Sustainability thinking is based on the understanding that functional, healthy ecosystems and good environmental quality are a prerequisite for social wellbeing and economic prosperity. We live in complex socio-ecological systems where all human activity influences the area, condition and health of natural systems, which has subsequent consequences for society given our reliance on them and the ecosystem services they generate.

The following key principles[1] are essential for understanding the relationships within these systems and responding accordingly in securing a sustainable future:- That nature is appropriately valued and appreciated in decision making; risk is dealt with transparently and systematically; environmental goals are integrated into policy and activities; the concept of ‘sustainable communities’ is entrenched through effective participation by communities in developmental processes; Decisions consider long term implications in ensuring inter-generational equity; The principle of continuous  improvement is achieved through a commitment to improving practice, and that good governance is essential for achieving all of the preceding .

This theme aims to “improve the above understanding and its application into all aspects of economic activity, from policy through to planning, implementation and operations” through the following specific objectives:

  • To increase the understanding of sustainability through appropriate research, dissemination and training.
  • To empower government, business, and society through the development of new and the refinement of existing tools and systems, to make sustainability thinking the foundational basis for everything we do.
  • To provide a wide range of services that demonstrate the benefits of the sustainability approach to all sectors of society and empower them to improve their contribution to environmental sustainability.
[1] Adapted from: Lovins, A.B. Hargroves, K. and Smith, H. 2005.
The Natural Advantage of Nations: Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21st Century.

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