We have argued that the early literature considering the pillars may be split broadly between those who view the three as distinct perspectives, and those who take a systems approach. Journal International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology Volume 19, 2012 - Issue 5. Journal of … The economic component correctly acknowledges that all of our environmental and sustainability challenges are directly connected to economic production and consumption, and need to be considered alongside the other objectives (Figure 1). There’s no doubt whatsoever that demand for solutions to urban, adaptation, and environmental impact challenges will increase significantly in the years to come. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UN (1992) Agenda 21. From this we find that there is no single point of origin of this three-pillar conception, but rather a gradual emergence from various critiques in the early academic literature of the economic status quo from both social and ecological perspectives on the one hand, and the quest to reconcile economic growth as a solution to social and ecological problems on the part of the United Nations on the other. Sustainability 7:2490–2512. All of this must be considered within the context that sustainability outcomes key to human survival and quality of life on this planet are now compressed within a relatively short time frame and policy implementation window. At the same time, and recognizing the ways in applied situations that the pillars are connected and interrelated, several examples are introduced. ‘Sustainability’ is invoked as a desirableobjective in a range of contextyet s,its meaning is not always cleSustainabilityar. J Bus Ethics 118:13–29. Such strategic ambiguity allows this fuzzy concept to be utilised by any actor for their own means. Environ Impact Assess Rev 18:493–520. Handled by Michael O’Rourke, Michigan State University, USA. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-018-0627-5, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-018-0627-5, Over 10 million scientific documents at your fingertips, Not logged in can imply vastly different policy responses depending on interpretationin relation to, particularly the degree to which environmental and other resources should be consumed over time. SYSTEMS . Allen & Unwin, London, Moldan B, Janoušková S, Hák T (2012) How to understand and measure environmental sustainability: indicators and targets. The model addresses project- and implementation-level sustainability solutions: in this, consideration of the key elements that will be needed (within some degree of balance, or with consideration of strengthening the weakest link) produces more successful sustainability outcomes that will empower and increase the effectiveness of the people and parties being asked to implement global and international environmental accords. Article 6, for example, of the TEU represented a genuine paradigm shift within Union law [23] . Although in some cases these may overlap, it is important to identify the specific type of green business to focus on, as the four types present unique characteristics. And why is it so important? 2002). Left, typical representation of sustainability as three intersecting circles. Obviously, there are significant differences (advantages and disadvantages) between a constitutional system like the United States (with a federal supremacy clause and a Supreme Court), the Treaty of Lisbon for the EU (which is not a constitution, has no explicit supremacy clause, but does have a European Court of Justice), and the ASEAN Charter (consensus politics, a high degree of national autonomy, and no central court). That said, it’s anything but straight forward to describe the multitude of flexible forms, approaches, processes, or entry points that a successful solutions path for a sustainability challenge could take. The authors argue for a model whereby ‘economic welfare’ is a component of the quality of life, which in turn is ultimately constrained by ‘environmental limits’. Technology, thinking in terms of the three pillars strategy framework, will continue to play a key role here. The three pillars have served as a common ground for numerous sustainability standards and certification systems in recent years, in particular in the food industry. Despite this, the CSD does not use these four dimensions universally. Inst Dev Stud Commun 44:1–26, Sneddon CS (2000) “Sustainability” in ecological economics, ecology and livelihoods: a review. United Nations, New York, Upham P (2000) An assessment of the natural step theory of sustainability. Barbier too identifies himself as the progenitor of the ‘Venn diagram’ in a later work (Barbier and Burgess 2017), at one point referring to it as “infamous” (Barbier 2011). It should be noted here that these competing terms are primarily used interchangeably, and our preference for ‘pillars’ is largely arbitrary. If that structure didn’t have those three pillars, it would collapse. 1972); this, claims Grober (2012, p155), marks the first modern appearance of the term in its broad global context. These discussions range from calls for clarity of competing definitions: Brown et al. Submit an article Journal homepage. Two popular ways to visualize the three pillars are shown. Ecol Indic 17:4–13. It provides an advanced forum for studies related to sustainability and sustainable development, and is published semimonthly online by MDPI. p21). IUCN, Gland, IUCN (1997) Proceedings. The modern concept, along with the language of sustainability in a global sense did not emerge, however, until the late 20th century. the Treaty of Lisbon), and regional international agreements (like the ASEAN Charter). Despite the relative dearth of literature probing ‘sustainability’ and ‘sustainable development’ conceptually, one conceptualisation, that of ‘three pillars’, environmental, economic, and social, has gained widespread traction. PubMed Google Scholar. Derived from a 1982 conference on “Agricultural Sustainability in a Changing World Order”, Douglass divides his contributors’ perspectives along “economic, biological, and cultural” lines of thinking, later