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Defining Sustainability in a Sustainable Way A Short Paper Submitted to the Graduate School Mindanao State University General Santos City In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for BIO 230 (Problems in Environmental Biology) By Joniel Y. Lauren October 2021 Defining Sustainability in a Sustainable Way Joniel Y. Lauren1,2 1 Department of Natural Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, Notre Dame of Marbel University, Koronadal City 2 Graduate School, Master of Science in Biology, Mindanao State University – General Santos City, General Santos “Sustainable development is development that meets specific needs of the present, and can be maintained into the future, without detracting from the satisfaction of other needs in the present or future.” – Brundtland Commission. Defining sustainability became a long-term debate for everyone, words such as sustainability, sustainable development, and related concepts confused most of us. Thus, awakened the attention of most critics because these concepts of sustainability are of no use since it cannot be adequately defined. Contributing factors for the misdirection for the appropriate definition of sustainability are the following, first, it presents the problem as definitional, while in reality it is more about predicting what will last and reaching agreement on what we want to last, and second, it fails to account for the concept's need to apply over a wide variety of interconnected time and space scales (Costanza and Patten, 1995). The fundamental concept of sustainability is simple: It survives or persists. According to Sutton (1999), to have a meaningful concept of sustainability, it requires maintaining, renewing and restoring something specific, including the ethical dimensions of equal exchange and trade-off between the present pressure brought by the economy and the future needs of the environment. In biological perspectives, sustainability implies the avoidance of extinction and to survive and propagate life. However, economically, it ensures avoidance for major disruptions and collapses, protection against instability and discontinuities. Hence, sustainability, at its core, is always concerned with time, and particularly with longevity (Costanza and Patten, 1995). However, what passes for definitions of sustainability are frequently forecasts of activities performed today that one thinks would lead to sustainability. For instance, keeping harvest rates of a resource system below natural renewal rates should, one might say, result in a sustainable extraction system – and this is not a definition but rather a prediction. Similarly, the long-term viability of any economic system can only be determined after it has occurred. Therefore, in general, how do we define sustainability? What systems are we sustaining? Are we focusing on the specific ecological system? Is it a specific species or the totality of all species (biodiversity)? What is the existing economic system? Is there still a particular culture? A certain business or industry? In this context, definitions of sustainability typically end up as a list of desirable qualities, most frequently related to the global socioeconomic system in the context of its natural life support system. It must meet the following criteria: (1) a sustainable economic scale in relation to its natural life-support system, (2) a fair distribution of resources and opportunities among current and future generations; (3) an effective resource allocation that takes into consideration for natural capital. (WCED, 1987; Prezzy, 1989; Constanza, 1991). Because all systems have a finite lifespan, sustainability cannot be defined as "constant operation”. That’s why, government clearly play a major role in environmental sustainability by imposing environmental standards and conserve productive inputs and quality of life through regulatory frameworks, as well as, regulation of plans and actions in economic environment that is cost enhancing and harmful to the competent of the industries (Wilkinson and Hill, 2001). Government cannot solve alone the issues about environmental problems and sustaining its resources, if in some cases, if the economic environment is not being supported. Thus, cooperation of industries and commercial business to the government is necessary in achieving sustainability. But the increase of private sectors diminished the power of the government to control the inputs and outputs of the resources (Peterson, 1993; Garrod, 1998). Now, why do we believe sustainability is an emergent megatrend? Environmental concerns have severely undermined companies' ability to produce value for consumers, shareholders, and other stakeholders during the last ten years. Globalized workforces and supply networks have resulted in environmental pressures and commercial obligations. The development of new international powers, most notably China and India, has increased rivalry for natural resources (particularly oil) and given sustainability a geopolitical component. Environmental costs like carbon dioxide emissions and water consumption are quickly becoming substantial, which means that investors and stakeholders want firms to provide information about them. These factors are being increased by growing public and governmental concern about climate change, industrial pollution, food safety, and natural resource depletion (Lubin and Esty, 2010). At current population levels and emerging environmental problems, achieving sustainable operations management is challenging, if not impossible, especially if industrialization continues apace at current levels of combustion of fossil fuels and use of other natural resources. Organizations will also need to take a more comprehensive and integrated approach to human management and environmental concerns in order to be sustainable. Managers, in particular, will need to reconsider their position, particularly their responsibilities for convincing organizations to adopt policies that promote a sustainable approach. References Costanza, R. (1991). Ecological Economics: The Science and Management of Sustainability. Columbia University Press, New York, N.Y. Costanza, R. and Patten, B.C. (1995). Defining and predicting sustainability. Ecological Economics. 15: 193-196. Garrod, B. (1998), ``Are economic globalization and sustainable development compatible? Business strategy and the role of the multinational enterprise'', International Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 43-62. Lubbin, D.A. and Esty, D. (2010). The Sustainability Imperative. The Big Idea. Harvard Business Review. Sutton, P. (1999). “Sustainability”, Greener Management International Journal, Vol. 23. Peterson, D.J. (1993). Troubled Lands: The Legacy of Soviet Environmental Destruction, Westview Press, Boulder, C.O. Pezzey, J., (1989). Economic Analysis of Sustainable Growth and Sustainable Development. Environment Department Working Paper No. 15. The World Bank, Washington, D.C. WCED (World Commission on Environment and Development) (1987). Our Common Future. Oxford University Press, Oxford.