs and synergies created by their choices and understand how they connect with and impact each other. Whether the management and coordination of economic, environmental and social aspects is the right strategy to satisfy all human needs is therefore debatable. Therefore, it can be argued the very concept of place is not complete until we attach to it a certain temporal component. The existence of projects and relationships is not only meaningful from a personal point of view, but also complements ‘a purely impartial ethical commitment’ towards society (O'Neill 2008, p. 138). The adequacy of different economic and technical instruments to measure sustainability is also a contested issue (Beckerman 1995, Dobson 1996). Building on some of these debates, I will try to show that the limitations of the WCED definition of sustainable development could be mitigated if sustainability is seen as the conceptual framework within which the territorial, temporal, and personal aspects of development can be openly discussed. Cited by lists all citing articles based on Crossref citations.Articles with the Crossref icon will open in a new tab. The explicit inclusion of temporal aspects seems especially appropriate to deal with issues related to our material legacy and personal transcendence. Places are much more than just empty geographical spaces. Place contains the three dimensions of space, Permanence is the fourth dimension of time, and the Persons category represents a fifth, human dimension. Sustainability is a paradigm for thinking about the future in which environmental, societal and economic considerations are balanced in … The relationship between nature and society can be perceived in different ways. However, planning has been all too often relegated to a secondary role. However, as noted by Arrow et al. The new sustainable development goals, and the broader sustainablity agenda, go much further, addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people. The anthropocentrism of the WCED definition is not a critical issue for those who advocate ‘weak’ or ‘reflexive’ forms of anthropocentrism, which are allegedly closer to non-anthropocentric ethics than ‘strong’ anthropocentrism (Barry 1999, p. 39, Norton 2008). The five dimensions of sustainability. Environmental issues entered the international agenda and began to shape personal attitudes and governmental policies. Register to receive personalised research and resources by email, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Instituto de Investigación en Energía No Convencional (INENCO), Universidad Nacional de Salta (UNSa) , Argentina, Joined-up thinking: bringing together sustainability, environmental justice, and equity, Economic growth, carrying capacity, and the environment, Sustainable development as symbolic commitment: declaratory politics and the seductive appeal of ecological modernisation in the European Union, Making time for change: on temporal conceptualizations within (critical realist) approaches to the relationship between structure and agency, How would you like your ‘sustainability’, sir? Quantifying culture’s role in development processes is a conceptual minefield, as the Analytical Framework outlines. Here, I will discuss the three spheres of sustainability and how these interrelated concepts ultimately affect you and society as a whole. The idea that a clear definition of spatial and temporal boundaries is essential to assess sustainability is not new (Bossel 2004, Chambers et al. Yet humans cannot be equated only to their needs. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. 3099067 As discussed below in more detail, critical objections have been raised against the idea that ‘development’ can ever be ‘sustainable’ (Tijmes and Luijf 1995). M.M. Complexity theories have also indicated the existence of ‘hybrid systems’ which are ‘neither natural nor social’ (Urry 2006, p. 112). Nonetheless, its release by the United Nations had a very powerful influence on the world's environmental and social agenda. Instead, it is inextricably correlated with space, social institutions and individual persons. Nonetheless, its release by the United Nations had a very powerful influence on the world's environmental and social agenda. Many types of needs have been identified, such as safety, love, esteem, and the desire for self-fulfilment (Chuengsatiansup 2003, Holden and Linnerud 2007, Maslow 1943). Places are therefore a source of facts, identities, and behaviours. The historical roots of our ecological crisis, The politics of operationalisation: sustainable development and the eco-space approach, Territorial equity and sustainable development, Some antecedents and debates around sustainable development and sustainability, Limitations of the WCED definition of sustainable development, https://doi.org/10.1080/09644010903063669, http://classiques.uqac.ca/classiques/mauss_marcel/socio_net_anthropo/5_Une_categorie/Une_categorie.html. Place can also be constituted by a number of locations distant from one another. As an alternative, an anthropocentric ‘ethics of use’ could also ‘delineate the ethical threshold beyond which the human use of nature becomes abuse’ (Barry 1999, pp. Different visions on what sustainability is and how it should be measured could coexist, not only for plurality but also because different frameworks of analysis could give a better idea of the sustainability (or unsustainability) of processes and regions. The SDGs were set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. The WCED report makes it clear that sustainable development is ‘far from requiring the cessation of economic growth’ (WCED 1987, p. 40). The WCED report emphasises the role of human ‘needs’ as perhaps the ultimate goal of any development policy (WCED 1987, p. 43). For that reason, Permanence could be seen as the main realm of inter-generational equity. A new conceptual framework to address sustainability issues is needed. More recent antecedents can be found in the writings of Rachel Carson, Barry Commoner, Donella Meadows, Arne Naess, Murray Bookchin, E.F. Schumacher, Fritjof Capra, James Lovelock, and Vandana Shiva, among many others (Edwards 2005, Nelissen et al. Others have pointed out that CBA ‘should not be viewed as either necessary or sufficient for designing sensible public policy’ (Arrow et al. For that reason, its potential for plurality and its adaptability to specific settings might be higher, making it more appropriate to understand local, regional, and global processes. (1996, p. 14), the link between growth and equity may not be so straightforward, especially in regions where it is needed most, namely where ‘the environmental costs of economic activity are borne by the poor, by future generations, or by other countries’. The idea of some connection and interdependence between humans and nature and between humans themselves, in recognising intrinsic value to ‘others’, is a powerful political instrument with normative implications (Saravanamuthu 2006). Many thanks to James Champion and Tim Briggs for their grammatical input. In September 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were formally adopted by the UN General Assembly with the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. As indicated by McShane (2007, p. 175), feelings and moral lives ‘are lived from the inside, in the first person’. Yet it made sure to warn us that unless we changed our attitudes, ‘the security, well-being, and very survival of the planet’ were threatened (WCED 1987, p. 23). People also read lists articles that other readers of this article have read. Translations in context of "dimensions of sustainable development" in English-French from Reverso Context: the three dimensions of sustainable development Besides, poor people would tend to accept lower compensations in exchange for natural goods (if they are compensated at all), and this would help perpetuate the present state of inequitable distribution of wealth. It is my contention that the suitability of this paradigm to explain and solve environmental, social, and economic problems needs to be reconsidered. To justify this triangle, I try to show that: (a) Place, the three-dimensional physical and geographical, but also culturally constructed space where we live and interact, should be more adequately represented in a sustainability paradigm; (b) Permanence, the fourth, temporal dimension, has been largely neglected in the sustainability debate, in spite of the widespread recognition of the potential long-term effects of our actions, and all the inter-generational justice rhetoric; and that (c) Persons, the fifth dimension, a symbol of people as individual human beings and not as undifferentiated members of society, has been all but excluded from the WCED notion of sustainability. Many of the challenges facing humankind, such as climate change, water scarcity, inequality and hunger, can only be resolved at a global level and by promoting sustainable development: a commitment to social progress, environmental balance and economic growth. 1990, p. 37). In this respect, the use of multi-criteria analysis (MCA) and participatory approaches is steadily growing (Hajkowicz 2008, Hanley and Shogren 2005). This personal commitment may play a distinctive role in the pursuit of better inter-generational justice since humans have the freedom to be relatively autonomous from both their environment and their culture, as postulated by Maslow (1954). The relationship between urban form and social sustainability is explored and two main dimensions of social sustainability are identified and discussed in detail: equitable access and the sustainability of the community itself. 58–63). In September 2015, H.E. As discussed below, not all anthropocentric views are necessarily technocentric. The sense of belonging to a given place is often related to things that occurred at different, sometimes distant moments (Macnaghten and Urry 1998). It can then be inferred that, for the WCED, human welfare is the ultimate reason for the protection of natural capital. For those reasons, I believe that the notion of sustainability should include a ‘personal’ dimension. In this context, the concept of sustainable development is regarded as just another product of the market economy that could never cure the crises that the market economy helps to produce. The concepts of justice and equity, though essential to build a more sustainable world, are probably not comprehensive enough to contain a number of more personal aspects. Although the WCED report acknowledges that ‘growth by itself is not enough’ (WCED 1987, p. 44), it still makes a direct and inseparable connection between growth and issues of poverty alleviation, equity, and income redistribution. The sustainability debate has been greatly influenced by previous divisions in the environmental movement between anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric worldviews (Pepper 1996). Whatever the case, Smith (2006) and Norton (2008) argue that the gap between anthropocentrism and non-anthropocentrism is not so wide in practical situations because to them, virtuous agents and those who hold rights-based beliefs would tend to promote comparable policies on many environmental issues. In line with this idea, Dunlap (2006, p. 325) argues that the ultimate justification for environmental concern should be found on reasons of a more spiritual nature like those that inspired early environmentalism, a movement that combined a predominantly ecocentric perspective with an attempt to give a renewed answer to ‘people's deep hunger to belong to a community and have a place in it'. Human societies can make use of nature in order to survive but they also have the power to exceed nature's carrying capacity and, eventually, destroy it (Buttel 1987). Norton (2005) and Hill Jr. (2006, p. 331) also provided arguments against the idea individuals are always selfish and insatiable consumers whose behaviour can only be restrained by compulsion. Permanence is consequently the dimension where planning and consideration of the future effects of today's actions and inactions are paramount. The explainer video is now available in the 6 official UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish) as well as in German and Portuguese. During the coming 15 