reiterated with the subtitles “Food Sufficiency: Resources, Technology, and Economics”, “Stewardship: Biology, Ecology, and Population”, and “Community: Justice, Participation, and Development”. https://doi.org/10.1080/01603477.2015.1000173, Boyer R, Peterson N, Arora P, Caldwell K (2016) Five approaches to social sustainability and an integrated way forward. Numerous ‘sustainability accounting’ methods predate the TBL, yet Elkington’s work appears to mark the first use of a three-pillar conceptualisation here (Lamberton 2005). It has three main pillars… Included here is the importance of specific local contexts, self organization, path dependency (how prior status influences later possibilities), diplomacy, and so on. On one hand, we could look at technology and economic markets as the actionable end points of our sustainability goals, operating autonomously, but also interacting with politics and laws. From this we find that there is … https://doi.org/10.1191/030913200100189076, Soini K, Birkeland I (2014) Exploring the scientific discourse on cultural sustainability. In this week’s journal, we are exploring in more detail our three pillars of Systems, Sustainability, and Design. The three pillars model directs both activities in a generally positive trajectory by accounting for feasibility, opportunity, and success for all of the key stakeholders. In immunocastrates, performance results are better than in barrows, but worse than in boars. 2002), so commonplace it seems not to require a reference. Coupled with an environmental critique of the economic growth paradigm in the West was a broad criticism of economic development programmes being implemented in the developing world for their lack of environmental considerations. Penguin, Harmondsworth, Elkington J (1997) Cannibals with forks: the triple bottom line of 21st century business. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.04.033, Mori K, Christodoulou A (2012) Review of sustainability indices and indicators: towards a new city sustainability index (CSI). He problematises the recasting of ‘development’ as sustainable, citing the numerous socio-ecological abuses enacted throughout its history and its blindness to deep-set structural issues. O’Riordan too proposes “two main kinds of sustainable utilization: ecological and sociocultural [later ‘socioeconomic’]” (O’Riordan 1985, p1443). Dealing, for example, with some of the big issues within a city related to housing, transportation, clean water, energy security, ensuring livability and public order, and providing education, requires a more integrated analysis than ever before. For Establishing Research and Funding Priorities. The Three Pillars. It has been argued by some that this neutralisation of the radical economic critique via institutionalisation was an inevitable consequence of the UN’s consensus building approach to addressing ‘sustainability’ (Huckle 1991; Carruthers 2001). p47). If any one of these elements is out of balance then holistic sustainability cannot be achieved. In 1996, an “increased emphasis given to people” was seen as an emerging issue, as well as the need to expand use of “legal and economic tools for conservation” (IUCN 1997, pp43–45). citizenship. It happens to contain all disciplines and fields, however, just as it affects all people and nations. This is followed by a literature survey tracking the early development of these concepts with an aim to probe the origins of the three pillars, prior to 2001, when the three circles diagram is first described as a ‘common view’ (Giddings et al. 1995). The largest scale example of this is human made climate change, and the (now) inevitable and massive exposure risks and adaptation costs that nations and cities over the whole world will pay in the decades to come (Figure 3). As these conflicts play out, ‘sustainable development’ is institutionalised by the UN in the 1987 Brundtland Report, and during the subsequent Rio process, which pushes an understanding placing economic growth as the solution to ecological and social problems. The three pillars are present in most of Singapore’s successful and influential sustainability efforts, including implementing a carbon tax4 in 2019 [9] . Finally, the preceding sections begin to suggest another use of the three pillars model for law and governance as a support for legal decision-making in a variety of contexts. This paper aims to shed light on the origins of the ‘three pillars’, taking the structure of an initial review of the historical emergence of the concept of ‘sustainability’ from its disparate early roots to the genesis of ‘sustainable development’ in the 1970s and 1980s. The first approach follows that of Barbier in presenting the individual dimensions as distinct, yet interacting systems, as taken by e.g. At the same time, environmental protection is not an Article 36 derogation permitting restrictions of economic free movement, but it is one of the many legitimate public policy exceptions known as “mandatory requirements” that may be applicable.8 In considering the application of mandatory requirements, the Court applies proportionality, its principle balancing test, to ask if public policy exceptions are proportionate to their claimed objectives when balanced against proposed restrictions to economic and free movement doctrines.9 In fact, the European Court of Justice has (over the last 25 years) increasingly applied proportionality in determining that restrictions on economic free movement may be justified by legitimate state environmental objectives [25] . Subscribe. Journal of Cleaner Production. Manag Account Res 7:135–161. Local Environ 4:111–135. Laboratory for Urban Complexity and Sustainability, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK, School of Architecture, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK, You can also search for this author in The three pillars of sustainability framework is a multidisciplinary implementation and solutions oriented approach that recognizes most successful and scalable sustainability solutions require the presence of, and are driven by, all three pillars simultaneously: 1) technology and innovation; 2) laws and governance; and 3) economics and financial incentives. Arndt suggests that the first prominent example of this was Seers’ ‘The Meaning of Development’ (1969), which argued that economic growth not only failed as a solution to social difficulties, but often was the cause of them. This challenge is primarily due to the fact that there are different entry points and disciplines, and multiple levels of institutional support, involved in successful sustainability projects. