SUSTAINABILITY – what does this term mean to you?

by Elaine Jackson

I had a recent discussion with a colleague and we realized we had different viewpoints on sustainability. So I decided to do some minor research on the various meanings and to fully understand why some are so confused.

The links below explore various different definitions.

I realized we were looking at sustainability from different points of view. Her viewpoint was focused on the end result and my viewpoint was focused on the processes leading to the measuring and achieving the end result.

In past presentations, my opening statement always began with the focus on defining sustainability so the audience has a point of reference. My presentations allowed the audience to look at areas from Green Project Management called P5’s. They focus upon:

  1. People …societal concerns
  2. Planet …environmental concerns
  3. Profit … economic concerns
  4. Process …governance concerns  
  5. Product … technical concerns

With such a wide approach, it is quite understandable how one can tend to stick to the area that could possibly interest them the most.  

With all the concerns in our world that interrupt our safety, it is important that we remember that if we over-use our resources and exceed the rate at which they can be replaced, it is only logical to expect the resources will no longer be able to be replaced.

We are speaking of water, food, meat consumption, depleting the sea of the fish we love to eat, utilization of fuel for heating and transportation, sources of energy, and so much more. Even work situations should be a consideration in sustainability, as there needs to be safe and fair working conditions and not situation where young children are working in conditions that are illegal.  

Various populations of species are becoming distinct and even we are wondering about migrating to another planet when this planet can no longer sustain our abuses and violations of the natural laws of keeping it in balance.  We have over 7.4 billion inhabitants (2016) on the planet and there are areas of the planet experiencing severe levels of drought.

Call it what you like – unless we approach our projects and our lives with better solutions for the conservation of what we have, we will only do the same harm to the next planet we call home.

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