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Introducing Sustainability

An introduction to sustainability terms and ideas.
(electronic music) <v ->Hi, I’m Saskia.</v> <v ->Hey, and I’m Taurean.</v> <v ->Welcome to your first step towards a better future.</v> I didn’t say sustainable future here on purpose. As Alyssa mentioned it already in their conversation before, that word confuses many people as it has been used in the last few decades in so many situations and ways. Today, for example, I got an email that started with sustainability becoming the business in itself and not a separate agenda. And at the same time, I saw articles promoting sustainable tourism, soap, and even sustainable dance floors. Can you make sense of that Taurean?
<v ->It’s crazy.</v> You know, a few years ago, I would’ve probably have thought that sustainability only referred to being environmentally good. I had really looked much into it, but as kind of a research oriented designer trying to understand people, emotions, and choice, sustainability has become more. It’s a really important topic to at least understand in relation to behavior. I know it includes social justice and looking after people’s basic needs, for example too. It’s a lot more than just environmental. <v ->You are so right.</v> It’s definitely becoming a lot more used in the last few years. Maybe it’s best before we do anything else that we define what sustainability means to us at least. Don’t you think?
<v ->Yeah, so if you do a quick Google,</v> (tongue clicking) the Oxford dictionary will tell you it’s an adjective. And it means one of two things. Sustainability either is it’s able to be maintained at a certain rate or level. Like sustainable economic growth. It’s able to be upheld or defended. Sustainable definitions of good educational practice. It’s the first definition that accepts most people as it gets applied as wanting to maintain the current situation which in many cases is not ideal anymore at all. Just think about current inequality, polluted air, and polluted water. Why would you even aim for that?
<v ->It would be hard to find a definition of sustainability</v> that everyone agrees with, but the definition introduced by a group of scientists who formed The Natural Step in 1989 is generally perceived as a really good starting point. The video we share in the resources section is definitely worth a watch. It is a very simple and plain explanation. And we’ll just talk about the key points here. The great thing is that besides the definition, this explanation actually provides a framework for action as well. The key point is the notion of a sustainable society.
Based on scientific evidence, a sustainable society is achieved when nature is not subject to systemically increasing concentrations of substances from the Earth’s crust, such as fossil fuels, CO2, heavy metals, concentrations of substances produced by societies, such as antibiotics, degradation by physical means such as deforestation and draining of groundwater tables. And in that society, there are no structural obstacles to people’s health influence, competence, impartiality and meaning. Pretty good, right? A definition in four clear parts. A product action service is sustainable If we follow those four simple guidelines. <v ->That is great,</v> but isn’t there a one-liner that I can summarize this as it’s still quite complex. <v ->Yeah, I get what you mean.</v> Well, let’s try to find that.
You may have heard sustainability introduced as a balanced approach between economic, social, and environmental. This is also known as the triple bottom line a phrase that was introduced by John Atkinson in 1994. 25 years later, though, John Elkington himself gave up on this definition as he admitted the focus on economic growth had cost immense issues. While there have been many successes, our climate, water resources, oceans, forests, soils and biodiversity are all increasingly threatened. It is time to either step up or to get out of the way. So this new definition is one of the favorite ones to use for sustainability. One of my favorite ones anyway. The possibility that humans and other forms of life on Earth will flourish forever.
Does that work for you? <v ->Yeah, I love that.</v> It’s about making humans and other life thrive forever. And that means we have to do those four things you mentioned before. It all makes sense now. (upbeat music)

Sustainability… what does this mean?

Sustainability is a broad and complex term, and there are many different definitions which can be difficult to get your head around sometimes.

The next series of videos will dive deeper into some of the terminology around sustainability.

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Leading Sustainable Communities and Organisations

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