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eiar.2004.03.001, Redclift MR (1987) Sustainable development: exploring the contradictions. The deep changes necessary to embed sustainability objectives within our institutional, cultural, and market activities must reach the whole range of human activities and environmental impacts. Environ Conserv 16:343–351. Sustainability 3:1637–1661. Soon after the Second World War, there emerged a consensus in the Western world that there was an urgent need for international efforts to aid the ‘development’ of ‘less advanced countries’ (Arndt 1987, p49). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.accfor.2004.11.001, Lehtonen M (2004) The environmental-social interface of sustainable development: capabilities, social capital, institutions. Volume 173, 1 February 2018, Pages 82-99. volume 14, pages681–695(2019)Cite this article. The absence of such a theoretically solid conception frustrates approaches towards a theoretically rigorous operationalisation of ‘sustainability’. 1. The figure at the top of this page suggests that there are three pillars of sustainability – economic viability, environmental protection and social equity. Technology can ease hard constraints of ecological limits, and simultaneously relieve political and economic pressures (thereby allowing space and opportunity for more sustainability solutions from all quarters). It concluded with a definition: “The emerging paradigm of sustainable development… seeks … to respond to five broad requirements: integration of conservation and development; satisfaction of basic human needs; achievement of equity & social justice; provision for social self-determination and cultural diversity; and maintenance of ecological integrity” (Jacobs et al. UK, Edinburgh, pp 1479–1489, Castro CJ (2004) Sustainable development: mainstream and critical perspectives. https://doi.org/10.1080/08941928909380675, Douglass GK (1984) Agricultural sustainability in a changing world order. The Three Pillars of Corporate Sustainability. An Introduction to Sustainability and Sustainable In 1987, Brown et al. Is about motivating businesses and organisations to observe and obey sustainability guidelines beyond their normal legislative requirements. The authors declare no conflicts of interest. But even when technology development and commercialization potential lead the process, getting the laws and governance in place (permits, zoning, engineering practices, and construction standards to name a few) is still essential for successful sustainability solutions. The three pillars model, along with the various applications and examples introduced in this paper, is a simplification of a complex, multidisciplinary, and systems oriented set of challenges and opportunities related to sustainable development. This is important for multidisciplinary work and projects. A prominent strand is heavily critical of the dominant global economic paradigm and sees the economic pillar as a means of producing systemic change, both by erring away from the growth narrative and thinking of the ‘economy’ as subordinate to social well-being and environmental health. Yunlong and Smit develop Brown et al’s three general definitions in reference to ‘sustainable agriculture’. Another role for technology (in concert with law, governance, mature economic markets, and financial incentives) is a focus on economic growth through increases in productivity (of every input or factor of production, including labor). The concept of environmental sustainability has been taught in schools for some time now. The same year, in ‘A Blueprint for Survival’, which draws on the unpublished manuscript for ‘Limits to Growth’, the editors of The Ecologist present their proposals for the creation of a ‘sustainable society’ (The Ecologist 1972). https://doi.org/10.1065/espr2007.01.375, Jordan A, Voisey H (1998) The “rio process”: the politics and substantive outcomes of “earth summit II”. For example, government fiscal policies (funding for research, and state support for technology implementation where there are market failures), regulatory baselines (which create new demand for technological solutions, or may be technology forcing), and legal frameworks (competition law, and intellectual property rights) can also be viewed in broader terms of how they support sustainable development. Sooner rather than later, the mounting planetary and ecological debts are going to be paid. The three pillars framework is strategic because it often reveals or describes specific and feasible changes that advance sustainability solutions within markets and institutional settings. He concludes, “The requirements to develop sustainable agriculture clearly are not just biological or technical, but also social, economic, and political, and illustrate the requirements needed to create a sustainable society” (Altieri 1987, p199; 1995, p379). The consideration of coordination gaps, for instance, between national and international law frameworks could often be improved further by ensuring that key elements are in place (technology, governance, and law) at the most appropriate operational levels to allow functioning solutions to develop. The immediate implication, of course, is that engagement should come as early as possible in a sustainability project or program. Looking at the more contemporary literature, however, it seems little has changed and the recent articulation of the SDGs has further entrenched the notion of ‘sustainable development’. It can be argued that many of the conflicting conceptualisations of the three pillars, and sustainability itself, can be attributed to the historical origins of this body of literature. Public policies can also influence environmental values, education, and social norms thereby helping to relax previously hard political and social constraints. Given the world’s rapid pace of urbanization, sustainability policy and planning is now more important than ever for cities, relating in particular to law and policy at regional and local levels. among regimes concerning chemicals, biodiversity and marine pollutants), coordination and cooperation will have to be further developed and intensified between international regimes of different scales; and in this process, international and national environmental laws will also have to be further integrated. We have then argued that this narrative is replayed across various other schools of thought under the language of ‘sustainability’, such as those considering agriculture or conservation. 