Sustainability is the possibility that humans
and other life will flourish on Earth forever.
Reducing unsustainability, although critical,
will not create sustainability.
I want to try an experiment and need the cooperation of those who read this blog. I have been putting together an article on the importance of getting the concept of sustainability right. If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that this is a persistent theme in my writing. Now that I am retired and working from home, I have limited access to the usual resources that frame research and analysis. To substitute for conventional literature searching, I want to try out a process analogous to crowdsourcing for financial capital. Capital for me is intellectual capital—access to sources that bear on whatever I am writing about. After a few paragraphs that frame my current topic, I will request that you send me references to relevant scholarly and newsy courses.
I continue to believe that misunderstanding of the meaning of sustainability remains a serious impediment to progress toward a flourishing world. A few recent articles I encountered on the Internet only reinforce my belief. Here is one someone pointed me to.
One of Friday’s two Focus sections, in the Portland Business Journal, will feature a bevy of information about the sustainability world… Or will it? That is, panelists on a Business Journal roundtable debated, at length, whether the term “sustainability” carries the same heft it did, say, 10 years ago… We’ll feature analysis from the event, which featured eight of the industry’s brightest lights, in our special section on whatever a good substitute word might exist for “sustainability.” Indeed, our lead story tackles that very question: Does a name, even a clunky six-syllable moniker that’s a bit vague, matter?
One issue Ecotrust President Astrid Scholz has with the moniker is that it’s been marginalized… “You don’t have to care about ‘sustainability’ to use it,” she said. “You can attract dumb capital, so to speak, just by virtue of getting a financial return and getting it to do the right thing.” . . What matters, she added, is that the industry, no matter what it’s called, continues to look for new ideas that both attract and generate capital while doing right by society.
Another is this quote by Yvon Chouinard: “If all these companies are doing all these great sustainability things, why is the world still going to hell?” This comes from a longer quote that appears in my post a few days earlier. I think these two items suffice to frame what I am seeking.
I am looking for sources that say something about the marginalization of sustainability resulting from its prevalent use to mean anything being done to lessen the previous impacts from business-as-usual. I have called this practice “business-almost-as-usual.” I am also interested in the opposite; articles that have data/information about the benefits of incorporating “sustainability” in business strategies. I seek scholarly and otherwise articles, books, webpages, and so on that explicitly call for more rigor and specificity in the definition of sustainability and/or offer such definitions. Anything that says something about what sustainability means.
Any help is most welcome. You can send my the information either as a comment to this post or use the email link at the bottom right of the home page. Web-links are fine. Citations to journals or books also; the more specific the better. If you have a few favorite articles in electronic format, send them along. I will acknowledge the donor of any materials I use.