|| Sustainable Development Frameworks and Principles
||sustainability principles, principles
Minnesota Statewide, Outside Minnesota
|| This article summarizes 11 well-used conceptual frameworks for sustainable development.
Several groups of individuals of international stature have, over the past several decades, distilled their thinking about sustainability into principles, conditions, management models and guidelines for building a sustainable world. 11 well-used frameworks are summarized below, including principles developed in 1996 by the Minnesota Sustainable Development Initiative of former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson.
Common themes run through all these frameworks, for example, a long-term perspective and attention to ecological carrying capacity. But each framework includes other differing principles reflecting the particular perspectives of their authors. A sentence of introduction to each framework provides a flavor of the differing perspectives.
Principles of Sustainable Development for Minnesota
http://server.admin.state.mn.us/resource.html?Id=1941 (see page 4)
These principles were developed in 1996 by a group of 30 business, environmental and community leaders brought together by then Governor Arne Carlson.
- Global Interdependence. Economic prosperity, ecosystem health, liberty and justice are linked, and our long-term well being depends on maintaining all four. Local decisions must be informed by their regional and global context.
- Stewardship. Stewardship requires the recognition that we are all caretakers of the environment and economy for the benefit of present and future generations. We must balance the impacts of today's decisions with the needs of future generations.
- Conservation. Minnesotans must maintain essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life-support systems of the environment; harvest renewable resources on a sustainable basis; and make wise and efficient use of our renewable and non-renewable resources.
- Indicators. Minnesotans need to have and use clear goals and measurable indicators based on reliable information to guide public policies and private actions toward long-term economic prosperity, community vitality, cultural diversity and healthy ecosystems.
- Shared Responsibility. All Minnesotans accept responsibility for sustaining the environment and economy, with each being accountable for his or her decisions and actions, in a spirit of partnership and open cooperation. No entity has the right to shift the costs of its behavior to other individuals, communities, states, nations or future generations. Full-cost accounting is essential for assuring shared responsibility.
The Hannover Principles
The primary author behind the Hannover Principles (written in 1992 for the 2000 World's Fair) is William McDonough, a designer and architect. Six of the nine principles reflect the perspective that unsustainability is fundamentally a human design problem.
- Insist on rights of humanity and nature to co-exist.
- Recognize interdependence.
- Respect relationships between spirit and matter.
- Accept responsibility for the consequences of design decisions.
- Create safe objects of long-term value.
- Eliminate the concept of waste.
- Rely on natural energy flows.
- Understand the limitations of design.
- Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge.
McDonough's later thinking is crystallized into his book "The Next Industrial Revolution" and a cradle-to-cradle philosophy (see
http://www.nextstep.state.mn.us/res_detail.cfm?id=421), which can be summarized as: Waste equals food, respect diversity, and use solar energy.
The Natural Step
> local training in MN provided by http://www.afors.org
The Natural Step Framework has evolved over more than 20 years, starting in Sweden with the work of an oncologist. It provides a scientifically-based shared mental model for sustainability that posits that to become a sustainable society we must:
1. eliminate our contribution to the progressive buildup of substances extracted from the Earth's crust (for example, heavy metals and fossil fuels)
2. eliminate our contribution to the progressive buildup of chemicals and compounds produced by society (for example, dioxins, PCBs, and DDT)
3. eliminate our contribution to the progressive physical degradation and destruction of nature and natural processes (for example, over harvesting forests and paving over critical wildlife habitat); and
4. eliminate our contribution to conditions that undermine people's capacity to meet their basic human needs (for example, unsafe working conditions and not enough pay to live on).
Out of sustainability's focus on the natural world comes a new way of thinking and a new scientific discipline that studies nature's models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems.
Compass of Sustainability
Provided solely by a world-wide consultancy of 20 years, the AtKisson Group (which has a staffperson in Minnesota), this approach is based upon the ISIS Method (Indicators, Systems, Innovation, Strategy), a framework that bridges organizational cultures for developing and managing a shared vision of sustainability. Applying the Compass of Sustainability (Nature, Economy, Society, Well-being) with the ISIS Method provides a necessary language and process by which businesses, governments, NGOs and other stakeholders can come together to problem solve, plan, and make decisions.
A framework based upon social, natural, and economic capital and 57 "patterns" (e.g., sustainable forestry) -- presented in one graphic whose elements can be clicked on to access extensive text background -- for an ecologically restorative, socially just, and reliably prosperous society. Developed by the non-profit assistance group Ecotrust during ten years of practical conservation work in the coastal temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest and based in the belief that a conservation economy inherently serves the self-interest of individuals and communities.