2.3.2. The language involved here frequently invokes the need to “integrate”, “balance”, and “reconcile” the pillars without necessarily articulating what this means in practice; whether this requires uncomfortable ‘trade-offs’ or not appears to depend on the level of optimism the work in question is pitching for. It’s true that people and culture can be changed (or nudged) through education and the normalizing effects of law. This forms part of a broader critique of the seeming hubristic belief inherent in the mainstream development discourse of man’s ability to dominate and control natural ecological processes (Woodhouse 1972). p72). Build Res Inf 26:39–45. And why is it so important? In other words, we are also considering how legal institutions and economic incentives can better support the creation and deployment of new technological solutions. Sustainable development and environmental protection are also now fundamental determinants of human dignity, opportunity, prosperity, and survival. All of this is particularly true for a rapidly urbanizing world, where at city and local levels sustainability is driven by progressive zoning, innovative construction standards, and bold local rule making. The inherently political nature of sustainability can often be forgotten, and we should be careful to avoid reproducing models without carefully considering their theoretical basis and the embedded ideology within them. Getting the policies right. In a less linear way, then, but often as a key response to political necessity, or sometimes themselves drivers and nudging influences, laws play an influential social and cultural role beyond their immediate deterrents and incentives. A ‘Venn diagram’ model is presented of health, or ‘human development’, being the confluence of three systems which meet several requirements: a ‘community’ which is ‘convivial’, an ‘environment’ which is ‘viable’, and ‘livable’ with respect to the community, and an economy which is ‘adequately prosperous’, ‘equitable’ with respect to the community, and ‘sustainable’ with respect to the environment. Environ Plan A 17:1431–1446. 2007; Pope et al. Here, sustainable development is again understood as the “balance between three broad objectives—maintenance of economic growth, protection of the environment … and social progress”. Caldwell goes into some depth discussing the ecological critique, arguing that the 1972 Stockholm Conference succeeded in placing the need to reconcile economic development and environmental protection on the global agenda, and precipitated the notion of ‘eco-development’ (Caldwell 1984). Sustain Dev 3:109–119. Beacon Press, Boston, Dawe NK, Ryan KL (2003) The faulty three-legged-stool of sustainable development. https://doi.org/10.1068/a171431, OECD (2000) Towards sustainable development. In general, there is nothing self-evident or predetermined about economics that necessitates continual expansion and ecology-destroying growth. Likes. Soc Econ Educ 13:26–38. Conservation with equity: strategies for sustainable development. Cocklin draws on Barbier, conceptualising ‘sustainability’ in terms of a set of goals relating to social, economic, and environmental subsystems. The section on economics discusses problems with current conceptions of economic welfare that measure growth (flow) rather than the asset base (wealth), and explores possibilities for integrated and multidisciplinary analysis for coupled economic and social systems. Buffers and margins for error are also gone, and this is particularly evident in cities, where hard constraints, available space, and options require us to take a more integrated and systems oriented approach. Constr Manag Econ 15:223–239. Green Books, Totnes, Hammond A, Adriaanse A, Rodenburg E et al (1995) Environmental Indicators: a systematic approach to measuring and reporting on environmental policy performance in the context of sustainable development. Institutionalizing sustainability: an empirical study of corporate registration and commitment to the United Nations global compact guidelines. Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050; CODEN: SUSTDE) is an international, cross-disciplinary, scholarly, peer-reviewed and open access journal of environmental, cultural, economic, and social sustainability of human beings. Altieri’s work is placed here within the ‘stewardship’ camp, yet his concluding chapter emphasises the inherent linkages between the biological and socioeconomic problems of agricultural systems. World Aff 140:111–126, cocklin CR ( 1989 ), cultural, and corporate social responsibility using... For laws and governance considers the role of legal frameworks in supporting sustainability solutions typically fail, even with technological. Critically examine the models we employ for understanding of dynamic public policy and review 6 and engaging economic are. Under the four aspects presented in the 1995 workshop ( UN 1996 ) environmental economics and law is... And critical perspectives the TEU represented a genuine paradigm shift within Union law [ 23 ] immediately to education... Is it a well defined concept and basic needs: some problems and possible.. Lumley s, Armstrong P ( 2011 ) the management of sustainable development goals and the systems approach to.! 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