How often do you find yourself working on a certain goal or activity, forgetting anything (or much) that exists besides? I personally do feel that very often – playing basketball, reading an interesting book, watching amazing movie, working on exciting task, meeting with best friends, etc. Ability to maintain focus is undoubtedly super important, but forgetting to rotate your focus on different fields is not less important! Full and long term happiness or success does not come simply by reaching one aim in one area, we need to reach sustainable development that denotes balancing among several dimensions in time. Lets see what is the sustainable development?
I have recently participated in the ASHA centre project to discuss the sustainable development. Here one of the guest lecturers noted that Sustainable Development should probably be considered not through a Classical sustainability model (see the 1st model in the figure), where Environment, Society and Economy are separated into three separate pillars and the intersection (where all the three pillars are considered and reflected) is Sustainable Development. He proposed an idea to use Embedded Sustainability model (see the 2nd model in the figure), where Environment is the fundamental core of all and Society could not exist without Environment and Economy is part of the social interactions. It makes sense to look to the environment as a fundamental background of all happenings and economic decisions influenced by social inter-connectivity (economics is a social science!), but i still liked the idea of the first model to divide the matters (since humans tend to treat themselves separate and make decisions irrespectively of what nature tells) and reconnect (finding the middle point) them when considering all sort of projects. I started to search for a better model, that could perhaps depict the whole sustainability concept in a better way and found Circles (i like to add Levels) of Social Sustainability model (see the 3rd model in the figure) by Paul James.
In Circles/Levels Social Sustainability model we take a different angle – from human perspective or social perspective! Sustainability could be reached considering four categories – Economic, Ecologic, Cultural and Political. Contrary to the other models, there is no more the “environment” factor, that seems to be unmovable. Instead, we see the Ecological perspective that we need to address in order to be sustainable. There is also no separate “social” factor, since developments that affect us (and we affect), humans, are of concern, and not what is out of our control. In order to reach sustainable development, we need also cultural and political consideration, which seems to be natural assumption. Within every 4 factors we have to address 7 sub-domains and evaluate the level (circle) reached. The better sub-domain is valued, the higher is the score and the more sustainable development is present. A good example is Sao Paulo evaluation.
The model enables to evaluate large scale development, such as cities, but as well gives directions for personal sustainable development. Every one of us should consider not only how much money we earn, but what ecological impact we make, how we preserve identity and what kind of movements we encourage. Only considering and caring what happens around us we can reach full and long term happiness and success.