The mandate for the Sustainability Roundtable was transferred from the Environmental Task Force and then transferred to the Roundtable on the Environment. The following material is provided for archival purposes.
People interested in gaining a greater understanding and appreciation of Sustainability have relied on more than just definitions and words. Many groups have developed graphics to present complex ideas about sustainability.
One example comes from Maureen Hart at Sustainable Measures. She provides three diagrams to explain the evolution towards sustainability thinking.
||The first, a "view of community as three separate, unrelated parts: an economic part, a social part and an environmental part. Traditional quality of life indicators tend to measure these 3 parts separately."
||The second view "shows the links among its three parts: the economic part, the social part and the environmental part."
||Finally, Hart provides a "view of community as three concentric circles: the economy exists within society, and both the economy and society exist within the environment". Sustainability indicators attempt to measure the extent to which these boundaries are respected. (Source: Hart Environmental Data)
The Sustainable Sonoma County, California project applied a different framework, from the economist Herman Daly. To understand the relationship between a framework is essential. Of the several sustainability frameworks that have been developed, one of the most helpful comes from economist Herman Daly.
Daly reorders sustainability's 3Es-environment, equity, and economy- and uses a triangle to describe their relationship to each other. He uses the term "Ultimate Means" to refer to the Environment and places it at the foundation of the triangle. He uses the term "Ultimate Ends" to refer to Equity in terms of human well being and places it at the apex of the triangle. In the middle he places "Intermediate Means or Ends" to refer to the Economy, along which he includes technology, politics and ethics as these, too, translate "means" to "ends."
Daly's Triangle emphasizes that the natural environment is the precondition for human life. It implies that the current threats to our natural capital inevitably jeopardize our desires for a good quality of life shared by all. This framework illustrates that the economy is not an end onto itself, but serves as a vehicle for achieving ultimate ends. The economy succeeds to the extent that it conserves and restores ultimate means (the environment), and enables us to achieve ultimate ends (well-being).
Finally, Environment Canada's Website on urban sustainability suggests that:
Urban sustainability is not a clearly defined, concrete objective to be reached by a certain deadline. It is an idea, a vision, to be used as a guide for sustained, multifaceted efforts over an indefinite period. It demands a long-term, comprehensive, and integrated perspective. For many people, including some politicians and public officials, these are new and difficult ideas, and they constitute an approach to urban management that does not fit well with traditional political and administrative systems. An issue of long-term, fundamental importance can easily be obscured by the apparently urgent immediate problem. (Environment Canada - Sustainable Development)
This model requires us to review both the governance and administrative structures and systems which support activities promoting sustainability. Additionally our pre-held ideas of how sustainability can be achieved will require us to continue to shape and re-shape our understanding of sustainability and the frameworks we use to conceptualize and communicate our ideas.