With roots in the 19th century public health movement, this framework puts individual health at the center of a holistic view where social and economic factors become indicators of how healthy a community and its members are. As stated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1986, "The fundamental conditions and resources for health are peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable economy, sustainable resources, social justice and equity."
The healthy community / healthy cities approach is based upon two premises:
(1) The major determinants of personal health lie beyond biology and health care, in the environmental, social, economic, political and cultural conditions that determine the behaviors, the lifestyles and the health of individuals and communities. Researchers note that health care spending is not aligned with the actual determinants of health - approximately 50% of which are all about lifestyles and another 20% the environment, including exposure to toxins, and only 10% access to doctors, clinics and hospitals.
(2) Individuals, community organizations and local governments can undertake actions that will alter these determinants and improve the health of the community.
Herman Daly's Sustainable Development Principles
http://www.rachel.org/?q=en/newsletters/archive/rachels_news (browse for back issue #624, November 11, 1998; or click directly on http://www.rachel.org/?q=en/node/4501)
Herman Daly is an economist (formerly with the World Bank). In his book "Beyond Growth" (1996, p. 69), he defines sustainable development as "development without growth -- without growth in throughput beyond environmental regenerative and absorptive capacity." Two of his three conditions for sustainability focus on rates of resource use.
- Harvest renewable resources only at the speed at which they regenerate.
- Consume or irretrievably dispose of nonrenewable resources no faster than the rate at which renewable substitutes are developed and phased into use.
- Limit wastes to the assimilative capacity of local ecosystems.
Five Axioms of Sustainability
Integrating the work of Herman Daly, The Natural Step, Joseph Tainter (author of The Collapse of Complex Societies and the mathematics of Al Bartlett) are these 5 assertions, made in chapter 5 of the 2007 book Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines by Richard Heinberg:
1. Tainters' Axiom: Any society that continues to use critical resources unsustainably will collapse.
Exception: A society can avoid collapse by finding replacement resources.
Limit to the exception: In a finite world, the number of possible replacements is also finite.
2. Bartlett's Axiom: Population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources cannot be sustained.
3. To be sustainable, the use of renewable resources must proceed at a rate that is less than or equal to the rate of natural replenishment.
4. To be sustainable, the use of non-renewable resources must proceed at a rate that is declining, and the rate of decline must be greater than or equal to the rate of depletion.
5. Sustainability requires that substances introduced into the environment from human activities be minimized and rendered harmless to biosphere functions.
Holistic Management Model
Holistic management was developed over 40-years and most recently by the wildlife biologist Allan Savory in his work in land, agriculture and wildlife management.
- Define the "whole" to be managed (a farm, a business, a community), which includes the people (decision-makers), the built environment, the natural resource base (land, wildlife, etc.) and the wealth that can be generated from them.
- Set a holistic goal that includes the quality of life sought by the people in the whole, what they must produce to sustain that quality of life, and a description of the future resource base as it must be far into the future to sustain what is produced.
- Determine what tools, materials, and knowledge are needed to reach the holistic goal.
- Test all potential decisions against the goal, using seven specific testing guidelines.
- Monitor the results of decisions continually.
> local training provided by http://www.pricoldclimate.org
The word "permaculture" was popularized in the 1970's by Australian ecologist Dr. Bill Mollison, who spent decades in the rainforests and deserts of his country studying natural and human ecosystems. Permaculture is a contraction of "permanent" and "agriculture" and "permanent" and "culture."
Permaculture is a design system for harmoniously integrating the natural world and people. On one level, permaculture deals with plants, landscapes, animals, buildings, and human infrastructure (water, energy, communications, etc.). However, permaculture is more about planning for relationships among these elements than it is about the elements themselves.
The aim of permaculture is to create systems that are ecologically sound and economically viable, which provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and are therefore sustainable. Permaculture is based on the observation of natural systems, the wisdom contained in traditional farming systems, and modern scientific and technological knowledge.
The Bellagio Principles
The Bellagio Principles were developed in 1996 by an international group of 24 measurement practitioners and researchers brought together by the International Institute for Sustainable Development. These ten principles are actually guidelines for the practical assessment of progress toward sustainable development. They address the articulation of a sustainable development vision, clear goals, holistic perspective, scope, effective communication, road participation, ongoing assessment and institutional capacity.