years, 17 SDGs, linked to 169 targets, are to form an action plan to free humankind from poverty and return the planet to the path towards sustainability. Sustainable development: development which considers the long term perspectives of the socioeconomic system, to ensure that improveme- nts occurring in the short term will not be detrimental to the future status or development potential of the system, i.e. Arguably, because it did not fundamentally challenge the dominant economic paradigm, it did little in practice to diminish the predominance of economistic accounts over social and ecological concerns. A significant additional drawback of the inclusion of an economic dimension in the definition of sustainability is that a purely economic approach is, in some respects, incompatible with the long-term thinking required to attain inter-generational justice. The presence of an economic corner in that triangle is probably the reason why temporal aspects have been so neglected in practice, as discussed above. Time, in spite of all the long-term rhetoric in most debates about development, has not been explicitly included in the classical sustainability triangle. Awareness of these differences is important to understand the sustainability debate. Tourism represents a major sector of the global economy and, as such, is considered by many to be an effective driver of economic growth and development in destination areas. On the other hand, it could also be argued that culture is, in turn, delineated in terms of specific places. It includes changes and improvements. 61–65, emphasis original). The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2016 6 Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all Goal 6 goes beyond drinking water, sanitation and hygiene to also address the quality and sustainability of water resources. Within the mutually-agreed confines of a sufficiently inclusive conceptual framework, multiple meanings and site-specific definitions are possible. I credit the lively discussions at the cafeteria of the National University of Salta (Argentina) for some of the ideas in this paper. As time went by, confidence on the ability of governments and corporations to solve environmental and social crises somehow faded away. 1990. ), and to a widespread perception of lack of personal agency. He postulates it is not necessary to be a rights-based ecocentric to identify some absolute limits to human action. I begin by examining some antecedents of the concepts of sustainable development and sustainability and by identifying key points in the debate that could be useful to analyse their validity and reliability. A joint criticism of both ‘ecoscarcity’ and ‘modernization’ has been given by Robbins (2004). According to Hanley (2000), the assumption made by CBA that the net present value of products and projects must be maximised lays potentially heavy costs on future generations. Weak sustainability requires ‘maintaining a non-declining stock of economic capital into the indefinite future’ and allows ‘unlimited substitution’ among natural and man-made types of capital (Norton 2005, p. 307). I also look at some aspects of the WCED definition that, in my view, represent serious limitations to its universality and usefulness. Merging individuals and society into one single dimension might fail to capture the complexity of human behaviour and the relevance of personal relationships for sustainability. Pitch Sutheerawatthana, Takayuki Minato, The relation of technology to politics in infrastructure development: the chain phenomenon and its relation to sustainable development, Sustainable Development, 10.1002/sd.382, 17, 4, (199-209), (2008). Anthropocentrism is based exclusively on human-related values, and considers the welfare of mankind as the ultimate drive for defining policies related to the environment (Norton 2005). The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been an integral part of the global development agenda. 15 Goal 15. The idea of the existence of an individual ‘person’ within each human being, similar yet entirely different to those around them, has been the subject of intense philosophical, psychological, and religious speculation. The WCED paradigm of sustainable development advocates the environmental and social implications of economic growth must be included in the decision-making process. In addition, the 2030 Agenda integrates in a balanced manner the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental. The third limitation is that space and time have been largely neglected in the WCED definition of sustainability. 1996, Ostrom 1990). The limitations of the WCED definition could be mitigated if sustainability is seen as the conceptual framework within which the territorial, temporal, and personal aspects of development can be openly discussed. She proposed to pay more attention to ‘timescapes’, the temporal dimension of our environmental problems, in order to improve our understanding of their nature and impact. People tend to see the environment as the place in which they live and interact. Similarly, Hill Jr. (2006, 331) considers an ‘ethics of virtue’ is probably the only reason we need to protect nature, and argues that commitment to metaphysics of intrinsic value is not really required by virtuous agents to value the environment. Whether or not the proposed framework is a sufficiently distinctive, improved framework for the analysis of sustainability issues remains to be seen. To overcome these shortcomings, I propose an alternative sustainability triangle formed by ‘Place’, ‘Permanence’, and ‘Persons’ (the new three Ps). At the heart of the 2030 Agenda are five critical dimensions: people, prosperity, planet, partnership and peace, also known as the 5P’s. Explicit consideration of personal aspects or ‘personscapes’ in the sustainability triangle can also be seen as a challenge to the idea that nature and society are opposites. A paradigm based only on those aspects will most likely be unable to understand and explain, let alone solve, these problems. Even though the essential anthropocentrism and technological optimism of the WCED definition could be alleviated by more moderate positions, some non-anthropocentric authors might still feel uncomfortable. The persistence of environmental, social, and economic problems is attributed more to ‘implementation deficits’ than to intrinsic inconsistencies of the concept itself. 2003). The ensuing ‘inevitability’ of a type of progress understood only as plain economic growth should be put under more scrutiny in debates about sustainability (Norgaard 1992). The anthropocentrism/non-anthropocentrism debate has also been a major focal point of theoretical concern among environmental sociologists. development will be “sustainable” on environmental, social, financial and other grounds. 2007, p. 1). The new five-dimensional sustainability triangle. 90. It even goes on to say ‘the international economy must speed up world growth’ that is allegedly ‘essential’ to ‘avert economic, social, and environmental catastrophes’ in ‘large parts of the developing world’ (WCED 1987, p. 89). United Nations System Staff College - Viale Maestri del Lavoro 10, 10127 Torino, Italy - Tel: +39 011 65 35 911 Fax: +39 011 65 35 902, Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development, UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development, 2-page primer on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Understanding the Human Security Approach, Interactive Video on Women’s Access to Justice, English: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (, French: Le Programme de développement durable à l’horizon 2030 (, Russian : Повестка дня в области устойчивого развития на период до 2030 года (. Therefore, we should not only care about material ‘outputs’ but also about the ‘inner life of the being that produces those outputs’. The 4-minute explainer video explains that the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs are not merely items on a checklist. According to Barry (1999), ‘green politics’ should be consistent with the principles of green ideology while being acceptable to non-greens concerned about social and environmental problems. As indicated by Norton (2005, p. 304), ‘sustainability, whatever else it means, has to do with our intertemporal moral relations’. This empowerment might come at the expense of those who believe that open discussions and (some) agreement on values are, if not indispensable, at least highly desirable before specific policies are implemented. This shift has been interpreted as a revaluation of ‘localized and embedded identities’ and might be an adequate framework to understand the relationship between nature and society from a more personal point of view. Registered in England & Wales No. In fact, at any (reasonable) discount rate greater than zero, the present value of damages expected far in the future could be neglected when confronted with present benefits. The notions of sustainable development and sustainability are often related to ideas introduced by economists, philosophers, scientists, and writers from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries, as described in Holland (2003), Lumley and Armstrong (2004), and Pepper (1996). More info. A number of limitations, obstacles, and ‘behavioural anomalies’ that undermine the validity of CBA for environmental policy making have been identified, forcing economists to devise a variety of coping strategies to overcome these limitations and make it more appealing to governments and the general public (Barde and Pearce 1991, Hanley and Shogren 2005). There are many examples of collective institutions guided not by immediate gains but by more altruistic aims, which have been effective in managing common resources (Folke et al. A reply to my critics, Eco-politics beyond the paradigm of sustainability: a conceptual framework and research agenda, New directions in environmental sociology, Human rights, climate change, and discounting, Spirituality and health: an initial proposal to incorporate spiritual health in health impact assessment, Environmental sustainabilities: an analysis and a typology, Culture sits in places: reflections on globalism and subaltern strategies of localization, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Biological diversity, ecosystems, and the human scale, From Larzac to the altermondialist mobilisation: space in environmental movements, Time and spatial scales in ecological sustainability, Resisting the costs of ‘development’: local environmental activism in Ireland, Testing for sustainable development through environmental assessment, Rethinking the economist's evaluation toolkit in light of sustainability policy, The sustainable development area: satisfying basic needs and safeguarding ecological sustainability, Étude sommaire de la représentation du temps dans la religion et la magie, Experienced utility as a standard of policy evaluation, Sustainable development in developing countries: cultural diversity and environmental rationality, Some of the nineteenth century origins of the sustainability concept, NEF (New Economics Foundation) and FOE (Friends of the Earth), Une catégorie de l'esprit humain: la notion de personne celle de ‘moi’. 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Society can play different roles in the preceding section, the WCED of! Worldviews ( Pepper 1996 ), unhappiness is related largely to the impossibility of socially! Thinking has always been acknowledged in the WCED definition, as argued by Rosenau ( 2003 ) is..., planning has been given by Robbins ( 2004 ) by a number of locations distant from another. Reasons, I believe that the 2030 agenda integrates in a new.. Helps people build a sense of belonging and identity that are partly for. Last two decades pointed out the prominence of space and time are not independent from each other interact... Last two decades pointed out the prominence of space and time are not always taken into account in projects... Hanley 2000 ) referees were greatly appreciated five dimensions of sustainable development at the National Council scientific! Only on those aspects will most likely be unable to understand and explain, let alone,! 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